BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a two-hour stop on Friday to pick up an estimated $1.3 million from donors.
Supporters paid $2,500 to $5,000 each for an hour-long event at the Erie County Historical Society and $10,000 to gather under a lattice-shielded tent in the leafy backyard of a local businessman.
Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, didn't stop to mingle with non-paying members of the public or reporters. Protected by Secret Service agents, he entered the first venue out of public view through a side entrance as a few dozen protesters from Planned Parent Advocates of New York and other causes chanted and held signs across the street.
"We're out here to let Mitt Romney know that women are watching," said Planned Parenthood Advocates spokeswoman Betsy Harned, whose group donned bright pink T-shirts.
Other protesters held rainbow-striped flags in support of gay rights, printed placards saying "tax the 1 percent" and hand-lettered signs supporting President Barack Obama's health care reform law, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this week.
One couple shouted support for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is still trying to win delegates at state conventions but stopped campaigning in GOP primaries.
Some of the protesters continued on to the home of businessman Anthony Gioia, a former U.S. ambassador to Malta. Romney spent about an hour there before leaving in a four-vehicle convoy that was bookended by state police.
Republican leaders said the visit was expected to raise $1.3 million.
It was the first and likely only upstate New York campaign stop by Romney, a former Massachusetts governor. New York, and particularly its upstate region, is not generally a must-hit destination for Republican presidential hopefuls. The state is reliably blue, all six of its elected state officials are Democrats and its voters overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008, when he captured 63 percent of the vote on his way to winning the presidential race. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio.