Tales from the Trail

McCain raises money, praises Romney, thanks lobbyists

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate John McCain spent a marathon day raising money on Monday, and it went well: after events in Virginia and Washington, D.C., the campaign and the Republican Party pulled in more than $2 million.
“We won’t raise as much money as our opponent but we certainly will raise (a) sufficient amount of money to win this election,” the Arizona senator told a gathering at a Ritz Carlton hotel in Northern Virginia.
His opponent, of course, is Democrat Barack Obama, who has consistently broken records with his fundraising in the primary contests.
McCain congratulated Obama on his victory over rival Hillary Clinton in the Democratic nominating battle but needled the Illinois senator for a lack of experience by saying the White House was not a place for on-the-job training.
McCain was certainly on the job bringing in cash. One event included tickets to a “victory dinner” and two receptions for a contribution — raised or donated — of $50,000. Whew.
And even those lobbyists out there got a thank-you.
“I’m going to thank some corrupt unscrupulous lobbyists that are destroying America as we speak, everything we stand for and believe in,” McCain joked at one fundraiser. 
Finally, there was praise for his opponent-turned-supporter, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“There’s nobody who represents me better today than Mitt Romney,” McCain said.
Are you listening, governor? That could be the sound of a vice presidential offer coming down the road …

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria. McCain talks at a news conference after visiting the Everglades Safari Park in Miami, Florida, June 6, 2008.

Bush on campaign trail – McCain’s secret?

PARK CITY, Utah – Republican White House hopeful John McCain wants help from President George W. Bush to raise money for his campaign, but has done plenty to downplay the unpopular president’s presence on the trail.
Bush headlined three closed-door fundraisers in Arizona and Utah on Tuesday and Wednesday, hauling in millions of dollars for McCain but there was only a brief public glimpse of the two men together, for less than a minute. Plus, McCain skipped two of the events.
Bush’s fundraiser in Arizona with McCain was originally scheduled to be open to  reporters, but McCain’s campaign keeps its fundraisers closed to the press so the event was moved to a private home to keep it out of the public eye.
rtx68cn.jpgMcCain’s campaign also refused to release any details about how much Bush was helping raise at the three events, but the one with McCain present brought in roughly $2.5 million, according to sources close to the campaign who declined to be identified.
Details from the other two fundraisers were scarce, though the one Wednesday evening in the posh ski resort area of Park City, Utah, was hosted by Mitt Romney, a former investment banker who had been a McCain rival in the hunt for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Democrats have tried to paint McCain as no different than the current White House occupant, arguing that the Arizona senator would represent a “third term” of Bush if elected to the White House in November, citing his steadfast support of Bush’s plan for the Iraq war and making tax cuts permanent.
In addition to limiting public exposure with Bush, McCain has differed with him on how to address climate change and said he would pursue nuclear arms reduction talks with Russia and China as part of a foreign policy that brings back “broad-minded internationalism and determined diplomacy.”
The growing distance between the two brings up the question of how McCain will handle Bush at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in early September.

- Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (McCain sees Bush off at the Phoenix airport after a private fundraiser.)

Romney returns to the campaign scene

WASHINGTON – Former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who disappointed some conservatives earlier this year for unexpectedly dropping his White House bid, jumped back on to the political scene over the last 24 hours.rtr1ytqq.jpg

First we found out on Wednesday that the ex-Massachusetts governor and investment banker was taking a sojourn out to Arizona to meet with former rival and the presumed Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain — along with others who have been mentioned as possible vice presidential running mates.

And now Romney on Thursday announced he has formed a political action committee – Free and Strong America PAC — to help struggling Republicans running for Congress this year as well as his now-close friend McCain who has lagged the Democratic presidential hopefuls in fund-raising.

McCain finds the coffee in Little Havana pretty strong

MIAMI – Republican John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” bus took a little detour today, depositing McCain at a Cuban-American restaurant in Little Havana.

rtx5yjz.jpgMcCain, who likes to keep a cup of coffee at his side most of the time, decided to sample the espresso served up at Cafe Versailles, ordering a cup at a window for ordering items to go.

Taking a sip from the small ceramic cup, he must have found it a pretty strong brew. He pumped his fist as he tasted the coffee.

For Romney, no fear of “goofing up” as he joins McCain

DENVER, Colo. – Mitt Romney , until a few weeks ago Sen. John McCain’s rival in a sometimes bitter contest for the Republican Party presidential nomination, says getting back on the campaign trail with the presumptive nominee is fun.

Romney traded blows with McCain for several weeks earlier this year before dropping out of the race and conceding defeat after losing crucial prromney.jpgimary contests on Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

With past battles behind them, Romney joined the Arizona senator in Salt Lake City, Utah, at a fund-raising event on Thursday, and then flew with him to Denver, Colorado.