Graham on Romney “We tried tall, good lookin’, smart, nice, great family. Vote for me. We’re not going down that road again!” Ha ha ha.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) June 12, 2015
Politico spills the beans:
DEER VALLEY, Utah — Mitt Romney is working with an unlikely collaborator — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s 2012 campaign — in the hopes of ensuring that the GOP primary produces a mainstream conservative without any of the mayhem that marked his own race.
The two, who speak monthly, aim to convince the wealthy contributors bankrolling various candidates to work together to avoid the kind of primary election chaos that Romney believes laid the seeds for his defeat in 2012. The former Massachusetts governor is also considering endorsing a candidate to achieve his goal…
It was all on display at the E2 Summit this week, which drew around 250 of his most loyal donors and prominent supporters to the Stein Eriksen Lodge, a luxurious five-star ski resort…
For a failed nominee who waged a presidential bid that many in his party found disappointing, Romney maintains a striking degree of influence. In part, it’s because of his unique mix of business acumen and political skills, but it’s also a recognition of his deep access to the complex, jungle-like world of super PAC donors. In a party that lacks a unifying figure, he’s eager to fill the void…
I would have gone for the simpler headline: Monkeys Dance for Money, but that's me. http://t.co/h6zqQIzpMy
— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) June 12, 2015
As the Washington Post sees it, “Republican elite convene at Romney summit in search of a Clinton foil“:
… Republicans have 10 declared candidates and counting, but they have no front-runner — not even the descendant of the closest thing the GOP has to a royal family. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has struggled ahead of his official campaign launch on Monday, and he skipped the Romney confab because he was in Europe.
The fluidity gave the hopefuls who came — from top-tier favorites (Rubio and Walker) to dark horses (Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) to long shots (Graham and former Silicon Valley executive Carly Fiorina) — an opening to court the business-friendly, establishment financiers who powered Romney to the nomination in 2012. Many of the donors are either helping multiple candidates or holding out until a likely winner emerges…
Looming over the three-day retreat at the Stein Eriksen Lodge was Hillary Rodham Clinton, the dominant Democratic candidate, who will kick-start her presidential campaign with a rally Saturday in New York. In hotel hallways, on ski-slope hikes and in fire-pit huddles, leading Republicans pondered how to win — and acknowledged that Clinton cannot be underestimated…
ICYMI last night, Mitt Romney gave a brutal PowerPoint (!) on "The Most Consequential Obama Foreign Policy Mistakes" http://t.co/888GEmUtZa
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) June 13, 2015
Mitt Romney has really struggled with the whole graceful loser thing post his 2012 drubbing https://t.co/1vZqjMHtxe
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) June 13, 2015
it is impossible for Mitt Romney to not be Mitt Romney pic.twitter.com/P0s9QTT2wI
— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) June 13, 2015
Another WaPo article:
… Dusting off a page from his management consulting playbook, the former Republican nominee delivered a speech by PowerPoint to more than 200 corporate CEOs and other attendees of his annual ideas festival about what he deemed (and titled his slides): “The Most Consequential Obama Foreign Policy Mistakes.”…
“With all that bad news, is it not true that arguably President Obama is the worst foreign policy president in history?” Romney asked. “I think he is.”
Next came the slides about Obama’s first-term secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner. First, Romney showed a map of the globe, colored in for all the countries she visited.
Then he mocked her.
“Secretary of Schlep,” the next slide read….
She actually thought she should work to get stuff done! And for that Black guy, no less! Har har har!
Mitt Romney is giving a foreign policy speech to donors in Utah that essentially amounts to: I WAS RIGHT!
— Matt Viser (@mviser) June 13, 2015
Hometown paper, the Boston Globe, not impressed:
If the stakes were not so high, the rivalries not so cutthroat, the high-level Republican gathering hosted by Mitt Romney this week in the mountains of Utah would almost resemble a jolly summer camp. Almost.
Here is Marco Rubio, clad in athletic shorts and Nikes offering to play flag football with any takers. (He played offense the whole time, to show off his arm and avoid humiliating any millionaire campaign contributors with tough defense.) Who wants to go skeet shooting with Lindsey Graham? How about sunrise Pilates — or afternoon horseback riding — with Ann Romney?
