Report from inside Romney’s Bay Area fundraiser

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, whom the Romney campaign selected as its pool reporter for tonight’s fundraiser in Hillsborough, has just filed her report. Here it is, verbatim:

Your pool was briefly ushered into Chateau Carolands interior,which was amazing: dominated by black and white tiles, Roman columns, statues, huge hanging tapestries, and a 75 foot atrium said to be the largest of any private residence in the United States.

But the event itself was held in a tent outside in the expansive gardens, designed to resemble those of Versailles. Guests sat on white chairs or stood to listen to Romney and speakers on a stage before a bank of American flags.

Event drew 300 people, with guests including Ambassador Howard Leach, Secretaries Rice and Shultz, and Mrs. Romney.
Not present were Meg Whitman, the HP CEO – who was a host of Ann Romney’s earlier “ladies luncheon,’’ or Carly Fiorina, a Romney endorser.

Tickets ranged from $2,500 to $50,000 for “Founder” status.

Guests were told that it was “the most successful event that we’ve had in California,’’ but campaign officials would not divulge a number.

The whole program lasted 46 minutes, including intros by Shultz and Rice, who both formally endorsed Romney.

Mrs. Romney also spoke briefly.

Remarks at length below:

Secretary Rice was warmly welcomed by the crowd.
Her remarks:
“It’s a delight to see so many friends…I’ve now been out of Wash for over three years…how much fun it is when you know you could be in Washington, but you’re here. My life has changed a lot. Now, I get up in the morning and I read the newspaper and I say…isn’t that interesting?
“Because I’m no longer responsible for what’s in it.”
“We care about the future of this country, and the future of our world,’’ she said, and I’m “delighted to join so many friends here in supporting, and in my case, endorsing, Gov. Mitt Romney for President of the United States.”
More Rice:
“It’s a challenging world these days….the world has been through three great shocks,’’ 911, the financial crisis and the Arab spring “which is calling into question the very order” of the middle east.
What is required is “leadership…a way forward” to make sure that what remains is “stable” and “free.”
“The United States for many years has been willing to play the role of a country that has a view” on how the future should unfold
“Today, more than ever, we need U.S. leadership to affirm that the future belongs to free markets and free peoples.” .
“To regain that leadership, we’ve got to first and foremost defend the country,’’ she said. After 911, the country was safe because “it was not because the terrorists weren’t trying, it was because of the vigilance…because men and women volunteer to defend us at the front lines of freedom, and we owe them our eternal gratitude.”
More Rice: “We have to defend the country, not just from strength and power, but from a sense of values of who we are,’’ she said. “Friends, who just want to know, that when the chips are down, we are going to be there for them….and that indeed we know the difference between friend and foe.”
“There are top adversaries out there, particularly in Iran, “a country that is a poster child for state sponsored terrorism,’’ for being a trouble-maker in the middle east. “we need American strength and leadership to deal with the Irans and Syrias of the worl.d.”
“Job one is to rebuild our confidence and our optimism” through sounds immigration policies and a K-12 system “that can actually educate people.”
“It may be our single most important task, because if we do not educate our people,’’ they cannot compete, “they’ll be on the dole” and unable to find good jobs.
“We have a crisis in K-12 education, thank you for addressing it.”
More Rice: “We need to rebuild our economic strength” from which to lead, she said. “If America is going to rebuild its strength at home, rebuild its sense of who we are, it needs a leader who also understands how really exceptional the United States of America is, and is not afraid to lead on the basis of that exceptionalism.”
The U.S “has literally helped to change the face of the world,’’ she said, in Asia with “strong democratic allies,’’ in Latin America where there are “strong democracies” and in Africa “where it’s no longer OK to rob your people blind.”
“Because this exceptional country has been willing to stand vigil at the front lines of freedom,’’ thee world has changed.
More Rice:
“The POTUS has to understand that the American people have a view…and that our leadership can not be (reduced to) “the lowest common denominator postions.”
“The only thing the American people dislike more” than weak leadership, she said,
“is no leadership at all.”
America’s leadership “is craved in the world, and Gov. Romney, you can bring it back,’’ she said to applause.

