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No 'Trump bashing' expected at Romney's fifth Deer Valley political retreat

SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney's fifth annual Deer Valley political retreat is set for June 8-10 and will once again include the former presidential candidate's 2012 running mate, now House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

Also expected at the E2 Summit that brings together business leaders with political and policy officials are two of President Donald Trump's most vocal Republican critics in Congress, Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Former Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former CIA Director Mike Morell and Microsoft Chairman John Thompson are also on the schedule, as is trap shooting with Ryan, hikes with Romney and pilates with Romney's wife, Ann.

Those attending past "Experts and Enthusiasts" retreats have been largely wealthy and well-connected backers of Romney's presidential campaigns and investors in Solamere Capital, a firm co-founded by his son, Tagg.

Longtime Romney supporter Kirk Jowers, a former head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said he expects there to be a lot of interest in this year's event.

"We are now six months into the Trump presidency and you've got some real interesting characters" in McCain and Graham, as well as an international perspective from Harper and insight from Ryan as a political insider, Jowers said.

Romney, who made his first run for president in 2008 and was the GOP's nominee in 2012, spoke out against Trump early last year in a speech at the U., where he labeled the Republican candidate a "fraud" and a "phony."

At last summer's retreat, Romney became emotional about Trump becoming the Republican nominee, telling the several hundred people gathered that while he wouldn't campaign against him, "seeing this is breaking my heart for the party."

Jowers said "Romney's relevance remains at a peak and has perhaps been climbing in light of the fact he was right about the Trump presidency." But he said the retreat will take the high road.

"I don't think it will be Trump bashing or a bunch of 'I told you so's.' They do a really good job at these summits of always looking toward the future," Jowers said. "They want to get beyond the personal vilification and partisan politics."