Elections 2012

Sep 22, 2012

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 Romney pulls in big bucks in southern California

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By Ros Krasny

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Having declared that his presidential campaign does not need a makeover, Republican Mitt Romney raised millions of dollars at two fundraisers in southern California on Saturday to help bankroll the final weeks of the race.

"Im not even going to be able to go home today. Were just coming to town to see you and keep the campaign going," Romney told a well-heeled crowd at the Grand Del Mar Resort hotel in Del Mar, California, about 12 miles from his beachfront house in La Jolla.

Some 650 supporters - including diet guru Jenny Craig - paid from $1,000 to $25,000 a head to hear Romneys 40-minute speech in Del Mar, have their photograph taken with the candidate and eat roast chicken breast served on a bed of Israeli couscous.

Spencer Zwick, the campaigns national finance chairman, assured donors their money would be spent wisely: to build a "massive ground game across the country in those swing states" and buy more television advertising.

The second Saturday event, at the Beverly Hilton, pulled in $6 million, Romney said at the start of his remarks.

About 1,500 tickets were sold at three tiers: $1,000, $15,000 and $50,000. Guests were entertained by comedian Dennis Miller and songwriter/producer David Foster.

With his standing in the polls slipping, Romney has been under fire from some in his party who feel he has not spent enough time visiting political swing states versus hob-nobbing with wealthy donors.

President Barack Obama spent the day campaigning - and also raising funds - in Wisconsin, a battleground state and the home of Romneys running mate, Representative Paul Ryan.

Romney had no public events on Saturday. He will fly to Denver on Sunday afternoon for a rally and among other stops will have a two-day bus tour in Ohio Tuesday and Wednesday.

Local resident Matt Romney, the second of the candidates five sons, introduced his father and urged attendees to "open their wallets" at least one more time to help get the Republicans message out before November 6.

"Its our turn, you guys" said the elder Romney, 65, who was wearing dress pants and a sport jacket.

DOESNT NEED A TURNAROUND

Boarding a plane in San Francisco on Saturday, Romney declined to answer a reporters shouted question of whether he will soon adopt a more "aggressive" strategy.

But he told the crowd in Del Mar Saturdays event was his "last fundraiser in San Diego."

In an interview to be broadcast on Sunday on CBS "60 Minutes," Romney rejected calls for changes, pointing out that in national polls he is in a tight race with Obama.

"It doesnt need a turnaround. Weve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent president to the United States," Romney said in excerpts from the interview released by CBS on Friday.

At the Del Mar event, Romney lauded some local California entrepreneurs, including Ada Regan, owner of "Strawberry Hill," an historic mansion in Hillsborough, near San Francisco, where Romney raised funds on Friday night.

Regans late husband Barrie, an electrical engineer and Italian immigrant, designed components that were used in the U.S. space program.

Pressing a familiar theme, Romney said Obama does not understand what it takes to build a business but rather wants government to play a larger top-down role.

"They DID build their business," Romney said of the Regans.

In Los Angeles Romney criticized Obamas support for certain union measures and said the key to improving education in the United States was "to put the kids and the parents and the teachers first, and the unions and their interests behind."

(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jackie Frank and Todd Eastham)