Romney Gathers #NeverTrump Republicans At Utah Conclave

Mitt Romney (L) and Donald Trump arrive at a news conference held by Trump to endorse Romn
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Defeated GOP 2012 candidate Mitt Romney is hosting a weekend convention of anti-Trump ‘Republicans-in-exile’ at a secluded Utah retreat to discuss possible “post-Trump” scenarios.

The “Experts and Enthusiasts Summit” – or “E2” summit – is at the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, according to The Washington Post.

The festivities kick off Thursday night. The Republican movers and shakers will reportedly discuss their plot to plant a Trump alternative candidate into the race. The effort has fizzled since Bill Kristol’s pick — obscure writer David French — decided not to run, and because the Republican National Committee publicly aligned behind Trump after the Indiana primary.

But RNC chairman Reince Preibus, who is also joining Trump now in his Twitter exchanges Hillary Clinton, will be at Romney’s “E2” extravaganza, where speeches will be made and symposiums given. The crowd is expected to be only about 300, according to the Post, but it’s apparently an exclusive ticket in #NeverTrump world.

The event seems mostly focused on regaining control of the party in the event of a Trump loss, which would no doubt sit well with some of the Establishment attendees, many of whom were participants of the GOP’s defeat in 2008 and 2012.

“I am not expecting we will sit by the campfire singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and group-hugging,” anti-Trump, pro-immigration activist Ana Navarro told The Washington Post. “Mitt Romney and other like-minded leaders can have a big influence on the reconstruction of the post-Trump Republican Party. We need to start those conversations now.”

According to the Post:

John Weaver, another GOP strategist, predicted the Romney gathering will yield no credible solution to Trump. “Some of them will have chardonnay, some will have spring water, they’ll wring their hands, they’ll bemoan the state of the party and then they’ll leave,” he said.

The E2 summit is not intended to be a political forum, but rather is a Romney-designed version of the Aspen Ideas Festival.

The Salt Lake Tribune also described the pending event.

Matt Waldrip, the executive director of the E2 Summit, told CNN: “We’ll hear from various viewpoints on what it means to be a Republican. People will make a big deal out of that, but that’s not a new debate.”

Matheson sees this weekend as a chance for Romney to shift the discussion to something broader than the presidential horse race.

“This is Mitt at his best, being a convener, raising issues and allowing people to think strategically or creatively,” he said. “I also think it will be an interesting pivot, not to the fall election, but more to the future, some of the global issues of the economy and jobs, things that are not going to be fixed by whoever is in control of Congress and whoever lives in the White House.”

Read more here.



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