- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

DALLAS The White House yesterday disputed media reports that fund-raising activities President Bush is conducting this week would violate a new federal campaign law he signed Wednesday.

While the law does not take effect until Nov. 6 the day after this year's congressional elections several newspapers, including the New York Times, reported the president's efforts in raising $2.5 million on Wednesday for Republican candidates would be forbidden by the new law.

"The statement in the story is incorrect because it didn't apply," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. In fact, he said, the new law does not spell out specific parameters, which will be set by the Federal Election Commission when the law takes effect.

The New York Times said: "Of the total $2.5 million raised at the two events today, the White House said, $500,000 was in unlimited 'soft money' donations to the state Republican parties, contributions that are restricted by the new law."

Mr. Johndroe said that is inaccurate because the new law contains no such specifics for state party collection of soft money. Under the new law, however, soft-money collection by national parties will be banned.

The White House said the president's fund-raising efforts are legal under current law and would be legal under the new law.

The Bush administration appears to be strictly adhering to current laws. At a fund-raiser yesterday for Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, who is seeking to keep in Republican hands the Senate seat being vacated this year by Phil Gramm, a card carried this pledge and warning for donors: "I agree to raise $10,000 and give a personal contribution up to the legal limit of $1,000 a person and $2,000 a couple."

Mr. Bush has hit three fund-raisers in the past two days, raising $3.5 million for Senate candidates in South Carolina, Georgia and Texas. The president said while he sees the new law as useful, if flawed, he will not change fund-raising strategy while Democrats continue collecting money under the current laws.

"I'm not going to lay down my arms. I'm going to participate in the rules of the system," Mr. Bush said.

The president's appearance at the Dallas event raised $1.8 million for Mr. Cornyn's campaign, nearly all of it in hard money, which are donations directly from individuals to candidates. Wednesday, Mr. Bush helped raise about $1 million in Greenville for the campaign of Rep. Lindsey Graham who seeks the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, the chamber's oldest and longest-serving member.

Wednesday night in Atlanta, the president raised $1.4 million for the campaign coffers of Rep. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, who is campaigning for the Republican nomination to face Democratic Sen. Max Cleland.

In his speech to about 2,000 donors gathered at the Dallas luncheon, Mr. Bush said his efforts are necessary to retake control of the Senate.

"We need people like John Cornyn in the United States Senate, who will work with the White House to have a solid judiciary, to make sure that the judges do what they're supposed to do in the United States and not overstep their bounds," Mr. Bush said.

"We've got to get good, conservative judges appointed to the bench and approved by the United States Senate. I want people on the bench who don't try to use their position to legislate from the bench."

Referring to the defeat of the nomination of Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, the president said: "I sent such a man up from Mississippi the other day a good, honest, honorable man, who had been approved unanimously by the United States Senate earlier and, yet, did not get a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."

Said Mr. Cornyn: "President Bush, in the last 15 months, has done some remarkable things. He's restored dignity and honor to the Oval Office. He's brought a clarity of purpose to our national agenda and, at a time of great crisis, he's demonstrated to the world the exceptional leadership ability that we know so well here in Texas."

Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush visited a Dallas fire station to thank men and women from an Urban Search and Rescue Team who responded to the scene of the World Trade Center disaster in the days after terrorist strikes there killed more than 2,800 Americans.

The president has no events planned for today or Saturday as he ends his trip with a long Easter weekend at his ranch.

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