Bush Kicks In Millions

NRSC, NRCC Get Windfall

Posted September 10, 2004 at 5:41pm

President Bush has pledged to transfer $1 million to both the Republican House and Senate party committees, dipping into funds leftover from his primary campaign.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have each pledged to raise $1 million to match the donation by the Bush campaign, according to well-informed GOP sources.

Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman insisted that these contributions are simply the latest step in ensuring that Republicans retain the majority in the House and Senate.

“From the beginning, the president has been committed to running a campaign that ensures this is not a lonely victory,” said Mehlman.

The heads of both campaign committees expressed gratitude Friday for the Bush campaign’s gift.

“I have already assured the Speaker that we want to accept and will accept,” said NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.). “It is a $2 million push we hadn’t counted on.”

“Senate Republicans couldn’t ask for a better partner than President Bush and his team,” said NRSC Chairman George Allen (Va.). “President Bush’s latest generosity in the final stages of our efforts prove just how strongly committed he is to having a strengthened Republican majority in the Senate.”

Republican currently control the House by 12 seats and the Senate by two.

The contribution from Bush will come from excess donations remaining in his primary account, through which he had raised roughly $242 million as of July 31. He had $32.5 million on hand at that time.

Since formally becoming his party’s nominee earlier this month and accepting $75 million in federal matching funds for the general election, Bush cannot raise any more money for his campaign.

Any funds remaining in his primary account can be disbursed in unlimited quantities to the national party committees, however.

Although it is not entirely clear how much money Bush had left in his account at the end of last month, the size of his donation to the party committees brought some grumbling within the Republican ranks.

“I’m surprised President Bush would want to be two-upped by John Kerry,” said one GOP strategist.

Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, donated $3 million to both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The checks were hand-delivered to DSCC Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.) and DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) on Tuesday night by Kerry deputy campaign manager Steve Elmendorf and Kerry Congressional liaison David Castignetti.

The Democratic House and Senate committees also received $1 million each earlier this year from a legal compliance fund associated with then-Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. Gore also gave $4 million to the Democratic National Committee.

To date, the NRSC and NRCC have outraised their Democratic counterparts. The NRCC had brought in $125 million through the end of July to the DCCC’s $58 million.

The margin is slimmer on the Senate side with the NRSC having raised $54 million, compared to the DSCC’s $51 million.

Both parties have begun to make massive disbursements in recent weeks as they launch independent-expenditure ad campaigns to benefit their candidates across the country.

The NRSC is slated to spend roughly $2.4 million on behalf of former Rep. John Thune (S.D.), who is taking on Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) this fall.

Another $2 million has been committed by the NRSC to the open Oklahoma Senate race, where former Rep. Tom Coburn (R) is taking on Rep. Brad Carson (D); $1.3 million in ad time has been reserved in the open-seat race in North Carolina.

The DSCC is currently on television in South Carolina and Alaska, though it is expected to significantly widen the scope of its efforts in the coming weeks.

Earlier this week, the two House committees reserved television time totaling nearly $30 million covering 30 districts nationwide.

While Bush’s donation to the campaign committees disappointed some in the party, few quibble with the level of activity that members of his administration have shown on behalf of House and Senate candidates.

Vice President Cheney has been a stalwart on the fundraising circuit for House Republicans, having already raised money for at least 45 candidates this cycle.

First lady Laura Bush, White House senior adviser Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card have also done events for House and Senate candidates.

Bush himself has done only two fundraisers for candidates other than himself.

In 2003, he raised $1 million for Missouri Sen. Kit Bond (R) and followed that up with an event this June that brought in more than $750,000 for Rep. George Nethercutt (R), who is challenging Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D).

Bush also headlined the President’s Dinner in July that raised a combined $21 million for the NRSC and NRCC.

“This has been a real team effort in helping us use every aspect we can in getting out the vote,” said Reynolds.