Hobnobbing with the president just isn't the thrill it used to be. Just ask the donors attending the annual GOP gala on Thursday, which took in over one-third less for the Republicans than the same event did last year. When you look at who the current head of the GOP is and the pathetic group wanting to take over for him, you can't blame the party faithful for holding onto their wallets. For those who actually did show up, they probably just had a bad day and felt like flushing $1500 down the toilet.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush helped raise $10.5 million for the national Republican Party at its annual gala on Thursday night, the smallest take in years for the event that came only months after the GOP lost control of both houses of Congress.
The Republican National Committee's spring fundraising gala hosted by the president raised $17 million last year, $15 million in 2005 and $14 million in 2003. When Bush was seeking re-election to the White House in 2004, the dinner brought in a record $38.5 million.
Bush defended his policies on the Iraq war, to a friendly reception, but didn't directly criticize Democrats, despite tussles with them over a war spending bill.
Shortly after Bush left the dinner, on Capitol Hill the House voted, largely along party lines, to pay for military operations in Iraq on an installment plan, defying Bush's threat to veto it in a test of wills over the unpopular war. The measure now goes to the Senate.
The cocktail reception drew about 800 people to the cavernous DC Armory, where they dined standing up on tenderloin sandwiches, crabcakes, vegetables and hummus. The ticket price was $1,500 a person, though many donated more.
The president put a positive spin on the night, saying donors would help return Washington to domination by the GOP, both in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
"I believe we're the party of the entrepreneur. I believe we're the party of the doer, the dreamer, the people that work," Bush said. "I believe that we're the party of low taxes. And I know we're the party of strong national defense to protect the United States of America."
The latest fundraising filings for the parties, released in April, showed that national Democrats have nearly eliminated Republicans' traditional fundraising advantage. (Compare fundraising by candidate and party)
The Republican National Committee and its House and Senate committees barely edged out their Democratic counterparts in first-quarter fundraising. Each side raised just over $47 million but the GOP came out on top by a difference of just $76,049.66. The Democrats spent much less in the first three months of the year, so they had more in the bank as of the April filings.
The Democratic advantage came from the congressional committees, which outraised the Republicans now that they hold majorities in the House and Senate.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, raised $24.6 million to the Democratic National Committee's $15 million. The national parties' money is typically targeted more toward the presidential contest, likely to be the case this cycle with the 2008 White House race.