Romney’s Eight-Stop Fundraising Swing Latest in Off-Limits Events

Photograph by Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

Mitt Romney with reporters on the campaign charter flight between New York and Washington, on May 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

What did Mitt Romney tell the 500 donors who attended a May 20 cocktail reception at the waterfront Greenwich home of venture capitalist L. Scott Frantz? And what message was Barack Obama pushing to 150 generous supporters dining May 10 at actor George Clooney’s house while reporters were parked in the garage?

Only those who ponied up at least $2,500 for the Frantz event and $40,000 for the Clooney feast know for sure.

Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, just raised $15 million in an eight-stop, three-day swing through New York City and its suburbs, according to consultant Spencer Zwick. Obama has held more fundraisers for his re-election — 138 so far — than any previous sitting president. He has upcoming New York events planned with Bill Clinton and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Having rejected public campaign financing, the two candidates will spend a significant amount of time in ritzy hotel ballrooms and fancy mansions collecting checks to pay for what might be a $1.5 billion race. So far they’ve chosen to do so mostly out of public earshot as Kate Andersen Brower and this reporter wrote yesterday for Bloomberg.

Romney’s policy is to let two reporters into fundraisers at large venues such as hotels and country clubs. He doesn’t allow reporters into the private homes of donors. Obama permits a press pool to follow him into most fundraisers, including at houses, to record a few brief remarks before being escorted out.

Yet voters would be most interested in the conversations Obama and Romney have at their off-limits events.

Remember Obama’s description of some small-town voters as “bitter” and needing to “cling to their guns or religion” in April 2008? Or Romney’s suggestion this April that he might eliminate the mortgage-interest deduction on second homes and shutter the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Both comments were supposed to be for donors’ ears only.

— Lisa Lerer contributed to this report from New York City.

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