Tuesday, December 30
Pinching Pennies and Amassing Millions
Glen Justice, New York Times, December 26, 2003

Associated Press: At a fund-raiser in Phoenix last month, donors had no chairs and little food, but they got what they wanted: a visit from President Bush. As a new law makes it harder to raise money, Mr. Bush's frugality is paying off.

IT was the Republican social event of the season at the elegant Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix. But many guests who paid $2,000 each to honor the president of the United States say they hardly felt like V.I.P.'s.

While President Bush pulled in nearly $2 million for his campaign, more than 800 supporters were left to roam the cavernous ballroom searching for food and amenities. What they found were sparsely decorated tables, a few lonely trays of salmon skewers and, for many, nowhere to sit.

"That's it for two grand?" John Trainer, a developer from Phoenix, laughingly asked a waiter when he saw the salmon satays at the event, on Nov. 25.

That is it, particularly now that the Supreme Court has upheld a new campaign finance law that makes it harder to raise political contributions. Mr. Bush's frugality, which is nothing new, means that his money will go further, a strategy that Republicans and Democrats alike can adopt.

"Supporters of our campaign expect us to be penny-wise," Scott Stanzel, a Bush spokesman, said. "That's why we serve things like corn dogs and not caviar."

Mr. Bush managed to hold his spending rate to about 17 percent through the third quarter, Federal Election Commission figures show.

The low spending is a combination of Mr. Bush's frugality and the benefits of incumbency, which allow him to travel the country and speak frequently while spending a minimum of campaign money. He also has no primary opponent. [...more]
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