The fundraiser for Romneys campaign began at 8 a.m., cost $500 per person or $2,500 for photo opportunities, was closed to the media and included such names on the host committee list as former Gov. Frank Keating, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, Continental Resources Harold Hamm and Larry Nichols of Devon Energy.
The second fundraiser, which cost $20.12 and benefited the state GOP, was held afterward.
State GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell said about 168 tickets were sold to the public rally, although several more attended the event as part of membership in GOP groups.
right, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is introduced by Matt Pinnell.
During that event, Romney gave a stump speech to the crowd and took a few questions, although no time was made available for media questions.
Romney praised Oklahoma for its 2008 election results and the fact that all 77 counties were carried by President Barack Obamas opponent, Sen. John McCain.
That was a big statement, to become the reddest state in America and have every county support the Republican ticket. You guys are smarter than the rest of the country, Im afraid. You saw something I dont think the rest of the nation saw, Romney told the crowd.
Romney said he felt Obama was not experienced when he took office, that the nation is now seeing the results of that, and that the president and the political class in Washington, D.C., do not understand America.
Thats why this president is going to be a one-term president, Romney said to applause. I think in order to get the economy to work, it helps to have worked in the economy, and I have. If you want to create jobs, it helps to have had a job.
Romney also said Obama created uncertainty in the economy through his health care plan, Wall Street regulation, carbon emission reduction legislation and through the National Labor Relations Board.
This president has done it all wrong. Hes done the one thing business cant deal with and entrepreneurs cant deal with: Hes created more uncertainty, Romney said. Business can deal with bad news, banks will loan if they understand the future, but if they dont know the future for themselves or the people theyre lending to, then they wont lend. And if they dont lend, entrepreneurs cant start businesses. And you dont see that kind of growth in the country in part because the presidents created so much uncertainty.
Romney also listed some of the things he would do upon taking office, such as cutting the corporate tax rate by 10 percent, while getting rid of some deductions and exemptions, and rolling back many of the business regulations put in place under the Obama administration.
The candidate also pledged to broaden the tax base, flatten tax rates among income levels and find a way for middle-income Americans to not pay taxes on savings, interest, dividends or capital gains.
One person asked Romney if he could unite the party if he wins the primary election. Romney said that Obama would be the person who would bring the party together.
I happen to think that were going to be highly united as a party, and I think the reason for that is Barack Obama, Romney said. I think he has brought together the conservative movement in a way no one would have imagined. He was once a community organizer, and hes doing it again. I dont think this was the community he was hoping to organize.
Both events Romney spoke at were held at the Jim Thorpe Association and Sports Hall of Fame, 4040 N. Lincoln Blvd., which is next door to the state Democratic Party headquarters.
Wallace Collins, chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, joked that he wanted to roll out the welcome wagon for Romney.
Early in the morning, during the presidential fundraising event, a group of protesters stood in the parking lot of the Democratic Party headquarters with signs reading We Love RomneyCare and Which Mitt is he today? alongside a pair of flip-flops. A few Barack Obama signs were also carried by protesters, as some danced to music and chanted RomneyCare for Oklahoma! We want him to know we think so much of his plan that we want it for the whole country, said Collins. We want to give Mitt a good Oklahoma welcome. Oklahomas known as a friendly state; we want to make sure hes aware of that.
A criticism of Romney from conservatives is that the health care legislation pushed by Obama is essentially the same plan Romney introduced as governor of Massachusetts.
Later, protesters from the Occupy OKC movement took up a position in the median on Lincoln Boulevard, across from the Thorpe building.
Beth Isbell of Occupy OKC said the protesters showed up because they believe Romneys policies would favor the wealthy elite rather than the average citizen and encourage more wars. Were out here because big banks and big corporations, the wealthy elite, the top 1 percent have basically created a system where government and politicians are for sale and they do the bidding of the highest bidder, instead of we the people, we the 99 percent, the ordinary citizen, Isbell said.
These people inside this building are paying $500 a plate, $5,000 a table, $10,000 a table to try to influence a politician to do their bidding, when the people standing out here holding these protest signs for Occupy OKC have been feeding the homeless in Kerr Park for free. The money they raised today could create jobs in Oklahoma. It could feed all of the homeless in Oklahoma City for months.
Photos by Matt Carney