Mitt Romney will make his first major foray into Donald Trump's Washington next month, headlining a fundraiser to benefit the official foundation of Yellowstone National Park.
The gathering will take place at Hawthorne, a bar and restaurant in D.C.'s hip U Street corridor, on May 4 at 7 PM, according to an invitation obtained by McClatchy. The nonpartisan event is geared toward young professionals and hosted by Yellowstone Forever Young Patrons, which raises money for Yellowstone Forever, the fundraising partner of the park.
The news comes as the White House announced Monday that Trump would donate his first quarter salary to the National Park Service.
Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, was a sharp critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, and became the face of establishment resistance to the then-candidate. But after the election, he was briefly considered for a position as Trump's secretary of state before the president instead chose Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil.
Since then, Romney has kept a relatively low political profile, and this will be his first major appearance in Washington since Trump was sworn in. Romney has confined his political commentary lately to praise for various Trump nominations, including now-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, while also filling his social media feeds with pictures of his many grandchildren, some of whom he has taken on trips to national parks, part of a longstanding family tradition of visiting the West.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has also recently generated speculation about his own political future. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, recently told National Journal that he might not run for re-election if a "really outstanding person," like Romney, would jump in. In a February interview with Utah's Deseret News, Romney—who lives in Utah now—didn't rule out another race.
But Jackie Rooney, the founder and chair of Yellowstone Forever Young Patrons and an alum of Romney's 2012 campaign, waved off the idea that he would make any political announcements at the May gathering.
"This is a bipartisan event," she said, adding, "Obviously there will be a lot of friendly faces. We're happy to be there and excited and honored for him to stop by."
Indeed, the host committee is stacked with former Romney staffers, including 2012 campaign manager Matt Rhoades, ex-campaign spokespeople Ryan Williams, Amanda Henneberg and Chris Maloney, and major pro-Romney fundraisers Charlie and Lisa Spies, among others. Hawthorne is co-owned by Fritz Brogan, a restaurateur involved in GOP fundraising, who is also on the host committee, as are several Democrats.
"I don't think our national park system should be a partisan issue," Rooney said. "I want to make sure our future generations get to see the national parks the way we get to."
The Hawthorne gathering is one of several around the country in support of the park, and Rooney said she hoped to make the D.C. event an annual one.
Tickets start at $95 and sponsorship packages run up to $5,000.