Bush money train to hit the road, nary a sighting
WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush will hit the campaign trail next week to rustle up some badly needed cash for Republican candidates — including presidential hopeful John McCain — but catching a glimpse of him in action will be fleeting.
Bush will crisscross the Rocky Mountains Tuesday through Thursday from New Mexico to Arizona to Utah to Kansas raising money for McCain at three events and Republican congressional candidates at two others. They are all closed to the media.
“The reason that they’re closed is that the McCain campaign has a practice of having their fundraisers as closed press,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. Bush has permitted the media attend fundraisers at hotels and other similar venues but not at private residences (like the other two fundraisers on the trip).
Bush and McCain will attend one fundraiser together (in Arizona), she said, but it remains unclear whether the two will be seen in public together.
“Stay tuned for the details … when we arrive or when we depart, I think there will be a chance,” Perino said. McCain has lagged his Democratic rivals in raising campaign cash — he pulled in $18.5 million in April while New York Sen. Hillary Clinton brought in $21 million and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama received $30.7 million.
McCain has been trying to shake accusations from Democrats that he would represent a third term of Bush, so he could choose to avoid a photo opportunity during their get-together on Tuesday.
Congressional Republicans have also been facing a fairly grim outlook, with more than two dozen members of the House of Representatives leaving, either retiring or seeking another office. That has made it even harder to narrow or reverse the 236-199 advantage Democrats have in the House. Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate must defend 23 seats while Democrats have 12 seats to guard.
– Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain listens to Bush at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in April.)