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Romney raises Texas cash, avoids Texas politics


DALLAS, TX -- When Mitt Romney takes the stage in Fort Worth tomorrow, it will be at his first public event in the Lone Star State this campaign season, but far from his first visit to collect cash from Texas famously wealthy Republican donors.

Romney will spend two full days in Texas, where, in addition to tomorrow's only public event, he'll be raising money at a downtown Dallas mansion built In the 1800s, and on Wednesday along San Antonio's famous River Walk and in Houston, where Romney last stopped in Texas in March to collect the endorsement of former President George H. W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush.

"People on both sides of the aisle treat Texas like an ATM, they come down and get their money and leave," one national republican campaign operative explained. The state's 38 electoral votes are safely in the Republican column, and both parties know it.

The governorship has been solidly Republican since George W. Bush replaced Ann Richards in 1995, and both senate seats are all but certain to remain in Republican hands after the November elections.

That hasn't stopped either Romney or President Barack Obama from spending valuable time wrangling donors here, with Romney raising $5.9 million dollars in Texas, and the Obama campaign pulling in $6.4 million through the end of April, according to FEC records. Texas Governor Rick Perry raised $10.7 million in his brief White House bid.

Some of the top donors to pro-Romney SuperPAC, Restore our Future, were also born, educated and made their millions here, including home-builder Bob Perry, who attended Baylor, and entrepreneur Harold Simmons, who attended the University of Texas.

While Romney raises millions in Texas, he'll be dealing delicately with the state's local politics and national political history.

Romney has conspicuously not endorsed a candidate in the state's multimillion dollar Republican senate primary runoff, set for July, between Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and the Tea Party-backed former Solicitor General Ted Cruz. Both men have powerful backers as the race has assumed an outsized image nationally. Governor Perry and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee back Dewhurst, and Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum have endorsed Cruz.

Romney's campaign has been silent on which candidate he believes would best replace retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Romney is not expected to be seen with the state's most famous politician, former President George W. Bush, who now lives in Dallas and is building his presidential library at Southern Methodist University. Sources close to the former president say he is unlikely to appear with Romney during his swing through Texas, and Romney's campaign has not returned multiple requests for comment as to whether Bush might show up at a closed-door fundraiser with the candidate.

Also not appearing with Romney: Governor Perry. After dropping out of the race in January, Perry backed Romney-rival Newt Gingrich for a time, before ultimately supporting Romney when the latter clinched the nomination. Perry will be in San Antonio when Romney campaigns in Fort Worth, and in Fort Worth when Romney raises money in San Antonio.

In Fort Worth, Perry will be speaking at the Texas GOP convention. Romney's campaign has not announced any plans for the governor to attend.