- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Bush spent $7.5 million of his campaign fortune last month preparing ads, making direct-mail appeals and laying other groundwork for a battle with the eventual Democratic nominee, records showed yesterday.

Though Mr. Bush has already reached his $150 million fund-raising goal, his campaign made a new appeal to add to his record total in hopes of avoiding another close election like 2000 and the cliff-hanger in Florida.

“In the closest presidential election in modern history, 24,731 people in a nation of 280 million make the difference for 59 electoral votes,” the campaign wrote in its Internet appeal this week. “Will you be one of the people who makes a difference this time?”

Meanwhile, Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards are locked in a tight race for fresh money to fuel their campaigning with an eye on the March 2 primaries.

Mr. Kerry hopes to add $2 million before those contests on top of the more than $7 million he raised since the start of the year. Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards picked up $700,000 in one day in fresh money via the Internet and two New Jersey fund-raisers after his close second-place finish in Wisconsin on Tuesday; he has raised at least $4.9 million this year.

Several Democratic strategists believe Mr. Kerry will see a flood of money if he emerges as the presumptive nominee, but nonetheless would be wise, even while facing Mr. Edwards, to save as much as he can for a one-on-one matchup with Mr. Bush.

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