Richard Wolffe

Stories by Richard Wolffe

  • Broccoli and Nukes

    It was the worst-kept secret in presidential travel. After weeks of rumors, President George W. Bush finally stopped in Afghanistan as he made his way to India and Pakistan—his first visit to the country that was once the central battlefield in the war on terror.Like Bush’s Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq in 2003, the details of the president’s trip to Kabul were closely held until the very last moment. Yet White House officials and reporters had whispered about the possibility of an Afghanistan visit for weeks. Bush was the only key member of his administration who had yet to visit Kabul. First Lady Laura Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made high-profile visits last year, while other administration officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have made repeated visits.Administration officials did all they could to stamp out the rumors—even telling White House reporters writing an advance logistical report on Bush’s trip that...
  • Stormy Waters

    It takes a lot for President Bush to beckon reporters to his cozy conference room on Air Force One for a chat. But on Tuesday, Bush did just that, calling the press to the front of the plane to defend his administration's approval of a deal that would hand over control of six major U.S. seaports to a company, Dubai Ports World, controlled by the United Arab Emirates.The deal has sent members of Congress into open revolt, including, most notably, the Hill's top two Republicans, Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert, who threatened Tuesday to introduce legislation that would block the takeover. The lawmakers questioned the security risks of handing the ports to a country that may be an ally in the war on terror, but sits in a region forever linked to the 9/11 attacks.Seemingly caught off guard, the White House immediately pushed back, sending Bush before reporters to defend the deal and to offer a rare veto threat on any legislation that would seek to undermine it. Bush told reporters the...
  • Gatekeepers

    For two days, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has offered up a wink-and-nod defense over the handling of Dick Cheney’s shooting accident. McClellan has never criticized the vice president or his staff directly. But he has also never missed an opportunity to remind reporters that he would have handled dissemination of the news far differently.According to McClellan, once he learned of Cheney’s involvement in the shooting of lawyer and fellow hunter Harry M. Whittington, he urged the vice president’s office to get the information out as soon as possible.  “[It’s] the way we have typically approached things,” McClellan told reporters on Monday. “[The way] I typically approach things.”The only problem for the White House:  McClellan’s statement doesn’t exactly ring true.  Administration officials long ago cemented a reputation for withholding information until even news that wouldn’t necessarily be damaging to the White House turns into a bombshell. Its penchant for secrecy...
  • Picking His Pockets

    The day after his state of the union address, President George W. Bush was where he loves to be: campaigning onstage in Red State America. Not just any stage, but the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where he was singing his grand new song about high-tech energy research and thousands of new math teachers. It was phase one in the selling of his agenda for 2006. Then it was on to Minnesota, where aides passed outa booklet titled "American Competitiveness Initiative." Next stops: New Mexico, and the presidential stomping ground of New Hampshire--battleground states in the 2004 election. It's all part of a monthlong series of speeches pitching Bush's vision for the nation's future and his own political legacy. His confidants' hopes are high, likening the campaign to a new mission to put a man on the moon.There's only one problem. The rocket scientists who put Bush into power are getting pulled into another orbit. The Republican Party may be two years away from choosing his successor, and...
  • 'I'm With Boehner'

    In May 2001, just months into his first term, President George W. Bush invited House Republicans to the White House to negotiate No Child Left Behind—his top legislative priority at the time. The education reform bill had run into opposition from conservative Republicans, who were worried about the bill's cost and scope, and GOP leaders told the president that he should offer up incentives that could entice more members of his party to support the measure.Meeting in the Oval Office, House Republican leaders told Bush of one proposal that was sure to win strong party support: a provision that would shift most federal control over schools to the states. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was in the meeting, agreed with the leadership and urged Bush to sign on to the proposal, but Rep. John Boehner, an Ohio Republican who chaired the House Education Committee strongly disagreed. "That's a deal-killer for Democrats," Boehner argued, reminding Bush of his goal of a bipartisan bill.According...
  • Tale of Two Presidents

