Paul highlights bigger GOP 'tent' in meeting with top Romney donors
April 25th, 2014
01:36 PM ET
8 months ago

Paul highlights bigger GOP 'tent' in meeting with top Romney donors

(CNN) - They may seem like a bit of an odd couple - but Sen. Rand Paul met on Friday with top donors to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

Paul, the first term Republican senator from Kentucky who's seriously considering a 2016 GOP bid for the White House, is known as someone who hails from the conservative/tea party wing of the party, and who also enjoys strong support from libertarians who backed his father's three campaigns for president. And Romney, considered the GOP establishment candidate in 2012, was never truly embraced by the grassroots.

But Friday, Paul met with Spencer Zwick, who served as Romney's finance director, and other former Romney donors, at the Boston offices of Solamere Capital, Zwick's private-equity firm.

Following the gathering, Zwick told CNN that "everyone enjoyed meeting with Sen. Paul," adding that Paul was “very well received.”

The senator said he was pleased with his meeting with Zwick and the other donors, according to Doug Stafford, a senior Paul political adviser.

Rand Paul on being ‘libertarian-ish’

Separately, a source familiar with the meeting said that about 10 to 12 Romney donors and bundlers attended, and that Paul took questions for about an hour after giving a 15 minute introduction. The source said the discussion was wide ranging, with topics such as politics, policy, privacy, immigration and economics, and that Paul emphasized his drive to increase the "tent" of the Republican party. While not a major topic, Paul did discuss his views on limited interventionism on foreign policy, which in theory would run counter to the sentiments of many of Romney's donors.

No one asked Paul if he was going to run for the White House in 2016, and the senator did not mention it, according to the source.

The get-together came a couple of hours before Paul crossed over the Charles River to neighboring Cambridge to addresses Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

Romney's emerging political role

A Republican strategist close to the Romney world said that while Paul may seem like an odd choice for Romney donors, the early battle for the 2016 GOP nomination is a wide open affair.

"Governor Romney's impressive donor network, developed over several years, is national in scope and in the market for a horse to ride in 2016. At first glance, Rand Paul may not be an obvious choice for them to rally behind, but it's hard to imagine a more wide open field as we head into primary season," said the strategist, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.

Like Mitt, these donors are accomplished business and community leaders. They are clearly taking their due diligence very seriously, as they consider all angles in a developing field of candidates that has no clear frontrunner," the strategist said.

Paul's history with Romney may also be a factor behind Friday's meeting.

"Governor Romney and Congressman Ron Paul always had a good personal relationship during both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. And the Romney campaign was grateful for Senator Paul's decision to formally endorse Governor Romney at the end of the primary season – something his father never did. Senator Paul was extremely helpful with outreach to liberty Republicans and the campaign's efforts to unite all factions of the party after we clinched the nomination," said Republican strategist Ryan Williams, who worked on both of Romney's presidential campaigns.

Paul also attended a summit of some major political and business leaders hosted by Romney last spring in Park City, Utah. Romney is hosting a similar gathering in June, and Paul is expected to attend. Three other possible Republican presidential contenders, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and 2008 GOP presidential candidate, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney's 2012 running mate, are also expected to take part in the gathering.

Paul isn't the first GOP presidential hopeful to meet with Zwick. A source familiar with Friday's meeting told CNN that Zwick is expected to organize future sessions with other potential 2016 White House contenders.


Filed under: 2016 • Mitt Romney • Rand Paul
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. jason

    The GOP is a pro-corporate anti-people establishment....and to think Rand paul will not be so....is purely delusional

    April 25, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. amber

    Rand Paul is a kook. So is Mitt Romney. I weep for the GOP, given its past credibility.

    April 25, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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