Mitt Romney's high-powered gathering
June 12th, 2014
01:52 PM ET
5 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. Denise

    Please go away Mitt. Don't you have some elevators to ride, cookies to bake with the little woman, or money to hide off shore? Or, maybe you should go back to writing that acceptance speech. Wait, never mind!

    June 12, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    @tom l – "It looks like some people can't handle defeat."
    ====
    And it is clear that some can't handle victory either.
    ----------------
    and it's clear that some who win are incapable of reaching across the aisle, but have become the party of "NO!"
    No debt ceiling increase, no Veterans Benefits, no spending (even tho' Obama has the LEAST NEW spending of ANY POTUS in the last 60 yrs), no jobs, no candidates and NO support for anything GOOD for the disaster they left this country in...

    June 12, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Sniffit

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

    In other words, he decided to polish turds instead.

    June 12, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. rs

    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.
    ____________________________
    Impeach him for what? You can click your red slippers together as many times as you like, and hope really hard, but trouncing a plutocrat like Romney isn't an impeachable offense. Deal with reality for a change.

    June 12, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Chris-E...al

    More leading from behind from 0bama and the dems we are going back to Iraq and dodge some fine surface to air enemy missiles provided by iran . This W.H. wouldnt make a good waterboy at a canoe race .

    June 12, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Smitty

    Mitty would of been a great pres and better than Obumbles, but frankly a rotten ham would be better than Obumbles. Its sad Barry O just isn't and never was up for the job.

    June 12, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. My Theory

    Romney just wants to rub it in the face of the American people. He wants everybody to know they could have had an experienced, accomplished, highly qualified and successful person in the White House but instead the Liar of the Year was elected. And all of Obama subsequent failures, scandals and screw ups. We deserve every minute of our punishment.

    June 12, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Really can't wait to see Keven McCarthy,Thom Tillis,Hayley Barbour,Rupert Mourdoch,Sheldon Adelson,Karl Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down.

    June 12, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. smith1

    Romney even gives us a token democrat. Mighty white of you!

    June 12, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Gunderson

    Aww!!!,
    They no invite old Gunderson! They know old Gunderson not too bright. They Right. Still no doubt Romney was the better candidate but peasants buy much Snake Oil. Well they pay for it in long run. You like 29 hour work week? You like 50 million on Food Stamps? You like 18 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt? You like return to 1930's? ***** You.

    June 12, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. J AnthonyE

    Yes, the right-wing plutocracy will figure it all out, they know what's best for the nation. Our government is not a private corporation- it cannot and should not be run like one. That's a problem, not a solution,to most Americans.

    June 12, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Ol' Yeller

    @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."

    Miserable performance?!? He was handed the worst economy since the Great Depression, his predecessor had turned a surplus into a 7 trillion dollar deficit (and this was without including the cost of two off the book wars against countries which posed no threat to us), we were hemorrhaging jobs at an astounding rate, and our reputation on the world stage had been damaged terribly by the klown kar antics of the buffoons YOU folks thought were so great.
    I for one think Obama has done a fantastic job considering the handicaps placed on him by you and your ilk.
    He hunts down, locates, and sends in an elite squad to kill the mastermind of the attacks against America... your ilk considers trying him for murder for not giving the guy a trial and/or questions the veracity of this monmuental and risky feat. He wins the Nobel Peace Prize you all cry, moan, and stomp... It has been nothing but incessant criticism form the right no matter what he does... save this POW... NOW! What... you traded our 5 best illegal prisoners we were fixing to have to let go anyway for this deserting, muslim loving, cretin!?!? Impeach!?!
    As I have said before... your monikor says it all. You ALL are a bunch of crybabies and wouldn't know a leader if he got elected President in the last two elections.

    June 12, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Peyton Manning please stick to football. if you lay down with dogs you will get up with fleas!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 12, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    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
    ----------–

    Look there! Unicorns and sparkly things!!

    June 12, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. tom l

    @Silence,
    "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."

    =====

    You are aware that he was actually impeached, aren't you?

    June 12, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. PaulCat

    Palin can draw a crowd also. What does that say?

    June 12, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. tom l

    "Miserable performance?!? He was handed the worst economy since the Great Depression"

    ======

    Another total fabrication of fact. You can talk about job losses all you want which happened for a few months but the recession ended in July of 2008, 6 months after he took office and clearly nothing he had done had the time to actually affect the economy at that point.

    June 12, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. tom l

    " a 7 trillion dollar deficit"
    =====

    Clearly, no clue between what "the debt" and "the deficit" are...

    June 12, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    @Silence,
    "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."

    =====

    You are aware that he was actually impeached, aren't you?
    --------------------------------
    You are aware that Clinton finished out his term, too. It was an act of token ignorance, and America saw through it. Even Newt Gingrich now admits that it was critical strategic error to do.

    June 12, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. CL

    It says you cant fix stupid.

    June 12, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    "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."

    For all the bike riding and nature walking; all the horseback riding; and all the influential bundling ... Mr. Mittens will go down in history as a two bit loser whose one and only presidential "decision" was keeping Chris Christie off his presidential ticket.

    Keep shaking that influential Etch-A-Sketch filled with pipe dreams, Mitt Romney.

    June 12, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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