Mitt Romney, with help from former Vice President Dick Cheney, concluded his week-long fundraising tour of resort destinations enjoyed by the rich and famous with a stop at the mountain village of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Last night’s events for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee included a dinner at Cheney’s home outside Jackson Hole in Wilson. The $30,000-per-couple gathering wasn’t open to the media.
Romney started his week with three July 8 fundraisers in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, culminating in a dinner at the Southampton beach house of David Koch, an energy billionaire. The next day he raised money in Aspen, Colorado, followed by a stop in Hamilton, Montana, for a fundraiser organized by brokerage company founder Charles Schwab.
“I have some strong feelings about what we need in a president, about how difficult the job is and the kind of challenges a president has to deal with,” Cheney told several hundred donors last night under a tent outside a country club at an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course with views of the Teton Mountain Range. “I think there is only one man that can be president of the United States who meets those requirements, and that’s Governor Mitt Romney.”
Romney, who called Cheney a “great American leader,” didn’t mention former President George W. Bush in an almost 20-minute speech, though he did mention Bush in later remarks at the dinner.
A former private-equity executive, Romney has shown a talent for fundraising throughout his presidential campaign, most recently working with the Republican Party to surpass the totals for President Barack Obama and allied Democratic committees.
Last night’s reception, photo line and dinner -- with more than 500 guests attending -- were expected to raise more than $4 million. Former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson and billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm were among those present.
Romney’s fundraising prowess has spurred Obama to sign an e-mail appeal headlined, “I Will Be Outspent,” and his campaign manager, Jim Messina, to caution backers that a Republican money advantage “could cost us the election.”
Still, this week’s stops by Romney in resort areas many Americans can’t afford as vacation destinations potentially bolsters the Democratic narrative of the Republican as an out- of-touch multimillionaire. The Democratic National Committee released an ad the day of the Koch-hosted fundraiser calling attention to it.
Focus of Controversy
Democrats also zeroed in on Romney’s association with Cheney, a focus of controversy during his tenure as Bush’s second-in-command.
“It should come as no surprise that Vice President Cheney is hosting a fundraiser for Mitt Romney,” Melanie Roussell, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement. “Not only has Romney suggested we return to the unilateral approach to foreign policy that got us bogged down in Iraq, but he also plans to carbon copy the failed economic policies of the past -- the same policies that benefitted a few, while leaving the middle class out to dry.”
A Bloomberg National Poll last month showed a majority of likely voters, 55 percent, view Romney as out of touch with average Americans, compared with 36 percent who say that about Obama.
Tapping the Wealthy
The president also has been raising money among the wealthy and well-known. He attended a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker last month as well as one in May at the Hollywood home of actor George Clooney.
Romney’s campaign this week reported combining with Republican Party committees to raise $106 million in June, more than the $71 million announced by Obama and other Democratic groups. It was the second straight month Romney and the Republicans outpaced Obama and the Democrats in fundraising.
It’s become common for Romney to raise $2 million or more on a single night. During his July 9 stop in Aspen, he collected $2.5 million, according to a Romney campaign aide who wasn’t authorized to disclose such information to the media.
The dinner at Cheney’s home could help Romney tap additional financial support from Bush administration loyalists, especially those who worked closely with the 71-year-old former vice president. It also comes with some risk as Romney tries to woo independent voters and some Democrats.
Cheney remains a polarizing figure outside of the Republican base, in part because of his backing of broad executive powers and his sponsorship of aggressive interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning known as waterboarding.
Romney has tapped several former Bush administration officials to be advisers, including Ed Gillespie, a political strategist, and Glenn Hubbard, who focuses on economic policy. Whether Romney will assign Bush and Cheney speaking slots at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Aug. 27-30 is unknown.
As he prepares to make a trip to Europe and Israel later this month, Romney started to turn more attention to criticizing Obama’s foreign policy.
“His foreign policy mistakes, I believe, may be even longer lasting in their negative impact on the country,” Romney said, after arguing that Obama has not kept his focus enough on improving the economy.
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