George Shultz, the former Secretary of State, spoke next:
“I join Condi in enthusiastically endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney for POTUS and for Ann Romney as first lady,’’ he said to cheers and applause.
Shultz said that he served in the Eisenhower administration (“He was a general who became president, for you young people”) and he recalled “the way that wonderful man went about the task of leadership.”
Nixon, he said, “was a brilliant president in a great many ways,’’ though “people only remember Watergate.”
Serving with Ronald Reagan, “I have seen real leadership in action.”
“This man has that kind of mind,’’ Shultz said of Romney, adding it was “an ability to grasp what’s going on” and “the longterm issues that you have to pay attention to.”
“They’re able to take a little time and think about what is really important for our country in the long run.”
Romney has shown an “ability to stand back and say what is really important for the United States in the future,’’ particularly on education in K-12.
More Shultz: “This is very Reaganesque, the gloves are off, reality is right there,’’ he said. “This ability to think longterm and lead us…is vital to leadership.”
Shultz mentioned Romney’s business background, saying that “what he has done at Bain Captail has been a major contribution to the American economy…helped make our economy more competitive, learned to keep costs under control,’’ and found the right investments.
He represents “the people who can figure out” how to get people sitting on “this huge amount of money” to invest in “products that people will buy and will create an ongoing and explosive expansion.”
“How does a man stand up in critical moments, and there are always plenty that come,’’ Shultz said. “What happens when a real difficult moment comes?”
Romney provided “a wonderful case study” in the Olympics. “He moved into a situation that he knew was realloy in bad shape..and he put on an Olympics that was a model” and “turn an opportunity..into a vision.”
And then there are Romney’s “fundamental values,’’ he said. “When somebody in a business is able to organize resources…so that the sum is greater than the parts, that is a public service as well.”
“You see this instinct for public service..and the values that come from being a husband and a father,’’ he said. “I had the privilege of serving in the cabinet with his father George Romney..he was fun…he was infectious.”
Romney’s mother, “so smart, so engaging.”
“Any guy who’s the son of a woman like that..has gotta be alright.”
“Gov. Romney is not just going to get elected…but he is going to be a great president,’’ he said. “And we need a great president right now.”

Romney called the speeches “very humbling.”
“What an extraordinary evening this is, to hear from these individuals. I’m buoyed by your confidence and your commitment, not only those who have spoken, but those who spoke with checkbooks.”
Speaking of the Chateau Carolands, the site of the fundraiser, he called it an example of private enterprise. He said that this “castle… was abandoned and falling apart, and there was an effort in the city to tear it down,’’ he said. Of the Johnsons, the family owners, he said, “what a remarkable contribution Ann and Charley have made to the community.”
“There are a number of people who have twisted arms this evening and who brought friends here…the person who’s organized my effort in Northern California… has been Dick Boyce.”
“I did not want to do this again,’’ Romney said of running for President. “After I lost fair and square to Sen. McCain, I thought our time in politics had come to an end.”
“Then someone in my household, who had told me she would never do it again – my wife Ann – told me, “you’ve got to run again.”
“She became convinced that the direction of this nation, under this president … was simple too great a risk” for our kids and our future.
He noted that while his wife wasn’t on the program, he had to let her speak and introduced her as “my sweetheart, Ann Romney.”

Mrs. Romney said “this extraordinary country that we live in has a very difficult process for electing a president,’’ and a primary process that was “extremely grueling,’’ for which she had to apologize occasionally to her husband.
“There are times when the country needs extraordinary people,’’ she said. “I am so grateful for men and women…putting America first.”
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary leadership..and we are in times such as this right now,’’ she said. It was against the wishes of “most of my children and my daughters and law” for him to run again, she said.
“I need to know one thing: is it too late?” she said she asked her husband. “He said, It’s getting late, but it’s not too late yet.”
“And with that sentiment…there’s no more discussion. It’s time,’’ she said she told him.
Tonight, “I was reminded again of George Romney and Leanore Romney..they were such powerful examples in my husband’s life…we recognize that we are standing on the shoulders of those that have gone before.”
“We now have 18 grandchildren and it’s not fair that I have 5 sons and 13 grandsons..the male gene is very very strong in this family,’’ she said. “We’re concerned about that legacy, because what we’re leaving them is a legacy of debt..”
“We are in trouble in this nation…real leadership is required,’’ she said.
She called him “sweetie” and he called her “sweetie” back.