Romney himself plays the role of head counselor, letting out a loud whistle and telling his guests, “Let’s get started!”…
Romney’s fourth annual Deer Valley gathering marks a renewed effort to cement the 2012 Republican presidential nominee’s status as a GOP elder statesman…
In a nominating contest marked by a series of cattle calls — gatherings of candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the one Romney convened here was the most exclusive. General Electric Co. chief executive Jeffrey Immelt roamed the hallways. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates ate lunch on the terrace. Former NBA commissioner David Stern was buttonholed by several Boston-based fans wondering what he would have done with a scandal over deflated basketballs…
Our own front-pager Kay pointed out earlier that the GOP establishment has taken to treating Romney as the closest to an “ex-presidential elder” they have. It’s not as though they want to remind the voting public about the last Repub in the Oval Office, the guy before that (Dubya’s daddy) is well past his sell-by date, and Reagan makes a good target for hagiography but not so much for his RINO-by-current-standards time in office…
Romney, raising expectations on Bush: “I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he has raised twice as much as all the others combined.”
— Matt Viser (@mviser) June 12, 2015
It would be fun if Mitt decides to spend this whole primary passive-aggressively messing with Jeb. https://t.co/duVYRt23qV
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) June 13, 2015
More from the Globe article:
… One Republican, however, was conspicuously absent. Jeb Bush was halfway across the world, choosing to take an international trip instead of coming to Utah. Sources close to both Bush and Romney said that Bush tried to figure out a way to attend this conference — and finally sent his son Jeb Jr. instead.
But the former Florida governor’s absence was another sign of a relationship with Romney that no one describes as warm, and some say is downright tense. Some who have spoken with Romney privately say that he has been unimpressed with Bush, and they remember how Bush was one of the last politicians to endorse him in 2012.
There also are bitter feelings over how Bush started aggressively courting Romney’s donors and campaign aides this year….
There is still some wistful longing, as well as some second-guessing of Romney’s public flirtation in January of a 2016 run, which he ended after three weeks of frenzied speculation.
If he had waited, some advisers say, the party might now be turning to him, with such a chaotic field and the establishment favorite, Jeb Bush, unable to establish a clear lead.
“If Mitt had held his fire until now, the hydraulic pressure for him would be enormous,” said a former top Romney aide.
But those closest to Romney say they are now resigned to playing a role in a Republican world without him as a candidate (Some are quietly hoping he could become secretary of state in a GOP administration.)…
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) June 13, 2015
The NYTimes, of course, keeps an eye on its target readership:
… In two days of luxury candidate speed dating that began Thursday evening — flag football with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, skeet shooting with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and speeches by no fewer than six 2016 hopefuls — about 250 members of Mr. Romney’s network took stock of the Republican field, hoping to find a candidate who not only excites them but who they believe can win a general election.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who was in Europe and did not attend the event, was supposed to have already locked up this establishment donor base that just months earlier was urging Mr. Romney to consider a third run at the White House. But several stumbles by Mr. Bush left the party without a clear favorite…
“I think people want to be inspired,” said Spencer Zwick, Mr. Romney’s finance chairman. “I think they want to be inspired and they want to see a path to victory.” But, he added, “Donors, especially, want to know what is the path to victory, and I think there are a lot of donors who are not yet convinced that there is someone with a path to victory.”
Between sunrise hiking and panels aplenty and late-night drinks, something of a donor diaspora emerged. Some are sticking with Mr. Bush and the belief that he is most qualified to be president; some like Mr. Rubio’s message of generational change; others like Mr. Walker’s Midwestern charm and executive experience; and many remain undecided…
Mr. Romney appeared at ease, in a way he rarely was as a candidate. Though he has told confidants he is unlikely to endorse early on in the contest, he relishes his role as the unofficial father of his party and wants to win the presidency back for Republicans…
TPM is offering $500 for bona fide, publishable & exclusive photos of Mark Halperin doing pilates with GOP megadonors http://t.co/Z7UfR7zUcd
— Brendan James (@deep_beige) June 12, 2015