Cheney in Cleveland; Ohio proving to be lucrative for campaign

By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - The state is proving to be very lucrative for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

President Bush, his wife Laura and Vice President Dick Cheney have all made fund-raising appearances in Ohio this year, taking a total of $4.5 million.

Cheney (pictured, above) was in Cleveland on Monday for a $2,000-a-plate dinner hosted by Gov. Bob Taft at the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center near downtown.

The event raised $750,000, exceeding a goal of $500,000, said the fund-raiser's chairman, A. Malachi Mixon, chief executive of Invacare Corp., a maker of wheelchairs and other medical equipment.

Cheney also raised $600,000 in Akron on June 30.

Bush has reported raising more than $84 million so far nationwide for next year's election. The president has made 13 trips to Ohio since being elected.

Cheney received a long standing ovation from about 400 supporters before speaking for 15 minutes Monday night on the economy, terrorism and health care.

The vice president said the war in Iraq was necessary to prevent the United States from having to fight the battle against terrorism here at home.

"We will finish what we've begun and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror," Cheney said.

He expressed confidence in the economy, citing 7.2 percent growth in the third quarter.

"The Bush tax cuts are working," Cheney said.

The vice president also called on the Senate to end delays and confirm Bush's judicial nominees.

Organizers of the fund-raiser included insurance mogul Umberto Fedeli; Norma Lerner, whose late husband, Al, was Browns owner and founder of MBNA Corp.; and Dr. Floyd Loop, the Cleveland Clinic's chief executive.

About 50 members of the pro-environment Sierra Club, the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition and others protested across the street from the hotel where Cheney spoke.

The group chanted "Bush and Cheney must go!" and complained about the administration's ideas on energy, the economy and the environment.

Inside, supporters mingled as they awaited Cheney. An ice sculpture of an elephant, the Republican mascot, sat near hors d'oeuvres and beef Wellington. Ohio GOP Rep. Ralph Regula was among those in attendance.

Ohio, with 20 electoral votes, is an important state in the presidential election. Bush received 50 percent of the vote in the state in 2000, 3.5 percentage points more than Democrat Al Gore.

Cheney thanked the supporters for their votes in 2000.

"We didn't need a recount in Ohio," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)