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Romney, Cheney to address conservative group

The 2 will not meet; Mitt also plans to attend fund-raiser

Published: Thursday, Sept. 27 2007 12:24 a.m. MDT

Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Salt Lake City on Friday to speak to the Council for National Policy, a group of well-known political, educational and religious conservatives.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is also scheduled to speak to the group on Friday afternoon about "the strategy for a stronger America, and changing Washington," campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said Wednesday.

Romney, the leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, will be in Utah Friday for a fund-raising event at the Salt Palace.

The CNP has a number of connections to Utah through some of its current and past members.

According to Search Watch, part of the Center for Media and Democracy, some of the Utahn members of the CNP have held leadership positions in the group.

A number of the members had connections to the administration of the late President Ronald Reagan.

Search Watch lists a 2001 CNP membership directory that included Utahns who have had ties with the group: Richard Viguerie, known for his direct mailing expertise; Mark A. Benson of the Freeman Institute, second oldest son of the late LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson; Howard Ruff, conservative fund-raiser and author; Tidal McCoy, who worked for retired U.S. Sen. Jake Garn and for then-Thiokol aerospace; Phillip Olsen, former NFL player; and Richard B. Wirthlin, former national pollster for Reagan and a current member of the Deseret Morning News board of directors.

Sources told the Deseret Morning News that a number of local conservative Utahns, including Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, have been invited to address the group's three-day meeting in the Grand America Hotel, which, like the CNP's other conferences, is closed to the media and public.

Although Romney is a leading contender for the White House, he will not meet with the vice president while both are in Utah on Friday. A meeting between the former Massachusetts governor and Cheney "is not included in the schedule," Gitcho said.

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