Mitt Romney's high-powered gathering
June 12th, 2014
01:52 PM ET
6 months ago

Mitt Romney's high-powered gathering

updated 4:30pm ET

(CNN) - Mitt Romney can still draw a crowd.

Some top supporters and donors from the former Massachusetts governor's two presidential campaigns are gathering starting Thursday for Romney's retreat in Park City, Utah.

They'll be joined by a bunch of political leaders who may hope to follow in Romney's footsteps by winning the Republican presidential nomination.

This is the third year in a row that Romney has hosted the event, which is being held at the upscale Stein Ericksen Lodge at the Deer Valley Resort. The first came came during the 2012 presidential campaign as the then-GOP nominee was facing off against President Barack Obama.

"Governor Romney plays a large role in shaping this conference," Spencer Zwick told CNN.

Zwick, Romney's former campaign finance chairman, joined Beth Myers, another longtime Romney top adviser, in assisting Romney in putting together an interesting mix of leaders not just from political world. Among those attending: Former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

"It's a collection of people who have been supporters, who are interested in talking about issues facing the nation," said Zwick, who added that the theme of the conference is American leadership at home and abroad.

"As somebody who cares very deeply about the country as I do, I'm going to keep on battling for the kind of ideas and values I think will make a difference," Romney said Thursday afternoon in an interview on the Fox News Channel. "I'm pleased that many people find this a compelling conference where we exchange ideas and hopefully have an impact."

Top donors courted by potential 2016'ers

But as it did last year, the gathering will include some possible 2016 GOP White House hopefuls. Speaking at this year's conference are Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney's running mate in 2012, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate.

Two other possible contenders, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, were invited but could not attend.

But it's not just Republicans.

Fomer Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who is mulling a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, will also address the gathering. Zwick says Romney got to know Schweitzer when they were both serving as governors and they became friends.

"We thought it was important to have his perspective from the Democratic side," Zwick added.

The event will include a series of panels and speeches (which are closed to the media) that will focus on American competitiveness and the country's role as a leader around the globe.

But some political topics will also be on the agenda. One of the panels focusing on the GOP's struggles with female and minority voters is scheduled to include GOP Gov. Susanna Martinez of New Mexico, Republican congressional candidate Mia Love of Utah, and GOP strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro.

Separate from the group events, the potential presidential candidates will be able to spend some time with Romney's former donors, who are some of the most influential bundlers in the party.

Zwick said the possible White House hopefuls are encouraged to meet with the donors, adding "it happened last year, it will happen again this year."

"I think our best prospects in taking back the White House will be with one of these people that's on the field, getting heard now. We're going to listen to them and I anticipate getting behind the person who I think can ultimately take back the White House," Romney said on Fox News.

For Romney and the participants at his conference, it won't be all work and no play. Park City, nestled in the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City, is an outdoor mecca for both winter sports and summer activities. Those attending the retreat will be able to mountain bike, hike, or even horseback ride with Romney, who has long ties to the area and owns a vacation home at Deer Valley.

Romney's new role

Zwick says "the common denominator for everyone attending the conference" is Romney, who Zwick says arguably has more influence now on the GOP and on national issues than he had when he was running for president.

Romney stayed far from the political spotlight following his bruising defeat to Obama. But starting with last year's Park City summit, and last summer, when he headlined a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party, he's been getting more involved in shaping the future of his party and guiding the national conversation.

"By now, endorsing GOP candidates who have stood proudly with him over the last several years, the governor is sending a clear message that he remains an essential Republican leader in 2014," veteran New Hampshire Republican strategist Jim Merrill recently told CNN.

With the two living former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, both staying far from the political conversation, Romney has begun to fill the void.

"Mitt Romney is the most prominent and engaged elder statesman the GOP has on the national stage right now," added Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Those close to Romney also add that his focus is helping others rather than polishing his legacy.

"The governor is the same guy he's always been. He wants to make a difference where and when he can," said Todd Cranney, the 2012 Romney campaign's deputy political director.

"He wants to help friends who helped him in the past. But he also wants to be helpful to the Republican Party and to try and get the country back on track."

Mitt Romney: Rainmaker

And Romney now seems to have the winning touch, as the candidates he's backed in the primaries – such as Joni Ernst in Iowa, Monica Wheby in Oregon, Neel Kashkari in California, and Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho – are winning their contests.

 


Filed under: 2016 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Obama FAILURE Count: 4,578

    This country royally screwed up in 2012 by not electing Romney. Instead we got 4 more years of Obama incompetence and corruption.

    June 12, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Romney's new role

    Zwick says "the common denominator for everyone attending the conference" is Romney, who Zwick says arguably has more influence now on the GOP and on national issues than he had when he was running for president.

    Romney stayed far from the political spotlight following his bruising defeat to Obama
    -----------------------------
    Mitt Romney has hardly stayed out of the spotlight. From day one he's been running his mouth on subject after another as currents come and go. He started lie about the "free stuff that Obama gave away to get elected." And he hasn't shut up since.

    June 12, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Another story about the biggest loser.... I swear I don't think I've seen this many stories about Al Gore since his loss in 2000 as I have about this loser in less than 2 years.....

    It looks like some people can't handle defeat.

    June 12, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Impeach Obama

    Can we all just admit our mistake, impeach obama, apologize to Romney and give him the job of President? I don't think we can survive another 2.5 years of Obama.

