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Romney's NYC "Bundlers" Are Primed for Fundraising Push

Romney's NYC "Bundlers" Are Primed for Fundraising Push

By Scott Conroy - April 26, 2012


When Andy Busser began to encourage friends and colleagues to donate to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign back in October, it was often a tough sell.

A private equity investor in New York City, Busser had a ready-made network of people in finance, accounting, law and other high-paying fields to solicit in his role as a Romney fundraising "bundler." His task: collect donations and present them en masse to the campaign.

Some of those whom Busser pursued had supported President Obama four years ago, while others were holding back to see how the Republican race shook out before opening their checkbooks. And many were initially reluctant to pony up for an uber-wealthy candidate who seemed to lack a certain spark.

But now that Romney has become the presumptive Republican nominee, Busser’s task has become much easier.

“The enthusiasm for him has grown a lot in getting people to give,” Busser said. “My general pitch is that here’s a guy who’s incredibly competent, and we really need that because there’s not a lot of rational debate and rational analysis going on in Washington these days.”

It’s an understated description that sounds nothing like the “severely conservative” label that Romney applied to himself in the heat of the Republican primary fight just two months ago.

Rather than targeting a GOP base that’s hungry for red meat, the bundler’s soft sell with Romney is well-suited to the northeastern professionals who make up the deep end of the candidate’s nationwide fundraising pool.

Busser says that so far he has gotten about 15 people (including two former Obama donors) to contribute -- enough to make him one of 78 “co-hosts” listed on the invitation to a major fundraising event scheduled in midtown Manhattan on Thursday morning.

In order to achieve the co-host label, according to multiple sources, bundlers must accumulate donations totaling at least $10,000. The even more esteemed title of “co-chair,” of which there are 39 listed for Thursday’s event, requires a total haul of $25,000.

With his clean sweep of primary victories on Tuesday and the impending departure of Newt Gingrich from the race, Romney will be freed temporarily from the day-to-day campaigning he has done for almost a year as he moves toward the 1,144 delegates required to officially secure the Republican nomination.

Money is now the name of the game, and Romney on Wednesday embarked on a fundraising blitz designed to put a dent in the more than 10-to-1 cash-on-hand deficit he faces against Obama, according to the latest FEC report at the end of March.

With more than four months to go before the conventions mark the start of the campaign’s final phase, Romney’s focus for the foreseeable future will be on raising money -- which he has proven successful at in each of his political campaigns.

Though the former Massachusetts governor has been viewed as lacking an innate ability to connect with voters on the stump, he is by all accounts a natural on the fundraising circuit, possessing a skill set that could make him a better candidate in a general election setting than he ever was in the grind-it-out Republican primaries.

On Wednesday, Romney began a multi-event tour of the tri-state area surrounding Manhattan -- the fundraising Mecca of Republican politics and a place where the private equity titan turned politician is in his element.

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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