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Bush Comes to Town For Fundraiser

Journal Staff Report
    President Bush is scheduled to spend a few hours in Albuquerque today to raise money for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who's gearing up for a seventh-term re-election campaign.
    There will be no public events, but Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Mayor Larry Abraham, who is hosting the $1,000-a-head lunchtime fundraiser at his Rio Grande Boulevard home, expected a full house of supporters as well as Democrats-planned protests.
    Bush is coming at the tail end of a vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and Domenici has been in New Mexico most of the month during a congressional recess. Domenici, 75, has represented New Mexico in the Senate since 1973, and his seat is up for election next year.
    Democrats last week launched a television ad campaign targeting Domenici's support for the Bush administration in the Iraq war effort.
    Domenici has supported the four-year-old war throughout but recently called for the administration to change course and plan for an unspecified withdrawal date.
    While the move has been called a break with Bush, Domenici said last week that, "I do support the president, and I do support the troops. What I don't support is the Iraqi government's failure to do its part.
    "Without the proactive and successful participation of the Iraqi government in this mission, we could deploy countless more troops and we still wouldn't bring stability to the region."
    Although none is a big name in politics, Democratic challengers for Domenici's seat are starting to line up, including Santa Fe real estate developer Don Wiviott.
    At this time last year, Bush's job performance approval rating was at 38 percent among New Mexico voters, while 51 percent disapproved and 11 percent had mixed feelings, according to a Journal Poll.
    Bush carried New Mexico over Democrat John Kerry in 2004 by about 6,000 votes.
    The president was a reliable visitor to New Mexico in 2006, when he helped raise election money for Rep. Heather Wilson and other New Mexico Republicans.
    Domenici last won re-election in 2002 with 65 percent of the vote over Democrat Gloria Tristani.
    One person who won't be around for the Bush visit today is Gov. Bill Richardson. Richardson will be in Iowa, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.