Mitt Romney’s all-star retreat in June will include David Axelrod, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney this morning announced a series of high-profile speakers who will address a retreat that the former Republican presidential nominee is putting together in June.

The list of speakers includes some surprising names, including David Axelrod, one the masterminds behind President Obama’s campaign to defeat Romney last year. At various points during the campaign, Axelrod accused Romney of being secretive, dishonest, and “living on a different planet.”


In the announcement, which was included in an email to supporters that was obtained by the Globe, Romney also says the speakers will also include his former running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as well as Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who chaired a bipartisan debt-reduction commission.

The list also includes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was derided by some Romney supporters after he effusively praised President Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy in the final stretch of the presidential campaign.

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Another name on the list is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was an aggressive campaigner for Obama and was chairman of the Democratic National Convention. Villaraigosa recently raised eyebrows when he had kind words for Romney and said they had been speaking on the phone.

Romney also lists Axelrod’s wife, Susan. The pair are the founding chairs of CURE, an organization helping search for a cure to epilepsy.

Romney’s four-day event, which was first revealed last month, is called “Experts and Enthusiasts.” It will be held in Park City, Utah, the same location as Romney held a major donor retreat last summer. Romney emphasized the bipartisan lineup in the email.


“As I indicated in your invitation, I have drawn speakers from government and business to identify key opportunities ahead,” Romney writes. “And I have made sure to invite presenters from both sides of the aisle.”

The other speakers listed are Arthur Brooks, the president of American Enterprise Institute; Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett-Packard; Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; and Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen.

Romney enclosed a registration form, and noted that the fee covers a portion of the cost of the program and is not a political contribution. The attendance fee was previously reported to be $5,000. Asked how widely the email was distributed, a source close to Romney would only say it went to “an intimate group.”

“Ann and I highly value your support and friendship,” Romney writes in closing. “We sure look forward to seeing you in Park City.”

“Best wishes,” he signs. “Mitt.”

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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