Bush Could Raise $675,000 In Edison Visit

CourierPostOnline — Thursday, May 31, 2007

Associated Press

EDISON — He may not be popular among New Jerseyans as a whole, but Garden State Republicans bet Wednesday that President Bush still has enough sway over the party faithful to raise much-needed cash for this year's legislative races.

Bush was in Edison Wednesday evening for a fundraiser, where he was expected to bring in $675,000 from 700 guests, state Republican Party spokesman Todd Riffle said. The president's visit to the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center was his first trip to New Jersey since he stumped for then-GOP Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. last September.

"It's important that a Republican succeed me as president of the United States," Bush told the partisan crowd.

The president's 27-minute speech touched on the Iraq war, national security, taxes and politics, but was short on New Jersey-specific themes. However, Bush did offer encouragement to the Republicans to take back the Legislature from the Democrats.

The state GOP has fared poorly in recent years. Democrats control New Jersey's governor's office, both of its U.S. Senate seats, the majority of its U.S. House seats and both houses of the state Legislature.

The president landed in Newark aboard Air Force One shortly before 5 p.m. and took the stage here an hour later.

He drew the most enthusiastic applause when he talked about U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, reminding the crowd that the outcome of the war impacts security at home in a post-9/11 world.

Speaking of the enemy, Bush said it is not possible to reason with them: "You can't compromise with them. You can't hope for the best with them. You must treat them as they are – cold-blooded killers and bring them to justice."

About 200 vocal opponents to Bush's foreign and domestic policies turned out to protest, confined to a patch of gravel about two miles from where suited Republicans gathered to see Bush.

One woman lugged a 60-foot banner containing the names and photos of the 57 New Jerseyans who have died in Iraq. Another turned heads by standing curbside on a milk crate dressed as a victim of prison abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"We're here with a message, and our message is: Bring the troops home now," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the watchdog group Citizen Action.

Protesters included labor groups and peace activists. Assemblyman Joe Cryan, the Democratic Party chairman, fired up the crowd by declaring, "We're here to tell the president, "Your money's no good here.' "

Earlier Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine noted fondly how Bush called and wished him well after Corzine was seriously injured in an April 12 car crash. But Corzine didn't reciprocate the well wishes beyond that.

"I hope he has a fine stay in the state," Corzine said. "I don't wish him well in his fundraising effort."

Copyright 2007 Courier-Post

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