Obama mocks Romney for dog on roof incident
You Can’t Win if You Don’t Pay
Published: June 27, 2012
Give a few dollars to President Obama or Mitt Romney, the e-mail messages say, and you have a shot at sitting next to them for dinner. You could shake hands with George Clooney at a presidential fund-raiser. You might win a lunch with Mr. Romney and Donald Trump and a tour of “The Celebrity Apprentice” boardroom.
But don’t kid yourself about your newly won influence. The real action is taking place in Manhattan town houses or wooded corporate retreats for people who gave far, far more. Write a big enough check, or persuade enough others to do so, and you don’t have to take your chances that a raffle will get you access to the candidates and their aides. You don’t have to sit in the back of the tent like the two winners of the Clooney raffle last month. You won’t have to settle for Mr. Trump, the Romney campaign’s condescending scrap for small donors.
Instead, you’ll be guaranteed a seat at a table with people who will affect your industry or will shape the tax code or trade policy or banking regulation.
The full smorgasbord of true access was laid out last week at a three-day retreat in Park City, Utah, for the biggest donors to the Romney campaign. As Michael Barbaro reported in The Times, Mitt and Ann Romney and at least 15 senior campaign aides mingled with hundreds of wealthy guests. Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush led seminars.
There were golf outings, and a “victory tea” with Mrs. Romney for women. Several politicians mentioned as possible vice-presidential candidates were mobbed, as was Mr. Rove, who thrilled a group of financial executives with a few minutes of his time. “That’s the price of admission right there,” one donor said. “Your six minutes with Rove.”
The exact admission price was a $50,000 contribution to the Romney Victory Fund, which will be divided among the campaign, the Republican National Committee and several state Republican parties. (These combined “victory fund” donations, which the Obama campaign also uses, are a way for donors to get around the $5,000 limit for individual campaigns. That’s just not enough to show you really care.) Another way to have gotten into the retreat was to have raised $100,000.
The Obama campaign has done much of the same. Nearly four dozen “bundlers,” or people who solicit checks from others, were invited to a state dinner for Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain; two were seated at the head table. Scores of others get to go to White House meetings. Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue (and a bundler), recentlymoderated a discussion between the president and 50 donors who paid $40,000 apiece.
There are big differences between the campaigns, however. Mr. Obama has disclosed his bundlers; Mr. Romney, breaking with standard practice, has refused. He is outraising the president by relying on big donors — only 11 percent of his total has come from contributions of $200 or less. Such small donations have made up 41 percent of Mr. Obama’s total.
Dinner with a lucky grass-roots supporter creates the illusion of populism. But it can’t hide the sleazy commerce going on behind expensive doors.
- Mitt Romney rewards donors at Utah retreat – Ginger Gibson – POLITICO.com (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Romney hobnobs with mega-donors – The Seattle Times (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- At Romney Retreat, Campaign Donors Ready to Charge (abcnews.go.com)
- Condoleezza Rice to raise cash for GOP women (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Condoleezza Rice for VP? It’s so not happening. – Washington Post (blog) (washingtonpost.com)
- You: Major Romney donors rewarded at lavish Utah retreat (latimes.com)
- Access For Sale! GOP $500K Donors Get To Rub Elbows With Mittens And Party Elite (crooksandliars.com)
- You can win dinner with Romney and Trump (seattlepi.com)
- Searching for Mitt Romney (abc4.com)
- Romney’s Great Utah Adventure (abcnews.go.com)