PARK CITY, Utah – Mitt Romney's campaign treated guests to a luxury weekend with staggered appearances by the candidate and regular interaction with Republican leaders as it rallied its finance troops to build a machine that could out-raise the president.
With a guest list including former secretaries of state James Baker and Condoleezza Rice, former White House adviser Karl Rove, Reps. Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor and nearly everyone rumored to be a potential vice presidential pick, the weekend appeared to be something like a practice run for the Republican National Convention.
Mr. Romney's Utah retreat was not quite so intimate as some had imagined, as the guest list grew. But his top donors -- supporters who have given at least $50,000 -- still managed to revel in their close-up access to a deep bench of Republican Party leaders.
"There hasn't been something like this really," said David Reinke, a real-estate investor and chief executive of a computer-parts supplier based in Madison, Wis. He noted this wasn't quite the environment for up-close interaction with Mr. Romney, though.
"There's many more people here than expected, which reduces your opportunity," he said. Still, Mr. Reinke attended roundtable events on financial services and energy, with guest speakers such as Florida Rep. Connie Mack, and was particularly interested in a discussion about the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.
As guests arrived they received canvas Vineyard Vines bags stitched with "Romney" and "Believe in America." A binder laid out their schedule for the weekend - and their invitations to the real deal: The upcoming convention in Tampa.
The convention packages, which cost $4,000 without lodging or $6,500 with a hotel room, touted "premier seating" at RNC Convention sessions and tickets to a handful of events with titles such as the "America is Right Reception and Hospitality" and the "Ready to Lead Lunch."