BOISE – GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney raked in more than $100,000 at a breakfast fundraiser Monday in Boise and said he doubts Democrats can make gains in the West.
“I just don’t think that the Democrats’ platform is in any way consistent with the views of the people of the American West,” Romney told reporters. “The idea of big government controlling people’s lives, dominating the landscape quite literally by telling people what you can do with your land – those kinds of policies I just don’t think connect with people in the West.”
After the Boise event, Romney headed to Seattle, where he had a dinner fundraiser scheduled along with several meetings, including one at Microsoft.
The Republican’s Boise comments came in one of the nation’s most Republican states, but also in a region where Democrats have picked up key state and federal offices in recent years. The national Democratic Party convention this year is scheduled to be in Denver in August.
“I think it is a good thing their convention will be in the West, because people will say, ‘This isn’t us,’ ” Romney said. “This is a very different mindset that we have – we believe in freedoms, we believe in lower taxes, we believe in smaller government.”
John Foster, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, disputed the candidate’s claims and noted that Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts. “First of all, he’s clearly wrong just based on election results,” Foster said. “Look at what happened in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon. Those are Western states.”
Foster said Western voters are concerned about growth. “Idaho voters want to make sure that as we grow, we grow in a way that’s reflective of our values,” he said. “He’s clearly out of touch with what’s happening, especially in the West.”
Nevertheless, Romney is by far the top fundraiser in Idaho among national presidential candidates from any party, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Romney had raised $457,248 from Idahoans at the end of October – 54 percent of the total raised by all presidential candidates from Idahoans. His closest rival was Rudy Giuliani, a fellow Republican, with $161,500.
Among Washington residents, the top presidential fundraiser was Democrat Barack Obama, whose $1.13 million made up 30 percent of the $3.7 million all presidential candidates raised.
Romney’s fundraising ranked third there, at $558,273, just behind Democrat John Edwards.
Romney declared his Idaho fundraising event a big success, as about 150 people paid at least $500 apiece to eat bacon, eggs and fruit with him at a Boise country club, and 50 paid $2,300 a head for a photo with the candidate. It was his fourth trip to Idaho in the past year.
Asked about his former Idaho campaign co-chairman, Sen. Larry Craig, Romney said, “I don’t really have anything to add to what I have said before.” Romney immediately repudiated Craig and dropped him from his campaign in September after news surfaced that the Idaho senator had been snared in a Minneapolis airport restroom sex-solicitation sting.