This policy of closed door fund raising events raises a cloud of suspicion around who's doing what for whom here. Have a look at this recent press briefing where Dana Perino dances around the subject.
President Bush is like the Grinch or Jacob Marley at Christmas - no one want's to touch them with a ten and a half foot pole. McSame needs the President, but at the same time, the President is a liability to his whole candidacy.
Have a look and see what you think is happening here:
Q I wanted to ask about McCain -- three fundraisers next week. First of all, why are they closed? And second, do you all expect that sort of pace, I mean, three in a week, that kind of thing, to continue?
MS. PERINO: I think we'll see -- I think we'll see, in terms of a pace. President Bush is fully committed, 100 percent committed, to making sure that John McCain is elected to be the next President of the United States of America. So he'll do what he can, when he can, in addition to being -- fulfilling all of his duties as Commander-in-Chief and President of the country.
The reason that they're closed is that the McCain campaign has a practice of having their fundraisers as closed press; and these are in private residences, which is where we have had closed press fundraisers, as well. But I expect that you'll see campaign activity pick up over the course of the next several months. But remember this election is -- the President is not on the ticket. John McCain is on the ticket and we'll see who is going to be on the ticket for the Democrats. And McCain is going to have to tell his story and get out and tell the world why he should be President of the United States. He'll have to contrast his positions with that of whoever the candidate is going to be on the other side of things, and the President will be there helping to do that.
Q To follow up -- you're saying that the McCain campaign announced it may they be closed?
MS. PERINO: I'm saying that the locations are at private residences and that -- their practice has been closed press fundraisers for -- across the board, both at private residences and other places. As you know, our practice has been somewhat different -- when they're at a larger locations like hotels, ours have been open. But that's their practice and we'll respect it.
Q Can we actually expect to see them together at any point publicly?
MS. PERINO: Next week?
Q Well, not necessarily next week, but in the near future?
MS. PERINO: Sure --
Q I mean, initially -- (inaudible) supposed to be open, at least the first one --
Q So they will be together?
Q I mean, appearing publicly together?
MS. PERINO: They'll be together in Arizona, but then we break off and we go on to Utah and --
Q Publicly, though?
MS. PERINO: Stay tuned for the details, but I think that you'll see a -- when we arrive or when we depart, I think there will be a chance.
Q Just to follow up on that, the President endorsed McCain in March, and now two months, almost three months, when this actually happens, he's going to be getting out to campaign for him. Why so long?
MS. PERINO: I think you need to look back and look at the President's schedule, and also look at President John -- President McCain has a nice ring to it, but it was a little bit premature. President Bush has done several fundraisers here in town, but he's not raising money just for a McCain campaign, but for Republican candidates everywhere. President Bush is a formidable campaign fundraiser, as has been reported over the years, and I expect that he'll continue to be.
But remember, he's not on the ticket. And also, President Bush, since that time, in, it was early March -- late February/early March -- President Bush has had an international trip to NATO; he has traveled the country to host a international summit in New Orleans, where we hosted Prime Minister Harper and President Calderón; and then we just recently got back from a trip to the Middle East where the President is trying to help bring that region along to a Middle East peace conference. And we'll do what we can when we can. But the President has Commander-in-Chief responsibilities. And next week we have a chance to go out -- we'll also be doing a commencement address at the Air Force Academy, and then we head off to another international trip in early June.
So we'll do what we can when we can.
Q So it's scheduling, that's why?
MS. PERINO: I won't say. But again, President Bush isn't on the ticket. John McCain is on the ticket, and he's the one who's out there making the case for why he should be President of the United States.