Bush-Cheney Surpass Fund-Raising Expectations

The money is not all counted yet, but President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's latest fund-raising swing has helped propel campaign contributions (search) to more than $34.2 million, the campaign said Tuesday.

The sum includes $3 million the president earned Monday at fund-raisers in Miami and Tampa, Fla., the same day Cheney collected at least $500,000 in Grand Rapids, Mich., and $600,000 in Akron, Ohio.

The president announced his re-election only six weeks ago, and just began aggressively courting donors on a two-week spin that sent him, the vice president and first lady Laura Bush across the country.

The Bush-Cheney effort also raised $4.5 million through direct-mail solicitations (search) to 1 million donors, and raised $700,000 over the Internet, national finance chairman Mercer Reynolds said.

The collection is more than the combined second quarter earnings of the nine Democratic presidential candidates. On Monday, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announced that he had raised more than $7 million in the second quarter, making him the money leader in the Democratic race. Of that money, Dean raised $800,000 via the Internet in a Monday marathon fund-raising event.

"We've been building this organization for months," Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said. Dean has raised $4 million via the Internet so far, but his yearly total to date may still fall behind more well-known candidates, Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina.

Officials with the Kerry and Edwards campaigns said they expected second-quarter totals of about $5 million. Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt was aiming for $5 million in the second quarter, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut hoped for $4 million and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida expected to report $2 million to $3 million in contributions, officials with those campaigns said.

Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun said she raised about $150,000 during the quarter. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio did not provide estimates.

The president is hoping to raise $200 million to use during primary season. He has no opponent, and can use the money to stave off expected Democratic attacks.

On Monday, Bush appeared at a $2,000-a-plate luncheon at a Miami airport hotel and then headed to a more upscale -- though priced the same -- dinner across the state at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Added to his busy schedule was a speech on Medicare (search) prescription drug legislation that he gave to a mostly Spanish-speaking audience at the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center in Miami. The administration promised to deliver a full translation of the president's remarks, which focused on urging the House and Senate to reconcile differences between Medicare bills the two chambers passed last week.

Adding subsidies for prescription drugs to Medicare has long been a demand of a powerful voting bloc, the millions of seniors enrolled in the government health insurance program.

If Congress produces Medicare legislation for Bush to sign, it would likely become a prominent feature of his re-election campaign, and remove a potent weapon from the Democrats' election-season arsenal.

At his lunchtime fund-raising appearance, Bush was greeted with cheers of "Four more years!"

"We've raised a lot of money," he said, "and I want to thank you for that."

Spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish said the president was scooping up $1.8 million in donations in Miami and another $1.2 million in checks in Tampa.

That would bring Bush's haul to about $17 million over seven events in less than two weeks.

The latest three-month reporting period for federal campaigns wrapped up Monday. Exact totals will be released in mid-July, and the numbers are watched closely by party and campaign strategists, prospective supporters and political observers as a mark of a campaign's strength or weakness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.