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Bush Ends Fundraising-Intensive Vacation - 2002-09-01

President Bush Sunday is ending a month-long vacation at his Texas ranch. The president spent much of that time campaigning for Republican candidates.

The president's party usually loses seats in mid-term elections. Republicans hope to counter that trend in November's vote, in part, on the strength of the popularity and fundraising ability of President Bush.

He has raised more than $100 million for Republican candidates. That is more than twice what Bill Clinton raised for Democrats in his first mid-term vote.

The president's record fundraising is aimed at preserving his party's share of a majority of state governorships, as well as protecting its six seat majority in the House of Representatives and regaining control of the Senate.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mark Racicot says the election is likely to be decided on domestic issues.

On the CBS news program Face the Nation, Mr. Racicot said his party's control of the House has given it the chance to show voters that it is more active than Democrats who lead the Senate.

"We have a very good position to argue from, we believe, because we have actually moved forward in a very competent, very business-like way," said Mr. Racicot. "The House has been very thorough in their examination. They have been very efficient. They have presented a litany of different pieces of legislation to the Senate."

On the same program, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Senate Democrats have taken the lead on domestic issues while watching the president's deficit spending run down the economy.

"I think this administration's agenda, on the domestic agenda - the kitchen table issues - has been a disaster. Just look at the numbers. You saw the [non-partisan] Congressional Budget Office just come out last week" he said, "to say that we are spending the Social Security trust fund.

Democrats are focusing largely on the president's domestic agenda because in the fight against terrorism, Mr. Bush still enjoys much of the swell of popular support that followed the attacks of September 11.

That has led to enthusiastic campaign trail crowds that have helped Republican fundraising. Party chairman Racicot says voters have seen the president's determination in responding to the terrorist attacks.

"What the American people have been able to see as a result of his performance there is someone who leads in a very clear and thoughtful way and in a way that is allowing for the rest of the world to understand what our imperatives are," said Mr. Racicot.

The president campaigned for Republicans in 11 states during his August vacation. Mr. Racicot says it is part of an uphill climb to hold on to Republican seats in this mid-term election.

"We do swim against the tide of history, obviously when we hold-on to the House of Representatives or we regain a seat in the United States Senate and maintain a majority within the governors, but we feel this is a historic opportunity for us to be able to do that," he said.

Democratic chairman McAuliffe was equally optimistic, predicting that his party will pick-up four to seven governorships, win control of the House, and increase its lead in the Senate.