State: Bush raises thousands for GOP candidate |

State: Bush raises thousands for GOP candidate

— In a fast-paced spin through Denver Friday, President Bush raised at least $400,000 for a Republican congressional candidate, gave an Air Force sergeant a volunteerism award and told a group of Iraq war veterans, “we’ll succeed, we’ll prevail.”

Bush came to Colorado to boost the campaign of Rick O’Donnell, who could face a tough and expensive battle in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, a seat considered up for grabs as the GOP incumbent steps aside to run for governor.

A mile away from the $1,000-a-plate fundraiser in an upscale Cherry Creek Village neighborhood, about 200 demonstrators gathered in a church to protest the war and the president’s veto of stem cell research, shouting, “Shame on Bush.”

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a co-sponsored the stem cell bill, questioned why Bush had time to campaign for O’Donnell in Denver but refused to meet with her in Washington to discuss the bill.

“I say shame on Bush,” she said, to shouts of support.

DeGette urged the crowd to get out the vote in November, saying Democrats need to improve their numbers in Congress to override future presidential vetoes.

Megan Greising told protesters she hoped stem cell research could help her cope with diabetes.

“This is my pancreas,” she said, holding up a medicine dispenser the size of a small tape recorder.

The three Democrats competing in a heated primary for the 7th District seat put aside their differences to condemn O’Donnell and support DeGette’s stem cell bill.

Peggy Lamm called O’Donnell a “puppet of the Bush administration.” Ed Perlmutter said the seat is a must-win for Democrats. Herb Rubenstein said millions of Americans could benefit from stem cell research if Congress can override a Bush veto of a future bill.

Republican Bob Beauprez has held the 7th District seat for two terms, since it was created after the 2000 Census. He is stepping aside to run for governor against Democrat Bob Ritter, a former Denver prosecutor.

The district is considered vulnerable for the GOP because it is nearly evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. Beauprez’s first victory was by a margin of 121 votes, and in 2004 the 7th went for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Air Force One landed at Buckley Air Force Base in suburban Aurora shortly after 11 a.m. and left just before 3 p.m.

Before leaving Aurora for the O’Donnell fundraiser, Bush presented a Volunteer Service Award to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brian Webster, who organizes care packages and thank-you letters for overseas troops and their families.

“It’s not just an honor for me, it’s for the mission we do to support the troops and their families,” Webster said while waiting for the president’s plane to land.

Bush then met with a group of armed forces members who returned this year from service in Iraq, Kuwait and Diego Garcia Air Force Base in the Indian Ocean.

“This country supports you and admires you, and appreciates your dedication,” Bush said, according a transcript released by the White House.


Associated Press Writer Don Mitchell at Buckley Air Force Base contributed to this story.

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