The president will headline his first fundraiser for Steele on Wednesday at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Tickets to the lunch, for which business attire is required, range from $125 for general admission to $5,000 for a photo opportunity with Bush. The event marks the second Steele fundraiser to feature a major administration official. Presidential adviser Karl Rove hosted a closed-door July event for him in Washington that netted about $75,000.
Wow, so I'm guessing the grand total raised by Bush & Rove will top $150,000. Not only is Steele cozying up to Bush, but he's encouraging Bush to continue to avoid offering any leadership on Iraq or a real solution to our national healthcare crisis. Why spend time leading a country at war when you can go raise money from big-shot donors. I think Steele is making a big mistake appearing with Bush while the president's approval rating in MD is so far below the Mendoza Line (40% or a .200 batting average).
Melissa Deckman, an assistant professor of political science at Washington College in Chestertown, said appearances with the president won't help Steele shed his conservative image and appeal to more moderate voters, a group he needs to win over. But she's not sure that voters are keeping tabs on the candidate's appearances so early in the race.
"It wouldn't help him next November to be lumped together with Rove and [Vice President Dick] Cheney and Bush, not in a state like Maryland," Deckman said. "But I think it's going to raise a lot of money for him, and he needs to do that. It's going to be a very expensive campaign."
Carol L. Hirschburg, a Republican consultant who sits on the host committee for Steele's fundraiser, said she believes the timing is right for Bush's visit. Hirschburg said that at this point in the race voters are looking at how adept an individual is at raising money and whether he is a viable candidate. The president, she said, is a proven money raiser and can only help Steele energize his base.
"I don't think having a president come in and help you raise money is a sign that you're proving your undying support to him," Hirschburg said. "Michael Steele has the next year to tell people what he believes in, what his issues are, how he feels about national issues."
John Kane, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and a member of the fundraiser's host committee, said no matter how people in Maryland feel about the president, Bush's support for Steele validates the lieutenant governor's candidacy.
So let me get this straight. The Maryland GOP is banking on the fact that Marylanders will forget that they don't like Bush if they see Steele successfully raising money via Bush? It's nonsensical. Steele is campaigning in a markedly blue state that gives Bush one of the lowest approval ratings in the country. Marylanders don't care about who's raising money -- if they did, Mfume wouldn't be doing as well as he's doing against Steele (Cardin is outraising Mfume by a few hundred thousand dollars).
It doesn't matter that Marylanders might not be closely tracking who the candidates are appearing next to in November 2005. What matters is the pictures of Bush at the rostrum for Steele, Bush hugging Steele, Steele smiling as he cozies up with the money Bush has brought him. These pictures will be played over and over in TV ads throughout the senatorial race by either Democratic candidate, juxtaposing with rising body counts, rising gas prices, and criminal negligence in response to Katrina. Maryland's voters are clear: they don't like what Bush is doing with the country.
"President Bush is coming to town to tell Marylanders why Michael Steele is his choice to advance the Bush administration's agenda in the U.S. Senate," Shur said.It's sad that Steele has been picked by Bush. I'm not sure why the MD GOP think tying a candidate for a national administration to a failed president is advisable. In any event, we can expect Maryland voters to see Steele as he is: a long-time shill for George Bush, Karl Rove, and the administration that ended America's moral leadership in the world at a cost of over 2,100 American soldiers and untold tens of thousands of Iraqis.