- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. President Bush yesterday stumped for former foe Elizabeth Dole and insisted his wartime duties would not prevent him from stepping up election-year campaigning aimed at deposing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Responding to a question from The Washington Times, Mr. Bush was unapologetic about raising funds for fellow Republicans, even as he continued to prosecute the war against terrorism. He said this will allow the Republican Party to keep control of the House and retake control of the Senate.
"I'm interested in making sure that the speaker of the House is Denny Hastert," the president said of the Illinois Republican. "My job will be easier if Denny Hastert is the speaker."
"I'd like to see Trent Lott be the majority leader and I will work to those ends," Mr. Bush added. The Mississippi Republican lost the post in May when Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont defected from the Republican Party to become an independent, which put the Senate under the control of Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
The question was still on the president's mind when he spoke later in the day at a fund-raiser for Mrs. Dole, a candidate for the Senate seat held by Republican Jesse Helms, who had announced his retirement. Mr. Bush vanquished Mrs. Dole in the Republican presidential primaries of 2000.
The president told the audience, which had paid $1,000 per plate, that a reporter "asked me today: Am I going to campaign? You know, here we are in war, do you think it's all right for the president to go campaign?
"I said: Yes I do," Mr. Bush added. "It'd be a lot easier for me to accomplish what I want to accomplish with Denny Hastert as speaker of the House and with Trent Lott as majority leader of the United States Senate."
To that end, Mr. Bush raised more than $1 million for Mrs. Dole and another North Carolina Republican, Robin Hayes, who was running for Congress. Tomorrow, the president will travel to Des Moines to raise funds for Rep. Tom Latham and other Iowa Republicans. More fund-raisers are planned for next week.
After headlining only half a dozen political fund-raisers last year, Mr. Bush has exceeded that number in the first two months of this year.
"Clearly, this is an election year," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told The Times aboard Air Force One. "The president will engage in election activities to help support people who share his agenda.
"The president feels very strongly about the issues that can improve America," the spokesman said. "The more people there are in the House and in the Senate and in governorships who agree with the president's positions, the better off the president believes the country will be."
One of those governorships is in Wisconsin, where Mr. Bush stumped earlier this month for Republican Gov. Scott McCallum, who is running for re-election. Mr. McCallum was Wisconsin's lieutenant governor before ascending to the governorship when Gov. Tommy G. Thompson became the Bush administration's Health and Human Services secretary.
Mr. McCallum is opposed by Mr. Thompson's younger brother, Ed, who is running for the Libertarian Party. That put Mr. Thompson in the awkward position of joining the president in campaigning against his own brother.
Yesterday, The Times asked Mr. Thompson if that made him feel "conflicted."
"Why sure you're conflicted a little bit," Mr. Thompson said aboard Air Force One. "But overall, it was the right thing to do. I love my brother, but he is running as a Libertarian. I told him he shouldn't run."
Mr. Thompson said with a laugh that an older brother is rarely successful in telling a younger brother what to do.
"I support my brother in everything," he said. "But my brother should take advice from his older brother."
Mr. Fleischer had his own conflict, since he was Mrs. Dole's press secretary until she lost to Mr. Bush. Yesterday, he seemed pleased to be in a position of backing both politicians.
"He supports Elizabeth Dole's campaign," Mr. Fleischer said of his boss. "He supports Elizabeth Dole's candidacy."
The president chose to support Mrs. Dole over several other Republicans who were running against her in North Carolina's primary. In the past, Mr. Bush has refrained from taking sides in most Republican primaries.

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