WASHINGTON – Bounding on stage in Charlotte, N.C., for his last campaign fund-raiser, President Bush heaped praise on his well-connected donor friends like James Hance, vice chairman of Bank of America, and G. Kennedy Thompson, chairman of Wachovia Corporation, the nation's fourth largest bank.
But campaign officials said influential donors like Hance and Thompson aren't the only ones responsible for bringing in $180 million so far for the president's re-election effort. "We have 600,000 donors from everywhere in this country from all walks of life," said Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Terry Holt (search).
"We've never seen anything like this before in terms of fundraising for a primary campaign," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics (search).
After weeks of Democratic pummeling, the president spent tens of million of dollars on TV ads to bolster his ratings and raise questions about Democratic challenger John Kerry.
Lawyers, realtors, securities industries, small businesses and finance companies are among Bush's top donors. The oil and gas industry ranks fifteenth in contributions.
Kerry has raised millions of dollars for similar campaign efforts.
"We raised over $50 million in the first three months of 2004. It's more money than the president raised as a sitting president in any given quarter," said Kerry senior adviser Michael Meehan (search).
Kerry's record-setting fundraising quarter was fueled by huge Internet fundraising — almost $1 million a day.
Some big donors who gave big bucks to Kerry — like law firm Skadden Arps., Citigroup, Inc. and Time Warner — gave a lot to Bush, too.
Although Bush stopped raising money for his campaign, he'll continue to try to rake in cash for House and Senate Republicans and the national party. But Kerry's push for cash will probably come at the expense of Democrats hoping to unseat Republicans holding seats in the House and Senate, analysts said.
Click here to watch a report by Fox News Channel's Major Garrett.