Cheney Headlines State Republican Fundraiser

Newsday — Friay, July 22, 2005

Associated Press Writer

PLAINSBORO, N.J. — Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester negotiated a little deal while Cheney was in town Friday to boost state GOP coffers.

"He wants to get Jon Corzine out of Washington because of all the trouble that he's causing," Forrester said of his Democratic rival in the New Jersey governor's race. "And I, of course, am trying to make sure we can keep Jon Corzine out of New Jersey. So, I'm suggesting a compromise. The compromise is that we keep Jon in Washington for only one more year."

The crowd of GOP faithful loved the idea, and when Cheney took center stage a few minutes later he told Forrester, "I accept your compromise."

Cheney was on Forrester's home turf Friday night to headline a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Westin Forrestal Hotel. The event generated more than $300,000 for the Republican State Committee and attracted 215 donors. Individuals who contributed more than $10,000 were invited to pose for a photograph with Cheney.

"It went great," said Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson. "For a Friday in the middle of July, it's always a tough sell. We were looking at that $250,000 to $300,000 range, and we beat that number by a little bit, so I'm happy. Very happy."

The November election between Forrester and Corzine is one of only two governor races in the nation this year. The other is in Virginia.

"We're here tonight for a very special reason, obviously, to join all of us together on behalf of an outstanding candidate for governor, Doug Forrester," Cheney said.

He cited Forrester's experience as a businessman and public servant, and predicted that his message of property tax relief and returning integrity to state government "will bring Doug Forrester victory on November 8th."

"We need more people like Doug in public life," Cheney said. "He's the kind of man who tells it like it is, calls 'em as he sees 'em, sets the right priorities, and sticks with them. When it's time for action, you can always count on him to do the right thing."

Cheney, who began by extending greetings from the president, struck some familiar Republican themes in his 15-minute address: tax relief, incentives to business, reducing the federal deficit.

"To keep this economy on track, we're going to continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars," he said.

Since news of Cheney's pending visit was leaked more than a week ago, Democrats lobbed a steady stream of criticism at Forrester, a former West Windsor mayor, for his association with the Bush administration. Forrester was one of Bush's "Rangers," meaning that he raised at least $200,000 to help the president get re-elected.

"Instead of flying Air Force Two here to raise bags of cash, New Jerseyans would be better served if Dick Cheney and the Bush administration stopped fighting Democratic efforts to improve security on our trains, buses and rail stations," said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, a spokesman Corzine.

Wilson called the Democrats' tactics "pretty transparent," and said the opposing party launched its attack on Forrester "just to distract from Jon Corzine's horrible record of achievement and connection to party bosses in New Jersey."

New Jersey Citizen Action, a watchdog group, and others protested Cheney's visit outside the hotel.

The 150 protesters endured wilting heat to oppose Bush's plan to restructure Social Security and other Republican policies. President Bush has proposed letting younger workers divert a portion of their Social Security withholding taxes to personal investment accounts.

Citizen Action said it would call on Forrester to "break ranks with his party leaders and to tell Mr. Cheney he disagrees with the president and opposes his risky and expensive privatization plan."

Other protesters carried signs reading, "No Blood for Oil" and "I Choose Choice."

"If you're going to see Cheney," one protester offered, "tell him to bring the troops home – now."

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