Bush In New Dash For Cash

George W. Bush, American President, Fundraising, Money, Financing
President Bush, who put Campaign 2004 fund-raising on hold for travel to Asia and Australia, is seeking to build up a re-election bank account already worth more than $84 million.

Mr. Bush, along with his wife, Laura, was back in the cash chase Thursday. The president's trip was taking him to Columbus, Ohio, and then back to Texas for a second fund-raiser in San Antonio.

Mr. Bush dispatched the first lady to Tyler, Texas, for another campaign fund-raiser; Vice President Dick Cheney headlined a fund-raiser in Washington on Wednesday night that brought in $475,000. These money events opened a new phase of heavy fund raising for Mr. Bush's re-election. Mr. Bush plans another money event in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday.

Also, the White House wedged a policy event in between Mr. Bush's two fund-raisers Thursday. Mr. Bush planned to give stalled energy legislation a push by visiting an Ohio aluminum company that has been financially hurt by high energy prices.

The visit to Columbus-based Central Aluminum Co. was not originally scheduled, but by adding an appearance with a public policy theme, the re-election campaign was able to bill taxpayers for part of Mr. Bush's political travels.

The aluminum company, which makes metal shapes, foundries and aluminum products, runs its operations using natural gas, which has increased in price recently.

"It provides a forum for the president to talk about why it's important for the country to have a steady supply of energy and natural gas," said White House spokesman Jim Morrell.

Senate Republicans said this week that an impasse over ethanol taxes could scuttle the massive energy bill that Congress has struggled to complete for more than three years. The bill passed the House and Senate earlier this year and was being reconciled by a joint committee.

The issues threatening to derail the bill include proposals to inventory oil and gas resources in off-limits coastal waters, open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling and change the way ethanol taxes are spent.

The Ohio congressional delegation lobbied hard for the ethanol provision, which would increase highway spending for states by shifting tax collected on ethanol from the general fund to the highway trust fund, which is used to maintain the nation's roads and bridges.

States get a percentage of the money they collect for the highway fund, so states such as Ohio that have a large percentage of ethanol users end up losing millions of dollars.

Senate Republicans have urged the White House to put more pressure on House Republicans to resolve the ethanol debate, but the White House couldn't say whether the president would comment on the topic during his visit.

Also on his trip to Ohio, Mr. Bush will attend a $2,000-a-person fund-raiser lunch hosted by Gov. Bob Taft at a downtown Columbus hotel.

Mr. Bush's visit also gave him a chance to court the critical battleground state of Ohio. Thursday's visit is Mr. Bush's 13th to Ohio as president

Mr. Bush is also trying to refocus public attention on his domestic agenda at a time when rising violence in Iraq is consuming much of voters' attention.

The president gave a similar call-to-action Wednesday morning before leaving Washington, urging lawmakers to send him a Medicare bill.