Bush, Fisher raise $1M for campaign
President Bush barnstormed into Pittsburgh on Monday, giving state Attorney General Mike Fisher's campaign for governor a boost by helping to raise more than $1 million in campaign funds.
Bush also used the Fisher campaign event at the Pittsburgh Hilton & Towers, Downtown, to restate his faith in the economy and his determination to win the war on terrorism.
"I am an optimist about the economy, and I should be. The fundamentals are sound. The interests rates are low. Our monetary policy is sound," the president said.
"I've got confidence in the economic vitality of the country because I have confidence in our workers … and confidence in our entrepreneurs," he said.
Saying the nation was making progress in the war on terrorism, Bush pledged that America would root out terrorist leaders.
"There is no cave deep enough to hide them. We're going to hunt them down," he said, adding, "They're out there. The killers are out there, and that's what they are. They are nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers."
Bush helped fellow-Republican Fisher, 57, of Upper St. Clair, raise more than $1 million at the luncheon — an amount believed to be a single-event record for political fund-raising in the region.
"I am confident that this man is going to make a fabulous governor for the state of Pennsylvania, and I strongly believe he is going to win," Bush said.
Fisher faces Ed Rendell, 58, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Philadelphia mayor, in the Nov. 5 general election. Early polls have shown Fisher trailing Rendell by double digits, although political analysts point out the election won't get into full swing until after Labor Day.
"As far as I know, that ($1 million) is a record for any fund-raiser ever in southwestern Pennsylvania, and it matches the $1 million we raised in Philadelphia on April 2" during a Fisher fund-raiser also attended by the president, said Fisher campaign manager Kent Gates.
A $50,000 donation from Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey's campaign committee pushed the event over the $1 million mark, organizers said. Roddey is co-chairman of Fisher's campaign. The fund-raiser included a $1,000-a-plate luncheon and a separate $10,000-per-person reception with the president.
While in Pittsburgh, Bush also signed into law the "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act," which amends the legal definitions of "person," "human being," "child" and "individual" to include any fetus that survives an abortion procedure. The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, of Penn Hills.
After the fund-raiser, Bush flew out of the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport at 1:47 p.m.
Bush is traveling to 11 states this month to raise money and support for Republicans campaigning for House, Senate and governor's seats in the November election. The election will determine control of Congress.
Earlier yesterday, the president stopped at the volunteer fire department in Green Tree to meet with the nine miners rescued from flooded Quecreek Mine in Somerset County. The rescue operation resonated as a key topic during the fund-raiser as well.
Fisher, addressing the luncheon crowd of about 350 supporters, said that watching the rescue "was one of the most dramatic moments of my life."
"Americans learned that in southwestern Pennsylvania, we're fighters. We don't give up easily, and we fight all the way to the finish," Fisher said in what seemed an oblique reference to his own battle to become governor.
Fisher was accompanied by his running mate, state Sen. Jane Earll of Erie, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. Other prominent Republicans attending the luncheon included Roddey, Santorum, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Philadelphia, U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods, and state Sen. Tim Murphy of Upper St. Clair, the GOP's nominee in the 18th Congressional District.
Rendell also was in Pittsburgh yesterday, attending political and fund-raising meetings but not public events, a campaign spokesman said.
Rendell, in a telephone interview, said he is working 18-hour days on his campaign and taking nothing for granted.
"I don't pay much attention to the early polls. This race is going to get a lot tighter. People who have underrated Mike Fisher have paid for their misjudgments. He is a formidable opponent.
"Obviously, having a popular incumbent president is a big plus (for Fisher)," Rendell added. "Although, in the end, I believe people will vote on the merits of the two candidates."