Their husbands were once bitter rivals, but Ann Romney and Anita Perry are joining forces next week to raise money for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The Texas first lady is Ann Romney’s special guest at a fundraiser Thursday at the Austin home of golfing legend Ben Crenshaw and his wife, Julie.
Perry gave Romney a brief scare last year when he jumped into the presidential race in August and shot to the top of the polls.
The former Massachusetts governor answered the challenge by making Perry the first target of a sustained campaign to knock out his rivals. He criticized the Texas governor’s controversial statements on Social Security and his support for giving in-state college tuition to young illegal immigrants, and he attacked Perry as a “career politician” who had been in office too long.
After a series of self-inflicted stumbles, including the now famous “oops” moment in November, Perry withdrew from the race in January — two days before the South Carolina primary. He immediately threw his support to Newt Gingrich, but Romney turned his guns on the former House speaker with the same ferocity he showed Perry.
Romney then clobbered his last serious rival, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who exited the race before facing a potential humiliation in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Gingrich gave up his increasingly quixotic fight recently. That prompted Perry to endorse the last man standing — and now the presumptive nominee. Perry has made no secret of his interest in another run for president, in 2016, but a Romney victory in November would shelve those plans.
Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said the governor is working to put his former rival in the White House.
"The governor and Mrs. Perry are proud to support them and work with the Romneys to help defeat President Obama in the upcoming election,” she said. “Our country can’t afford four more years of his failed leadership.”
Ann Romney’s visit to Austin is part of a fundraising spree designed to pump up the campaign coffers ahead of the November showdown.
Couples who donate $10,000, or commit to raise $25,000 from others, can get their picture taken with Ann Romney, according to the invitation.
Proceeds go to Romney Victory Inc., a joint fundraising venture between the candidate’s presidential campaign and various state and national GOP campaign committees.
The fundraising tool allows wealthy donors to give far more than the typical $2,500-per-election limit. The umbrella group collecting the money can transfer funds through state party committees to key battleground states where the election between Romney and Obama will be won or lost.