Bloomberg News

Romney Opens Fundraiser in Israel to Media After Outcry

July 29, 2012

Romney Says He Would Respect Israeli Strike on Iran

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem's old city on Sunday. Photographer: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will allow reporters into a private meeting in Jerusalem with top campaign donors accompanying him on a six-day foreign tour, reversing course after barring media from the event.

Many of the fundraisers, a group of Romney supporters that includes casino executive Sheldon Adelson, traveled from the U.S. to join the campaign for tomorrow’s event at the King David Hotel. The price to attend: A donation of $50,000 or already raising $100,000 for the campaign, according to an invitation obtained by Bloomberg News.

The Romney campaign had negotiated an agreement with the media to permit a small group of reporters into all fundraising receptions at public venues, including a July 26 event in London. Yesterday, the campaign announced plans to bar the press at the Israel event.

After pressure from journalists accompanying Romney on the trip, the campaign now plans to open his remarks to coverage by a handful of reporters. Roughly 50 U.S. citizens are expected to attend a breakfast reception.

Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based donor attending the Jerusalem fundraiser, said the crowd is expected to be largely pro-Israel Americans who traveled from the U.S. for the event.

President Barack Obama allows media coverage of his fundraisers at public venues. At events in private homes, a pool of reporters can listen to his opening remarks before they are ushered out.

Private Comments

Reporters have overheard Romney making political remarks to donors in private that he doesn’t repeat in public. During an April event at a waterfront mansion in Florida, he told fundraisers he would consider drastically reducing the Education Department and eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to NBC News.

Earlier this month, he didn’t mention former President George W. Bush by name in a speech at a fundraiser hosted by ex- Vice President Dick Cheney at a golf course near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Yet reporters later overheard him mentioning Bush at a private dinner at Cheney’s home.

The Jerusalem fundraiser is the second held by Romney during an international tour designed to highlight his foreign- policy credentials. Almost 250 donors joined him at the London event, which raised at least $2 million, according to campaign aide Spencer Zwick. A small group of reporters was allowed to listen as Romney spoke. Hosts included donors with ties to banks involved in the Libor rate-fixing scandal, a fact scrutinized in the press.

Donors also joined Romney on a surprise visit to the Western Wall today, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. As Romney made his way down to the wall, donors were escorted around the site by Zwick and Romney’s brother, Scott.

New York lawyer Phil Rosen, one of Romney’s biggest benefactors, was permitted past the machine-gun-carrying Israeli soldiers protecting a security perimeter to embrace the presidential candidate. The two took a snapshot to remember the moment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lisa Lerer in Jerusalem at llerer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net


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