- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

President Bush has begun raising millions of dollars for fellow Republicans in an effort to expand the Republican majority and preserve his conservative legacy.

“Let’s raise money,” Mr. Bush said at a $23 million fundraiser Tuesday. “Through your generosity, we’re going to keep control of the Senate and the House, and America will be better off for it.”

The president’s fundraising prowess is considered a crucial counterweight to liberal advocacy groups, known as 527s for their tax code designation. Liberal 527 organizations raised $118 million more than their conservative counterparts during last year’s presidential campaign.

“We saw last cycle that the Democrats were very effective in raising and spending a lot of 527 money,” said Republican media consultant John Brabender. “So it’s very important to have individuals like the president coming in to be able to raise the type of money to offset that.”

Mr. Brabender works for Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican. He witnessed the president’s rainmaking abilities at a Pennsylvania fundraiser Tuesday.

“We originally projected $750,000 and it came in at a little over $1.5 million — we doubled it,” Mr. Brabender said. “That shows the effectiveness of using the president as a fundraising mechanism.”

Mr. Bush tirelessly raised money for fellow Republicans in the midterm elections of 2002, helping them gain seats in both the House and Senate. He appears poised to repeat the effort for the 2006 midterms, in part to ensure passage of his own agenda and stave off lame-duck status.

“It is important to continue to have a Republican majority in Congress,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. “The president wants to do what he can to support those who have helped him advance a positive agenda for America.”

Mr. Bush has raised funds at seven events since his re-election in November and his fundraising is expected to accelerate as the midterms draw near.

“He has had a tremendous impact not only on fundraising, but on efforts to rally the grass roots and broaden and deepen the party,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

Earlier this month, Mr. Bush stumped for Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and was not shy about the purpose of his visit.

“These people paid a lot of money,” he said, drawing laughter from donors in St. Louis. “My attitude is, show me a good senator and I’m going to back him.”

Talent spokesman Rich Chrismer said the president’s support helps raise money and “focuses attention on your accomplishments and the work you’re doing on behalf of the state.”

In addition to headlining fundraisers for individual candidates, the president was the main attraction at Tuesday’s fundraiser in the District, which raised $23 million for a multitude of congressional candidates.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean complained that Republicans spend more time “raising campaign cash” than addressing the nation’s concerns.

“The American people deserve elected officials who solve problems, not who abuse their power to enact an agenda that is sold to someone at a multimillion-dollar fundraiser,” he said.


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