With President Barack Obama wooing young voters in Ohio and Republican Representative Paul Ryan courting Pennsylvanians, Mitt Romney decided to focus his election efforts today on a slightly less pivotal voting bloc: Oil Barons.
The Republican presidential candidate is spending the day in the solidly red-state of Texas, traveling from Houston to Midland for a series of fundraisers. The events, which could have easily passed as oil and gas industry conventions, are expected to add as much as $7 million to his campaign coffers.
At the tony Houstonian hotel, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Oklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm, and Rich Kinder, head of energy pipeline and storage company Kinder Morgan Inc., sat on a dais leading a group of about 100 donors in a conversation designed to identify the best ways the next president could help grow the oil and gas industry.
When Romney arrived, Ohio Senator Rob Portman — a prominent campaign surrogate — greeted him with a list of their top priorities for the next president, including opening up more government lands to oil and gas drilling, cutting federal regulations, and new offshore leasing plans to expand drilling. “We kind of loaded you up here,” said Portman. “But some great of ideas of what could be done even short of going through Congress.”
Romney, who said he didn’t want to detail his energy plans in front of the media, promised the campaign would be releasing more specific details later this week at an event in Hobbs, New Mexico, scheduled for Aug. 23. He vowed, though, to take a “very aggressive” approach to domestic energy exploration, attacking Obama for imposing new regulations on production.
Thursday’s energy-focused public event is a bit of an exception for the Romney campaign, which has been spending most of its time this week on a final money swing before the party’s national convention next week.
The campaign raised another $7 million at events in the Hamptons and on Cape Cod over the weekend. Yesterday, Romney greeted donors in Metairie, a wealthy suburb of New Orleans.
The pace of his fundraising schedule helps explain how the Romney campaign outraised the Obama campaign last month.
According to Federal Election Commission reports released yesterday, Romney’s cash advantage over Obama more than doubled in July — a fact the candidate could help highlighting for his donors this afternoon.
“You perhaps noticed in the paper, we’re a little wiser in our spending of dollars than the other side apparently,” he said. “We’re going to spend our money wisely. We’re going to spend it to win.”