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Park City • A half-dozen Republican presidential hopefuls are gathering here this week to try to tap into Mitt Romney's vast support network and donor base, but his son says don't count on the 2012 nominee to pick a favorite going into next year's election.
"I would be surprised," Tagg Romney said Thursday, on the opening day of the E2 Summit, a gathering of political leaders and wealthy movers and shakers in the business world. "I think he'll stay neutral and be very supportive of whoever the nominee is. He is asked for advice all the time and anyone who asks he's willing to give his feedback and input."
Thursday morning, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was shuttling from meeting to meeting and doing interviews with national media who are not allowed into the sessions. He is one of a handful of candidates from the packed Republican field expected to arrive throughout the three-day meeting.
Mitt Romney launched the "Experts and Enthusiasts" gathering, or E2 Summit, in 2012 to gin up support for his own White House bid, and has held it each year since in an effort to sustain his political influence.
This will be the first year he has convened the meeting at the posh ski town since he announced he would not make a third run for the presidency.
But there will be no shortage of Republicans aspiring to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
In addition to Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina are all reportedly expected to be on hand.
The benefit to coming, said Tagg Romney, is to participate in discussions with leaders in business and politics and "get a sense of what's happening in the country and some of the problems we're facing and how to tackle those issues."
Second, he acknowledged, the event brings together Romney's donor machine that poured more than $446 million into Mitt Romney's 2102 campaign.
"Where people who may be on the fence on who they're supporting, it's a good chance [for candidates] to come meet them and give their sales pitch and let people get to know them and get on board," said Tagg Romney. "I know last year, a lot of the potential candidates came and were able to make relationships with folks and get them on their team."
Guest speakers this week include David Axelrod, the mastermind of President Barack Obama's victory over Romney; newswoman Katie Couric; Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute; and former NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Stern, may not seem like a typical speaker at such an event, but said during a question-and-answer session he planned to discuss how the NBA responded to issues of race, globalization and climate change and how the league tried to be ambassadors to other countries.
"We've responded in many ways with respect to working through the problem of America's acceptance of essentially a black league, the various green initiatives that all sports are implementing," Stern said in an interview. He said he would also highlight the NBA outreach to Iran, China and South Africa, part of a program to be "sports envoys for America around the world in an important way."
While as commissioner, Stern said he was apolitical, he has interacted with government and "I've been a first-party witness to the fact that Senate hearings, which I've gone to many, never lead to any legislation."