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Koch Brothers: N. Y. fundraiser for Mitt Romney draws protestors

Mitt Romney raise $3 million Sunday at three events, including one at the Southampton home of David Koch, one of the billionaire Koch brothers, who have come to dominate conservative fundraising.

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A line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming, cherry red Ferrari began queuing outside Perelman’s estate long before Romney arrived, as campaign aides and staffers in white polo shirts emblazoned with the logo of Perelman’s property checked off names under tight security.

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Some of those waiting in line were eager to give the candidate some advice about the next four months of what is, at present, a tight presidential race.

A money manager in a green Jeep said it was time for Romney to “up his game and be more reactive.” So far, said the donor, who declined to give his name because he said it would hurt his business, Romney has had a “very timid offense.”

A New York City donor a few cars back, who would not give her name for similar reasons, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Physician Adam Rosenbluth paused on his way into the Perelman fundraiser to suggest that Romney was appealing in person, if less effective getting his message out otherwise.

“I think sometimes he seems a little plastic,” said Rosenbluth, who said Romney was on the right track by meeting more often with individual voters and donors. “His looks are almost Ken doll. And people are like: ‘Is he made like a Ken doll? — is there something in there?’”

Among Perelman’s guests were the Zambrellis of New York City, independent voters who attended a fundraiser for Obama four years ago. Sharon Zambrelli voted for Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed with his handling of the economy and leadership style.

“I was very disenchanted with the political process, and he gave me hope,” she said. But ultimately: “He’s just a politician,” an “emperor with no clothes.”

The Zambrellis scoffed at what they said were attempts by the Democrats to wage class warfare. “Would you like to hear about the fundraisers I went to for him?” Sharon Zambrelli said of Obama. “Do you have an hour? ... All the ones in the city — it was all of Wall Street.”

“It’s not helping the economy to pit the people who are the engine of the economy against the people who rely on that engine,” Michael Zambrelli said as the couple waited in their SUV for clearance into the pine-tree-lined estate. “He’s basically been biting the hand that fed him in ‘08. ... I would bet 25 percent of the people here were supporters of Obama in ‘08. And they’re here now.”

Protesters struck at the Perelman home too: Two men were arrested after trying to sail across a lake abutting the property and striking a police vessel with their sailboat in the process. One was arrested after trying to flee by swimming to shore; the other was apprehended on his boat.

As traffic snarled along Montauk Highway in both directions, a Ron Paul supporter who said his name was Jim continually circled in a pickup truck that bore large signs touting the Romney challenger.

“I’ve gotten a few thumbs up,” he said when asked whether his presence was having any effect. “He’s the man.”

RECOMMENDED: Are you more or less conservative than Mitt Romney? Take the quiz

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©2012 Los Angeles Times

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