President Bush's schedule calls for heavy fundraising from now through the early part of the new year. But then foreign travel will take him out of the domestic political scene, according to White House insiders.
"The president can help raise resources for the party," says a senior Bush strategist. "But he needs to get it done soon because of the calendar.... He has a very hectic foreign travel schedule, so he'll do a lot of fundraising at the front end of the year." Bush's foreign trips include a NATO summit in Romania in April, a Group of Eight economic summit in Japan in July, and attendance at the Beijing Olympics in August. He also is expected to visit Europe, the Middle East, and the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This means he won't be very visible or available on the campaign trail for crucial parts of 2008, White House officials tell U.S. News. Conveniently, that's the way the major Republican presidential candidates want it, at least as long as Bush's job-approval ratings are so low.
Still, when he does try to raise money for the GOP, he succeeds. The latest figures from the Republican National Committee show that he collected more than $63.5 million for the party and its candidates through early November, about $1 million more than he did during the same period in 2005, before the midterm elections.
By Kenneth T. Walsh