GOP presidential hopefuls arrive in Park City for Sen. Mitt Romney-led summit
The annual E2 summit brings together Republican donors ‘looking for an alternative to Donald Trump’
Four Republican presidential candidates were in Park City Tuesday for closed-door meetings with influential donors and policy experts, many of whom backed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s 2012 presidential run.
The E2 Summit, started in 2012 by Romney, brings together many of the leading conservative business and political leaders. Attendees this year include former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former Vice President Mike Pence; and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
The four presidential candidates arrived at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley on Monday and will address the summit’s 250 attendees in closed-door sessions Tuesday.
Spencer Zwick, one of the summit’s organizers and Romney’s 2012 finance chair, told The Washington Post that the attendees are “sincerely looking for an alternative to Donald Trump.”
“If people in this room, and at this gathering, start to really get behind one or two of these candidates, you’re going to see some real movement in the polls,” Zwick said. “At some point, and hopefully in the not too distant future, we can start to coalesce around a smaller group of candidates.”
Beginning in 2019, when Romney joined the U.S. Senate, his role at the E2 Summit became “honorary.” It is formally hosted by Solamere Capital, a Boston-based private equity firm founded by Zwick, Eric Scheuermann and Tagg Romney (Sen. Romney’s son). Ryan is a partner at Solamere.
Other presidential candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., were reportedly invited to attend.
Romney will address the attendees in a speech Tuesday evening. Romney announced that he will not run for reelection at the conclusion of his U.S. Senate term in January 2025.
Romney told the Deseret News he will be “watching to see who the people of Utah elect to become our senator, but we need the next generation to step forward.”
In recent months, Romney has encouraged Trump’s Republican presidential challengers to consolidate behind one candidate. This would avoid “split(ting) the non-Trump vote” and handing the former president a victory, Romney wrote in a July op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Romney reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to get GOP candidates to do the same in 2016, when Trump won the nomination.
Will Hurd, a long-shot GOP presidential candidate, dropped out of the race Monday evening, calling on “donors, voters and other candidates” to back a single candidate. “Otherwise, we will repeat the same errors as in 2016,” he said in a statement.
At the E2 Summit, shorthand for “Experts and Enthusiasts,” sessions will include discussions of foreign policy, business and tech. One session on Monday evening focused on artificial intelligence and the future of digitization — something Romney has said makes him “terrified.”
Other notable attendees include Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp; former Trump attorney general William Barr; former national security adviser Robert O’Brien; Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan; and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.