ORLANDO, Fla. – While focusing on his party's financial health with a fund-raising trip to Florida, President Bush also promoted his weeklong push for more physical fitness, focusing on Orlando's retirement community and "age-appropriate" workouts.
After touring an Orlando center for elderly people, the president said, "I exercise every day ... and I feel better for it. I sleep better. I eat better. I'm a lot more pleasant fellow to be around after I exercise."
Telling seniors that he usually discusses Medicaid with them, Bush changed the topic on them to his Healthier Us initiative, whose four guideposts to increase the health of young and old were unveiled this week.
"First, people should be physically active every day. Secondly, people should develop good eating habits," he said, mentioning his father, the former President Bush's noted aversion to broccoli.
"Let me put it another way: You need to eat your vegetables and your fruits. We've been working on Dad for a while on the broccoli issue."
He also said people need to watch their consumption and take advantage of preventative screenings that detect the likelihood of contracting illnesses.
Bush was going from the Marks Street Senior Center to a fund-raiser expected to raise $2.5 million for the Florida GOP and his brother Jeb Bush's gubernatorial re-election campaign.
Jeb Bush is pushing way ahead in the polls, and has done well fund-raising on his own, so the president's dinner was expected to be more an evening for amusement than work.
Florida's relevance is not lost on the president, however. He has visited the state five times this year, just a nudge behind the number of visits to Pennsylvania and New York that Bush has made since he became president. Florida, which narrowly decided the president's victory in 2000, is expected to be a battleground when the president runs for re-election in 2004.
The dinner to be held at Universal Studios in Orlando will lift the president and Vice President Dick Cheney's fund-raising prowess over $100 million for the year to date.
The president is expected to continue on a moneymaking path throughout the summer with many out-of-town trips to shore up cash for the GOP before campaign finance laws remove the "soft money" option for party spenders.
The fitness event was part of a four-day White House campaign to encourage people to emulate their teetotaling, fitness-buff president by working out, eating properly, laying off alcohol and cigarettes and generally taking better care of themselves.
Florida Democratic Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson accompanied Bush to Florida aboard Air Force One, whose crew served a decidedly unhealthy lunch of corned beef on rye, steak fries and cheesecake. Given advance warning that reporters wanted to know about his own lunch, Bush ordered up an off-menu alternative: egg salad on toast and a Diet Coke.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.