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Bush Courts Hispanic Support

June 29, 1999

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ For Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the campaign contributions keep coming.

At a $1,000-a-person event Tuesday, the first of seven fund-raisers during his three-day California trip, the Republican presidential candidate picked up $480,000 _ $180,000 more than his campaign had anticipated.

All told, the Bush campaign expects to take in $4.2 million over the three days.

``Prosperity alone is just materialism,″ he told the donors, who greeted him with a standing ovation. ``Prosperity must have a greater purpose.″

Bush is using the California trip, his first since launching his presidential campaign, to mix fund raising with an appeal for support among Hispanics, the nation’s fastest growing ethnic group.

He attended a Mexican-themed event at the Del Mar County Fair, slipping almost immediately into Spanish as he addressed a crowd of curious onlookers.

``Thank you for having me,″ Bush told a racially mixed crowd of several dozen listeners, before lapsing into Spanish. ``It’s a great honor to be here with all of you.″

Taking on education, an issue often described as ``numero uno″ among Hispanics, Bush then said in Spanish: ``If you can’t read, you can’t realize the American dream.″

Several of the onlookers said curiosity about the Republican presidential front-runner _ particularly his views on race relations _ drew them to the event.

``Being from this region, I want to hear what he has to say about the problems with the changing face of the Southwest,″ said Ricardo Hackley, a black fair employee who went out of his way to catch the Bush appearance.

``I’m interested in what he’s got to say,″ said Deanna Tamayo, a Hispanic mother who got up early to see Bush. ``I know he’s trying to reach out to the Hispanic community, which is a plus for me and my children.″

Jose Hernandez, 33, said he was left unimpressed by Bush’s remarks, which lasted less than five minutes.

Hernandez, who attended the fair with his wife and six children, said Hispanic voters appreciate being addressed in Spanish.

``But he’s going to have to do a lot more than that,″ Hernandez said. ``Right now I didn’t see much, but hopefully we will see more, hopefully he will have more to say when he comes back.″

The Texas governor didn’t mention the most divisive issues in California politics this decade _ immigration and affirmative action.

Later, he told reporters he opposed Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot measure that sought to bar illegal immigrants from receiving most forms of state aid.

Referring to affirmative action, he said ``quotas won’t work in order to meet certain social obligations.″

Responding to Bush, the Democratic National Committee said the Texas governor was out of step with the Hispanic community in California.

``California’s Hispanic families care about a good education, strong economy, and keeping their families safe,″ said Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, the DNC’s general co-chair. ``Bush sides with the extreme Republicans in Congress who would threaten our prosperity.″

Bush’s maiden voyage to the nation’s largest state prompted an outpouring of enthusiasm from California Republicans who sustained crushing defeats in last year’s elections.

At his first fund-raiser, Bush worked the room for nearly half an hour before taking the podium, were he reiterated his pledge to ``match a conservative mind with a compassionate heart.″

He promised that if elected president, he would create incentives to encourage volunteerism and charitable giving; improve public schools by urging tough local standards; strengthen the military; usher in a new era of personal responsibility; and cut taxes.

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