Bush bags $3.8 million at Riley fundraiser

Increased security and decreased face-time with the public were evidence of the changes in America since Sept. 11, 2001.

President George W. Bush visited Alabama briefly Monday on behalf of Republican Gubernatorial-candidate Bob Riley.

President Bush arrived at the Birmingham International Airport just after 9 a.m.

He disembarked from Air Force One along with Riley as well as Alabama Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby and Alabama Congressmen Bob Aderholt and Spencer Bachus.

This visit to Birmingham was different from the President’s last, during which he visited Oak Mountain State Park.

President Bush’s June 2001 visit had a casual atmosphere, with hundreds present at the airport to welcome him.

Changes in security, however, called for less than 10 people to greet the President at the airport this time.

The president’s motorcade immediately left the airport for the Alys Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

President Bush spoke to some 1,000 invited Alabama dignitaries, business owners and residents about the state of the economy.

He was greeted at the ASC by Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, Attorney Gen. Bill Pryor and Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid among other dignitaries.

&uot;I’m proud to be back in Alabama,&uot; President Bush said to a standing ovation. &uot;It’s a great state. It’s produced some wonderful Americans, starting with my National Security Adviser &045; born and raised right here in Birmingham &045; Condoleeza Rice.

He went on to name Secretary of State Colin Powell’s wife, also from Birmingham.

During the course of the speech, Bush praised those who have been compassionate to their neighbors including one Birmingham man who is active in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

&uot;Our society can and will change,&uot; he said, &uot;one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.&uot;

President Bush then traveled to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center for Riley’s fund-raiser reception and luncheon.

More than 2,700 Republican supporters gathered at the luncheon &045; for $1,000 per plate or $50,000 per handshake and photo.

Also present at the luncheon were Alabama’s Republican nominees: State Auditor-nominee Beth Chapman, State Treasurer-nominee Kay Ivey, Secretary of State-nominee Dave Thomas, State Agriculture Commissioner-nominee Dr. J. Lee Alley and Lieutenant Governor-nominee Bill Armistead.

According to media reports, President Bush’s work with fund-raising for Republicans across the country has been &uot;extremely successful,&uot; at times raising more than $2 million.

Alabama Republican Party officials’ predictions proved true with this fundraiser topping previous Alabama events of this nature and breaking President Bush’s own fund-raising record.

More than $3.8 million was raised for the Riley Gubernatorial campaign.

President Bush departed Birmingham aboard Air Force One at about 1 p.m. Monday.

Congressman Riley faces incumbent Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in the November general election