While Romney debates, his donors meet for their final retreat

While all eyes will be on the second presidential debate on Long Island next week, Mitt Romney will have one very important group cheering him on from Manhattan: his top donors, many of whom have been with him since his 2008 race and will gather for one last retreat as the contest heads into its final sprint.

The fall retreat, which follows a similar event in Park City, Utah, earlier this year, begins Monday with a gala reception and dinner at The Intrepid museum in Manhattan, which is co-hosted by the Republican National Committee for the GOP’s top donors.

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Among Monday night’s featured speakers: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and (naturally) Donald Trump. Though Romney will be campaigning Monday and preparing for the debate, the former Massachusetts governor is expected to make at least a brief appearance.

On Tuesday, as Romney heads to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, for his matchup with President Obama, donors are invited to attend three panels at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The first: a strategy briefing on the final three weeks with, among others, the campaign’s political director Rich Beeson, senior advisor Beth Myers and campaign pollster Neil Newhouse.


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At a second panel on jobs, donors will hear from Continental Resources Chairman Harold Hamm, a major donor and key member of Romney’s energy task force; Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy; financier Charles Schwab; and Jimmy John Liautaud, the CEO of a sandwich chain (who began his business in a garage, as Romney likes to tell voters during his stump speech).

After a panel entitled “Make the Difference” -- presumably focused on how donors will be asked to help in the final three weeks -- led by campaign finance director Spencer Zwick, guests will hear from Ann Romney and Tagg Romney at an afternoon lunch.

Tuesday night’s debate watch party at the Roseland Theater will include a guest appearance by comedian Dennis Miller, according to an agenda obtained by The Times.

While Obama is on track to become the first candidate to raise $1 billion, Romney has proven to be a strong fund-raiser himself.

By Aug. 31, Obama had raised a total of $766 million through his reelection campaign, the Democratic National Committee and two joint fund-raising committees, according to a study by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.

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At that point, Romney had raised a total of $669 million through his campaign, the Republican National Committee and a joint fund-raising committee. The Republican nominee is on pace to raise around $900 million — about $100 million more than the goal set by his campaign.

The Obama campaign announced earlier this month it pulled in $181 million in September. The Romney campaign has not yet revealed its finance figures from last month.

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Twitter: @maevereston