Romney's visit to Newport met with both satire and support

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stopped in Newport Beach on Friday as part of a fundraising tour throughout California.

The private event at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, with an entrance fee starting at $1,000, was met outside the club's West Coast Highway confines by both supporters and dissenters of the former Massachusetts governor's candidacy.

In spite of Newport's status as a conservative stronghold in the county, the five or so Romney supporters were the minority of the demonstrators present Friday.

More than 40 others, including a group of faux billionaires — women dressed in evening attire and men in suits, who have satirically dubbed themselves the "Billionaires for Romney" — poked fun at the Republican's wealth and those attending his fundraiser.

"Tax our poor," chanted the group.

One of Romney's supporters, Bill Edwards, who said he's a family friend of the Romneys, stood alongside his 12-year-old daughter Lauren with a sign that read "2012 Romney respects the Constitution."

The Newport Beach resident and business owner said Lauren made the sign.

"I think he'll be a very good president," Edwards said. "He loves America and we can trust him. We need someone who's not in training. There's no more time for an audition."

Nearby on Coast Highway were Obama supporters with signs calling Romney a liar who's bad for the 99% — a term widely popularized by Occupy Wall Street that symbolizes the country's economic majority.

Laguna Woods resident Janice Burstin said she felt a Romney presidency would lead to a complete economic depression.

"He's self-serving and he's serving the 1%," she said, adding that his goal is to acquire wealth at all costs.

Tea party members were also among the demonstrators. They chanted "No tea for Romney" and called on him to "represent the people."

Lai Leung came from West Covina to show her disapproval of Romney and the California delegates he picked.

"They're all politicians," she said. "Can't he get normal citizens?"

The committee Romney Victory Inc. will split Friday's proceeds among the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party in Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont.

Romney's California tour will also include visits to Bakersfield and the Silicon Valley. Orange County donors also gave to his campaign in March, when he hosted a fundraiser in Irvine.

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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