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Bush hits trail for McCain, sparking Obama attack

by Staff Writers
Phoenix, Arizona (AFP) May 27, 2008
Barack Obama accused potential White House foe John McCain of going "hat in hand" with a "failed" President George W. Bush, with the two Republicans briefly teaming up for a fundraising drive.

The Democratic hopeful tore into the Arizona senator, hoping to saddle him with the president's rock-bottom approval ratings, arguing a McCain presidency, would mean four more years of "disastrous" policies.

Bush, still popular with grass-roots Republicans and a formidable fundraiser, was due to inject much needed cash into McCain's campaign war chest with a private event in Arizona.

The two men were expected to appear in public together only briefly, but the president's presence offered ammunition for Obama, the Democratic front-runner heading into the last week of primary clashes with Hillary Clinton.

Obama, an Illinois senator, slammed McCain for holding the fundraiser behind closed doors.

"We all know why, Senator McCain doesn't want to be seen, hat in hand with the President whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years," he said, before giving a speech in Nevada.

The White House confirmed the president's appearance had been transferred to a private residence, in line with McCain campaign practice to keep such fundraisers closed to the press.

The disclosure was likely to fan claims by Democrats that McCain was unwilling to be seen with the unpopular president.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll this month showed that 71 percent of Americans disapprove of how Bush is doing his job, the first time any president had smashed the 70 percent barrier.

It is not surprising therefore that McCain has not appeared with Bush in public for nearly three months, since just after he captured the Republican party nomination.

Liberal campaign group on Tuesday launched a humorous campaign ad titled the "Bush McCain challenge" which asked voters "Think you can tell 'em apart?"

But Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant dismissed the ad as "ridiculous."

Though a strong supporter of Bush's Iraq war policy, McCain has taken steps to distance himself from Bush on issues like global warming, and his management of Hurricane Katrina which swamped New Orleans.

But despite the risks of appearing side-by-side with Bush, ironically the man who ended his 2000 presidential quest, there are solid reasons for McCain to seek the president's help.

The prestige of the presidency is a powerful draw for Republican donors, and McCain who will likely face Obama's fundraising juggernaut in a general election, will be grateful for the added financial muscle.

Though he is unpopular at large, Bush remains a favorite with the core Republican party base. A George Washington University poll last week found that 79 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the president.

McCain also needs help in connecting with core Republican conservatives, a constituency which helped sweep Bush to two White House terms.

Before meeting up with Bush, who was also due to raise cash for him on Wednesday, McCain took a new shot at Obama, during a speech on countering nuclear proliferation, in Colorado.

"Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is to have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades."

Obama and McCain are fighting a furious battle over the wisdom of the Illinois senator's offer to speak to leaders of US foes, if he is elected president.

McCain's speech was interrupted at least three times by protestors shouting "end this war!" but McCain replied: "I will never surrender in Iraq."

Meanwhile, the marathon Democratic White House race between Obama and Clinton entered what could be its final week, which includes nominating contests in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.

Obama added the support of superdelegate Nancy Drummond, vice-chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party, leaving him just 51 delegates short of claiming the nomination, according to independent website RealClearPolitics.

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Shaken Republicans look to McCain as savior
Washington (AFP) May 15, 2008
Soul searching Republicans are turning to an unlikely savior, one-time party heretic and now presumptive White House nominee John McCain, as they try to stave off an electoral disaster.

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