SANDY Margaret White and her two grown daughters sounded absolutely thrilled to be raising money Wednesday for the man they want to become president: Mitt Romney.
White, who describes herself as a retired homemaker from Salt Lake City, said she's posted on her refrigerator a picture of the Romney family clipped from some campaign literature.
And, she said with a smile, she was very excited to have received a telephone call the other night from the GOP presidential candidate even though it was just a prerecorded message.
Her daughters, Elizabeth Lefler of Farmington and Ruth Ann White of Holladay, are big fans, too. Both said they had written in Romney's name on presidential ballots in the 2000 and 2004 elections, long before he became a contender for the White House.
That amazed Josh Romney, the only one of Romney's five sons who lives in Utah, who met the women during a daylong event at the South Towne Expo Center held as part of a nationwide effort by the campaign to sign up 24,000 new supporters in 24 hours.
"You're the first people I've met who have actually voted for him for president before," Josh Romney said, as the women went on about why they like his father and even his late grandfather, George Romney, a former governor of Michigan who also ran for president in 1968.
The call center at the Expo Center was one of 50 nationwide set up so Mitt Romney supporters could solicit support from their friends and families. Contributions of as little as $5 were being accepted, as well as offers of volunteer help for the campaign.
Call centers were also set up in Provo for students and in St. George. Contributions were solicited at parties held in Utah and around the country Tuesday night during the second debate among the 10 GOP presidential candidates held in South Carolina and sponsored by Fox News.
Utah has been an important source of campaign funds for Romney, who led the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake from scandal to success and is a member of the state's dominant LDS faith. Of the more than $21 million Romney raised in the first quarter of the year, nearly $2.8 million came from Utah, making the state second only to California as a source of campaign contributions.
Some of that money was raised by Utah business and political leaders at past call center events in Boston and at Thanksgiving Point. This time around, though, the campaign said the focus wasn't on collecting the maximum $2,300 contribution allowed under federal law but on getting new people involved, especially those with more time than money.
Ruth Ann White said she'd already collected a number of $5 contributions. "It's the commitment to vote that we're after. We're not trying to raise a huge amount of money," said her sister, Elizabeth Lefler.
The campaign did offer some incentives for the fund-raisers, including a signed, framed photo of Romney for getting contributions from at least 24 people. Contributors could receive a number of gifts, such as a "Mitt bobble-head" for giving at least $1,000.
A few well-known and well-connected faces joined the effort Wednesday, including Olympic gold-medalist speedskater Derek Parra, who has already participated in a number of events for Romney.Parra, who once lived in the Romneys' Deer Valley vacation home, said he'll do whatever he's asked. "I'm just a big supporter of Mitt and a friend of the family. Whenever I can, I'll come out and do something."