AUSTIN, Texas - In coming to Texas this week to raise cash for his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney is following the old rule of the bank robber: Go where the money is.
The upscale suburbs of Dallas and Houston were the heart of George W. Bush's political money machine in 2000 and 2004 and a rich source of contributions to Republican Gov. Rick Perry during his brief, failed White House bid.
Perry's donors have been slow to come around to Romney, a Dallas Morning News analysis shows, but a two-day fundraising swing through the Lone Star State offers an opportunity for deep-pocket givers who backed other candidates in the Republican primary to finally get behind the soon-to-be GOP nominee.
"We're going to raise a tremendous amount in the next two days here in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio," said Ray Washburne, a Dallas developer and restaurateur who co-chairs Romney's Texas finance team.
Tickets start at $2,500 for a general reception today at the Belo Mansion in downtown Dallas. Donors who cut a check for $50,000 for the GOP - or raise $200,000 from others - get a private reception and dinner with Romney at the home of developer Harlan Crow.
On Wednesday, Romney fundraisers include a breakfast at the home of Fort Worth socialite Kit Moncrief, a luncheon at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio and an evening reception at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston, followed by a dinner for major donors at the home of Jonathan Fairbanks, a broker for offshore drilling rigs.
Both Crow, who lives in Highland Park, and Fairbanks, who lives in River Oaks, have long Republican pedigrees. Crow is the son of Dallas developer Trammell Crow, and Fairbanks' great-great-grandfather was Theodore Roosevelt's vice president.
After Perry quit in January, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and in telephone calls discouraged his supporters from giving to Romney, according to a Perry associate. During the sometimes-bitter GOP primary, Perry had called Romney a "vulture capitalist," and Gingrich accused Romney of dishonest political attacks and said he couldn't win in November.
Gingrich abandoned his presidential bid last month. And in a May 24 conference call, Perry urged his donors to contribute to Romney, who was just days from clinching the Republican nomination with his big win in the Texas primary. Earlier, Anita Perry attended a fundraiser in Austin with Ann Romney.