"When we get behind closed doors..."

...then everyone lets their hair hang down. Which may be why nearly half the Bush fundraisers this year have been behind closed doors. Mark Knoller has the juicy details. Ed.

By attending a luncheon today sponsored by the Republican National Committee for big-money donors, President Bush brings to 47 the number of fundraisers he's done this year for the GOP and its candidates.

And of those 47, fully 23 have been closed to press coverage.

Nearly all of those events are held at private residences. The White House has said it doesn't want to subject those homes to the abuse a visit from reporters, TV crews, and photographers would inflict.

The Clinton White House made the same argument – but eventually relented and allowed a single print reporter to cover the event and provide a "pool report" on it to the rest of the press corps. In addition, the White House Communications Agency was authorized to provide reporters with an audio feed of the president's remarks.

The Bush White House is holding firm against that practice, choosing not to allow any coverage – or to provide an audio feed.

As recently as today, I asked the White House to provide the press with a transcript of the remarks the president makes at these closed events. Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino says she relayed my request but "there's been no change in the policy."

That means what the president says at these closed events cannot be covered or reported.

Today's RNC luncheon is being held at the Evermay mansion in the Georgetown section of Washington. It's a privately-owned Federal-period house built in 1801 and now rented out to various groups looking for an elegant place to host an upscale gathering.

The website of The Evermay Societybills the house as "a sanctuary located at the heart of America's hometown and the Nation's Capital."

Well, it certainly serves the GOP as a "sanctuary" from the press.

A Republican party spokeswoman says today's luncheon there will bring in $850,000 for the party.

In this midterm election year, President Bush has helped to raise over $104-million dollars for the GOP and its candidates.

It's actually a bit more than that. Mr. Bush attended a fund-raiser last month for the re-election campaign of Sen. George Allen, R-Va. But his campaign refuses to disclose how much the event generated.

In the decade that I've been tracking presidential fund-raising, it's one of the few times a campaign has declined to say how much money was raised.

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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