Romney Backers Wrap Up Utah Retreat

Eight hundred top donors to Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign are wrapping up a weekend retreat in Park City, Utah. There, they've been given access to some of the biggest names in Republican politics, including Romney. The price of admission: $50,000. Politico reporter Ginger Gibson offers her insight.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Eight hundred top donors to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign are wrapping up a weekend retreat in Park City, Utah. There, they've been given access to some of the biggest names in Republican politics: Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and, of course, Governor Romney himself.

The price of admission? Fifty thousand dollars. Those not allowed inside: reporters. But Politico's Ginger Gibson worked the perimeter to piece together what actually took place. Ginger's on the line with us. And, Ginger, set the scene for us. What was the purpose of the event?

GINGER GIBSON: The event was meant to bring together the biggest donors to the Romney campaign, to give them the weekend to see how the campaign works, what their strategy is, the insides and the outside, looking at advertisements the campaign's going to be running. So they would feel confident to not only maybe write more checks but to get their friends to donate as well.

RAZ: And what went on?

GIBSON: They had a series of speakers and panels, and then they got to rub elbows. They had a dinner reception at the Olympic Park where they watched ski jumpers and ate barbeque. The Romneys worked the crowd. Most of their sons were there. So it was a weekend full of information and a little socializing as well.

RAZ: Karl Rove, of course, runs a superPAC. And there have been reports that the head of the pro-Romney superPAC, Restore Our Future, was also on hand. Is there a conflict of interest in that at all?

GIBSON: You know, we look at these superPACs and the rules say they cannot coordinate. But coordination is so broad, it basically means they sit down and decide when to buy their ads together. Being there at the same time in the same place doesn't qualify as coordination, as what we've seen so far in the rulings coming up.

RAZ: What about the superPAC folks there? Presumably, they were also looking for money.

GIBSON: Absolutely. We don't know if there were solicitations, if there were side events going on, if they were working the room asking for donations. Those are the kind of things that being on the inside, we might have got to see a little more. But standing on the sidewalk, we weren't able to figure out just how much they were pushing for their own donations.

RAZ: Well, why the secrecy? Why was it so tough for you guys to get inside?

GIBSON: The Romney campaign has been very quiet about their fund-raising. For the most part, what we heard from those who were inside is that Governor Romney said much of the same things he says when he's out in public.

RAZ: Ginger, did you get a sense from those who attended that they are real sort of Romney believers? Or was there a general feeling that getting, you know, getting a new president in the White House is the main objective?

GIBSON: There were a number of real Romney supporters, but there were also a number of people who had supported other Republicans. I talked to a Rick Perry supporter, I talked to a Rick Santorum supporter, even a guy who told me he had held out for Herman Cain as long as he could.

They really have a sense - and I heard from a number of people - that they're coalescing, that they're coming together and they're all getting excited about Mitt Romney.

RAZ: That's Ginger Gibson. She's a reporter for Politico. She's been covering the exclusive retreat for Mitt Romney supporters this weekend in Park City, Utah. Ginger, thanks.

GIBSON: Thank you.

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