Mitt Romney addresses the NAACP annual convention in Houston. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty…)
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – New questions about the timing of Mitt Romney’s departure from Bain Capital and his chilly reception at the NAACPconvention this week have put his campaign on defense. But the week has been exceptional for Romney in another way, as he worked the fundraising circuit for another giant haul that gives the campaign the resources for a fierce counterpunch when the time is right.
Using the time zones to his advantage, Romney raced this week from the Hamptons, where his campaign and their joint committees exceeded expectations by raising more than $4 million, to Aspen, Colo., and Montana, and finally to Wyoming where he was hosted by Dick and Lynne Cheney at their home near Jackson Hole.
After a month in which the unofficial Republican nominee topped President Obama’s haul by $35 million, the campaign expected Romney’s two events with the former vice president Thursday to raise $2 million—but the reception for more than 200 people at the Teton Pines Country Club and the more intimate dinner at the Cheney home for about 100 will bring in at least $4 million.
Several attendees said the event at Cheney’s house, where guests were asked to raise $30,000, was so oversubscribed that even high-dollar donors seeking entry were turned away unless they could find new supporters to raise $30,000.
Reporters were not allowed into the private dinner at the house, which has views of the Grand Teton range in the distance. But attendees, who dined on salmon and steak, described the candidate as loose and relaxed, and said he took questions for 25 minutes, while also soliciting their advice about the campaign.
While Romney avoids mentioning President George W. Bush on the campaign trail, he praised Bush’s efforts to spread freedom abroad during a discussion of foreign policy at the private dinner. According to an account offered by several donors attending the dinner, he said Obama had not done enough to support proponents of democracy in nations like Egypt.
At the earlier reception under at tent on the Teton Pines golf course, Romney had told the crowd that Obama’s “mistakes” on foreign policy over the past few years “may be even longer lasting on their negative impact on the country."
Romney, who has not appeared with Bush or Cheney on the campaign trail in the 2012 race, praised Cheney as “a great American leader” and noted that after his work over many decades in Washington, he could have stayed in Wyoming to fish and hunt.
"Instead he went back to Washington and served year after year after year, and not always in ways that achieved a lot of visibility,” Romney said. To laughter, he added that when Cheney did garner attention it was “sometimes not the visibility he wanted, but in each case, put his country foremost in his life.”
“To do that, and to bring up a family in that is something which I respect and admire,” Romney said.
For his part, Cheney offered a warm endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor, telling the crowd that he’d developed strong opinions about the qualifications to be president over his work in four administrations. Looking back and reflecting on the kinds of challenges they face, “there's only one man to be president of the United States who meets those requirements and that's Gov. Mitt Romney,” he said.
When crises like 9/11 arise, “that's when you find out what kind of leader your president is,” Cheney said. “When I think about the kind of individual I want in the Oval Office in that moment of crisis—who has to make those key decisions, some of them life and death decisions, decisions as the commander-in-chief who has the responsibility for sending our young men and women in harm's way—that man is Mitt Romney.”
There were no pictures of the two men together; under an agreement between the campaign and the Romney press corps for coverage of fundraisers, still and video cameras are not permitted into Romney’s private events.
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