Bush lauds Stevens at senator's fund-raiser

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush praised Sen. Ted Stevens as a straightforward senator, a great supporter of the nation's military and a member of the ''greatest generation'' at a campaign fund-raiser Thursday night.

''As we say down home, there's no bull about him,'' Bush said. ''That's good, that's good for the Senate, it's good for the people of Alaska and more important, it's good for the United States of America.''

Stevens already has about $1.5 million in his campaign bank account. Tim McKeever, Stevens' campaign treasurer, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the event was expected to raise an additional $650,000.

Stevens, so far faces Mike Aubrey of Sutton in the Republican primary. The filing deadline is June 1. Aubrey, health education director for the Chickaloon village, has not run for or held elective office and has not started raising money.

Democrat Frank Vondersaar of Homer and Libertarian Len Karpinski of Anchorage have also filed.

About 400 people planned to attend the fund-raiser, held on the rooftop of the Jones Day law firm's offices just across Louisiana Avenue from the Capitol grounds. They included a variety of Washington lobbyists and strategists, Alaska business people, members of Congress and, as the president noted, one other George W. -- Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch.

Bush arrived on schedule and spoke for just more than 15 minutes, touching on several Alaska issues.

''In order to protect our nation and our friends from blackmail from attack by a nation that harbors weapons of mass destruction, this good country must develop a missile defense system,'' Bush said. ''Ted Stevens understands that.''

The Defense Department is developing missile defense testing facilities at Fort Greely and on Kodiak and Shemya islands.

Bush also said he wants the oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because he believes it will reduce the nation's dependence on oil from ''nations that sometimes don't like us.''

He also mused at length about the war on terrorism, saying that ensuring the security of the nation is ''my main job'' as president.

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