Mitt Romney raised at least $875,000 during his visit to Minnesota tonight. The presumptive Republican nominee for president attended two fundraisers. Roughly 350 people gave between $2,500 and $10,000 to attend a fundraiser at the Lafayette Country Club in Minnetonka Beach. Couples who contributed $50,000 attended a private dinner at the Shorewood home of Cambria CEO Marty Davis.
“This is a campaign about the soul of America,” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said. “I want to keep this country the shining city on a hill, the strong and vibrant nation that has inspired the nation and people all over the globe. I need your help to have that happen.”
Romney’s Minnesota visit was brief. He held no public events and focused all of his time attending the two fundraisers. He encouraged donors to energetically back his campaign.
“You’ve written checks, I need you now to go out and find somebody who voted for Barack Obama – there are a few here in Minnesota,” Romney said, as the crowd laughed. “I need you to find them and convince them to join our team. Not because they’re Republican or Democrat, but because this is the time to say what America is. And if you do, we’re going to take back our country.”
The crowd in the country club ballroom included former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and an array of past, present and aspiring GOP politicians. Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman also attended the fundraiser, as did U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-MN, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills.
“This is Mitt Romney’s time,” Coleman said, to cheers and applause from the crowd. “Barack Obama’s time is over.”
Romney’s decision to hold no public events during his Minnesota trip is a sign that he may not be too optimistic about his chances in the state.
Attorney Andy Brehm, who served as former Sen. Norm Coleman’s press secretary, said polling shows President Obama is beating Romney in Minnesota but that could change quickly. He talked with reporters outside the Minnetonka Beach fundraiser.
“If you look back in 2000, George W. Bush didn’t consider Minnesota competitive really until the last two weeks when he actually came and campaigned here and did relatively well but didn’t win the state,” Brehm said. “I’m sure the governor’s campaign is keeping a good eye on the state but right now polls suggest that he’s probably best spending time elsewhere.”
Roughly 100 people protested outside the private Lafayette Club. Kimberly Matt of St. Louis Park says Romney isn’t concerned about the entire country.
“Romney’s a businessman and he would treat us all like we’re customers and the customers who pay the most get the best service. That’s the way it works.”
Democrats also criticized Romney for his stance on education. At a news conference in St. Paul earlier in the day, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak criticized Romney for attending only private events.
“Mitt Romney has been a candidate and would be a president who would lock himself in rooms with the ultra rich, give them big tax breaks and not listen to the voices of all of America,” Rybak said.
Romney’s visit comes just two days after Vice President Joe Biden held campaign rallies in Minneapolis and Rochester.
Update: A national pool report says Romney said during his remarks that “Big business is doing fine” – a line that parrots President Obama’s “The private sector is doing just fine” quote from earlier this year.
(Report includes Pool Report material)