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Access For Sale! GOP $500K Donors Get To Rub Elbows With Mittens And Party Elite

It's a little obscene, isn't it? Once you're a national candidate, the only people who get to talk to you are the people who don't actually need help - but insist they do. I'd say at $500 thou a head, they're doing a lot better than everyone

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It's a little obscene, isn't it? Once you're a national candidate, the only people who get to talk to you are the people who don't actually need help - but insist they do. I'd say at $500 thou a head, they're doing a lot better than everyone else in the rest of the country:

PARK CITY, Utah —They schmoozed with Mitt Romney at a barbecue cookout at the Olympic Park, pressing him on labor regulations and the threat of a nuclear Iran as downhill skiers performed midair flips behind them.

They rubbed elbows with Beth Myers, who is running Mr. Romney’s vice-presidential search, in the packed lobby bar of the Chateaux at Silver Lake, over $15 glasses of Scotch.

And they mingled with Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, during an intimate “Women for Romney victory tea,” held on an umbrella-shaded patio in this resort town.

The Romney campaign, whose fund-raising prowess has defied assumptions about President Obama’s financial advantages, offered wealthy donors and bundlers an extraordinary level of access to the candidate, his staff members, advisers and family this weekend at a three-day retreat that even seasoned political contributors said dwarfed previous presidential powwows.

Mr. Romney’s political operation seemed to all but shut down and relocate to the mountains of Utah. At least 15 senior campaign figures flew in for what blue-blazered guests from Texas, North Carolina and New York dubbed Republicanpalooza, delivering briefings on the effectiveness of Mr. Romney’s and Mr. Obama’s commercials and spinning them through the latest polling data, which they said showed the race as a dead heat.

“Everybody was completely accessible,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier and Romney fund-raiser who said the candidate took the time to warmly greet and thank him by his nickname, Mooch, at a dinner on the first night of the retreat.

Yet for all the political and financial firepower assembled here, the Romney confab was not the only, or necessarily the most exclusive, gathering of ultrarich Republicans this weekend. In a simultaneous demonstration of the party’s fund-raising might, the industrialist billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch held a conference for conservative megadonors at a resort outside San Diego. Over the past few years, their high-dollar strategy sessions have been the marquee events of the Republican campaign finance set.

The Koch conference touched off an unexpected — and for the Romney campaign, somewhat unwelcome — competition for top-flight moneyed supporters. While Mr. Romney’s campaign officials have made it clear that they appreciate the efforts of wealthy backers like the Kochs, there was consternation among some on his finance team that the brothers decided to move forward with their conference after Mr. Romney scheduled his for the same weekend. As one fund-raiser noted, Mr. Romney is, after all, the candidate.

The Romney campaign offered donors who gave $50,000 or raised $100,000 intimate seminars and discussions featuring leading Republican lights, past and present: Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, James Baker III, John McCain and Jeb Bush, whose presence represented a symbolic embrace of a candidate who struggled to win over the disparate elements of his party in the bruising primary.

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