ST. PETERSBURG — The Renaissance Vinoy Resort was the center of the RNC universe for a few hours Thursday as three levels of fundraisers were treated to various perks.
More than 600 people who raised $15,000 or more gathered in the spacious Palm Court Ballroom, where Mitt and Ann Romney made a quick appearance and luncheon keynoter Condoleezza Rice spoke briefly.
In each guest's chair: a hardback copy of the former secretary of state's memoir, No Higher Honor.
Big video screens showed images of the American flag, and tables for 10 had floral centerpieces filled with roses.
At each place setting was a trio of salads that included beef, shrimp and chicken, plus desserts garnished with a medley of berries, fresh mint and white-chocolate stars bearing the Republican emblem: a red, white and blue elephant.
Meanwhile in the hotel's Grand Ballroom, a smaller crowd that had raised $1 million or more gathered to visit with the presidential nominee, who shook every hand in the room.
Afterward, those at the "stars and stripes" level (minimum $250,000) were discreetly directed down a hall, through a metal detector and into a small meeting room under the hotel's lobby. Word spread they would meet vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
The more than 100 major fundraisers and spouses entered a secure room in the downstairs plaza level for their photo opportunity with Ryan.
Mary Jane Park and Katherine Snow Smith, Times staff writers