NEW YORK -- In an effort to reach out to conservative media, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and wife Ann met for two hours Wednesday with several dozen conservative bloggers, reporters and columnists in an off-the-record gathering at a private Washington, D.C. club, according to attendees.
Romney, who struggled with some members of the conservative media during the Republican primary, is banking on their support in his campaign against President Barack Obama, regardless of whether they were previously in his corner or not.
The attendees came from numerous conservative sites and right-of-center publications, including National Review, Daily Caller, American Spectator, Washington Examiner, Human Events, RedState, Right Wing News, Powerline, Townhall, Ace of Spades, RiehlWorldView, White House Dossier and PJ Media. RNC chairman Reince Preibus also attended.
Details of the Romney meeting did not previously leak out because of the off-the-record ground rules. So even though there were as many as 60 writers at the Capitol Hill Club gathering, along with others calling in by phone, they weren't permitted to cover it. But some attendees, in conversations with The Huffington Post, described generally what they took away from the private meeting.
"The basic message I got is the primary's over and we want you on our side and working with the campaign," said one attendee. Another described the meeting as "sort of an olive branch to conservative media."
Romney told attendees that it will be tough getting the campaign's message across through mainstream media in a general election, presumably because of the assumption shared by conservatives that political journalists are likely to put their thumb on the scale for Obama. While Romney didn't take swipes at the media during the primary, unlike Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, he has been more aggressive since becoming the presumptive nominee.
Ann Romney told attendees that she planned to discuss economic issues on the trail from a women's perspective. Last month, she pushed back against Democratic pundit Hilary Rosen for saying that the mother of five had never worked a day in her life, a charge Rosen later apologized for.
During a Q&A period, attendees brought up Fast and Furious, the botched U.S. gunrunning sting that conservative outlets have given more attention than the national media, along with concerns that the Romney campaign will continue leaking to establishment outlets, including ABC News and Politico, rather than conservative ones.
Some conservative journalists left satisfied with what they heard. At one point, Romney told attendees that the campaign intended to work closely with their outlets and will even help conservative outlets writing about Obama with opposition research, according to an attendee.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article was updated with the names of additional outlets confirmed to be at the meeting.
CORRECTION: 11:56 p.m. -- This article has been updated to correct the name of a media organization represented at the meeting. The article originally reported that a World Net Daily representative attended, but The Huffington Post at this time cannot confirm that. A source for the original information misidentified the attendee in question, confusing the letters WND and WHD in notes. The attendee was from White House Dossier, not World Net Daily, the source said. The Huffington Post regrets the error and is following up with additional sources for a more comprehensive list of attendees.
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