    June 12, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    Hey, didja hear the one about Bonehead saying Obama's 'Taking A Nap' while violence is tearing Iraq apart.

    There is more going on than Mitts, Hill, and the other fluff cats.
    But who would care?

    June 12, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    That's not going to help much. The GOP leadership is too weak to become a real contender.

    June 12, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. O'drama ya Mama

    After Romney's loss the Republican excuse was that he wasnt conservative enough. They distanced themselves from Romney and the fact that he flip flopped on nearly every major issue. Now all of a sudden he is their poster boy? Oh I know why, he can raise money.

    June 12, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Laverne

    Make no mistake about it, this man still has presidential ambitions and is trying to keep himself relevant. Obama has had to deal with a lot, stuff he inherited, blocks from congress, things he obviously can't control and a country who was not if ever going to be ready for a black president. Considering all these things, I think he has done about as good as a job as anybody would have been able to do. The revelation to folk is that he is not Barack the Magic Negro! He has conveniently gotten blamed for all the US problems whether he was born or not, whether he was in office or not and that is fine, that's the nature of the political game, but the level of vitriol and hatred towards this man has been telling about where the US is with racial relations, it's sad but true we have so much further to go!!!!

    June 12, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    O'drama ya Mama

    After Romney's loss the Republican excuse was that he wasnt conservative enough. They distanced themselves from Romney and the fact that he flip flopped on nearly every major issue. Now all of a sudden he is their poster boy? Oh I know why, he can raise money.
    -----------------------
    Being a good fund raiser helps, but it also can be argued that Romney is the Republican Party's leader by default, by virtue of the fact that he is the party's most recent presidential nominee.

    June 12, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. tom l

    "It looks like some people can't handle defeat."
    ====

    And it is clear that some can't handle victory either.

    June 12, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    High powered, yet every time a republican opens their mouth they exude their desire to be the friend of the poor, the weak, the down trodden. But today there's a meeting of the High Powered. Do any of you really believe they discussed the problems of the common person. If you do believe this, you're dumber than you look.

    June 12, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Oh come on he has not stayed out of the spotlight. He has had something to say about everything President Obama has said and done since his landslide loss.

    But Karl Rove did promise him a win... Maybe that's why he only wrote an acceptance speech. The epitome of arrogance and entitlement.

    Impeach that!
    FIFY

    June 12, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    @Impeach Obama
    "Can we all just admit our mistake, impeach obama, apologize to Romney and give him the job of President? I don't think we can survive another 2.5 years of Obama."

    Can we all just admit our mistake, repeal the 22nd Amendment and then you can run romney, mccain, or whatever third rate crappy candidate you can dig out from under a rock against Obama and he can kick your sorry a$ $es a third time.

    FIFY

    June 12, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. CryBabies

    Laverne.....Maybe in your world but not mine. Skin color has nothing to do with his miserable performance. Smart? yes.. articulate? makes bush look like a 3rd grader. Leader? only in fund raising. You can try to excuse away his performance but they are feeble excuses.

    June 12, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @Impeach Obama
    Can we all just admit our mistake, impeach obama, apologize to Romney and give him the job of President? I don't think we can survive another 2.5 years of Obama.
    ----------
    You sure can Impeach Obama. Contact your Congress person, make the case, start the process and see what happens. The trumped up "impeachment" of Clinton worked out so well. Remember? Oh it didn't.

    June 12, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Tom

    Maybe Romney is seeking donations to build his almost-Presidential library? Will this guy EVER shut up and admit he got trounced in the 2012 election?

    June 12, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Among those attending: Former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
    ------------------------------------
    Hank Paulson will be there you say? That Goldman Sucks guy/Former Treasury Secretary? That crook belongs in jail along with Willard's tax evading self.

    June 12, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    This GOP FIVE TIME LOSER FOR ELECTED OFFICE is NOT a person to take advice from to WIN ELECTIONS, but the GOP party of STUPID is STILL the party of STUPID, who are you going to go to for advice next, CANTOR??????

    June 12, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    Only thing I was ever invited to........but I am not a top donor......so maybe i won't go.

    June 12, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Thomas

    He will run again in 2016 . He must prove to his late father he has what it takes .

    Romney / Rubio 2016
    Losers for a better tomorrow

    June 12, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Chris-E...al

    Mitt knows more about business than 0bama and all of his high school friends he appointed . And the train moves closer to edge as you read this now sunshine .

    June 12, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. Mike

    I would take Mitt anyday over what we have in office now. His moral values, character and who has led beats a community origanizer.

    June 12, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Denise

    Speaking of impeachment, you might want to check with Newtie and Bobby. The big dog was impeached, but the two house leader clowns of the GOP resigned in disgrace for their cheatin hearts. Karma is a great thing....

    June 12, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. rs

    Republicans can say what they want about the President of the United States of America- declare him a failure or whatever their delusion de jour is, that is their business. But, here they are taking advice from a man beaten (soundly) by Mr. Obama in 2012, and who lost in the GOP's own nominating process to Mr. McCain (and the idiot Palin-Ha!) 4 years earlier.

    This is either a case of the blind leading the blind, or a demonstration of the powerful allure of the echo chamber effect.

    June 12, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Obama FAILURE Count: 4,579

    Obama now in the process of losing Iraq to Al Quada.... His solution? Send more Gitmo terrorists to the Middle East?
    Whose sides is he on anyways?

    June 12, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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