Team Bush Hits $100 Million Mark

George W. Bush, American President, Fundraising, Money, Financing
CBS
It's not just another $2.5 million day for President Bush and his re-election campaign, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller. The two fund-raising events that drew him to Florida on Thursday are putting his campaign war chest over the $100 million mark, an amount that dwarfs what his would-be Democratic rivals have raised.

During his 17th trip to Florida as president, Mr. Bush also dipped into a political topic high on the agenda of the nation's elderly, a key voting bloc. Between two fund-raisers, he used the state with the highest percentage of residents age 65 or older as a backdrop to press Congress to finish major Medicare legislation.

The president said America's seniors are tired of the delays in getting them coverage under Medicare for prescription drugs.

"We've had plenty of talk in Washington, we've debated this issue for a long time. Now is the time for action," Mr. Bush said at the Englewood Neighborhood Center after a private talk with several seniors struggling with high drug bills.

Trading the cold bluster of the nation's capital for Florida's warm sunshine, Mr. Bush went to Disney World, where 600 supporters munched Mickey Mouse-shaped Rice Krispies treats and buffet items at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The standing-only luncheon raised $860,000 for his campaign.

In the evening, the president was due on Florida's Gulf Coast for a closed money event set to collect another $1.7 million from 700 donors at the home of Al Hoffman Jr., national co-chair of Mr. Bush's 2000 campaign.

The two fund-raisers increased the president's 2004 cash collection to at least $102.9 million — well within striking distance of the $106 million he raised for the primaries in 2000.

This time around, the president has no GOP primary challenger, meaning he can spend all the money targeting the Democratic nominee-to-be before the general election matchup season begins.

By the president's side for the Orlando-area events was Rep. Katherine Harris, a reminder of the disputed 2000 election that ended with a Supreme Court ruling on the Florida results. Harris earned fame as the state's secretary of state during the presidential recount and is now a GOP congresswoman from Florida.

Also with Mr. Bush was his brother, Florida's GOP Gov. Jeb Bush, who helped put on display the Bush family's penchant for good-natured teasing.

Introducing his brother as "Mr. President" appeared to give Jeb Bush pause. "I still haven't quite got used to it yet," he said, to much laughter.

The president fought back. "Thanks, Jeb, I mean governor," he said, promptly jabbing his brother for being "a modest fellow" who nonetheless has claimed credit for the Florida Marlins' baseball championship.

"I told him he doesn't have any idea what it take to run a championship baseball team," said the president, once the owner of the lackluster Texas Rangers. "He reminded me — I don't either."

Ribbing done, the pair then began to sound more like politicians.

Jeb Bush ticked off a litany of reasons the president is doing the country proud, including that he "reeks of integrity."

President Bush gave a spirited defense of his record on national security, the economy, education, trade and the budget. He argued that under his leadership the country is in a better place than it was when he took office nearly three years ago — despite the economic downturn that still has not entirely lifted, rising federal budget deficits, and a dangerous, trouble-ridden U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"On issue after issue, this administration has acted on principle, has kept its word and has made progress for the American people," the president said.