WASHINGTON – President Bush says polls don’t matter to him, but his slumping popularity appears to be influencing fellow Republicans in a way that hurts: money.
Bush’s yearly fundraising dinner for Republican congressional candidates on Wednesday generated $15.4 million – no small amount, but little more than half as much as the $27 million the event brought in last year. Bush raised $23 million at the same dinners in 2005 and 2004.
The take at this year’s annual gala benefiting the national Republican Party also took in much less than usual.
Bush helped raise $10.5 million at the event last month, compared with $17 million last year, $15 million the year before and a record $38.5 million in 2004, when he was running for re-election.
The president, sounding familiar themes, defended the war in Iraq to an audience of roughly 3,000 people at Wednesday night’s dinner.
“I believe if our candidates take the message of doing what is necessary to protect the American people, and take the message – the hopeful message – of helping others realize the blessings of liberty, that we will retake the House, and retake the Senate, and hold the White House in 2008,” Bush said.
Public approval of the job Bush is doing now matches its all-time low, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. Only 32 percent said they were satisfied with how Bush is handling his job overall, the same low point AP-Ipsos polling measured last January.