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Bush Shatters Fund - Raising Record
By The Associated Press | New York Times  7/15/2002

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- President Bush demolished his own record for a single fund-raising appearance Monday, hauling in nearly $4 million for Alabama's financially trailing Republican gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Bob Riley.

The cash infusion could catapult Riley past Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Siegelman had $4.2 million, compared to $561,661 for Riley.

Perhaps equally valuable, Riley's campaign filmed a commercial showing him standing with the president, who won this state in 2000 and remains popular here.

``There is no doubt in my mind he is going to win!'' Bush told 2,800 donors who packed a convention center hall.

Bush's southern accent grew thicker as he exhorted the activists: ``I want to thank you for what you're fixin' to do, which is to start dialing phones, and putting up signs and knocking on doors and going to coffee shops and going to your churches and synagogues.''

``With Bob Riley, you got a good, honest politician who's going to bring integrity to Montgomery, Alabama, and he's going to reform the state on behalf of all the people of this state,'' Bush said.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was also on hand, and a separate crew filmed a campaign ad for his re-election bid.

Bush raised $4 million over two days in April for California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, but had never brought in that much in one day before Monday.

Riley spokesman David Azbell confirmed the White House estimate for Monday's event, saying it raised $3.8 million to $3.9 million. That is believed to be the most any Alabama candidate has reported raising in a single day.

Like California, Alabama has political fund-raising laws that make it easy to net big donations. The state places no limits on what individuals or political action committees can contribute to candidates. Corporations can give $1,000 per election cycle.

In federal races, donations are capped at $2,000, and contributions from corporations are prohibited. Political action committees can donate up to $10,000 per election cycle.

Tickets to Bush's fund-raiser for Riley were $1,000 each. But for a $50,000 donation, contributors were invited to a VIP reception with Bush, allowing them to have their pictures taken with the president.

Bush has raised money aggressively for gubernatorial and congressional candidates around the country. A $4 million take Monday would raise his total to at least $99.3 million this year.

Other big beneficiaries of his campaign this year have been Jim Ryan, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in Illinois, for whom Bush raised $2.2 million; Norm Coleman, Senate candidate in Minnesota, for whom Bush raised $2 million; John Cornyn, the GOP Senate candidate in Texas, for whom Bush raised $1.8 million; and the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, for whom he raised $1.5 million in January.

Bush's fund-raising total Monday surpassed anything former President Clinton had raised by this point in his term. Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said she did not believe Clinton ever raised $4 million during either of his terms for a single candidate.

Bush also holds the single-night fund-raising record, helping the Republican National Committee take in more than $30 million at its May dinner.


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