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Guests say access to Romney remarkable
People who paid $30K for event at Cheneys’ report GOP candidate fielded lots of questions.
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: July 18, 2012
Donors who attended a private dinner last week at Dick and Lynne Cheney’s Teton Pines home were treated to a remarkable level of access to Mitt Romney, including a 30-minute, unscripted question-and-answer session.
Several guests who were at the $30,000-a-head dinner said the Republican presidential candidate talked about U.S. policy in a wide range of countries, including Iran, Egypt, Israel, China and Russia.
“He expressed concerns about developments in those countries,” Cheyenne Capital Managing Director Bob Grady said, referring specifically to Iran and Russia. “He said he would be clearer in defending the U.S. interests in those countries.”
Though he had a seat, Romney didn’t sit down much during dinner. He followed his foreign policy talk with an open question-and-answer session, fielding roughly two-dozen guest questions.
“It was a high-priced dinner, and it seemed like they wanted you to feel like you had access to what the candidate is thinking,” Grady said.
Romney touched on topics ranging from why he wasn’t being more aggressive on the campaign trail to his business career to potential choices for vice president.
Former Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice’s name was mentioned by one guest. Romney spoke fondly of her but deflected any announcement, saying he likely would make an announcement before the Republican National Convention, Teton County Republican Party Chairman T.R. Pierce said.
Several guests, including a singer-songwriter from Texas, even sang the governor a song they wrote about his campaign, one guest said.
“It was a really warm evening,” Pierce said. “It felt inclusive. It was just an invigorating evening.”
An estimated 500 tickets were sold for the event. About half of those tickets were for guests who attended the dinner. The event raised an estimated $4 million for Romney’s campaign.
Dinner was held in a tent set up by the Cheneys’ home. Guests dined on steak and salmon and were invited into the former vice president’s house for coffee and a dessert buffet with chocolate chip cookies and brownies.
Cheney greeted guests at the door to his house and was seen at the end of the night talking to guests in his kitchen while drinking coffee and having dessert.
Many guests stayed until 10 p.m.
Earlier in the night, donors who contributed $50,000 to Romney’s presidential bid were invited to a small reception in the Teton Pines dining room. Romney spoke with guests about how essential their support was to his effort to restore the country’s economic strength.
People who donated $10,000 could pose for a photo with Romney and Cheney. Guests stood between the two men in front of an American flag and a Wyoming state flag.
Following the first reception, Romney addressed a larger crowd in a tent at the end of the Teton Pines driving range. Donors had to contribute $2,500 to attend that reception.