    The State of the Union was a tale of two presidents. One was gracious about his opponents, seeking common ground for the sake of the nation's future. The other accused his critics of being isolationists, pacifists, protectionists and unpatriotic. One wanted the downfall of tyrants and dictators; the other wanted the downfall or transformation of elected governments in Iran and the Palestinian territories. One wanted to extend tax cuts; the other wanted to cut deficits. One was determined to promote America as the world leader in science; the other was determined to put strict limits on human-embryo research--restrictions that other countries have rejected. Both presidents are of course one and the same: the often inspirational, often self-contradicting, George W. Bush. Democrats frequently mistake this split personality as some kind of giant game of bait-and-switch. But it's more accurate to think of it as the gap between Bush's idealistic self-image as a leader, and his realistic...
  • The Bush Battle Plan

    For any White House aide, it should have been an easy crowd: a group of pro-Bush business lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a short walk from the West Wing. But when chief of staff Andy Card delivered a preview of the president's 2006 agenda earlier this month, the audience grew visibly listless. One checked his BlackBerry for e-mails, while another furtively read her copy of The Washington Post. Several yawned. Instead of concentrating on the issues his business friends care about--like taxes or trade--Card spent most of his time on a single topic. "The war on terror must be won in order to be able to have this sound economy that you're part of," he declared. His allies were unimpressed. "No one is naive enough to say that we shouldn't care about Iraq," said one GOP lobbyist, who declined to be named so as not to annoy the White House. "But there are other priorities that also deserve some tending to."President George W. Bush hasn't forgotten his friends at the Chamber of...
  • Fog of Secrecy

    National security often operates in a twilight zone of intelligence, eavesdropping and spy satellites. But it's rare to find a national-security debate that lives in a twilight zone as bizarre as the National Security Agency wiretapping affair. While reporters are still trying to figure out the full extent of the NSA program, politicians are showing no hesitation before jumping feet first into their own parallel universe.This week began with former veep Al Gore--in his now familiar (and unstatesmanlike) full-blown roar--tearing into President Bush for "breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." Irony was never one of Gore's strong points, and he seemed to miss entirely the irony of his call for a special counsel to investigate the wiretapping affair. With the help of Clinton-era attorney general Janet Reno, Gore managed to avoid no less than three Justice Department recommendations for a special counsel to investigate his fund-raising activities in 1996.But the twilight zone...
  • The Oval: The Ties That Bind?

    Members of Congress aren't the only ones moving to distance themselves from former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty Tuesday in a bribery and corruption probe that has sent official Washington into a tailspin. On Wednesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan announced that President George W. Bush's re-election campaign will donate $6,000 in contributions linked to Abramoff to the American Heart Association. According to the Republican National Committee, which is handling the distribution, the campaign will donate three $2,000 checks from Abramoff, his wife and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe, which paid Abramoff tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees to press lawmakers on gambling issues.The move follows other top politicos in Washington, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former House majority leader Tom DeLay, who have announced plans to donate Abramoff-linked contributions to charity. All told, lawmakers from both political parties have given up...
  • The President: Now, Time to Dig Out

    Two days after his re-election victory, President Bush mapped out a strategy for 2005 to reporters in a White House auditorium. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital," he said, "and now I intend to spend it." His goals: Social Security, tax reform, the economy, education and the war on terror. Yet markets can go down as well as up, and Bush lost his first two bets to tough GOP opposition. High gas prices hurt him. And the war in Iraq cost him his shirt. According to Gallup, Bush's approval ratings on Iraq fell from 47 points after his re-election to 32 in September. By the year-end, Bush's numbers revived to 39 points--but even that upswing might stall, given the disclosure that Bush authorized spying on U.S. citizens after 9/11 and the Senate's wrangling over renewal of the Patriot Act.The domestic politics of Iraq is no sideshow for the White House. Bush's aides believe the mission depends as much on U.S. political support as on events in Iraq. By the fall, "things...
  • Politics: Plans (and Hopes) for the SOU

