U.S. President George Bush is helping raise funds for his favored successor, Senator John McCain, even as the fellow Republican tries to distance himself from the unpopular president.

The two attended a fundraiser Tuesday in the city of Phoenix, in McCain's home state of Arizona.  Wednesday, Mr. Bush is attending two private McCain fundraisers in Utah.

McCain's campaign has barred the media from covering the events.

In a campaign speech Tuesday, McCain voiced his support for the war in Iraq, saying he would never surrender. But he defined a new approach to nuclear security, saying he would like to work with Russia and China to prevent the spread of nuclear arms.

The frontrunner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama, criticized McCain for not letting the media attend the fundraisers.  He alleged that McCain does not want to be too closely associated with the president whose failed policies McCain promises to continue.

Obama has promoted a campaign for change, saying Mr. Bush has ruined the U.S. economy and damaged the country's international reputation.

Obama's Democratic Party rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, is spending the week wooing voters in the western states of Montana and South Dakota.  The states hold the final two Democratic primary elections on June 3.  Obama is favored in the races. 

Clinton is favored in a primary to be held Sunday in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.


 Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.