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Paul Ryan, Michael Bloomberg, Meg Whitman to speak at Mitt Romney's annual political retreat

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PARK CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will join U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Mitt Romney's annual political retreat this week.

The invitation-only event that started as a fundraiser during Romney's 2012 presidential bid will also feature business and health care leaders, including Intermountain Healthcare President and CEO Marc Harrison.

About 250 people, including big-money GOP donors, are expected to attend what's known as the Experts and Enthusiasts Summit, set to start Thursday and end Saturday at the Stein Eriksen Lodge at Deer Valley.

Past retreats have attracted a number of Republican presidential candidates and a few prominent Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who said during his appearance last year that Romney should run for the Senate.

Romney is three weeks away from the June 26 Republican primary election where he faces state Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, in the race for the seat held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Kennedy had no comment on the Romney retreat, his campaign spokeswoman, Cindie Quitana, said.

The retreat may help serve to remind voters of Romney's national stature, after the former Massachusetts governor won the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 and tapped Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate.

Not likely to be on display at the retreat, however, is a show of opposition to President Donald Trump. Romney, who was briefly considered for secretary of state by Trump, has said he supports much of the president's agenda.

Romney had called Trump a fraud and a phony in a speech at the University of Utah during the 2016 Republican primary campaign, then became emotional at that year's retreat, telling attendees that "seeing this is breaking my heart for the party."

The theme of this year's retreat is the future of leadership in America and abroad.

Hebert is scheduled to welcome the participants on Thursday evening. His fellow Republicans Ryan and Gardner, and Bloomberg, an independent, will address the topic during the retreat.

GOP pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson will lead a discussion on women running for office and voting trends among women and millennials.

Other speakers include Andrew Cherng, Panda Restaurant Group founder and chairman; Patrick Doyle, Dominos president and CEO; Karen Katz, former Niemen Marcus Group president and CEO; Joe Ripp, former Time Inc. CEO; Maynard Webb, Webb Investment Network founder; and Meg Whitman, NewTV CEO who ran for governor of California in 2010.

There will also be a focus on research and raising awareness for Alzheimer's disease. Besides Harrison, speakers on that topic will include Howard L. Weiner and Dennis J. Selkoe, co-directors of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Romney's wife, Ann, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

Spencer Zwick, co-founder of retreat sponsor Solamere Capital, said in a statement the goal of the event has always been "to bring together some of the top thinkers in the world" to inspire the participants.

"There is great strength in bringing together leaders who hold diverse thoughts, ideas and experiences to explore, discuss and debate their views on the future of America in a thoughtful, respectful and open forum," he said.

Zwick, who raised some $1 billion for Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, said that "no matter how far apart individuals may be on any set of issues or topics, there is always great power in finding where their thinking and lives intersect."

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Lisa Riley Roche


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