As Mitt Romney's campaign announced on Monday that it raised a personal-best $170 million in September, his top donors are gathering at Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria hotel for a three-day retreat at which they will attend strategy sessions, rub elbows with Republican luminaries, and cheer on their candidate at a debate party featuring comedian Dennis Miller.
The $170 million figure is almost as much as the near-record $181 million that President Obama's campaign raised last month. The Romney campaign believes it needs to bring in even more in October to capitalize on his recently improved showing in swing states such as Florida and Ohio.
Romney's well-received performance in the initial debate led to raising $12 million in online donations in less than 48 hours. During the first two weeks of October, the Romney campaign raised more than $27 million online in small-dollar contributions, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
"This is truly an incredible testament to this group’s commitment and hard work and represents the largest amount of money we have raised to date in any given month of the campaign," Romney campaign officials said in a memo.
The campaign's New York event is the second three-day fundraiser conference of its kind that the Romney campaign has held for its top bundlers. The first, in Park City, Utah, in June, included seminars with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., former Gov. Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, and others, as well as an appearance by the Republican nominee himself. Romney is not scheduled to stop by the Manhattan meetings.
According to a schedule of the retreat, posted online by the Sunlight Foundation, the event kicks off on Monday evening with a gala reception and dinner on board the aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a military and maritime museum. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, is scheduled to attend, along with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and Donald Trump.
Tuesday’s schedule begins with a “Campaign and Strategy Briefing” in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf. Several top Romney officials will address the group, including political director Rich Beeson, pollster Neil Newhouse, and senior advisers Ed Gillespie and Beth Myers.
Following the strategy session, the fundraisers will hear from a panel about “Issues Facing America – Jobs.” Among the high-profile speakers are Carlos Gutierrez, the former U.S. secretary of Commerce; Charles Schwab, CEO of Charles Schwab Corp.; and Scott McNealy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems. Also on hand will be two men whose success stories Romney often touts on the campaign trail: Jimmy John Liautaud, founder of the Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise, and Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma oilman who made billions on the North Dakota Bakken oil boom.
The day will conclude with a debate watch party at New York’s legendary Roseland Ballroom in midtown Manhattan, where Miller is scheduled to perform. It will mark the second time in less than a month that Miller has entertained Romney’s donors. The Republican nominee thanked the comedian “for not just the humor, but the truth in the humor” after his remarks at a September fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hilton.