Mitt Romney Camp Keeps Focus on White House, not on Rick Perry


The same fundraiser said he's "crazy about" his friend Perry and that the Texas governor is an "excellent candidate," but stressed that the Romney strategy will continue to be to press who is the better candidate to beat Obama in the general election.

"You've got the issue of: Well, now you have to win the primary," said the fundraiser, who requested anonymity. "Rick plays well in the primary because he throws out a lot of red meat and so that excites the base, his primary base. He'll be formidable in the primary. The question is: Who is going to be formidable in the general [election]?"

The same donor opened the door to a distinction that Romney will clearly make when the campaign needs to start contrasting the two.

"He's only been a politician for four years, Romney," he said. "He's a businessman for 25 years. Rick -- God love him -- has been in politics almost all his life."

For now, however, Perry was not central to recent Romney campaign communications.

Romney had a two-part meeting Monday with finance team members and fundraisers from across the country in New Hampshire. During the first part, at the Wentworth Hotel in Portsmouth, N.H., Romney staff and consultants gave presentations on the state of the race, according to several donors in attendance, but a "Perry strategy" was not prominent part of the discussion. Perry's entrance into the race just two days before was noted, but there was "no extended discussion."

The fundraisers then were invited over to the Romneys' Wolfeboro, N.H., home for a barbecue dinner.

There will be a similar event at the Romneys' home in California for fundraisers who couldn't attend the East Coast gathering later this month or early next month.

National finance chairman Spencer Zwick sent out an email Wednesday to donors who weren't able to be at the New Hampshire meeting, updating them on what they missed. ABC News was given partial access to the email and its authenticity was confirmed by other fundraisers. The memo discussed polling and fundraising, noting that the campaign's "spending rate is running 30 percent of the last campaign."

Zwick wrote that the Romney team is "moving from a campaign to a cause," but the memo did not mention the newest rival or any of the other Republican primary rivals.

"There is much more discipline in the campaign with spending," the email read, according to a fundraiser who received the memo. "That may mean he [Romney] does not win each primary. It does not mean he won't drop to second place for a period of time. But, in the end, he will be on top. He is more thoughtful and realizes he does not need to speak out to be heard on all issues. He's also more relaxed and just more himself, as I'm sure you've noticed at the events immediately."

Campaign advisers are willing to be more frank on condition of anonymity, admitting the "Perry strategy" is still being worked out. An adviser said the camp is "not sure yet" with how they'll deal with Perry.

"I think we handled it like we've handled it from the beginning. We are focused on what we have to do. Americans are really upset about Washington," the adviser said. "You can't read a poll [where Americans aren't] frustrated with Washington, and part of the frustration is the back-and-forth bickering. What they really want to hear is, 'What do you feel on the issues?,' ... I think they want to hear that message and they don't want to hear candidates bicker and fight with each other."

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