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Bush, Cheney Raise $5.7M In 1 Day

President Bush banked $4 million for his re-election campaign Monday, telling donors in this city scarred by Sept. 11 that "terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got."

President Bush was careful not to directly mention the Sept. 11 attacks or the demolished World Trade Center in his campaign speech here. Aides have said they won't use the attacks as campaign fodder. But the fight against terrorism that was prompted by Sept. 11 loomed large in his speech about 80 blocks from Ground Zero.

Mr. Bush opened his address by saying that "We have captured or killed many key leaders of al Qaeda, and the rest of them know we're hot on their trail."

He reminded listeners that U.S.-led military operations had toppled governments in Afghanistan and Iraq - two countries he charged were terror havens. "Fifty milion people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and now they live in freedom," Bush said.

Gov. George Pataki was explicit in citing Sept. 11 as a reason why President Bush should be re-elected.

"Thank God we have a president who, when our (country) was attacked in a way we never experienced before, understood it's not a time for national hand-wringing, it's a time for national leadership," Pataki said. "On Sept. 11 and thereafter we could have never had a stronger leader for our country or a better friend for our city and state than George W. Bush."

The raucous crowd of New Yorkers, most wearing dark suits, responded to President Bush with calls of "We love you, Mr. President!" and "Four more years!" Their cell phones rang sporadically throughout the president's speech.

Outside, hundreds of protesters lined the streets, angrily chanting slogans and carrying signs like "Bush Lies, People Die," and "Bush Leaves No Millionaire Behind."

In all, it was a $5.7 million day in the Bush-Cheney effort to collect $170 million for primaries in which they face no challengers.

Vice President Dick Cheney chipped in another $1.7 million at fundraisers in Virginia and Massachusetts.

He too mentioned terrorism in his campaign speech.

"This war on terror will continue until every enemy that plots against the American people is confronted and defeated," he told the Virginia donors, who gave $452,000. Contributors in Hopkinton, Mass. wrote checks for $1.2 million.

In less than a week of fund-raising, the campaign has raked in nearly $12 million.

The president, his wife and Cheney are fanning out across the country. In another fund-raising burst this weekend, Bush will hit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa and Miami. His wife planned two fund raisers Wednesday, in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Monday, the Bush-Cheney money effort spanned the whole Northeast.

Campaign officials said donors had committed $4 million for an evening event in Manhattan. About 1,000 contributors were attending the event in midtown, and many other contributors are not attending.

Bush's $4 million in contributions in New York City could represent a record for a single event in a presidential campaign, although campaign-finance experts cautioned that new fundraising rules made it difficult to compare with previous election cycles.

The $4 million haul was all the more remarkable because New York City is strongly Democratic territory, although the mayor and Pataki are Republicans.

"There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm in New York" for the president, says Bush campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish.

Devenish says a strong fundraising effort is necessary heading into the unchallenged primaries to help "communicate the president's message." White House officials have said they need to counter what they expect will be a barrage of criticism from Democrats trying to win their party's nomination.

A campaign-finance reform group said such events would make Bush beholden to the donors, who gave $2,000 each - the maximum allowed under a new elections law.

President Bush "has kicked off his special interest-fueled re-election campaign," said David Donnelly, director of the Reform Voter Project. "He is now sprinting around the country as if he's on a giant Monopoly board, scooping up checks as quick as the well-heeled can write them."

"Unfortunately, the administration's past record teaches us that the money they raise today puts them more in debt to special interests tomorrow," said Donnelly.

Bush and Cheney aides say they do not plan to layer "official" events into their fundraising travels this year, as they did last fall. Adding such events allowed the administration to bill taxpayers for half of every fund-raising trip.

Mr. Bush began his day with a speech in Washington, to the members of the Biotechnology Industry Association, using that forum to discuss Medicare, bio-engineered crops, and a proposal to develop vaccines against potential biological weapons.

On Medicare, Mr. Bush again urged Congress to enact prescription drug legislation that gives seniors many of the same choices in health care as lawmakers themselves enjoy.

"Members of Congress have got excellent choices," the president said at a meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Association. "If the choice idea is good enough for the lawmakers it ought to be good enough for the seniors of America."

Mr. Bush said the current system, created 38 years ago, needs to be modernized to reflect changes that have evolved over the years. "When the government decides what drugs are covered and which illnesses are treated, patients face delays," he said. "Medicine works best when doctors and their patients decide what treatments to pursue."

Mr. Bush's remarks were the latest in a series of speeches designed to prod lawmakers to enact Medicare prescription drug legislation, and came as both houses worked toward votes by week's end on different versions of the bill. Both measures would create a prescription drug benefit, offered by the private insurance industry and subsidized by the government.

In addition, both bills would create a new managed care option for seniors, giving them a choice of a preferred provider organization that would stand in contrast to the traditional Medicare program.

Tackling another hot button issue, Mr. Bush urged European governments to abandon their boycott of bio-engineered crops, which he said is based on "unfounded scientific fears." If the boycott ended, argued the president, African farmers would have expanded markets for their agricultural products, allowing them to ease the continent's famine.

President Bush also put in a plug for congressional action on other items on his domestic agenda, including Project Bioshield, a $6 billion, five-year plan to help develop and produce vaccines and treatments for bioterror agents such as anthrax and botulinin toxin. He also called for the Senate to debate House-passed legislation to curtail the number of class action lawsuits filed around the country.