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In Romney Territory, a McCain Pitch

McCain, with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. and former eBay head Meg Whitman in Salt Lake City. (AP).

By Alec MacGillis
It remains to be seen whether John McCain will put his former rival Mitt Romney's financial know-how to use by picking him as his running mate at a time when the demands of economic turmoil could trump personal rapport, or lack of it, as a ticket-making rationale. But today McCain did the most to milk another of Romney's primary attributes -- his entree into the deep pockets in Rocky Mountain country.

Romney joined McCain at a fundraiser in Salt Lake City, and is to accompany him to another fundraiser in Denver this evening. It is familiar territory for Romney, whose family has deep Mormon roots in Utah, who lived there for several years while organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics, and who made repeated fundraising visits there during his own presidential campaign. Romney raised $6.3 million in Utah, more than from his home state of Massachusetts, and second only to his haul from California.

McCain, by contrast, has raised only about $200,000 from the state, despite having enjoyed the endorsement of its governor, Jon Huntsman Jr. (who backed the Arizona senator even as his father, billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr., plowed tens of thousands of dollars into Romney's political action committees.) This means there is a vast population of Republican donors in the state who are nowhere near to tapping out their allowed $4,600 maximum donation to McCain, if Romney can successfully make the introduction.

The pair's lope through the Mountain West is notable given the palpable disdain that existed between them during the primary. For months, Romney attacked McCain in ads and mailings over McCain's support for immigration reform -- the issue that nearly sank McCain's campaign. McCain retorted with cutting asides during debates and his own TV ad in New Hampshire quoting local newspapers who declared Romney a "phony."

But the exigencies of the moment seem to be prevailing, for now. Romney, at loose ends now that his $50 million personal investment in his own campaign failed to pay off, is hinting that he wouldn't mind joining a McCain ticket. And McCain is lagging so badly in the fundraising department -- raising $11 million last month to Barack Obama's $55 million -- that getting the Romney imprimatur in the mile-high elite is more important than nursing the grudges of recent history.

By Washington Post editors  |  March 27, 2008; 3:40 PM ET
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Oops, I meant executive.

Posted by: shelbysez | March 31, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse


I agree with all your points regarding Romney being an excellent choice for VP. I also believe as you stated that Romney would be our nominee if not for the things that happened in Florida--Crist's endorsement of McCain and McCain's dishonesty days before the primary that Romney would want time-tables for pulling out of Iraq. With the economy tanking badly, Romney with his execute business experience, is hands down the best choice for VP. M & M 2008!

Posted by: shelbysez | March 31, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm Late, I'm Late!

DCWILL-Blame al-Huckster for the Negatives! He was the Sectarian Clown!

McRomney! Live it! Learn IT!

Gotta LOVE IT! :-)

Seems we might just actually be having the Republi-CAN Party after all!

While the Dim's get a Broken Convention! LOL! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 27, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm inclined to agree with JakeL on this. I'm betting that most LDS Utah Republicans have already donated their max and will be loathe to dig deeper in hard times for a candidate they feel at best tepid about.

I watch the Utah news since I used to live there, and I can honestly say that I have not encountered a single post that was wholeheartedly enthusiastic about McCain -- you know, the way Huckabee fans thought Huckabee was our only hope, and Romney fans thought Romney was our only hope....

It is mostly a debate about the lesser of evils, with a large number of defections.

Posted by: carolm62 | March 27, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I see this as ominous for McCain. Republican presidential candidates never waste time or resources visiting Utah because Utah has always been considered a shoe-in.

But Utahns aren't supporting McCain -- or at least not a comfortable enough number of them are.

See, Utahns are really quite fiscally conservative. Ideologically, more are actually Libertarian.

Posted by: carolm62 | March 27, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

seacup, you make it sound like the Utah vote was Mormons against Baptists! I personally think it was about Mormons being chapped at Huckabigot. Huck is nothing short of being a bald faced bigot, when it comes to the LDS Church!
I don't think Utahans will have any problem voting for McCain (who is Baptist by last report) unless, of course, he picks Gomer as his running mate.
If he does, you will probably see the reddest of red states turn BLUE come election night. Count on it.

Posted by: scottdevelopment | March 27, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Romney never flip-flopped after being elected to office. He changed positions on some issues after he left office.

Posted by: brea1963 | March 27, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. McCain would be wise to seriously consider Romney as VP.
-He's young, countering McCain's age issue
-He's brilliant on business issues, countering McCain's admitted shortcomings.
-He's a great debater
-His morals and family values are impeccable
-He finished a close second (and would have won the nomination if it weren't for C. Crist's endorsement)
-He's the best Republican funraiser in this election cycle
-He has the backing of the conservative establishment
-He'd make a great president in 2012 or 2016

And many more!

Posted by: brea1963 | March 27, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Romney will do awesome with McCain and then be elected to president himself! This is wonderful and exciting for the United States. McCain would be very, very smart to pick Romney. Go Mitt!!!

Posted by: sfsfsf | March 27, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

As a Democrat, I pray every night before I go to bed that McCain will pick Romney as his running mate. Romney is a flip flopper who, just a few years ago, supported gay rights, abortion, and pretty much any other liberal position you can think of. Combine this with the fact that many conservatives would rather vote for the antichrist than McCain, and that ticket doesn't have a chance against Obama.

Posted by: deanthomas1123 | March 27, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

As a Mormon NOT living in Utah I get irritated that so many IN Utah are making this election about religion instead of political issues. I did not and would not support Romney in any capacity in a run for the White House. I am a registered independent, but am most likely going to vote Democratic this cycle. Lumping all the Mormons into one mindless legion who are hopelessly devoted to Romney is too much. And to make these broad sweeping statements in any direction (I'm looking at you JakeL) about a person because of something they do on Sunday, is completely offensive.

Posted by: seacup_79 | March 27, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

(Sorry, make that 1960 ; )

Posted by: JakeD | March 27, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I just double-checked: Utah has not gone for the Democrat since 1976!!

Posted by: JakeD | March 27, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse


You could have a point about donations, but you're not suggesting that Utah will go for Obama, much less HILLARY CLINTON, over McCain, are you?

Posted by: JakeD | March 27, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

As a Romney supporter it saddens me greatly to learn that Romney is now stumping for McCain, at least in Utah anyways.

McCain sunk deep in the mud to pull off wins against Romney in FL and on Super Tuesday. McCain is just a bitter old lying man and it makes me sad to see Mitt helping him out.

Posted by: DCWill | March 27, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

As a Mormon in Salt Lake City, I think many Mormons here are pretty cash strapped and couldn't afford to give to McCain even if they wanted to. Mormons already give 10% of their income to the church and with a recession looming and the current housing crisis, I think political donations will be hard to come by.

Besides, I think more Utahns support Ron Paul than they do McCain, so unless McCain makes Romney his VP (which Mormons would view as a religious victory over Evangelical Christian Huckabee), I don't think McCain can count on much here.

Posted by: JakeL | March 27, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Cue rat-the in 3 -- 2 -- 1

Posted by: JakeD | March 27, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Besides being Mormon, the only drawback I see to Romney being offered the VP spot is that McCain is going to carry Utah regardless -- I wonder if Romney could help McCain in Michigan though -- couldn't he get more "bang for the buck" with someone bigger, like Bloomberg? That would put NY in play, especially against Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | March 27, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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