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Mormon Mitt Romney Will Host Republican Retreat This Summer

Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) has a lay clergy, its members are accustomed to serving in a variety of ways, with responsibilities both large and small.  They are used to jumping into a new “calling” or position of service entirely different than the one they previously had, and used to leading, following, and working in groups.  These aspects of Mormon service generalize to professional life and are part of what makes Mormon businessmen and government servants so successful.

With that being the case, it’s no surprise that although Mitt Romney lost his bid for President of the United States in 2012, he is supporting the Republican Party’s attempt to take the White House in 2016.

“‘It seems like he has a real interest in trying to help guide the party through a time of difficulty and soul-searching,’” said Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Romney appears to be “stepping up his post-election involvement” by hosting a Republican Party retreat this summer at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. “He has unbounding energy and a unique perspective our party should learn from,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Tim Hagle, University of Iowa political science professor, said that Romney “seems to be taking a low-key role as a former candidate, using his business skills to help facilitate discussions about the GOP’s future rather than make public proclamations.”

“‘He can become that sort of senior statement-type person if he wants to,’ Hagle said. ‘He strikes me as not the kind of guy who would want to sort of push himself out there in ways. He doesn’t need that. He’s a successful enough guy staying behind the scenes.’”

Mitt Romney MormonThe retreat will bring together “big-money donors and potential 2016 contenders.”

“At least two possible 2016 presidential candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney’s vice-presidential pick, will attend the June event billed as four days of hearing from ‘Experts and Enthusiasts’ in politics and business.”

Romney stayed out of the public eye for a few months following his November defeat. In the middle of March he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in National Harbor, Maryland. His speech was considered to be an effort to pass the torch of leadership in the Republican Party to a new generation of conservatives.

He said, “As someone who just lost the last election, I’m probably not the best person to chart the course of the next election.” He counseled party activists to “learn from his campaign’s missteps.” He said, “It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes, and from our mistakes, so that we can win the victories . . . this nation depend upon.”

Some of the “biggest names” in the Republican Party came to a fundraiser for Romney’s presidential race held at Deer Valley in June 2012.

The 2012 event featured party strategist Karl Rove and Rep. Paul Ryan, who at that time had not yet been named as Romney’s running mate. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty also attended.

Solamere Capital, the Boston-based equity firm that Romney will be joining as chairman, is the sponsor for this year’s event. Solamere also hosted an investors conference during last year’s Deer Valley event. Romney’s son Tagg started the firm five years ago with Spencer Zwick, Romney’s 2008 and 2012 campaign finance chairman.

“While the next presidential race is still years away, candidates are already gearing up.” For example, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will visit Iowa in April and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky is slated to speak there in May.

“Both Hagle and Wilson said it will be difficult for any would-be presidential candidate to skip Romney’s retreat.”

“‘We’re not going to see a lot of jockeying at this stage, but all the players will want to have a seat at that table,’ Wilson said.”

The cost for attending Romney’s retreat will be $5,000. “It is not clear whether the money collected will only go toward the event’s expenses or could be used to support GOP candidates.”

Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and longtime Romney supporter, said that politicians have an incentive to participate in this year’s retreat.

“‘Romney was the leader of the party, at least during his campaign against President Obama, and a number of individuals and groups who are looking for leadership in the Republican Party are eager to associate with Mitt and certainly his donor base,’” said Jowers.


Romney bringing 2016 presidential hopefuls, donors to Deer Valley

This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paula Hicken MormonPaula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.

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