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Mitt Romney In Hillsborough: GOP Nominee's Expensive Bay Area Stop Raises Eyebrows

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On Wednesday, GOP nominee Mitt Romney will make a stop at the California ATM for a series of Bay Area fundraising events, but critics who argue that the wealthy candidate is out of touch with middle class Americans are already bristling at the details.

Included in the itinerary is a $50,000 per plate founder's dinner at a 65,000-square-foot chateau in Hillsborough, a San Francisco suburb and one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

Though the price tag is alarming, Democrats shouldn't jump too quickly: Obama hosted a February fundraiser in a Pacific Heights mansion with tickets maxing out at $38,500 a head. And though we've learned that money doesn't always equal an election, a campaign rarely exists without it.

But if Romney is attempting to distance himself from his extravagant reputation, his choice of venue is an interesting one.

The fundraiser will be hosted at Hillsborough's Carolands Chateau. While the building is a California Historic Landmark, Carolands Chateau is one of the largest mansions in the country, and is largely considered a symbol of industrial wealth and prosperity.

A documentary about the property titled "Three Women and a Chateau" chronicled the history of the building in 2006, focusing on its three female caretakers. Excepts from the film's trailer include, "Money should show itself in truly grand architecture like this," and "where a man might leave his mark in politics or industry, these three woman chose to make their legacy in a grand and lovely chateau."

The chateau was also the site where two teenage girls were kidnapped, sexually assaulted and stabbed in 1985, lending it the nickname "the haunted mansion on the hill."

Critics have also taken aim at Romney's co-host for the fundraiser: his former employee Meg Whitman. Whitman is the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., where 27,000 layoffs were announced last week.

Romney came under fire for comments made about Whitman the day the HP job cuts were announced. In an interview with National Review, he said:

I wish California had elected Meg Whitman. She would have been more successful and explained to Californians the need to cut back on spending and eliminate unnecessary programs. There are other states that have very different records. I think it's interesting that the state with the highest or among the highest tax rates in the nation also has the worst or near the worst deficit.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported about the cricism against Romney and his fundraising choice:

Wade Randlett, a leading Obama fundraiser, calls Romney's Hillsborough event a "Richie Rich"-style blowout. He said the choice of venue for Wednesday's fundraiser - and endorsers who include Whitman and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina - underscore the Republican candidate's biggest weaknesses as he hits California.

"What Romney's business was, and what he's promoting, is the Gordon Gekko capitalism of the 1980s," Randlett said, referring to the fictional villain in the 1987 film "Wall Street." "It's 'I make money. I'm here to dismember companies.'"

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Filed by Robin Wilkey
 
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