As he explores his new roles within the Republican party and the business world after last year’s presidential campaign, Mitt Romney plans this summer to bring together “experts and enthusiasts” in both spheres for a gathering in Park City that is expected to include potential 2016 contenders Chris Christie and Paul D. Ryan.
In an email to guests obtained by the Times, Romney said he hoped to unite “political, business and other thought leaders” at the conference. The 2012 Republican nominee said in the email that Solamere, the investment firm cofounded by his son Tagg and his campaign finance chairman Spencer Zwick, would be among the sponsors of the gathering. Romney is the chairman of the Boston-based firm’s executive committee.
Romney, who once headed the private equity firm Bain Capital, organized similar events for his campaign donors in recent years, including a retreat last June that brought together more than 700 donors at Deer Valley’s Chateaux at Silver Lake. The weekend included a nod to Romney’s experience leading the Olympic Games in Utah — kicking off with a cookout at Olympic Park.
While Romney's email did not include a set agenda, his 2012 conference drew in top Republicans including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who later would be chosen by Romney as his running mate.
Guests at the 2012 event attended panels on foreign policy and business affairs — with speakers such as Hewlett-Packard chief executive and one-time California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who worked with Romney at Bain & Co.
Romney developed a warm friendship with both Ryan and Christie during the 2012 campaign.
An advantage for any potential 2016 candidates will be the other guests at the event. If, as expected, the upcoming event draws former Romney donors, it would offer the future contenders a chance to forge relationships with some of those who contributed to Romney’s powerful fundraising operation.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, Romney suggested he would not be center stage as Republicans choose their nominee in 2016: "As someone who just lost the last election," he joked, "I'm probably not in the best position to chart the course for the next one."