Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a stop in Arkansas for a couple of fundraisers where I am told he took in well over $2 million (perhaps much more) in what could be the single biggest fundraiser in Arkansas history. But if you were in downtown Little Rock, you might not have noticed except for a small handful of supporters and protesters that stood outside on the sidewalk in front of the Capitol Hotel.
Romney stayed out of the public eye except for a quick greeting at the airport by a small group of young Republicans and some local police officers.
His first stop was at the Peabody Hotel where he met with 200 to 250 supporters paying $2,500 to $10,000 a piece for the chance to see Romney in person. Lt. Governor Mark Darr was among several lawmakers present along with Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Tim Griffin, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. Steve Womack, and congressional candidate Tom Cotton.
“He talked about jobs and about how small business is the backbone of the economy. How government needs to get out of the way and let them do their thing,” said Darr. “It was fun to have somebody with that vision and leadership to realize that government is not the answer.”
Meanwhile, around a dozen protesters and about the same number of supporters stood outside and held signs. Supporters chatted “Mitt, Mitt, he’s our man,” while the protesters chanted, “the party of legitimate rape” in reference to the ill-advised comments from Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin – comments which Romney has denounced.
As for the events being private, the crowd was evenly divided along obvious lines.
“It’s fundraising time right now,” said a supporters with a t-shirt reading Legalize Freedom. “The rally season will be coming up real quick and I sure hope he comes back here to Arkansas and gives everybody a chance to know him too.”
“The Republicans are the party of the elite,” said one of the protesters complaining that the $50,000 per couple dinner could easily feed two families in Arkansas for a year. He added that he does not plan to support either Romney or Obama, but will probably vote for the Green Party candidate.
The small crowd watched as party goers in suits and dresses made their way across President Clinton Avenue to The Capital Hotel where the high dollar dinner was held. People waited expecting Romney to follow, but at the last minute realized that he had already entered through the back.
Romney will spend the night in the Capital Hotel tonight before flying to New Mexico in the morning for yet another stop leading up to the convention next week in Tampa.