WH Pool Report: Washington Sleeps, Bush Schmoozes
In this White House pool report, we discover what the Republican National Committee has sacrificed in these times of national crisis: Good wine. They served Clos du Bois, which rings in safely under $10 most of the time. Gotta pay for gassing up those SUVs somehow. In other news, pooler Mark Silva notes that the President spoke at the group's "million-dollar fundraiser on the eve of... oh, eve of Wednesday," and that he told the audience “I didn't come here not to deal with major problems.”
And, it's true, he did mention the Miers nomination.
Pay no attention to the indictments behind the curtain, folks...
Full report after the jump.
POOL REPORT #3, 10/25/05
A million-dollar fundraiser on the eve of... oh, eve of Wednesday.
First course: Run of the mill motorcade from the White House traveling three blocks over to the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, where the president is said to be posing for private fundraiser photo ops before addressing a dinner of the Republican National Committee. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will be introducing the president.
The long motorcade rolls from the WH at 6:07 pm EDT, at a mist-bathed dusk on the South Lawn.
Your poolers are treated to side seats in the high columned hall, where the lighted signs read: Happy Birthday! Republican Eagles 1975-2005. This cheerful greeting hangs in white letters on the dark blue draperies hanging in the proscenium at the front of the hall and is also projected in light on white chiffon-like curtains hanging on the side.
At 6:15, black-tie guests are starting to arrive at more than a couple dozen tables arrayed on the light wood floor of the hall.
Membership in the RNC's 30-year-old Eagles program requires an annual contribution of $15,000 to the party, the RNC says.
Dinner at tonight's event cost $15,000 per couple.
The menu - starting with appetizers of Asian canape, an entree of seared mignon of beef, and orange cappaccio - priceless.
The white wine is Clos du Bois sauvignon blanc - not that pricey.
About 260 attendees were expected tonight, according to RNC's Tracey Schmitt. At least $1 million was raised, she says, and if the numbers don't add up it's because some people paid but passed on the canapes.
We have second-source confirmation that POTUS was doing donor grips and grins for photos in the backstage area before dinner.
And there is another party favor inside the little white gift box at each place on the white-clothed tables, a commemorative Eagles paperweight: Eagles1975-2005.
US Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota, Florida, sponsor of the 2000 presidential election, makes the rounds of tables before dinner.
A small band of horn-players prepares their scores in the rear of the hall: The Wright Touch.
But this may be a mime band, because it's making no music.
All cell phones and pagers shift to “the off or vibrate mode.”
6:50 pm, spotlights up on the stage. Enter Mehlman and Bush.
“This has been an incredible fall,” Mehlman says, pointing to the Iraqi vote for a constitution and the Afghan parliamentary vote.
“Here at home,” KM says, “because of pro-growth tax relief, our economy remains strong.”
Bush takes the podium with a joke about the suits he and the RNC chairman are wearing: “Mehlman didn't get the dress code, and neither did I.” (Bush wearing the same gray suit, white shirt and blue tie he's had on all day. Pardon the midday dyslexic pool report which called the shirt blue, tie white.)
Bush praises Mehlman:
“He's smart. He's capable. He's taking our message all across the country.”
Bush acknowledges Sen. John Thune in the room.
And he moves swiftly into a somber speech about terrorism.
“We'll never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory in the war on terror,” Bush says.
“Some say we ought to just pull out of Iraq. That is a fool-hardy policy,” he says, and with this the dinner crowd rises to its feet and applauds at length.
Congress needs to get the Patriot Act to his desk, he says.
He also pitches the guest worker program, not amnesty, just a “reasonable way” for employers to hire people and “take pressure off the borders.”
“The tax relief we passed is working, and Congress needs to make the tax relief permanent.”
“This economy is strong and we need to make sure we don't foul it up here in Washington DC by spending too much.”
To pay for Katrina, he says, we have to find more budget cuts.
“We'll cut this deficit in half by 2009...”
Calls for national medical malpractice reform. Applause.
Asbestos reform. Applause.
“I didn't come here not to deal with major problems.”
(Remember that one.)
This is the pitch for Social Security reform, including private savings accounts. More applause.
“I've had a chance to name two good people to the US Supreme Court...” He names Roberts, and draws applause. He names Miers, and the hall is silent at first, but after more Miers talk, applause.
“There must be confidentiality in the White House,” he says of the Democratic request for documents - that's “the red line,” he says.
He calls on the crowd to read to the lonely, feed the hungry and provide shelter to the homeless. He calls the faith-based initiative “one of the most important programs” of his presidency.
“We must not fear faith... We must welcome faith in changing America one heart at a time.”
7:25 pm, he's done, and we're all out the door, and the long 'cade rolls through a heavier drizzle along the three-block return route to the White House. Back in the South Lawn drive at 7:30 pm EDT.
The wet flags on the front fenders of the POTUSlimousine are removed and rolled up, and Barney's bowl catches raindrops for the morning. Buenos Noche.
White House Correspondent