GOP candidates bail on RNC fundraising dinner

Two of the four leading Republican contenders left before speaking to a fundraising dinner Tuesday night for the Republican National Committee (RNC) that brought in $5 million for the party, and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) missed the event altogether because of Senate business.

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) made brief remarks to a closed-press reception before the dinner began but then left even though they were scheduled to address the dinner.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann did speak to the group for a few minutes, winning a standing ovation from the room full of party heavyweights. 

Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), who was not scheduled to speak, also addressed the dinner.

RNC officials said they became aware of the candidates’ decision to leave before their scheduled addresses just before the program was scheduled to start. The RNC referred reporters’ questions to the respective campaigns, which did not answer requests for an explanation Tuesday night.

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