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Potential White House hopefuls to join Romney in Utah this week

Published June 3, 2013 9:01 pm

Romney's Park City event includes potential Republican nominees as well as some Democratic stars.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Potential White House hopefuls will join Mitt Romney in Park City this week for an event pitched by Romney aides as a bipartisan forum on "emerging opportunities."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan — all Republicans — as well as Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and President Barack Obama's top adviser David Axelrod will join Romney for what essentially is a mix between a business briefing and a political brainstorming session.

Romney says the gathering is meant to help keep some of the momentum and ideas from his presidential run in the national debate over the future of the country.

"One thing I felt deeply about after the campaign was that the people who had come together to support us were an extremely interested and involved group of individuals whose knowledge and perspective could continue to be helpful to the country," Romney told The Wall Street Journal. "And I thought it would be too bad if this group just left and went different directions and wasn't able to come together and exchange ideas."

The event, called "Experts & Enthusiasts," begins Wednesday at Park City's Stein Eriksen Lodge and includes a political power list of attendees, from the co-chairmen of the fiscal-responsibility commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, to the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, to the president of the American Enterprise Institute.

The heads of Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems are also expected at the $5,000-a person event that runs Wednesday through Friday. The event is closed to the media.

The gathering is being sponsored by — and mainly caters to investors in — the Solamere Group, a venture capital fund started by Romney's son Tagg and his chief fundraiser, Spencer Zwick.

Kirk Jowers, a longtime Mitt Romney friend and head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, says Americans may not have chosen Romney for the White House but polls showed he won over voters on economic matters.

"So there is a major role for him to play," Jowers said, noting that 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore went on to tackle climate change after his election loss.

"This is classic Romney," Jowers says. "He likes to get the smartest people in the room and figure out problems."

tburr@sltrib.com