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Romney planning to raise cash while his rivals roam Iowa

Topping GOP field, he can risk a trip to London

By Matt Viser
Globe Staff / June 24, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney is planning to travel to London next month for a fund-raiser in one of the banking capitals of the world, soliciting campaign contributions from well-connected Americans abroad as he attempts to expand his fund-raising base across the Atlantic.

It is a rare step for a presidential candidate — and unheard of so early in a campaign — and is yet another indication of his front-runner status, his overwhelming fund-raising strength, and his desire to have a statesman’s reach.

The fact that he is choosing to begin the next fund-raising quarter in a foreign capital also illustrates his current strategic focus of raising hordes of campaign cash rather than making the normally required appearances in Veterans of Foreign Wars halls and small-town diners.

In fact, the former governor of Massachusetts will have spent more time around Westminster than he has in Waterloo, Iowa. He will make the trip less than six weeks before the Iowa straw poll, for which other candidates are spending time organizing but which Romney is choosing to skip.

Few presidential candidates have held fund-raisers on foreign soil. Rudy Giuliani became the first in September 2007, also on a trip to London. Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton were also featured at fund-raisers there that year, raising money for their spouses. Then-Senator Barack Obama later attended a campaign fund-raiser held at the Notting Hill home of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth.

London is rich with Americans in the securities and investment industries.

The fund-raiser for Romney is being held July 6 at Dartmouth House, a building not far from Hyde Park that has marble fireplaces, Louis XIV walnut paneling, and a painted ceiling by Pierre Victor Galland.

The suggested contribution is $2,500, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Globe.

The reception hall there can hold 350 people, meaning organizers could raise $875,000 if they fill the space.

Among those who are co-chairing the event are hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon; Raj Bhattacharyya, managing director at Deutsche Bank; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets; and former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey and her husband, Sean.

Meanwhile, Romney supporters formed a so-called super PAC yesterday that will allow them to raise large sums of money independent from the presidential campaign. The political action committee, called Restore Our Future, was formed to support Romney’s campaign.

The group’s board is comprised of Carl Forti of the Black Rock Group, Charlie Spies of Clark Hill PLC, and Larry McCarthy of McCarthy Hennings Media Inc.

“Our nation is burdened by a struggling economy; our job creators are tied up with red tape; and a growing federal government is stifling the private sector,’’ Spies said yesterday. “Restore Our Future will support a candidate who has worked in the private sector, who has created jobs, who understands the economy, and who believes America can succeed by the power of the American workforce.’’

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