Bush Raises Cash for GOP

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; 12:59 PM

OMAHA, Neb. -- President Bush, on a Midwestern trip to raise Republican cash, stopped by a health clinic Wednesday long enough to tout the benefits of community help for the poor.

The main purpose of Bush's travels was a fundraiser for his former agriculture secretary, Mike Johanns, a Senate candidate in Nebraska. Johanns left Bush's Cabinet in September to seek the seat being vacated by fellow Republican Chuck Hagel.

Already, Johanns has raised more than $1 million for his campaign and is considered the prohibitive favorite in the race, with a hearty blessing from Bush. The fundraiser was expected to raise $750,000 at a cost of $1,000 for individuals and $10,000 for couples.

While in Omaha, Bush visited OneWorld Community Health Centers, a clinic that provides medical, dental and nutritional aid to poor people. Bush announced that his administration has exceeded its goal of helping launch or expand 1,200 such community health centers.

"The spirit here _ the spirit of community, the desire to help people who are less fortunate _ is prevalent," Bush said after chatting with health professionals at the site.

"People here feel a great sense of community and accomplishment, and as well they should, because community health centers, not only here in Omaha, but around the country, provide a very vital service," Bush said.

The administration says the centers are a key part of a "health care safety net," providing primary and preventive care to millions who could otherwise not afford it.

The centers run on a combination of private money and government support.

Earlier, on a blustery airport tarmac, Bush stood with Johanns and praised him at length. He called him a humble man who understands and lives "Nebraskan values."

"If I was a voter in this state, I'd sure pull that lever for Mike Johanns for the United States senator," Bush said. "And if my wife was a voter for this state, she'd try to pull it twice."

Most of the money raised at the Johanns fundraiser will go to his campaign, with a share for the Nebraska Republican Party. The fundraiser was held at the sprawling estate of billionaire businessman and philanthropist Walter Scott Jr. It was closed to the media.

© 2007 The Associated Press