Romney Invited Axelrod to GOP Presidential Candidate Gathering, Shunned Cruz and Carson

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Mitt Romney invited Obama political strategist David Axelrod to address a political gathering in Utah last week. The event was officially hosted by Romney and Solamere Capital, the investment firm whose executive committee he chairs, and was designed to introduce a host of GOP presidential contenders to wealthy donors.

However, some notable names were apparently left off the guest list. They include announced candidates Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee.

Jeb Bush, who was invited, did not attend because he was in Europe. But three announced candidates—Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Lindsay Graham—and three unannounced candidates—John Kasich, Scott Walker and Chris Christie—did.

Axelrod, now the Director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, was a featured speaker. Axelrod was sought out by Romney to provide the gathered Republican crowd with the sort of winning advice he gave to President Obama in his successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Romney and Axelrod have apparently become friendly of late. In May Romney appeared at an off-the-record event at the Institute of Politics in the Windy City hosted by Axelrod that was closed to the press.

As Breitbart News previously reported, Romney told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday that one of Axelrod’s key points at the event was Republicans needed to reach out to minorities more if they want to win.

Time Magazine reported that “David Axelrod addressed the roughly 250 attendees Thursday evening, telling them, according to multiple attendees, that he believes voters will want to elect a candidate who is not like President Obama and has more executive experience than the one-term Senator did when he took office in 2009.”

What has not been previously reported about Axelrod’s message to the Republican elite is that he apparently provided an even greater level of specificity about the characteristics of that candidate he said voters will want, with “more executive experience than the one-term Senator did when he took office in 2009.” Voters in 2016 will be looking for a President who knows how to “manage Washington,” meaning someone with experience in “managing the [political] system” there, the Democrat strategist explained.

On this point, Axelrod was introducing Romney and his allies to an opinion he expressed back in February. As USA Today reported at the time:

After eight years of President Obama — and amid disappointment over what Axelrod calls his “great, unfulfilled promise” to change the capital’s politics — voters may well be looking for a Washington insider who knows how to make a gridlocked system operate.

“Her [Hillary Clinton’s] status as someone who had worked within Washington and who was familiar with Washington was actually a liability” then, Axelrod says. Now, “people are going to be looking, as they always do, not for the replica but for the remedy. They’re going to want someone who knows how to manage the system, navigate the system, and I think her skill set and her background are probably better for this campaign than they were for the last.” (emphasis added)

Axelrod’s February comments about how much better suited Hillary Clinton was to succeed in 2016 than she had been in 2008 were made before the public knew about the devastating revelations of Clinton Cash, the investigative book written by Breitbart editor-at-large Peter Schweizer and published by Harper Collins in May.

Breitbart News asked Axelrod if he thought Hillary’s disastrous four years as Secretary of State qualified as the “more executive experience” voters are seeking in 2016. He hasn’t responded.

Axelrod was presumably paid by Romney’s firm to deliver his speech, but neither Solamere Capital nor Axelrod would confirm whether his speaking engagement was paid or provided free of charge.

It is interesting to note that Romney chose not to invite conservative political consultants or media personalities such as Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham or Ann Coulter to address the group.

On its website, Solamere Capital says it is “[a] collection of families & influential business leaders leveraging their broad networks and industry expertise to invest strategic capital.”

Its management leadership team includes Mitt Romney as chairman of the executive committee, son Tagg Romney as managing partner, and former Romney finance chairman Spencer Zwick as managing partner.

The firm raised $525 million for its second fund in 2014, which adds to the $248 million it raised in for its first fund in 2010.

In April, Zwick was reportedly seeking a moderate Republican to challenge Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in the 2016 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in Lee currently occupies.

On Wednesday, Politico reported that Zwick had been named chairman of the America Rising Super PAC, which it described as “the GOP opposition network.”


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