It’s official: President Bush’s re-election campaign is underway.
For those who haven’t been paying attention – and Bush, Cheney and their corporate cronies certainly hope you haven’t – the president officially launched his campaign at a March 20 “kickoff” rally in Orlando. “I’m looking forward to this campaign ahead,” Bush told the assembled party faithful between chants of “Four more years!” and “USA! USA!” “With you at my side, there is no doubt in my mind we’re headed to a victory.”
Bush may claim the “political season” is just beginning, but he has spent the past nine months crisscrossing the country on a dash for cash, personally headlining 46 million-dollar fundraising events on the way to amassing an unprecedented $170 million campaign war chest. Awestruck by the sheer amount of cash on hand, the media sometimes mistake Bush’s piles of money for popularity. Venality is more like it. Bush has turned the election into an auction, an invitation-only opportunity for Corporate America to prove its loyalty to the president.
The engine in Bush’s money machine has been an elite regiment of 455 “Rangers” and “Pioneers,” the honorary titles bestowed on fundraisers who can collect at least $200,000 or $100,000, respectively. Legally, each of these individuals is limited to a maximum donation of $2,000. But the Bush campaign has perfected a sophisticated system of bundling – by which corporate executives, lobbyists or other insiders pool a large number of contributions to maximize their political influence. The Rangers and Pioneers have collected at least $64.2 million so far.
In return, these worthies have received access to the administration, relaxed regulations, legislative favors, targeted tax breaks, lucrative federal contracts, and plum appointments at home and abroad. But some hold more of a stake in Bush’s re-election than others: The 10 industries profiled here have been among the most generous supporters of the president – and they stand to reap the greatest rewards if Dubya prevails in November.
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