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Washington • Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will headline a fundraiser in Washington next month to benefit Yellowstone National Park.
The May 4 event will bring Romney, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump during the campaign, about 15 blocks from the Trump White House. It comes on top of Trump announcing that he would donate his first three months' salary to the National Park Service.
The fundraiser is billed as a bipartisan affair, and organizers note that the event was scheduled far in advance.
"We're incredibly honored to have him stop by," said Jackie Rooney, the founder and chairman of Yellowstone Forever Young Patrons and a top aide in Romney's 2012 campaign, "and it makes sense, obviously, because of Governor Romney's passion for America, but also because he has family history of his father taking him around the national parks out West, as well as Governor Romney taking around his own grandkids to the national parks."
Romney talked fondly on the campaign trail about how his father, George Romney, would load up the family in their AMC Rambler and drive across the country, hitting national parks and historic battlefields.
After Romney lost the 2012 presidential campaign, he traded in his Mustang convertible for a 15-passenger van to allow him to take some of his 24 grandchildren around the West to tour the national parks.
Rooney, who says the host committee of the $75-per-person event includes Democrats and Republicans, and it is aimed at raising much-needed money for Yellowstone National Park, which like other parks in the system, faces a massive maintenance backlog.
"We don't think the national park system should be partisan," Rooney said. "Our main goal is to make sure we preserve our national parks for the future generation so they get to see them as well."
Trump, a billionaire real estate and entertainment magnate, had said during his campaign that he would donate his $400,000 annual salary to charity. On Monday, the White House announced that the first quarter of that $78,333.32 would go to the National Park Service.
"The park service has cared for our parks since 1916, and the president is personally proud to contribute the first quarter of his salary to the important mission of the park service, which is preserving our country's national security," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.
Trump's budget recommends cutting $1.5 billion from the Interior Department, which oversees the park service.