Originally created 08/25/06

Bush to speak at Burns fundraiser



SAVANNAH, Ga. - President Bush is coming to Chatham County for Max Burns - a signal that the national Republican Party is going all out for the Georgia congressional candidate.

Mr. Bush is to be the featured speaker at a Sept. 7 fundraising luncheon for Mr. Burns at Pooler's Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum.

"You can probably get in for 100 bucks," said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., "but if you want to give three or four thousand, they'll be happy to provide that opportunity."

Mr. Burns, a Sylvania Republican, is trying to win back the 12th Congressional District seat he lost to John Barrow in 2004, and his polls say the race is a dead heat.

Control of the House is up for grabs and the 12th is one of a handful of Democrat-held seats the GOP thinks it can retake.

But Mr. Burns is running far behind in the scramble for the campaign cash he needs to get his message to the district's voters

As of June 30, the end of the last campaign finance reporting period, Mr. Barrow had $1.3 million on hand compared to $733,393 for Mr. Burns.

Mr. Bush's visit should be a big boost, said Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia.

"He's going to raise a ton of money," Mr. Bullock said. "He will be well positioned to go toe-to-toe with Barrow. ... (This race) could be pivotal to control of Congress."

Mr. Kingston, too, read significance into the willingness of the president, who he said is to give a speech in Atlanta on the same day, to appear for Mr. Burns.

"The Republican Party believes it's important that Max win. They (the White House) would not do it if ... (Burns) was out of the picture, but he's closing in."

Tim Baker, Mr. Burns' campaign manager, referred inquiries to the White House.

"Obviously though," he added, "Max Burns would be delighted to have the president here for him."

Mr. Kingston described the event as "multi-tiered." Guests pay a set amount to attend and additional amounts - running into four figures - to have photos taken with Mr. Bush or chat with him at a small reception.

Mr. Barrow's response to the upcoming event was low-key.

"The president is always welcome," he said. "While he's here, I hope he has a chance to visit the Port of Savannah to find out firsthand why we need to pass my Protect America First Act - to stop foreign governments, like Dubai, from buying up our nation's ports."