WASHINGTON – After blazing new records on the fund-raising trail this year, President Bush has reached the end of the road in his quest for campaign cash.
The president has shifted into get-out-the-vote mode, starring at rallies Tuesday in Pennsylvania and Maine.
Bush has headlined 66 fund-raisers this year, an average of one every four days, but plans no more before Election Day, several White House officials said. His efforts brought in more than $140 million for Republicans.
He crossed the finish line Thursday with a double-header that saw him haul in $1 million for the Florida GOP and $800,000 for Georgia's gubernatorial and Senate candidates.
Bush shut the door on all money events with a thank-you bow Monday night to the Republican National Committee's "Regents'' — those who have given more than $250,000 over the past two years. Reporters were barred from the event at the McLean, Va., home of developer Dwight Schar, a member of the RNC's "pioneers'' club — those who rounded up $100,000 or more for his presidential campaign two years ago.
From there, it was rallies for Bush on Tuesday in Downingtown, Pa., for gubernatorial candidate Mike Fisher and congressional hopeful Jim Gerlach; and on to Bangor, Maine, for congressional candidate Kevin Raye, Sen. Susan Collins and gubernatorial hopeful Peter Cianchette.
Bush resisted undertaking such an aggressive fund-raising campaign when senior aides first presented him with their plan about a year ago. He was absorbed by the war in Afghanistan, and waved the advisers away.
But early this year, he accepted the blueprint. The campaign opened Jan. 9 when he starred at a $1.5 million event for his brother Jeb, who is seeking re-election as Florida governor. Jeb Bush became the largest beneficiary of the president's fund raising.
Other big winners have been Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, two of Bush's rivals for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination, both running for U.S. Senate; Scott McCallum, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin; Bill Simon, running for California governor; Norm Coleman, the GOP's U.S. Senate hopeful in Minnesota; Jim Talent, running for Senate in Missouri; and John Cornyn, running for Senate in Texas. All got multiple, in-person plugs from Bush.
Bush's prolific fund raising has helped the GOP accumulate a substantial stockpile of cash for next month's election.
Vice President Dick Cheney headlined some 70 fund-raisers, raking in more than $22 million.
Democrats planned to use Bush's heavy political itinerary against him.
"Bush's travel schedule and end of the campaign strategy can make this election into a referendum on the economy,'' Clinton White House alumni Joe Lockhart and John Podesta wrote to Democratic leaders last week. "We all know from national polling that voters believe Bush is not spending enough time focused on the economy by a factor of two to one.''