HONOLULU – President Bush (search) ended a whirlwind tour of Asia and Australia just as he began it: raising money for his own 2004 re-election campaign.
Bush stopped for 12 hours in Hawaii on Thursday on his way back to Washington, taking a tour of Pearl Harbor (search), visiting an elementary school, catching up on the World Series (search) in his hotel room, meeting with Pacific island leaders and attending a fund-raising dinner that added $600,000 to his campaign coffers.
"After eight days and 18,000 miles in the air, it's great to be back in America," Bush told contributors. "I visited with some of our strongest allies in the war on terror, some of the nation's most important trading partners. We made progress on a broad agenda."
Bush was to be back in the Oval Office on Friday morning, after a whirlwind tour of six Eastern Hemisphere nations.
Earlier, at the memorial for the sunken battleship USS Arizona, where 1,177 sailors and Marines died in the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack, and where oil still bubbles up from the remains, Bush and his wife, Laura, dropped flowers into the water.
They also toured the decommissioned 45,000-ton battleship USS Missouri, where the World War II surrender documents were signed in Tokyo Bay, and took a boat tour of the harbor, passing ships and nuclear-powered submarines just back from the Iraq war.
"You set a great example for future soldiers and sailors," Bush told a group of about 60 World War II and Korean War veterans on the Missouri.
Hawaii was the last stop on a fast-paced trip to Asia and Australia to thank Iraq war allies and to attend a 21-nation Asia-Pacific economic summit.
Bush ended his journey like he began it in California a week ago -- with a fund-raising event for his re-election campaign.
Republicans in Hawaii are energized by the election of the first GOP governor in 40 years, Linda Lingle, who told reporters she found Bush "fully engaged and fully engaging" after his fast-paced Asian-Pacific tour. She introduced the president at the fund-raiser.
Campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said 600 people attended the evening event, which raised more than $600,000.
About 200 protesters lined sidewalks in front of the Waikiki hotel complex where the Bush-Cheney 2004 rally was held.
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, George Bush has got to go," demonstrators chanted, waving signs with messages that included "Out of Iraq" and "Pre-emptive strikes fuel perpetual war."
Ever mindful of political battles in Washington, Bush issued a written rebuke to Senate Democrats who derailed Republican-backed legislation to limit class action lawsuits and large damage awards against corporations, apparently killing the bill for this year.
"I am eager to sign it, our economy needs it and I urge those senators who stand in the way to let the will of the people be heard," Bush wrote.
And, in his speech to the fund-raiser, Bush prodded Congress to complete work on a Medicare prescription drug bill.
"The sooner they get the job done, the sooner American seniors will get the health care they need," he said, to applause.
The Bushes also found time to visit Pearl Harbor Elementary School to read to second graders. As the Bushes entered, the students were asked if they knew who their visitors were.
"George Washington," one shouted. Bush laughed. "You got the first name right," he said.