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Monday, October 15, 2012

Romney Donors Gather in New York for Fund-Raising Retreat

While Mitt Romney is hunkering down with his brain trust, preparing for his second debate against President Obama, Mr. Romney's donors will be living it up at a three-day fall retreat beginning Monday at the Waldorf-Astoria in Midtown Manhattan.

Donors and bundlers - many of whom long ago raised the minimum $50,000 entrance fee - will kick off the festivities on Monday evening, with a gala reception and dinner at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Special guests include Representative Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Romney's running mate; Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York City; Reince Preibus, the Republican National Committee chairman; Donald Trump; and Spencer Zwick, Mr. Romney's national finance chairman.

The fall retreat is the follow-up event to a June retreat the campaign held in Park City, Utah, albeit with slightly less star power. During the Park City gathering, cheekily called Republican-palooza, the strategist Karl Rove, former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and James Baker III, Senator John McCain and Jeb Bush, former Florida governor - as well as a who's who of political luminaries who at the time were vying for the No. 2 slot on the ticket - all descended on the high-altitude getaway.

Though Mr. Romney had considered making an appearance this week in Manhattan, he scrapped the idea at the last minute to focus on preparing for the debate Tuesday night.

Donors will be kept busy on debate day with a trio of panels. The first, “Campaign and Strategy Briefing,” will feature Rich Beeson, the campaign's political director; Ed Gillespie and Beth Myers, senior strategists for the campaign; Neil Newhouse, Mr. Romney's pollster; and Mr. Priebus.

Up next is a session titled “Issues Facing America - Jobs,” which will include remarks by Carlos Gutierrez, a former secretary of commerce; Harold Hamm, an oil magnate and energy adviser to Mr. Romney; Jimmy John L iautaud, chairman of the Jimmy John's restaurant chain; Scott G. McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; and Charles Schwab, chief executive of the Charles Schwab Corporation. Mr. Zwick will address the final session, “Make The Difference,” in what is likely a final pitch to donors in the end stretch.

Mr. Romney's wife, Ann, and his oldest son, Tagg, will also make appearances, speaking at an afternoon luncheon. In recent weeks, Mrs. Romney has begun taking a more vocal and public role in the campaign, stumping for her husband and working to ensure that voters understand the man she knows and loves - an empathetic and caring version of the Mr. Romney sometimes caricatured in the news media.

And on Tuesday night, the party will continue less than a dozen blocks away at the Roseland Ballroom for a debate-watching event, where Dennis Miller, the comedian, also will perform. Mr. Miller previously entertained high-end donors at a fund-raiser in Los Angeles last m onth.

“I want to thank Dennis Miller for not just the humor, but the truth in the humor,” Mr. Romney said at the time. “Much of what he said tonight, much of what he said was very encouraging and uplifting and I appreciated his generous thoughts about Ann and me.” Mrs. Romney also thanked him, calling him “terrific.”

The retreat, however, will not be all play and no work; donors are being asked to set aside an hour of their day to dial-for-dollars, part of an effort to help raise money in the final weeks of the campaign.

Follow Ashley Parker on Twitter at @AshleyRParker.