Romney continued:
He said it has been a “wonderful” and “enlightening” experience to run for president, to “see everyday Americans and learn about their lives,’’ and to understand “in a very personal way, why it is America leads the world.”
“This is Silicon Valley, and venture capital headquarters of the world,’’ he told the event donors, but noted that such innovation happens “all over the country,’’ where things that “change life” and the nation are born, “small and large.”
He talked about speaking to a woman whose husband became an upholsterer after being out of a job, and now she has “40 upholsterer businesses.”
Another had a husband “who is a charicature artist’’ who goes country fair to country fair, while she translates instructions manuals into Spanish for a living.
Romney mentioned another woman who provides services to casinos in Las Vegas and in the downturn, she makes and sells furniture around the country.
“I met a guy in San Diego, Russian immigrant, who had back problems,’’ and studied a new technique for back surgery “and developed a technology for doing so without touching the nerve,’’ he said.
“This is just the way America works,’’ Romney said.
“Ours is a wealthy nation….culture makes all the difference: what people believe, what they’ll work for, the principles that motivate them.”
This “entrepreneurial culture” is “quintescentially American,’’ he said.
“Government’s role is not to guide the economy..government’s role is to make it easier for them to pursue their dreams.”
“I look at our president today, I don’t think he gets that. I don’t think the people around him get that,’’ he said, because they believe in government’s role in economic upturn. “They’re wrong. America is great because of the American people pursuing their dreams.”
After Ronald Reagan and his recession, the economy “came
This president’s approach “has been counter to the kind of freedom” that drives the economy,, he said, citing the stimulus plan, and Obamacare as examples.
“Across the country, people pulled back, because they don’t know what’s coming,’’ he said.
The president thinks “he’s just going after wealthy people, but what he forget is how many people are taxed…at the individual rate level.”
“You raise that tax rate and you make it harder for small business to stay in business,’’ he said.
Noting that there were a few venture capitalists, he said, Obama “has decided he can do it better than you guys can.”
“When we started Staples…we put in a few million dollars,’’ he said, comparing it to Solyndra.
“The president doesn’t understand that when he invests like that in one solar company, he makes it harder for solar energy generally..who wants to put money in a solar company when the government puts half a billion into one of its choice.”
“They don’t understand how the free economy works,’’ he said. “There’s a profit motive that encourages people to invest themselves and their resources to start businesses, the byproduct of which is putting people to work.”

Speaking with the backdrop of American flags, Romney’s audience frequently interrupted his talk with applause.
“We have an administration that just doesn’t understand that the things they’re doing are making it harder for businesses to get into business,’’ he said. “This president is going to put us on a course where it’s going to get harder and harder for enterprises to grow and thrive.”
“He believes in a government-centered society…at some point we cease being the free economy that (Rice) spoke about,’’ he said.

“We have an extraordinary resource in this country,’’ including trade, balanced budget..if we do those things, “you’re going to see an explosion of economic growth in this country.”
“We’re poised to take off economically…America is gong to come back, as long as we have leaders who understand how to get this economy going.”
“The consequence of going down the road we’re on..it’s not good for our kids, it’s not good for our grandkids, it’s not good for the world.”
“Right now, our president’s put us on a road of weakness..economic weakness..foreign policy weakness,’’ he said. “I believe that this is a critical time for our country.”
“We have every prospect of becoming the powerhouse that we’ve always been, but it’s going to require a very different direction.”
“It’s up to us to seize that torch’’ of light, of liberty, of “human hope,’’ he said. “It’s our responsibility to hold it high, aloft…we’re going to make sure to take back the White House and make America the shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan spoke of.”
The audience broke into cheers when it was announced that based on results in Nevada, “Mitt is now the official nominee of the Republican party.”

Pool ushered out.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.