Bush working the campaign ropeline draws to an end
WASHINGTON – George W. Bush has worked his last campaign ropeline as president.
Bush, with historically low job approval ratings, made only an occasional public appearance on the trail this year, preferring to build support and raise campaign cash behind closed doors for Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and congressional candidates.
Bush also had to cancel or send stand-ins for a few private fundraisers while he stayed in Washington to work the telephones and lobby for the financial bailout legislation that passed earlier this month. His last fundraiser was on Tuesday for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“The president remains focused on addressing the needs of our economy,” said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. “We don’t expect to schedule any more fundraisers and don’t anticipate political rallies over the next two weeks.”
McCain has distanced himself from Bush, limiting his appearances to a public gathering at the White House after he stitched up the Republican nomination and again briefly at the Phoenix airport after the two attended a closed-door fundraiser.
In an interview with the Washington Times published on Wednesday, McCain ripped into Bush, leveling criticism for presiding over an explosion in debt, not paying for an expansion of Medicare and abusing executive powers. “We just let things get completely out of hand,” he said.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino defended Bush’s policies and reiterated the president’s backing for McCain. “He supports John McCain, and he still believes that he can and should win,” she said.
The White House has not yet revealed where Bush will cast his vote, whether in person in Texas, by absentee ballot or by early voting which his home state allows. In the 2002, 2004 and 2006 federal elections, Bush voted in person in Crawford.
– Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Bush and McCain at the Phoenix airport in May)