Mitt Romney was just one of many former presidential candidates last year when he was booked to come to Indian Wells to speak to a crowd of, mostly, political allies, including more than a couple former campaign donors.
But with Romney’s hunger for the White House on display this month there’s pronounced national attention on his Desert Town Hall engagement Monday evening. Heightening the attention was Jeb Bush’s fundraising spin around Southern California, including a stop in the Coachella Valley, over the weekend.
The desert is once again proving to be a reliable source of Republican campaign support.
And, it’s a great place to polish a political pitch among friends.
Reaction to Romney from within the party has been mixed, with loyalists showing support and others remaining skeptical that he can clinch the White House, said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.
“There’s going to be two questions on everyone’s mind. What’s going to be different this time and how are you going to inspire rank-and-file donors?” O’Connell said.
He said Romney’s strength in 2012 came across in foreign policy, but other issues are going to be a focus in 2016.
“You’re going to have to be able to talk about economic mobility, show some emotion — which he’s not very good at — and not come across as an extremist,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said he doesn’t think Romney has decided whether he’ll run, but he’s probably watching the field and doesn’t want to be left off the list of possibilities.