Dean Barnett

If there’s a “product” screaming out for someone to invent a better mousetrap, it’s the political fundraiser. Leave it to Mitt Romney, the “Smarter than the Average Bear” candidate, to do exactly that.

Prior to this week’s Romney kickoff event, the typical big-time political fundraiser jammed about 1,000 fat cats into an enormous hotel ballroom. Each donor paid over $1,000 a head for the privilege of eating rubber chicken and hearing a canned speech from their candidate of choice. Predictably, no one much cared for the ritual. The fat cats dreaded these events like jury duty; seldom would you hear a satisfied donor exclaim, “This is the most wonderful treatment of mass-produced chicken breast I’ve ever eaten. And the candidate’s rhetoric was inspiring. That was worth every penny!”

In truth, the attendees of such events would generally prefer to just write a check and forego the entrée and the rhetoric. Alas, that isn’t an option. The media only reports on “events,” so the donors’ have to attend in order to make it an “event.” (Helpful hint: If for some bizarre reason you want to attend one of these things but lack the funds, volunteer for a campaign. Soon the campaign will tap you to attend an event just to fill the room. When you’re enjoying your piece of free rubber chicken, be mindful to offer a word of thanks to me for making it all possible.)

For their part, the candidates don’t enjoy the ritual very much either. They feel like high-level panhandlers. The situation is even worse for the candidate than it is for the typical donor; the typical donor has to attend only one of these dreadful events a season. The candidate sometimes hits three on one night.

BUT ALL OF THIS WAS BEFORE the Romney Presidential campaign showed the political world a better way. At his 2008 kickoff event held this past Monday, Romney made the fat-cats work for their metaphorical supper. (Much to everyone’s relief, no rubber chicken was served.)

Team Romney gathered approximately 450 of his most devoted and influential supporters. Among those attending were E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. The idea, according to Spencer Zwick, Romney’s fundraising chairman, “was to get Romney supporters to reach into their personal rolodexes” and try to enlist their friends in the Romney campaign. When you have supporters like the CEO of EBay, it stands to reason that their Rolodexes are potentially precious resources.

Dean Barnett

Dean Barnett blogs almost daily at He has also been a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard's online edition, The Daily Standard. He can be reached for comment at

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