BOISE - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who swung through Boise for a private fundraising breakfast on Monday, has lined up most of Idaho’s top GOP officials for his campaign’s “Idaho steering committee,” co-chaired by Gov. Butch Otter and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch.
The list is so comprehensive that what’s more conspicuous is who’s not on it - 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who attended the fundraising breakfast but remains undecided in the presidential race, and U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who doesn’t endorse because he doesn’t like to “tell people how to vote.”
Both Labrador and Crapo, like Romney, are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.
In addition to Otter and Risch, Romney’s Idaho steering committee includes 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, state schools Supt. Tom Luna, state Controller Donna Jones, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, House Speaker Lawerence Denney; Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis and Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder; and House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke and caucus chairman Ken Roberts.
“I am proud to have the support of so many Idaho leaders,” Romney said in a statement. “They will help spread my message to Idaho voters of creating jobs, balancing our budget, and reversing President Obama’s failed policies.”
Labrador’s spokesman, Phil Hardy, said of the 1st District congressman, “He is attending the event, but he has not made, as of now, a decision on who he is supporting for the presidency.”
Romney endorsed both Crapo and Labrador in the 2010 elections and his “Free and Strong America PAC” sent them donations, $5,000 to Crapo and $3,500 to Labrador.
Crapo’s spokesman, Lindsay Nothern, said, “He’s not on that letter for Romney because he doesn’t generally endorse . … That’s just his style. He’s not one that gets in real early.”
Added Nothern, “His rationale is he doesn’t like to tell people how to vote, basically. … I would expect he’ll sit out for quite a while, if not the whole election.”
Crapo wasn’t at the Romney fundraiser in Boise; he was in Washington, D.C., where he’s embroiled in the “Gang of Six” deficit-reduction negotiations; the bipartisan group is now just a gang of five, after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., dropped out, though Coburn said he might return later.
Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, has made many trips to Idaho, including to campaign for Otter’s re-election campaign last year. The Romney campaign had little to say about the Monday’s Boise event, which reportedly drew more than 100 donors. “It’s a private fundraiser,” said campaign spokesman Ryan Williams. “We don’t discuss our fundraising. He’s just going to be in town briefly.”
Romney made another brief stop Monday in Idaho Falls for a fundraiser, which also reportedly drew more than 100, and then headed to Colorado. “It’s a private event, but we will be back for public events over the next few months,” Williams said. “We have strong support in Idaho, and we will be back.”
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