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Bush In New Dash For Internet Cash

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President Bush's re-election effort plans to complement his campaigning with a new online push, launching a new Web site to take advantage of increasingly e-savvy political donors and activists.

The new site, scheduled to go up Tuesday morning, invites visitors to punch in their zip codes for information on how to get involved in the campaign locally, such as writing letters to local newspapers, phoning in to radio shows, volunteering at Bush events and helping to get out the Republican vote.

The site will also be an important fund-raising tool. The campaign has raised at least $1.3 million over the Internet since a temporary Web site went up in mid-May.

That's a small amount compared with the more than $35 million Mr. Bush and his running mate, Vice President Dick Cheney, have raised by headlining fund-raisers around the country. But it's also money that costs far less to raise than donations taken in through glitzy luncheons and dinners.

"I think smart campaigns use the Web, to reach the 58 percent of Americans online," campaign manager Ken Mehlman said Monday.

Web sites and e-mail have become increasingly valuable to campaigns, political parties and interest groups to communicate their policy positions, organize volunteers and raise money.

In 2000, Bush rival John McCain demonstrated the Internet's fund-raising potential by collecting $1 million over the Web in 48 hours after winning the New Hampshire primary.

This year, Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean stunned his rivals by raising more than $800,000 over his Web site in one day in June. Nearly half of the $10.5 million the former Vermont governor raised from January through June came in over the Internet.

Dean has also used the Internet to help his supporters plan get-togethers around the country and organize their activities, a strategy some of the other eight Democratic hopefuls are now using as well.

Mehlman said the Bush site will include several "cutting-edge" features. Among them, it will have a constant campaign newsfeed and list Bush fund-raising volunteers and donors.