President Bush met privately Monday with the Senate Republican fund-raising committee's biggest donors at Majority Leader Bill Frist's (search) home. Bush spent about an hour and a half at the event at the Washington home of Frist, the Senate's leader and a physician from Tennessee. The event raised an estimated $2.7 million.

The reception was for members of the National Republican Senatorial Committee's (search) new "Majority Maker" program. Donors give $25,000 annually to join, the most an individual or political action committee can contribute to a party committee.

The president appearance comes as the NRSC gears up for the fall elections. The GOP hopes to expand its narrow majority in the Senate, which has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one Democratic-leaning independent.

Fund raising by the NRSC and its Democratic counterpart so far in the 2003-04 election cycle reflects the closeness of their divide in the Senate. Like the GOP's other fund-raising committees, the NRSC has raised more than its Democratic rival, but its donation advantage over the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is the narrowest among the party committees.

The Republican Senate committee raised $29 million and its Democratic counterpart $24 million as of Feb. 1, the most recent figures available. The Republican committee began last month with $9.7 million on hand, compared with $2.6 million in bills to pay and $2.6 million in the bank for the DSCC.