Bush Stumps for Millions in Seattle

President Bush (search) arrived in Washington state Friday for a Seattle-area fund-raiser that Republican leaders expected would raise more than $1.7 million for efforts to get voters to back party candidates on Election Day.

Approximately 100 anti-Bush demonstrators gathered at Medina Park (search) in this posh suburb east of Seattle to protest the president's visit. About a dozen Bush supporters showed up as well.

Police in this community, home of former Simpson Timber Chairman Gary Reed (search), who was hosting the fund-raiser, had braced for anywhere from 200 to 1,000 demonstrators.

At about 6 p.m., some 60 demonstrators left the park to march closer to the Reed home. They were blocked by police on bicycles as they drew within a few blocks of the estate.

After landing earlier at Boeing Field, Bush said European nations should end their subsidies of Boeing rival Airbus. He declared the United States is prepared to take action before the World Trade Organization to stop them.

Bush made the comments after meeting with Boeing executives and employees in a company hangar. He said he has instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to inform European officials of the U.S. position at a meeting in September.

During a campaign stop earlier Friday in Beaverton, Ore., Bush surrounded himself with small business owners and touted his economic policies.

Ken Hankin, a 40-year-old laid-off Boeing engineer from Seattle who has struggled to find a job for 18 months, held a "War Sucks" sign at the Medina exit off State Highway 520.

He said he opposed the Iraq war and was concerned that Bush administration tax cuts have made the rich richer while jobs for the middle class are disappearing.

"It's the Wal-Martization of America — creating very few who have the money" while jobs are lost nationwide, he said.

Thirty-two Washington state business leaders who disagree with Bush economic policies stated their opinion in an ad, sponsored by the Washington state Democrats, that ran Friday in the Seattle-based Daily Journal of Commerce. It was the first in a series of such ads.

The ad cited the country's trade deficit and the loss of both private sector and manufacturing jobs, including more than 100,000 jobs lost in Washington state.

The executives included Jim Sinegal, president and CEO of Costco Wholesale and a prominent Democrat.

Rick Bender, president of the Washington state Labor Council, also blasted the Bush administration's jobs record, saying most new jobs being created have low wages and few or no benefits.

"More needs to be done on this economy, but things are moving in the right direction, and Sen. Kerry's policies would reverse that," said Yier Shi, a Republican National Committee spokesman.

Two Medina demonstrators, dressed in orange jumpsuits with ankles shackled and hands cuffed in front of them, wore plastic masks depicting Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. They were protesting what they termed Bush administration war crimes in the Iraq war.

"The cardinal rule of international law is: don't start a war — and we started a war," said Steve Bomkamp, 54, an electrical technician from Seattle. He wore the Cheney mask.

At the fund-raiser, attendees could pay $2,500 per person, $10,000 for a photograph with the president or $25,000 for a picture and a private reception.

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, head of the Bush-Cheney Washington re-election campaign, said she expected the event to raise more than $1.75 million.

The Republican National Committee will bank the proceeds and use the money for get-out-the-vote efforts in competitive states, Dunn said.

Bush lost Washington by about 5 percentage points in 2000, but Dunn said she is confident the president can win the state this year.

A poll of likely voters in Washington state this week shows that the Kerry-Edwards ticket leads Bush-Cheney 51 percent to 42 percent.

Strategic Vision, LLC, an Atlanta-based Republican polling firm, surveyed 801 likely voters by telephone Monday through Wednesday, asking them who they'd vote for if the election were held that day.


On the Net:

Bush-Cheney 2004: http://www.georgewbush.com/

Protesters: http://www.stopbushseattle.com/

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV 08-13-04 2203EDT