WASHINGTON – President Bush watched election returns and celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with first lady Laura Bush at the White House on Tuesday night, along with a few congressional leaders and their spouses.
He then called about a dozen campaigns to congratulate the winners.
"President Bush and the Republican Party have made history," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
"For the first time in history of the country, the Republican party appears to be on the verge of actually gaining seats in the House" in a midterm election. And, said Fleischer, it is "increasingly clear the president played a role in breaking that historical trend."
The president's return to Washington came after Bush had spent the night at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and rose early to vote at the firehouse polling station there.
His Crawford respite followed a final three-day, 15-state campaign swing that capped off a year of deep involvement in Republican congressional races and produced the results the president was seeking. When all was said and done, the president headlined 67 fund-raisers in 34 states that raised a record $145 million dollars for Republicans over the past year.
Vice President Dick Cheney also set a new record, raking in more than $40 million in 70-plus fund-raisers. Cheney, who voted by absentee ballot in his home state of Wyoming, spent Election Day pheasant hunting in South Dakota, far from the political action.
Fleischer said the president was "particularly delighted by his brother's win," noting that the Democratic National Committee said defeating Jeb was the Democrats' top priority.
The president and first lady "beamed with pride" as they watched Florida Gov. Jeb Bush coast into a second term.
The president personally chose several candidates, including some in the toughest races, like former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who is battling former Vice President Walter Mondale for the Minnesota Senate seat left vacant by the death of Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Wednesday morning, that race was still too close to call.
But the president can pat himself on the back for selecting former Rep. Jim Talent to take on Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan in Missouri. Talent defeated Carnahan in a special election to fill out the remainder of the six-year term won by Carnahan's husband, Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash three weeks before the election.
The president also endorsed a couple of candidates even before the primary elections in an effort to produce a winning slate of Republicans. However, one of his point men, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, lost that bid to businessman Bill Simon, who lost to Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis in the gubernatorial race.
However, the president has said several times that the question of who controls the House and Senate, and whether or not his ideas prevail on taxes, Medicare, homeland security and a host of other issues, belongs in the hands of the voting public, whom he encouraged to go to the polls on Tuesday.
"I hope people vote," Bush told reporters as he left the Crawford polling place. "I'm encouraging all people across this country to vote."
Early Wednesday morning, Bush left his television around 12:45 am and went out to walk the dogs. After returning, he called his political strategist Karl Rove for a last-minute update and then, his aides believe, he went to bed.
Bush may make a public appearance Wednesday to congratulate Republicans who took control of the Senate and GOP House members who increased their numbers, a historical oddity in a midterm year for the president's party.
Fox News' Jim Angle and Wendell Goler contributed to this report.