Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bush's Fundraising Dinner Raises $15.4 Million

The Washington Post reports:

President Bush says polls don't matter to him, but his slumping popularity appears to be influencing fellow Republicans in a way that hurts _ money.

Bush's yearly fundraising dinner for Republican congressional candidates on Wednesday generated $15.4 million _ no small amount, but almost half as much as the $27 million the event brought in last year. Bush raised $23 million at the same dinners in 2005 and 2004.

The take at this year's annual gala benefiting the national Republican Party also took in much less than usual.

Bush helped raise $10.5 million at the event last month, compared with $17 million last year, $15 million the year before and a record $38.5 million in 2004, when he was running for re-election.

No matter what the numbers, organizers of the President's Dinner on Wednesday were upbeat.

"We are very excited about the success of this event and the enthusiasm we are seeing from our supporters," said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Our conference and our supporters are dedicated to reinstating a Republican majority and are working hard to position Republicans for a successful 2008."

The NRCC co-sponsors the dinner with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The dinner raised $7.9 for House candidates and $7.5 million for Senate candidates.

Democrats seized on the apparent drop in Bush's fundraising prowess.

"Republican Senate candidates have been afraid to be seen in public with the president since last year, but they could at least always count on him to raise unprecedented amounts of money for their campaigns," said Matthew Miller, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Now he's not even good for that."

Voters last November put Democrats in control of the House and Senate, weakening Bush's ability to push through legislation in his final two years in office. Both parties are heading into a wide-open election cycle, with control of the House and Senate in play and no incumbent president or vice president seeking office.

Public approval of the job Bush is doing now matches its all-time low, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. Only 32 percent said they were satisfied with how Bush is handling his job overall, the same low point AP-Ipsos polling measured last January.

Meanwhile, the Republicans campaigning for Bush's job are doing their best to distance themselves from their party leader.