Yesterday, President George W. Bush made what will likely be his last visit to the West Michigan area for a fundraiser at the home of Dick DeVos. According to media reports, the fundraiser netted $500,000 for Republican candidates including Michigan candidates for the US Congress Walberg and Knollenberg. Both Representatives Pete Hoekstra and Vern Ehlers spoke favorably about Bush in advance of the fundraiser.
Before the fundraiser, President Bush met with local business leaders at the Schintz East Deli in downtown Ada. The meeting–which was not open to the public–was attended by Jim Dunlap, the regional group president of Huntington Bank; Rep. Vern Ehlers; Steelcase’s Jim Hackett; Eastern Floral’s Bing Goei; Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce’s Jeanne Englehart; and 5/3 Bank’s Michelle Van Dyke. The majority of them have been financial supporters of Republican candidates according to OpenSecrets.org.
Following the meeting, the President issued a pre-written statement and answered one question from the media about Vice President Dick Cheney’s health. In his statement, Bush said that the meeting was to explain “…why I felt the rescue plan was necessary. I explained to them that I was worried that if we did not do something about the financial situation, the economics would affect a lot of hardworking people all throughout our country, including right here in Western Michigan.” He said that the plan is a temporary measure designed “to restore confidence in our financial system.” He said it is not intended to give the government long-term ownership of businesses or “enrich financiers.”
Unlike previous appearances by President Bush, this visit did not attract any protests.