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Billionaire Bankrolls Bush Bashers

George W. Bush and George Soros
AP / CBS
Billionaire George Soros has pledged $15.5 million to efforts to unseat President Bush in an election that he sees as a "life and death" struggle to defeat the administration's "supremacist ideology," a newspaper reports.

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world," the 74-year-old Soros tells The Washington Post. "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

Calling the 2004 race "the central focus of my life" and comparing the president's ideology to what he witnessed in Nazi occupied Hungary, Soros is fueling attacks on the president that campaign finance reform might have prevented, The Post reports.

Last year's soft-money ban is starving the national parties of the cash they once used to finance advertising and door-to-door campaigns. Soros is filling the gap by donating to independent groups bent on defeating the president, like MoveOn.org, to which he and a partner pledged up to $5 million this week.

He has also raised money directly for former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, and supports Democratic runners Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

Republicans see irony in Soros, who has spent millions promoting open societies abroad, is helping Democratic adherents skirt campaign finance laws.

"George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson told The Post.

Campaign finance advocates have also expressed concerns over Soros' spending, The Post reports.

Soros says his motivation is deeply personal, the result of deep anxieties over the nation's direction that sometimes wake him at 3 in the morning. The Post quotes the billionaire comparing the president's phrase "You're either with us or against us" in the war on terrorism, to Nazi slogans he saw in his childhood Hungary, like "The enemy is listening."

Soros also believes Mr. Bush feels "anointed by God."

In his efforts, Soros has been allied with former Clinton chief of staff John Podestra and liberal heavyweights. Soros' willingness to part with massive sums has spurred other wealthy people to ante up as well — the day after Soros offered $10 million to Americans Coming Together, five friends donated an additional $13.5 million to the group.

This is not the first year Soros has been generous with campaign funds. According to a database run by the Federal Election Commission, between 2000 and 2002 Soros gave $153,000 in soft money to the Democratic National Committee in three massive installments.

Since 1998, he donated $125,000 directly to candidates and committees. Except for one $1,000 check to Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, it all went to Democratic candidates or PACs that favor Democrats.