Cheney toasts Romney
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: July 13, 2012
Mitt Romney played up his conservative credentials Thursday during a speech at Teton Pines, leaning on an endorsement from former Vice President Dick Cheney and hammering President Obama’s “liberal economic policies.”
The presumptive Republican nominee for president seized the opportunity to batter Obama on his economic policies at the fundraiser expected to raise $4 million. While addressing the crowd of supporters under a tent at the edge of the Pines driving range, Romney said Obama had failed to create jobs and kick-start the country’s ailing economy.
“He tried to put in place liberal policies, and liberal economic policies don’t work,” he said.
Romney, who called valley homeowner Cheney a “great American leader,” outlined his own set of economic policies that he said would put people back to work and attract new investment to the country. He advocated for increasing domestic energy production, pursuing trade deals in Latin America, balancing the federal budget, improving schools and training facilities, and “restoring economic freedom.”
Of Obama, Romney said, “He’s out of touch, he’s out of excuses, he’s out of ideas, and we’ve got to make sure that in November we put him out of office.”
No one who took the stage Thursday mentioned former President George W. Bush.
The event drew national media outlets and donors from around the country to Jackson.
Roughly 500 tickets were sold for the fundraiser. For $2,500, one could attend the general reception at the Pines. For double that amount, one could get a photo with Cheney and Romney.
The dinner at the Cheneys’ home in the Pines was open to couples or individuals who had already raised $30,000 or donated that much Thursday. More than 250 people were expected to attend the dinner.
Guests walked through metal detectors at the entrance to the Pines clubhouse and were checked by security. Teton County sheriff’s deputies and Jackson police officers also were on hand at the event.
Cheney, clad in a pink button-down shirt and blazer, gave a speech backing Romney. The former vice president said Romney can rein in government, address debt and get spending under control. More importantly, though, Romney is the man Cheney wants in the White House when important decisions have to be made.
“When I think about the kind of individual I want in the Oval Office in that moment of crisis, who has to make those key decisions, some of them life-and-death decisions, some of them decisions as commander in chief, who has the responsibility for sending some of our young men and women into harm’s way, that man is Mitt Romney,” Cheney told the crowd.
Cheney, who appeared to be in good health, seemed to relish being onstage.
He even cracked a joke at one point about Dick Scarlett, who, along with Allan and Frances Tessler, hosted the event.
“He’s a man of great courage,” Cheney said of Scarlett. “I know this because he hunts with me.”
The reception attracted Republican leaders from across the state, including former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, former state Sen. Grant Larson, state Reps. Leland Christensen and Ruth Ann Petroff and Jackson Mayor Mark Barron, who paid for the passed hors d’oeuvres.
The fundraiser also drew visitors from across the country, some of whom saw the Jackson event as a way to mix politics with vacation.
Dan Davidson, a family physician from Searcy, Ark., brought a box of fishing lures to give to Cheney. Davidson said a friend of his who owns Trout Magnet asked him to personally deliver the box, with a note, to the former vice president.
“He told me to bring it over to the house,” Davidson said, referring to Cheney. “He said he’d been out fly fishing two out of the last three days.”
Davidson was at the reception with his wife, who is a wildlife photographer. The couple were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary and had never been to Jackson.
A couple of miles down Highway 390, a smattering of protesters gathered with signs and wore Mitt Romney masks. About 20 residents gathered at the corner of Highways 22 and 390, waving signs at the line of cars slowly making their way out of Jackson at the end of the work day.
One man put his own stamp on the meal planned for the Cheney house by holding a sign that said, “Dinner on the Titanic.” Others held signs that read “Yes, I do” on one side and “No, I don’t” on the other, calling out Romney for flip-flopping. Democratic leaders across the country used the event to take a shot at the Republican candidate. In a statement released Thursday, Congressman Henry Waxman and Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said the event showcased Romney’s “penchant for secrecy and lack of transparency” and said he is “picking up where Dick Cheney and the Bush administration left off.”