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Bush Declines Federal Funds

Texas Gov. George Bush said Thursday that he would forgo federal matching funds to maintain "strategic flexibility" in his campaign for the presidency.

"After looking at the numbers, cash on hand of $30 million, I've decided not to accept federal matching funds during the course of this campaign," Bush said while campaigning in Iowa.

The Republican presidential front-runner said that if he accepted the matching funds his campaign would have been restricted by spending limits in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

"You've got limits that constrain a candidate," Bush said. "I want to be in a position to respond. I want to be in a position to plan, and I want to be in a position to plan according to need."

Bush reported earlier Thursday that he had raised a record $37 million for his Republican presidential campaign in the first six months of the year - even more than his earlier estimate - and had more than $30 million in the bank. Bush had a very good day in Maryland Thursday.

Meanwhile, publisher Steve Forbes once again exhibited his willingness to self-finance his campaign, contributing $6 million of his own money between April and June and raising an additional $2.7 million. During the first six months of the year, Forbes, of Bedminster, N.J., took in $9.5 million, including $6.6 million of his own money.

Forbes reported spending $8.2 million through June 30, and the campaign reported debts of $1.4 million and a bank account balance of $1.2 million - leaving the campaign $200,000 in debt. Bush, on the other hand, spent only $6.9 million during the first six months of the year and had a bank account balance of $30.4 million.

Former American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole reported raising $3.5 million during the first six months of the year, including $2.8 million between April and June. She had $1.8 million in the bank June 30. Dole's campaign reported that 43 percent of those contributing at least $200 were women.

"Our campaign is gaining strength and momentum," Dole said Thursday. "This campaign is on its way to making history."

Bush already has raised more money than the $32 million that 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole took in for his entire campaign. Bush's campaign counted more than 74,000 contributors, with an average contribution of $467.

"I am honored and humbled by this outpouring of support from my fellow citizens," Bush said Thursday. "The fact that individual Americans care enough about the future of our country to send contributions ranging from $5 to a maximum of $1,000 says that my message of prosperity with a purpose is resonating in every community in this country."

Other candidates also were scheduled to file their midyear reports Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. Previously, Vice President Al Gore indicated he would raise $18.2 million to $18.5 million, and his Democratic challenge, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, said he would raise $11.5 million.

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain said he would raise $4.1 million, plus $2 million transferred from his Senate campaign account; Gary Bauer and former Vice President Dan Quayle said they would raise about $3.4 million apiece; and Lamar Alexander said he would raise $2 million.

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