Bush to Speak to Grads, Attend Fund-Raiser
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush today denounced strong-arm tactics to force employees in the business community to contribute to his re-election campaign and called an alleged incident in Wisconsin ″outrageous.″
″I don’t like that at all, I disapprove of that,″ the president said as he set off on a day away from the White House, including a fund-raising speech.
William Neiss of Madison, Wis., claimed in a lawsuit last week that he was fired by Cherry Payment Systems Inc. for refusing to buy a $1,500 ticket to a fund-raiser being hosted by Bush on Tuesday.
The suit said officials of the Illinois-based company engaged in a series of written and verbal threats to employees ″demanding payment of at least $1,500 from each.″
Potential donors to the Presidential Dinner in Washington were told that if they contributed enough, they could attend a private reception with the president. Under a longstanding fund-raising technique, the biggest contributors would be allowed a photo with Bush or Vice President Dan Quayle.
Bush said ″I’ve read some allegations that concern me very much because there should not be coercion in fund-raising. It’s outrageous and I pride myself of a good clean record in this regard.″
Before he headed to the South to deliver his first commencement address of the season and raise $500,000 for his re-election campaign, Bush also said he hoped to find some areas of consensus with the Congress, which returns from the Easter recess on Tuesday.
He said the economy still needs an economic boost, despite its recovery and he hoped Congress would pass some key elements of the seven-point growth package he submitted earlier.
He called for passage of an energy bill. ″The Senate produced a good bipartisan bill and the bipartisan process appears to be breaking down in the House,″ Bush said. ″We need bills that make sense, not a veto.″
The president also said there is relative consensus on some portions of his health care bill and he’d like quick action on those elements, mentioning accessibility to insurance and legislation to reduce malpractice suits. Although the health care package was announced with great fanfare, the president has yet to ask Congress for money to finance the proposals.
Bush called for action on his education proposals and on a balanced budget amentment, which he said is finding some acceptance by the Democratic leadership in Congress.
In the South, the president planned to tell graduates at Miami’s Florida International University about opportunity and discuss how policies set in Washington can affect their lives.
Later, Bush was to make an unvarnished political appearance at a fund- raising dinner in Charlotte, N.C., eight days before that state’s May 5 primary.
Florida International, which has nearly 24,000 students, is the fourth- largest public university in the state. More than half the students are Cuban-American, and Bush was expected to take another of his frequent jabs at Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
He told Hispanic journalists Friday that he plans to visit Cuba soon ″after the inevitable fall of the Castro dictatorship.″
Torie Clarke, a spokeswoman for the re-election campaign, said Sunday that Bush anticipates sewing up the GOP nomination in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary.
About 500 supporters paying $1,000 apiece were expected at the Bush-Quayle ’92 dinner in Charlotte.
Conservative Patrick Buchanan is mounting a challenge in North Carolina, but Bush has already won the backing of the state’s most well-known conservative, Sen. Jesse Helms.
Helms wasn’t expected at the dinner, but was sending a videotaped message of support.
″President Bush will have a very solid victory here in North Carolina,″ predicted Jack Hawk, the state GOP chairman. ″It’s time for us to concentrate on the Democrats and the differences between (the parties).″
Bush had raised $25 million and had $7.2 million cash on hand for his re- election drive at the end of March. He will be the star attraction at a $1,500-a-person President’s Dinner in Washington on Tuesday to raise several million dollars for other Republican candidates.