Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday kicked off a weekend retreat for wealthy donors in Park City, Utah, offering backers the chance to mingle with campaign aides, Republican officials and the candidate at a series of events dubbed Republicanapalooza.
More than 500 donors are expected to attend the event, open only to individuals who have given $50,000 or are raising at least $250,000 to benefit his White House bid.
The mingling began on a flight to Salt Lake City last night, where executives, lobbyists, politicians and campaign staff chatted over lasagna and free drinks. Donors are invited to attend a cookout with Romney at Olympic Park, site of the 2002 winter games that Romney ran as chief executive officer.
The retreat's schedule at the famed Utah ski area includes closed-door gatherings with the 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and three officeholders who have been mentioned as running-mate prospects: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Fundraisers will also receive private strategy briefings from campaign and party officials including former White House adviser Karl Rove, and lectures on foreign policy, energy and the financial sector, according to a schedule of events. Former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker will be among those discussing foreign affairs.
The weekend concludes with a round of golf at Red Ledges, described as an "elite" private community featuring an award- winning 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Politico, the website devoted to covering all facets of the political news cycle, said it had suspended one of its White House reporters for making disparaging and vulgar comments about Romney. The reporter, Joe Williams, has a history of describing Romney and other conservatives in provocative terms on his Twitter feed. And on Thursday, after Williams said on MSNBC that Romney appeared comfortable only around "white folks," Politico said it had taken action.