ORLANDO, Fla. – On a cash-raising trip for Republicans, President Bush said Thursday that Americans will have less money in their pockets if Democrats win control of Congress.
"They've worked hard to sustain their record as the party of high taxes," Bush said during a fundraising speech in Tampa, Fla.
"If they get control of the House of Representatives, they'll raise your taxes and it'll hurt our economy," Bush said, repeating the same argument he made at a news conference last month.
Bush spoke during an afternoon fundraising swing in Florida, where his brother, Jeb Bush, is in his final months as governor. The president was to speak at a second fundraiser in Orlando.
His campaigning is picking up as the Nov. 7 midterm elections near — with economic issues looming large. Democrats are out to gain control of the House, if not the Senate, after being in the minority for years.
The president credited his tax cuts for boosting the economy, and warned they may disappear.
He criticized a published comment by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is in line to become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee if Democrats win the House. Rangel was quoted in a news story this week as saying he "cannot think of one" of Bush's tax cuts he would renew.
"That's one way of saying they're going to raise your taxes," said Bush, who avoided naming Rangel directly. "You see, if you don't extend the tax cuts, your taxes go up."
Responding to the speech, Rangel said he wouldn't do anything as chairman without cooperation of Republicans, but he defended a review of "tax breaks for the wealthy that no one has asked for and have driven our nation deeper into debt."
President Bush spoke to about 400 people in a VIP club area of Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The reception was expected to raise up to $450,000 for state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who is seeking the congressional seat held by his father, Mike, who is retiring.
Rep. Katherine Harris, the Republican nominee for the Senate, attended the event and drew a mention from Bush. Harris was a star of the party when she oversaw the vote recount that led to Bush's presidency, but her stumbling campaign this year has even been criticized by the GOP.
Bush was to speak in Orlando later in the day at a fundraiser for Charlie Crist, the Republican nominee for Florida governor. That event cost attendees up to $25,000.
Crist, Florida's attorney general, is leading in polls against Democratic Rep. Jim Davis. The Republican Governors Association just pumped $1 million into Crist's campaign, the latest sign of Florida's importance come election time.