    The White House is crafting a State of the Union agenda to help it relaunch after a dismal 2005. The focus: a domestic package to shore up GOP support in next year's elections, says a senior adviser who declined to be identified because the discussions are ongoing. Bush will stress fiscal discipline, while his senior staff have warned congressional leaders privately to reform their own pork-barrel spending. Bush will also promote health-care savings accounts and portable pensions as part of a vision for moving employees away from lifetime reliance on a single big employer. He is also likely to open a broader debate about entitlements such as Medicare, questioning whether the country can afford the growing burden of the baby boomers' retirement. The good news for Team Bush is the upbeat mood of guru Karl Rove. After months of fretting about a possible indictment in the CIA-leak investigation, Rove is energized by the challenge of elections. "Karl is in his laboratory," said one close...
  • The Vet Strategy

    CORRECTION APPENDEDA few days after last year's presidential election, Ladda (Tammy) Duckworth was piloting her helicopter north of Baghdad when she saw a ball of fire at her knees. A rocket-propelled grenade had struck her Black Hawk at its chin bubble, close to her seat. When she awoke 10 days later, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, she found she had lost her legs, but none of her desire to serve. For the next year, as she recovered from her devastating injuries, she became one of the capital's favorite troops: an inspirational war story amid the grinding violence of Iraq. She was a senator's guest at the State of the Union and a witness before a congressional hearing on health care for war casualties. As Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson put it, she was simply "a true American hero."She could have stayed a trophy veteran. But as Major Duckworth met with Democratic members of Congress, she talked about how she viewed politics as an extension of her service....
  • Into Dangerous Waters

    Once again, it seems to be test-the-boundaries time in East Asia. A Japanese Coast Guard plane discovered a Chinese satellite-tracking vessel 12 miles off Okinawa on Friday and warned the ship away. The same day, in the skies above the Yellow Sea, a pair of North Korean fighter aircraft zoomed into a disputed area of South Korean airspace and out again. The micro-incursions could be shrugged off as accidents except for one detail: they came on the eve of President George W. Bush's first trip to the region in two years. The trespassers were a quiet reminder that terrorism and nuclear proliferation aren't the only unsolved foreign- policy problems facing the United States.Uncontrolled forces are reshaping the Pacific's western shore faster than Washington can think what to do. As China conducts an all-out drive to become Asia's No. 1 economic, military and diplomatic power, its smaller neighbors can only do their best to find a way to benefit--and avoid getting squashed. North Korea...
  • A New Money Man

    When Ben Bernanke left his post at the Federal Reserve last spring to become President George W. Bush's top economic adviser, his work pals didn't give him much of a send-off. Only a month ago did his Fed colleagues get around to throwing him a lunchtime goodbye party. In keeping with Fed tradition, Bernanke's favorite food--Necco candy wafers--was served, and the going-away gifts included a Steuben crystal eagle, a framed set of dollar bills and the chair Bernanke sat in during Fed meetings. This winter, however, Bernanke will need to deliver that chair back to the Fed--and perhaps return the going-away presents, too. After months of oddsmaking from Washington to Wall Street about who would succeed Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, 79, when his term expires in January, last week Greenspan and Bernanke strode into the Oval Office for the announcement. After 18 years leading the Fed, the man known as the Maestro will finally turn over his baton.Economists applauded the choice,...
  • Better Luck Next Time

    The news only worsened as the day wore on. After a series of private soundings and informal head counts in the Senate, it was clear to Harriet Miers that her chances of sitting on the Supreme Court were increasingly slim. Not an impossible task, but one that demanded a long, hard slog. So a tired Miers picked up the phone last Wednesday and called her old client in the First Family's residence, close to bedtime at 8:30. "I'm honored you considered me to do this," she told the president, "but it's time for me to get to work on my replacement."Miers may have ended her brief and bloody 24-day career as a Supreme Court nominee, but she's hardly out of work. Last weekend she was holed up with President Bush and chief of staff Andy Card at Camp David, picking out the next nominee--the third bid to fill the critical swing seat of Sandra Day O'Connor. As White House counsel, Miers is once more heading the vetting process that so dismally failed her. Nothing went right for Miers in her brief...
  • The Gathering Storm

