WASHINGTON – President Bush begins raising money in earnest this week for his 2004 re-election effort with a two-week, cross-country sprint expected to take in millions of dollars.
In all, the president is expected to raise $200 million or more for his primary campaign over the next several months, at least twice the record $100 million he collected for the 2000 primaries.
The Republican will be helped by a doubling of the individual contribution limit to $2,000 in the new campaign finance law, effective with the 2003-04 election cycle.
Helping Bush are fund-raising volunteers, including the "Pioneers" who played a key role in 2000 by raising at least $100,000 each. A new class of fund-raisers, known as the "Rangers," will collect at least $200,000 each for Bush's campaign.
Bush entered the race last month. He immediately began raising money on his campaign Web site and through the mail.
He plans his first fund-raiser Tuesday in Washington, a $2,000-per-person reception at the Washington Hilton where donors will get hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos.
Bush will follow it up with a series of $2,000-per-person events across the country, including Friday in Greensboro, Ga.; June 23 in New York; June 27 in suburban San Francisco and Los Angeles; and June 30 in Miami and Tampa, Fla.
The two California events alone are expected to take in about $6 million. That would be only about $1 million less than the top two first-quarter Democratic fund-raisers, Sens. John Edwards (search) of North Carolina and John Kerry (search) of Massachusetts, took in for their campaigns from January through March, the most recent figures available.
Cheney will headline campaign events this month, including fund-raisers June 23 in Richmond, Va., and the Boston area and June 30 in Ohio and Grand Rapids, Mich.
Laura Bush is to attend Bush-Cheney fund-raisers Friday in Chattanooga, Tenn., and June 25 in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Bush campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish declined to release early fund-raising figures. The president and the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls will report contribution totals to the Federal Election Commission in mid-July.
Bush started his 2000 fund-raising effort in March 1999, holding nearly 30 events and raising $37 million by July 1999.
As he did in that race, Bush is skipping taxpayer-financed public funding for his primary campaign, along with the spending limits that accompany it. That means his primary campaign can spend as much as Bush can collect.
Nearly all the Democratic hopefuls have committed to taking public financing for the primaries. Kerry plans to decide this fall whether to accept it or not.