Rep. Paul Ryan usually spends his days in Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin or Florida, so why is the GOP vice presidential nominee in New York City less than 25 days before Election Day? In a word: money.
Ryan held his own fundraiser at the Hilton in Midtown Monday evening and then kicked off a confab of Mitt Romney’s high-dollar donors called the Romney Victory Fall Retreat.
Tune in to ABCNews.com on Tuesday for livestreaming coverage of the second 2012 Presidential Town Hall Debate in Hempstead, N.Y. Coverage kicks off with ABC News’ live preview show at noon, and full debate coverage begins at 8 p.m.
The series of parties, meetings on campaign strategy, fundraising and policy at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel began with a bash on the USS Intrepid with speeches from Ryan and even reality-television star and birther-theorist Donald Trump, as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to a copy of the invitation. Ryan was also scheduled to address a breakfast of the donors this morning.
The event is similar to the last Romney donor retreat in June in Park City, Utah. The goal is to thank the most generous donors in hopes that they keep giving and encourage their friends to do the same. One of the final panels is even called ”Make The Difference,” with Spencer Zwick, Romney’s chief liaison to the fundraising community and head national finance chairman. Only those who have given or bundled large sums got the invite.
Ryan’s earlier fundraiser at the Hilton was less exclusive. A ticket to the general reception was $1,000, while a photograph with Ryan was a $5,000 donation. There were 600 donors who packed into a ballroom with crystal chandeliers to hear the Wisconsin congressman speak, as well as Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who is also an active national finance co-chair for the campaign.
Attendees mingled, waiting for the headliner, drinking wine and chatting until Priebus took the stage, first thanking the group and telling them they “are in a battle for freedom in this country, the same battle that founded this country,” adding that you are a “blessing to this party, you are a blessing to Gov. Romney and congressman Ryan.”
“We understand the mission. The mission is to win, the mission is to win every day, win every week through November to get the job done,” Priebus said before introducing Johnson.
In his signature black-rimmed glasses, Johnson got some laughs when he introduced Ryan as a fellow “NFL owner,” which Ryan explained with an even bigger laugh that he owns “a share” of his beloved Green Bay Packers.
“You know about a month ago Mitt finalized his choice, picked his running mate Ryan, and I think it’s becoming more apparent every day what a good choice that is,” Johnson said.
“Number one, he’s very young, so he’s got a lot of energy. But he’s had a lot of experience. I mean he’s been elected seven times, seven races so he’s had as much experience as Biden and he’s got a much better temperament.”
Wearing a suit and a red tie, Ryan joked that he loves “to get together with my fellow NFL team owners. See, I own a share of Green Bay Packers.”
A Ryan aide said that Ryan and his wife Janna own one share each.
He thanked the crowd and noted “we have been relentless with you and you have been so generous.”
“This is the choice that Mitt and I are giving to you, our fellow citizens and what we realize if all the distortion and all the clutter that is getting sent out there people understand the stakes of this and so what your generosity here today helps us do is it helps us bring this message,” Ryan said. “It helps us cut through the clutter and it also helps us with the ground game.”
Other panels at the Waldorf today include a ”Campaign and Strategy Briefing,” with Political Director Rich Beeson, adviser Ed Gillespie, longtime aide and senior adviser Beth Myers, campaign pollster Neil Newhouse, and Priebus.
Donors are also invited to “Issues Facing America – Jobs,” with former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, Jimmy John’s CEO Jimmy John Liautaud, as well as Charles Schwab of Charles Schwab Corp., among others.
And the night before his running mate faces off against the president for the second presidential debate on Long Island, Ryan praised Romney’s last debate performance, saying he “did a fantastic job of introducing himself to the country with that debate.”
“These debates, our opponents don’t want to talk about their record, they are not offering anything new, more of the same and they simply want to offer distortions so they can try and win an election by default,” Ryan said.
The NYC retreat was planned to coincide with this evening’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, and one of the confab events is a debate-watch party with comedian Dennis Miller at the Roseland Ballroom.