CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush calls himself a "windshield cowboy," the kind who patrols his ranch from a pickup truck, not from a horse.
But like his father, the former president, and many other politicians before him, Bush visits the popular Houston Livestock Show and (search) Rodeo on Monday. It's his lone public appearance during a sweep through the Lone Star State for another Texas-size haul of campaign cash.
Bush's attendance at the event, wedged between two re-election fund-raisers, marks his return there after seven years. He stopped by the event in 1997, as governor of Texas, wearing a dark suit and no Stetson.
No public remarks were scheduled at the show; Bush's speechmaking was reserved for the fund-raisers in Dallas and Houston.
Bush was retracing his steps from a Texas fund-raising dash last July that still stands as his most lucrative single-state swing. That two-day trip brought him a total of $7 million from Dallas and Houston.
Texas, the state that vaulted him to the presidency, remains a bedrock of Bush's political support. It has sent his re-election campaign in excess of $13.2 million, more than any other state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (search), a campaign watchdog group. Dallas is among the top five metropolitan areas by volume of donations to his campaign.
Bush's trip to Houston comes two days after Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, his likely Democratic opponent in November's election, campaigned there and slammed him for leaving a "four-year trail of broken promises."
Kerry called on the president to leave his ranch near Waco to "come out and talk to people who have lost their jobs." Bush played host there to Mexican President Vicente Fox on Friday and Saturday.
Monday's money swing opens another week that will also take Bush to Long Island, N.Y., for fund raising. He has collected more than $155 million for his re-election, and is closing in on his stated goal of $170 million. Aides said last week they expect him to stop at that mark, but they wouldn't rule out more.
The Texas trip also started Bush's first full week of campaigning for re-election, following Kerry's victory in a wave of primaries last Tuesday that cemented his grip on the Democratic nomination.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs for nearly a month starting in late February and features pop music concerts.
There were more than 33,000 entries to the livestock show last year. Monday's events included cattle and goat shows, horse-riding contests, cotton-ginning and cow-milking demonstrations and pig racing.
More than 1.2 million people attended RodeoHouston last year to watch bareback bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and tie-down roping.
Those events were to begin after Bush's scheduled departure for the Houston fund-raiser and then his return to Washington.