By hosting the fundraiser, the former vice president — who in his retirement remains a powerful leader of foreign policy neoconservatives yet a deeply polarizing figure outside of the Republican base — will make his grandest gesture to pass a torch to Romney.
Prominent conservative rainmakers are joining Cheney in holding the event, including Foster Friess, an investment manager who bankrolled a pro-Rick Santorum super PAC that attacked Romney during the GOP primaries; John R. Miller, a beef company executive; and L.E. Simmons, president of a private-equity firm with large oil investments.
It was unclear how many of Cheney’s political allies would appear at the dinner, but the hosts also include Dick Scarlett, a banker and one of Cheney’s closest friends and fishing buddies, and Cheney’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, a former State Department official.
Thursday’s dinner at Cheney’s home in Wilson, just outside Jackson Hole, coupled with an earlier reception at the Teton Pines is expected to raise more than $2 million, according to a top Romney fundraiser.
The evening will put a spotlight on Romney’s relationship with the previous Republican administration, which has been complicated and not always comfortable.
Romney advisers characterized his relationship with Cheney as cordial, but no deeper than one that any elder statesman would be expected to have with his party’s presumed presidential nominee. They speak infrequently, and advisers said there is little evidence of Cheney’s influence, or that of Cheney’s close associates, on Romney’s policies or politics.
Romney also has a distant relationship with former president George W. Bush. The two speak by phone occasionally, but some advisers who bridge the Romney and Bush-Cheney campaigns said Bush does not want to intrude on Romney.
“This does not look to me like Bush-Cheney redux,” said former congressman Vin Weber (Minn.), a veteran of the Bush-Cheney campaigns and a senior policy adviser to Romney.
“At the broader advisory level, everybody who was around Cheney and Bush are around Romney,” he added. “They want him to win. And it’s inevitable that they’d have some influence, because they have the most recent Republican expertise in running the government. But I don’t see a lot of overlap there.”
Romney’s relationship with former president George H.W. Bush, however, is more extensive and personal. Romney delivered a major speech on Mormonism at Bush’s presidential library four years ago and visited the former president this spring in Houston, while former first lady Barbara Bush recorded robo-calls for Romney during the primaries.