Thursday, June 07, 2007

Key Bush backers rally to Fred Thompson

By: Mike Allen
Jun 4, 2007 02:22 PM EST

George P. Bush, a nephew of President Bush, has contributed to the prospective presidential campaign of Fred Thompson and signed an e-mail asking friends and associates to do the same, The Politico has learned.

"In a field of candidates without a clear favorite among our fellow Republicans, my sincere hope is that you consider joining us in this effort to encourage Fred to run," the e-mail says.

The involvement of a Bush family member highlights a stream of former Bush-Cheney aides and supporters who are signing on with Thompson, in some cases quietly. Thompson, the "Law & Order" actor and former Tennessee senator, filed papers Friday that allowed him to begin raising money. Aides say he remains on track to formally announce his candidacy the week of the Fourth of July, although they say no date is set in stone.

Fred Thompson will run, advisers say
and lobbying Mary Matalin, the former counselor to Vice President Cheney, says she will be advising Thompson. A campaign source says she will be an unpaid adviser. Matalin is friends with Thompson and his wife, Jeri, and her involvement began informally, the source says.

Advisers say the head of economic policy for Thompson's fledgling team will be Lawrence B. Lindsey, who was President Bush's first economic policy adviser and an architect of his tax cuts. Lindsey was chief economic adviser to Bush's first presidential campaign and is a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Lindsey will also have a hand in the campaign's broader policy formulation, sources say.

The head of domestic policy is to be David M. McIntosh, a lawyer and former congressman from Indiana who was an official in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, according to the sources. The chief foreign policy adviser will be chosen soon, the sources say.

Adding to the Bush-Cheney ties, the campaign has said that the chief operating officer will be Thomas J. Collamore, a former aide to the older Bush when he was vice president and also an official in the Reagan administration.

And Michael Turk, e-campaign director for George W. Bush's reelection campaign, will take a leave of absence from his current job with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to assist in getting the Thompson website off the ground. He may continue in a webmaster capacity for the campaign.

George P. Bush, the chief operating officer of a real estate development firm in Fort Worth, Texas, sent the appeal Friday afternoon along with Timothy P. Berry, the firm's president. The e-mail closes "Devotedly," then has both of their signatures.

"Friends and Colleagues," the e-mail begins. "We are writing you on behalf of Sen. Fred Thompson to ask for your support as he considers running for president. As you know, Sen. Thompson has generated buzz this election cycle because of his likable personality and approachable brand of politics, which, consequently, has attracted tremendous grassroots support of his potential candidacy. Additionally, his consistent record in public service and sincere vision to pursue a reform-based agenda in Washington, D.C., has primarily contributed to strong national polling numbers without having even announced."

George P. Bush was unavailable to discuss the e-mail, although associates confirm its authenticity. He is a son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and was a popular surrogate for his uncle's first presidential campaign, drawing comparisons to John F. Kennedy Jr. when he spoke to the Republican National Convention. Since then, he has served as a clerk for a federal judge, married and become involved in several business and charitable groups. In March, he joined the Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer.

Using language similar to other appeals for Friends of Fred Thompson, the e-mail continues: "As a 'Friend of Fred Thompson,' your support will finance Sen. Thompson's efforts to test the political waters starting on June 4, 2007. If Sen. Thompson decides not to seek the presidency, any unspent funds that you contribute will be returned to your attention. Donations must not exceed federal contribution limits; therefore, an individual may contribute up to $2,300. If a joint checking account is used, the total can be $4,600, but both individuals must sign the check. Corporate and foreign national contributions are prohibited. It is very important that your check be dated June 4, 2007, even if you make out your check before this date."

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