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Romney spends last moments in Israel with top campaign donors

July 30, 2012|By Maeve Reston

JERUSALEM -- Mitt Romney spent his final morning in Israel mingling with top donors, including super PAC mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

The group of more than 40 donors gathered for a breakfast Monday morning at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. They were required to raise or donate $25,000 to $50,000 for entry. The event is expected to raise more than $1 million, according to the campaign's finance director, after a fundraiser in London last week that raised more than $2 million.

Adelson, a casino magnate, has directed tens of millions of dollars to Republican super PACs this year, including $10 million to the independent group supporting Romney.

PHOTOS: Romney's travels abroad

Romney was seated between his wife and Adelson at the head table. Other donors present around a U-shaped conference table were Sander Gerber, the chief executive of Hudson Bay Capital Management; Paul Singer, a prominent hedge fund manager; John Miller, a leading executive in the meat-packing industry; and Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets.

Josh Romney, who was introduced by his father as "the tallest member of my family," spoke first, talking his first trip to Israel. He said he and his four brothers "kind of fought" about who would accompany their parents on the trip, which also included a stop in London for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

"You can tell I'm the biggest, so I'm here," he said.

Josh, who has often been dispatched by the campaign to far flung locales such as Fairbanks, Alaska (where it was 40 degrees below zero at the time), noted that his brother Matt had gotten some of the campaign's swishier trips, including Hawaii. "So I finally got some payback ..." he said.

In his remarks, Mitt Romney praised the vibrancy of Israel's economy and echoed many of the themes from his speech Sunday. Though Romney outlined his plans for boosting the U.S. economy, he also departed from his usual remarks to talk about his experiences in Israel.

"I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God," he said.

"I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of profound humility, as I look around here at great people who've accomplished a great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city."

He pointed to the good health of the Israeli people and their ability to keep healthcare costs down. Israel has a national healthcare system and spends 8% of its gross domestic product on health, compared with 18% of GDP spent by the U.S.

"We have to find ways -- not just to provide healthcare to more people, but to find ways to find and manage our healthcare costs," said Romney, who backed universal healthcare as governor of Massachusetts but has vowed to repeal President Obama's federal healthcare plan.

The unofficial Republican candidate also said he had been reading two books: "Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond and “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations" by David Landes. The Landes book helped him understand Israel's success, he said.

Ann Romney also reflected on the trip to Israel, saying that one's heart "would have to be made of stone, not to feel what is still here.

"Everything still testifies of something that was so extraordinary that happened in this place," she said. "And it is a magical place, and it is a place which makes us turn to our inner soul and to our hearts and to listen with a different voice. And that's why I think it’s so important for people to be here and to understand what a significant and wonderful place this is."

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