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Romney to join McCain at Salt Lake fund-raiser Thursday

SHARE Romney to join McCain at Salt Lake fund-raiser Thursday

On Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah's "favorite son" presidential candidate Mitt Romney will make his first appearance with John McCain since endorsing the presumptive GOP nominee.

McCain will be in Utah for just over three hours and hopes to raise $375,000. But the Arizona senator is no where near as popular in the state as Romney, who ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and is a member of the LDS Church, as a majority of Utahns.

It's not clear what role Romney will play at the fund-raiser, which includes a half-hour reception with McCain for those donors willing to give the maxium allowable campaign contribution of $2,300.

Those buying the $1,000 tickets to the luncheon will hear McCain speak. All events are being held at the Grand America Hotel and are closed to the press and the public. An anti-war protest is scheduled outside the hotel.

Romney has raised more than $6 million from Utahns while McCain reported receiving about $177,000 from residents of the state through February, the most recent deadline for federal campaign disclosures.

Uthans overwhelmingly favored Romney in the state's GOP presidential primary on Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, giving him an unheard of 90 percent of the vote. However, a poor showing in other key Super Tuesday states, including California and New York, caused Romney to withdraw from the presidential race two days later.

Although Utahns initially had little interest in McCain's candidacy, the latest Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll showed Utahns are warming up to him, with 54 percent of registered voters questioned now saying they'd vote for the Arizona senator if the election were held tomorrow.

Romney has been mentioned as a potential running mate for McCain, as has Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. who has long supported the Arizona senator. Huntsman is one of the hosts of the fund-raiser and will pick McCain up at the airport Thursday morning.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com