UPDATE: West Des Moines and Metro Area GOP Elite Support Romney 2012 Fundraiser

In a single night, well-heeled Iowans have a chance to top Romney's July fundraising total of $1.1 million in Iowa. Union leaders and others announce plans to protest at venue.

Updated at 10:30 a.m.

A for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is attracting well-heeled local glitterati with a reputation for making things happen in the Des Moines metro area.

And if they can do the same for Romney, the fundraiser could earn a place in political lore as one of the the most successful ever on a single night in Iowa, insiders suggest.

Hosts are Kyle and Sharon Krause, whose family are principals in , an Iowa corporation that operates the Kum & Go chain of gas stations and convenience stores. Co-hosts are Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Neither fundraiser organizers nor representatives of the campaign are saying how much has been raised in advance of the fundraiser, which takes place at West Des Moines’ tony Glen Oaks Country Club.

Just getting in the door costs $1,250 -- $10,000 for folks who want their pictures taken with the former Massachusetts governor, whose fate in November could be decided in swing-state Iowa. Sponsors are kicking in $900,000 minimum.

That means that before expenses are taken out, the Romney camp could meet or exceed the $1.1 million – Iowa’s share of the $101.3 million the campaign said in a press release Monday that it had raised in July – mostly through contributions of $250 or less.

Tuesday morning, leaders of Progress Iowa, the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, AFSCME Iowa Council 61, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO announced plans to protest outside the gates of Glen Oaks during the fundraiser.

"His opposition to Iowa’s wind industry and skewed tax plan show how out of touch he is with Iowans," said a news release from the Iowa Federation of Labor. "Romney believes in a tax system with two sets of rules – one for himself and others at the top, and another for everyone else. Iowans deserve to know whether Romney’s taken advantage of foreign tax havens to avoid paying his fair share. Iowans deserve to know why he’d give himself a tax cut – which would force either higher deficits or even higher taxes on the middle class."

By the numbers, here’s a list of the sponsors of Tuesday’s fundraiser what they’re paying to to be a part of it:

  • Co-chairs Cameron and Linda Sutton, Patty and Jim Cownie, Gary Kirke, Bruce Rastetter, Candy and Denny Elwell, and Charlene and Don Lamberti were asked to donate or raise $75,000 each.
  • “Gold” level hosts Cory Crowley, Jill and Mark Oman, Debbie and Doug Reichardt, Mary and Chris Risewick, Linda and Tom Koehn, and Lori and Dean Onken were asked to donate or raise $50,000 each.
  • “Silver” level hosts, including Matt Strawn, Mary and Dale Andringa, Jennifer and David Oman, Deb and Bob Pulver, Janis and John Ruan III, Helen and Maurice Sinclair, Christy and Jon Troen, Jane and Robert Sturgeon, were asked to raise or contribute $25,000 each.

Collectively, they’re a group of people known for showing up and getting things done in the Des Moines area and throughout Iowa. They hold leadership positions in public and private corporations, and their names are on sports teams, youth sports complexes, cultural attractions, casinos, pavillions and other projects.

“The fact that they can put on a tremendously successful fundraiser speaks volumes about [Romney’s] prospects in Iowa,” said Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s spokesman. “This, together with our work on the ground, are positive indications of the level of support Governor Romney has in Iowa.

“Iowa is very important,” Albrecht continued. “The Romney campaign is amassing a ground game unlike we’ve ever seen in Iowa, combining grassroots support and financial support from some of the most successful business people in Iowa.”

Rasmussen Reports: Romney Loses Slight Edge

Romney’s visit comes 20 days before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, and at a time when he is trailing President Barack Obama in the polls for only the second time in the past 34 days, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll, released Monday.

With 45 percent, Romney trailed Obama by 2 points. Romney was up by 4 points until Friday, after a mixed jobs report showed that although employers doubled June jobs growth, adding 163,000 new jobs in July, the politically important unemployment rate rose slightly, to 8.3 percent from June’s 8.2 percent.

Kirke, one of the $75,000 contributors, said successful won’t be enough for Romney to grab swing state Iowa’s six electoral votes. Romney, criticized for an to mostly avoid the state after its Republicans wrecked his chances at the presidential nomination in 2008, will need to spend more time here, Kirke said.

“What he has to do to carry Iowa is have a better presence here,” said Kirke, a West Des Moines business investor.

Shawn McCoy, Romney’s Iowa communications director, said the candidate will be in Iowa “several times” before the election, including at a at Central Campus in downtown Des Moines.

Kirke said if Romney can avoid critical mistakes, the election is his.

“I think it’ll be a landslide for Romney,” Kirke said. “People aren’t buying Obama anymore. He’s in real trouble and doesn’t have any strengths to run on. Four years ago, he had charisma and the ability to give good speeches, but people are catching onto that, including my Democrat friends who are not representative of what this man’s philosophy is.”

Kirke said Romney’s message appeals across party lines, while Obama’s does not.

“What Romney needs to do is get out with a positive campaign and rebut some of the ads that  Obama has,” Kirke said. “The class warfare thing is not going to sell anymore.”


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