Monday July 30, 2012 fundraiser in the King David Hotel, Jerusalem.
Basic Stats: Per Gorka, 40 to 45 people attended the event, where attendees were required to raise or donate $25,000 to $50,000.
And per Spencer Zwick, the campaign’s finance director: The event is expected to raise over a million.
Here is a partial list of names (in no particular order), based on who your pooler was able to spot: Aba Claman and Pamela Fox Claman; Sander Gerber; Paul Singer; Vicki Miller; Chaim Lebowitz; Michael Freund; John Miller; Woody Johnson; and, of course, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. (No schwarma in sight, but a breakfast buffet — more on that in a minute). Also: Scott Romney and his wife; Dan Senor; Spencer Zwick; and Susan Duprey.
Attendees sat a U-shaped conference table covered in white table clothes. Three sizable bouquets of largely white flowers decorated each of the tables. Mitt and Ann Romney sat next to each other at the head table, and Mr. Adelson was sitting next to Romney on his left.
A lavish breakfast spread — not dissimilar from what the press received each morning — sat out, buffet-style, and included: coffee, juice (from a fresh squeezed juice bar), Israeli cheeses and salads, yogurt, smoked fish, dry cereal and pastries.
Before the reception got underway, it seemed like Romney posed for photos on the back patio of the King David Hotel, though your pooler could not see much more, because advance staffers promptly closed the blinds.
Romney spoke briefly before introducing his son, Josh — “The tallest member of my family,” Mr. Romney quipped.
“This is my first trip to Israel, and when the brothers kind of fought about who got to come here, you can tell I’m the biggest, so I’m here,” Josh said.
Mentioning that he’d had some time to see the sights, he said, “I understand now why there’s so many people returning to live here, why it’s such a wonderful place, why it’s doing so well. It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve had a lot of fun here. I wish we had a few weeks here, not a few days.”
Josh added that he’d been sent by the campaign to Fairbanks, Alaska where the temperature was forty below, while one of his brothers got to go to Hawaii with this wife: “So I finally got some payback on them,” he joked.
In the interest of time, here are some verbates of the most relevant things Romney said. He did segue a bit into his usual stump speech, so you may be interested in parts where he seemed to implicitly criticize President Obama, despite being on foreign soil. However, there was also some new material (much of it below) that deal with Israel, at least in general terms. Hat-tip to co-poolers Sarah Huisenga of CBS and Kasie Hunt of the AP for help with transcript.
“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.
And that exists also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador; Mexico and the United States. And I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business as I would travel to different countries was to understand why there was such enormous disparities between the economic success of various countries. And I read a number of books on the topic.”
“I am overwhelmingly impressed with the hand of providence, whenever it chooses to apply itself, and also the greatness of the human spirit, and how individuals who reach for greatness and have purpose above themselves are able to build and accomplish things that could only be done by a species created in the image of God. I come to this place, therefore, with a sense of profound humility, as I look around here at great people who’ve accomplished a great thing, and also a sense of spiritual connection, acknowledging the hand of providence in establishing this place and making it a holy city.
We face some real challenges, nonetheless, and perhaps in part because of the great success of these places, this home of yours, my home of America, that some are troubled by our success and seek to bring us down.
Your neighborhood has become extraordinarily dangerous, as I described yesterday. America has had its own challenges. Our strength is, of course, derived from our values, taught in our homes, but also our economy — a strong modern economy builds a military which is able to defend itself, and secure the freedom of others, what we consider as friends. And right now, there are a lot of people suffering. The news that our economy grew at 1.5% last quarter was really quite troubling. We’re now four years past the big downturn that occurred in 2008, and [may be dropped word here] four years down the road and still seeing tepid numbers bouncing along the bottom is troubling, and those numbers translate into real human beings that are really suffering. 23 million of them. 23 million in a nation of such extraordinary riches that are without work or have dropped out of the work force or could only find part time work.”
“Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8%. You spend 8% of GDP on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18% of our DGP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10% cost, compare that with the size of our military – our military which is 4% – 4%. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways – not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to find and manage our health care costs.”
Romney mentioned two books he had been reading that had influenced his thinking— “Guns, Germs and Steel,” and “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.” The first book, he said, deals with resources, but it didn’t quite make sense to him in terms of Israel’s success. The second book, he explained, dealt more with culture and helped him understand the success of Israel. He also gave a shout-out to Dan Senor’s book, which apparently deals with entrepreneurs and the tech scene in Israel.
Romney also talked about the five things he will do to improve the economy, which you are likely familiar with from his stump speech —1) energy resources, 2) trade, 3) “We can’t keep running multi, hundred billion, trillion dollar deficits. Ultimately that will put us on a path to Greece, 4) education, and 5) restoring economic freedom.
Ann Romney spoke at the end, stressing the spiritual nature of her experience. From Ann:
“Wonderful to be here among so many friends, and also to be here in such an extraordinary place. It was a thrill for me to bring my son Josh, who’s never been to Israel, on this trip, and I told him before we go here: I said, it’s an interesting place, it’s a beautiful place, and at one point in your visits to different sights, you will be touched. And I can’t tell you how or when that will happen, but it happens to everyone, and it did happen with Josh yesterday, too, which was wonderful. Unfortunately we only had a few hours to tour, so the other joy and happiness will be to come back and actually having time to take our time, and see some of the wonderful sights. But you can’t be here — I think your heart would have to be made of stone not to feel what is still here, with the molecules the stones, and everything, still testifies of something that was so extraordinary that happened in this place. And it is a magical place and it is a place which makes us turn to our inner soul and to our hearts and to listen with different voice. And that’s why I think it’s so important for people to be here and to understand what a significant and wonderful place this is. And so it is with quiet ears that we can hear and listen to all that is around us and of the beauty and all of the extraordinary history that’s here. What a significant and extraordinary place, and we’re so grateful to all of our friends that have brought us this long distance and come with us to this journey. So we are excited about the future, excited about the future with the United States and Israel, excited that this man next to me, my husband — (Mitt quipped: “This husband”) — this husband, will be a force for good, and a force for good for Israel.”
Also, in the middle of his remarks, Romney told a story about meeting the founder of Under Armour in London. He didn’t get the man’s last name, but he thought his first name was Brian. The man was wearing a pullover with the Under Armour logo, and when Romney discovered he was the founder, he asked him how he had created the company.
“He said he was playing football and the cotton underwear that they would wear would get all moist and crinkled up and create pressure points and so forth and he decided to go buy some stretchy fabric, cut it and sow it together, which he did and it was very comfortable.”
The founder told Romney that he asked his teammates if they’d like to try it, and when they said yes, he went to the garment district in New York and had 500 outfits made.
“Long story short, he now has 5,500 people working for him making what’s known as Under Armour,” Mr. Romney said.
At the end of his speech, he returned to the topic of Under Armour, to announce that Spencer Zwick has used Google and searched for the founder’s name — Kevin Plank.
Romney: “The individual who was the founder of Under Armour is Kevin — Plake —is that it?”
Woody Johnson: “Plank.”
Romney: “You know Kevin?”
Woody Johnson: “I know Kevin.”
Romney: “You know Kevin! Did he sell product to the New York Jets?”
Woody Johnson: “I have his products.”
Romney: “You have them! Are you wearing his productions — can you demonstrate?” (Mr. Johnson, despite your pooler’s peaked curiosity, declined the demo).