Mitt Romney criss-crossed his home state of Massachusetts in a major fundraising drive before the Republican convention, netting $7 million after a two-day blitz.
A week after the roll-out of running mate Paul Ryan and with roughly 80 days to go before the November 6 election in which he aims to oust President Barack Obama, Romney was foregoing chances to campaign in crucial swing states, opting to raise cash with events in New York and Massachusetts.
Wasting no time, the former Massachusetts governor had four high-dollar fundraising events scheduled during the day, culminating in a $75,000-per-person beachside dinner on the island of Nantucket off the Atlantic coast.
Billionaire oil magnate Bill Koch also hosted a $50,000-a-head event at his Osterville home.
A vintage plane carrying a sign reading “Obama — Taking America Forward” made a few slow laps above Koch’s house before flying off as guests arrived for the fundraiser.
Romney earlier attended a clam bake luncheon on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard that featured a $50,000-per-person VIP reception.
In Osterville, a “photo reception” was held for those who raised $25,000 or contributed $10,000 to the Romney campaign, with a general reception held later for those who gave $2,500.
By Sunday, Romney will have taken five straight days off from public campaign events, focusing instead on events to raise cash for his campaign.
Romney said Obama was partly to blame for the excess spending that has become a hallmark of the 2012 campaign, where raising millions of dollars is an absolute necessity.
“That’s the challenge with a president who blew through the federal spending limits,” Romney, a multimillionaire former investor, told reporters on his plane before departing well-heeled Martha’s Vineyard for nearby Hyannis.
“It means that campaigns now have to spend a disproportionate amount of time fundraising,” he added.
“You appreciate all the help you get, but you wish you could spend more time on the campaign trail.”
During an unannounced stop at Millies Restaurant in Nantucket, Romney ordered several ice creams for his entourage before chatting with customers in a lighter-hearted moment.
“Say thanks, Mr president,” a mother told her boy Alex as the Republican candidate prepared to leave the restaurant.
Romney appeared to ignore a heckler standing on the stairs inside who shouted: “Five years’ returns, sir! Five years!”
Obama is demanding that Romney, a former venture capitalist, release more than the two years of personal tax returns he has already promised, and paints his rival as the epitome of a society tilted toward the rich.
The president earlier said his wealthy rival would pay only one percent in taxes on his vast wealth under a plan authored by Ryan.
The Republican flagbearer is seeking to fill up his already deep campaign war chest ahead of the August 27-30 convention, where he will become the party’s official nominee.
Obama’s first presidential run in 2008 raised a record-breaking $750 million, but his re-election campaign has lagged behind Romney’s in pulling in the cash.
The Romney team is in a rush to raise what is deemed “primary money,” funding that a candidate brings in before the convention. That money can be spent up until the November election, but cannot be raised after the convention.
After Romney becomes the official nominee, donors can make fresh contributions toward the general election campaign.
Romney held two “finance events,” as described by his campaign, on Friday night in the Hamptons, a tony area on Long Island, New York.
Tickets for Friday’s event at the stately Sebonack Golf Club, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, ran $25,000.
Romney raised “just shy of $7 million” over the two days, campaign officials said.
That does not count the more than $10 million the Romney campaign raised online in the week since Romney named Ryan as his running mate.
Massachusetts is a largely liberal state, and, even though Romney served here as governor, his campaign does not see it as in play in November.
When boarding his flight out of Martha’s Vineyard, Romney shook hands with four drivers who had participated in his motorcade, joking with them that they were “the four Republicans on the island, right?”