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Bush raises millions california { June 28 2003 }

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June 28, 2003
A Quick California Campaign Swing Adds to Bush's Coffers

LOS ANGELES, June 27 President Bush scurried down the coast of California today to collect more than $5 million for his 2004 campaign, bringing the Bush-Cheney re-election effort totals to more than $18 million, and within sight of the campaign's latest goal of up to $30 million by the end of the month.

Mr. Bush spent fewer than 10 hours in the state, meaning that he collected money at the rate of $500,000 an hour. The president went first to a lunchtime fund-raiser in Burlingame, in suburban San Francisco, where he amassed $1.6 million in a half-hour drop-by. He then appeared at a dinner here in Los Angeles, where his campaign said he would receive $3.6 million. Both events cost $2,000 per person.

He then appeared with the singer Johnny Mathis, the actor Kelsey Grammer and the comedian Dennis Miller at a dinner in Los Angeles, where Mr. Bush's campaign said the take was $3.5 million.

In Los Angeles Mr. Bush spoke and ran, with a schedule that called Air Force One to depart only 35 minutes after he concluded his remarks at the Century Plaza Hotel. Rather than remaining overnight in California, Mr. Bush was headed for a weekend at his Crawford, Tex., ranch, where he was to arrive at 1:35 a.m. Central time, extraordinarily late for a president who likes to be in bed by 10 p.m. His wife, he said, would be waiting for him.

"She'll be the lump in the bed next to me, since I get in at 1:30 in the morning," Mr. Bush told the crowd of 800 here in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel.

Mr. Bush's 20-minute speeches in California, part of a two-week White House fund-raising spree that is intended to demoralize the considerably less-flush Democrats, were virtually identical to a fund-raising speech he made Monday in Manhattan. The president highlighted what he said were the accomplishments of his administration the campaign against terrorism, the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, tax cuts and today's votes in Congress overhauling Medicare then asserted that he, at least, was not thinking about politics.

"Listen, there's going to be plenty of time for politics," Mr. Bush said to his political contributors in Burlingame, who were dining on chicken salad. "The political season will come in its own time. Right now, I'm focused on the people's business in Washington, D.C."

There were hundreds of anti-Bush demonstrators lined up behind barricades at the entrances to the Marriott in Burlingame and the Century Plaza in Los Angeles, but the crowds in Burlingame, where the roads had been barricaded for hours, did not approach the large sizes that had been predicted by the White House and local authorities. Still, a long cordon of police in riot gear guarded the hotel from protesters who waved signs that said "Bush Lies, Iraqi People and G.I.'s Die!" and "Leave No Millionaire Behind."

Before Mr. Bush arrived, a small crowd of well-dressed political donors massed around the windows near the ballroom, looking out at the protesters with interest.

"They look pretty harmless," said Warren Merrill, the former San Mateo County Republican Party chairman, who recalled San Francisco protesters in the tens of thousands before and during the war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush's political advisers insist that he will seriously contest California, a strong Democratic state, in the 2004 campaign, and that they are not involved in the effort to recall the unpopular Democratic governor, Gray Davis, as the state's $38 billion deficit becomes a political crisis.

Mr. Bush made no mention of the recall or Mr. Davis in his public remarks today, although at the Los Angeles dinner he did recognize Representative Darrell Issa, the conservative Republican from northern San Diego County who is largely financing a petition drive to recall Mr. Davis.

In Burlingame, Gerald L. Parsky, who ran the president's California campaign in 2000, said the White House was staying out of the recall fight.

Mr. Parsky, who was bustling around the hotel this morning, told reporters that there were different points of view within the Bush camp on whether the recall would help or hurt the president's chances in the state in 2004. Mr. Davis, for example, could be replaced by a more popular Democrat.

Nonetheless, Mr. Parsky said, "I certainly can understand why many Californians would be upset with the financial condition in California." He added that the effort to oust Mr. Davis "offers Republicans an opportunity to offer a different approach, and a different point of view."

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