- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2000

Democratic and Republican fund-raisers have drawn a bead on beholden big givers in targeting donors for preconvention campaign cash.

The latest filings at the Federal Election Commission show that both Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush continue to reach out to beneficiaries of their parties' political patronage for their biggest donations.

Mr. Gore's $1,000 givers in the Washington area over the past eight weeks included President Clinton's former spokesman, Michael D. McCurry, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, former Energy Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary, and a dozen other current and former Clinton administration appointees.

The vice president's top Democratic givers include former veteran members of Congress-turned-lobbyists Beryl Anthony of Arkansas, Vic Fazio of California, and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana. They now live here permanently as multimillion-dollar-a-year advocates of political and business causes.

Mr. Bush has similarly tapped former Republican associates of his father, former President George Bush, for some of his biggest donations. Veteran lobbyist Thomas J. Corcoran, longtime fund-raiser Wyatt A. Stewart, and Theodore B. Olsen, former assistant attorney general in the Reagan-Bush administration, are among the Republican front-runner's $1,000 givers in the Washington area.

The Bush campaign, which already has gone through more than $65 million in the presidential primary season, also is tapping spouses of major patronage donors for additional large contributions to replenish its war chest, reports show.

"We're very focused on gathering the resources we need to get our message out," Republican National Committee spokesman Bill McCarthy said.

Reports show the Gore campaign has succeeded so far in raising about twice as much campaign cash as Republicans in the metropolitan area. Yet Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Jenny Backus told the Associated Press the party faces a national fund-raising disadvantage.

"We're never going to out-raise the Republicans," she said.

However, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore have crisscrossed the country over the past several months to raise more than $8 million for the party, the DNC reported. In its latest FEC filing March 20, the Gore campaign reported having $6.2 million in available cash as the month started and just over $1 million in unpaid debts.

Mr. Gore reported spending $6.1 million in February against the primary challenge of former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey. Mr. Bradley reported $12.7 million in February spending before withdrawing from the race last month with $6.3 million in debts.

The Gore campaign hopes to raise enough additional money to have at least $14 million to spend through August and during the nominating convention, party officials said. After the conventions, each candidate will receive $67.6 million in federal funds for the fall campaign.

The Bush campaign reported $12.1 million in available cash at the beginning of March with $3.1 million in debts. Mr. Bush spent $13.1 million in February to offset the primary challenge of Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Mr. McCain also spent $13.5 million in February, before withdrawing from the presidential race with $6.8 million in debts. Mr. McCain raised $14.5 million in February alone more than all other leading presidential candidates from both parties combined.

Mr. Bush's latest fund-raising tour took him to nine states where he raised $2.7 million for his White House bid in the last two weeks of March, according to campaign officials.

The Republican candidate has now raised a record-setting total of more than $75 million, the officials said.

The Texas governor hopes to raise at least $5 million to $10 million more from 14 scheduled fund-raisers that started March 17 in Wheaton, Ill., they said. The governor's parents, George and Barbara Bush, his wife, Laura, and a team of high-profile Republican leaders such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also are attending fund-raising events in his behalf.

Mr. Bush will headline the RNC's annual black-tie dinner here April 26, at which party leaders say they hope to raise a record $15 million. Last year, with former President Bush as featured attraction, the RNC raised $14 million.

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