Different kinds of presidential visits

DIFFERENT KINDS OF PRESIDENTIAL VISITS….Apparently, former President Bill Clinton is in demand this campaign season.

In what promises to be his most intensive campaign season since he left office, former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to appear at more than two dozen fund-raisers for Democrats around the country, hoping to collect at least $20 million for his party’s drive to recapture Congress.

“In contrast to Republican candidates who are running away from George Bush, our candidates are clamoring for him in every part of the country,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

RNC spokesperson Tracey Schmitt denied Schumer’s claim and insisted Bush has been campaigning for Republicans nationwide, noting that he had appeared at 37 fundraising events since the beginning of 2005. What Schmitt didn’t mention is that the candidates the president helps frequently choose not to be in the same room as Bush.

Republican congressional candidates throughout the U.S. love President George W. Bush’s fund-raising prowess. They just don’t want to be seen in public with him.

It’s getting rather embarrassing. Bush hosted an event for Senate candidate Michael Steele in Maryland, but Steele was elsewhere. The president raised money for Rep. Thelma Drake (R) in Virginia, but Drake couldn’t make it. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) was notably absent from a Bush event in March in Ohio. Cheney was in New Jersey to help Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr., but Kean didn’t show up until Cheney was gone. Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Kennedy skipped an appearance by Bush at a 3M Corp. plant outside Minneapolis. Bush was in Pennsylvania two weeks ago to campaign for vulnerable Republican House members in the Philadelphia suburbs, but Rep. Curt Weldon (R), the most vulnerable of them all, couldn’t even make up a good excuse for dodging the president, telling reporters that Bush “is really doing poorly in our state.”

How bad is it? Now, even Rick Santorum is keeping his distance.

When Bush headlined a May 24 fundraiser in Philadelphia to benefit members of Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional delegation, only two of the 13 incumbents up this year — Representatives Jim Gerlach and Michael Fitzpatrick, the event’s main beneficiaries — attended.

Among those absent was Senator Rick Santorum, who trails Democratic challenger Robert Casey by 13 percentage points in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. The poll, taken May 2-8, also showed Bush’s approval rating at 30 percent in the state, compared with 73 percent four years ago.

“There was a time when on any trip by the president to Pennsylvania, you’d find Rick Santorum fairly close by,” said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown. “Any time the president is in the state for a big fund-raising event and Rick Santorum isn’t there, it’s fair to question why.”

Et tu, Rick?