PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Even while calling for a “civilized” Republican debate in 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker charged on Friday that GOP senators seeking the White House haven’t accomplished anything in Washington.
The 47-year-old two-term governor was the first of five Republican presidential prospects to appear at a luxury mountainside resort in Utah, where 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney was hosting a private gathering with his top donors. Friday’s speaking program featured Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in addition to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Walker said his party’s 2016 presidential class should be divided into two groups. “There are fighters and there are winners,” he told dozens of donors in a hotel ballroom, describing the fighters as the senators in the race.
“They have yet to win anything and accomplish anything,” Walker said of the senators.
Up next was Rubio, who did not engage Walker, but drew a contrast between the older and younger crop of candidates.
“Yesterday is over,” the 44-year-old senator declared, repeating a common theme designed to distinguish himself from leading Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush. “The old ways of doing things aren’t working anymore.”
“Some have said I should have waited my turn,” Rubio said. “I didn’t know there was a line.”
Bush was invited to Romney’s gathering, but was finishing a European tour on Friday.
Romney’s invitation-only event gave the Republican contenders an opportunity to connect with 250 leading donors and political operatives.
Some attendees started their day hiking with Romney and his wife at 6 a.m. Others played flag football with Rubio. Among other activities: skeet shooting with Graham, a hot air balloon ride, outdoor yoga and horseback riding with Ann Romney.
Overall, more than a dozen high-profile Republicans are expected to seek the presidency. With the first debates just two months away, some candidates have begun fighting to stand out.
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