New York • Since losing the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney has pumped his own gas (with wind-tousled hair), navigated Costco with his wife, Ann (stocking up on everything from bottled water to paper towels) and welcomed grandchildren 19 and 20 (twins, from his youngest son, Craig).
And on Thursday, Romney hit Manhattan for what several people with knowledge of his trip described as a “thank you” tour for donors and fundraisers from his recent campaign.
In the afternoon, Romney attended a large meeting with fundraisers at Weil, Gotshal & Manges — a law firm on Fifth Avenue that was a finance team meeting spot during the campaign — and in the evening, he is expected to attend a smaller dinner for top fundraisers and donors at the home of Stephen A. Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group.
Though the visit was largely designed for Romney to express his gratitude to donors and others who helped raise money for his campaign, one person with knowledge of the meetings said that at the dinner, attendees were hoping discuss ways to keep him part of the political conversation.
“We’ll be plotting out the future, keeping Mitt relevant, talking about 2016,” this person said. “Not for Mitt, but if he can keep this group of fundraisers together, that’s a powerful calling card to Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.”
With a few exceptions, Romney has kept a low profile since the November election. He returned to the political spotlight most recently in March, when he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and received a warm welcome.
Attendees at the dinner are expected to include some of his top money men: Joshua Harris, a co-founder of Apollo Global Management; Emil W. Henry Jr., a former Treasury official under President George W. Bush and an economic adviser to the Romney campaign; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets; David H. Koch, who, along with his brother, is a major benefactor of conservative causes; Wilbur L. Ross Jr., an investor; Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital; Dan Senor, a senior policy adviser to Romney’s campaign who also advised Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the vice presidential nominee; Paul Singer, founder and chief executive of Elliott Management Corp.; and Spencer Zwick, Romney’s finance chairman and a founder of Solamere Capital.
In June, Romney will host a retreat in Park City, Utah, for his donor and fundraising base, which at least two 2016 hopefuls — Ryan and the New Jersey governor, Christie — are expected to attend. The gathering is being sponsored by Solamere, the investment firm co-founded by Zwick and Romney’s oldest son, Tagg.
In addition to helping out Solamere, where Romney recently took on a modest role as chairman of the executive committee, an associate said Romney’s retreat would allow him to play a larger role in 2016 Republican politics.
“I can guarantee you whatever 2016 hopefuls he invites, they will show up,” the associate said.