    The White House counsel's office is home to some of the best, brightest and busiest conservative lawyers in the country. Among their duties: vetting the responses of Supreme Court nominees as the hopefuls navigate their way through the Senate. But the president's lawyers were stretched a bit thin this month as they double-checked the answers of the latest nominee, who just happens to be their boss, Harriet Miers. Why? Partly because so much of Miers's record is shrouded in the secrecy of her private legal advice, especially for clients like George W. Bush. And partly because they're working on other pressing matters--like digging up documents in response to multiple inquiries into Hurricane Katrina. "It's absurd," said one former administration official, who declined to be named because of the fragile state of the Miers nomination. "They really should have just said, 'We have too much on our plate'."The tale of how Katrina hurt Harriet is just one glimpse inside a White House that...
  • Yet Another Gulf War

    The members of the world's most exclusive club gathered in the Oval Office in a state of disbelief. Between them, they could draw on decades of experience of hurricanes and floods, at home and overseas, yet Nos. 41 and 42 could only shake their heads at the severity of Katrina's destruction. "Isn't it unbelievable," former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton said to the man who now sits in the black leather chair.Unbelievable, but not unexpected. No. 43 thought he'd gotten ahead of Katrina by declaring major disaster areas--and readying emergency supplies--before the winds roared in. But after a month of antiwar protesters at his ranch and squabbling Iraqi politicians in Baghdad, President George W. Bush seemed politically unprepared for his biggest domestic crisis since 2001. Bush, who loves to manage Iraq with metrics and outputs, spent two days reeling off statistics about trucks en route to the Gulf before expressing his frustration at the lack of progress. "I am...
  • BUSH: RIDE'EM, COWBOY!

    During his monthlong departure from D.C., President Bush will cycle without the secrecy that normally surrounds his long weekend rides. The idea: to "demonstrate the importance of physical fitness," says White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.But friends who have joined the biker-in-chief say he's an aggressive cyclist. "That goddam bicycle riding he's doing is crazy stuff," says a family friend who asked not to be identified because he was discussing the president's private life. "He's got all this energy he's got to burn up." Judging by Bush's track record, that aggression borders on recklessness: last summer he flew over his handlebars, scraping his face and hands. Bush was so "fired up" about riding at the G8 summit in Gleneagles last month that he sought advice on how to handle the hilly Scottish terrain, says the family friend. (Bush crashed into a police officer.) "Got a little asphalt still embedded in my knuckles," Bush admitted last week.
  • POLITICS: FLAP OVER THE FRIST FLIP

    Sen. Bill Frist's decision to break with the president over stem-cell research annoyed Bush's aides. "He's changed his position on this before," said one senior Bush adviser, who declined to be identified so he could speak freely. Frist called Bush to alert him the night before he went public on the Senate floor. "I don't know how long he's been working on this, but he had left the impression with a lot of people that he was supporting the president's policy," the senior aide said. Frist's flip-flop has fired up Bush's supporters in the House, who are likely to block any attempt to override a veto. "This may have solidified it," the aide said.
  • The Oval: It's Summer Vacation

    What does the president do with his leisure time in Crawford, Texas, when he's not clearing brush or riding his bike? One idea might be an hour or two in front of the TV to watch the new 13-part drama "Over There" on FX.Created by Steven Bochco, whose credits include "NYPD Blue" and "Hill Street Blues," "Over There" is being sold as the first TV drama about the current war in Iraq. It also lays claim to being the first small-screen series about any war to be aired during the conflict. To TV critics, it's a mixed bag. Some question its apolitical position; others praise its realistic portrayal of war. (The New York Times' critic called it "slick, compelling and very violent.")But to the White House it means something entirely different. The art-imitates-real-life idea is breaking new ground in both TV and politics, posing a curious question for President Bush and his aides: could "Over There" affect the already-fragile poll numbers on Iraq? According to one senior Bush aide, the...
  • The Oval: The Price of an Ambassadorship

    For the first half of this year, the Bush administration seemed on track to patch up its dismal relations with its European allies. President George W. Bush has toured Europe three times this year (four if you include the pope's funeral) and even spoken sweet words to one of the arch critics of the war in Iraq German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder--first in Germany and then in Washington last month.But photo ops are cheap compared to the price of an ambassadorship, and nothing speaks quite so loudly about the Bush administration's priorities as its senior embassy postings. Germany's new ambassador has no obvious qualifications or abilities to repair the deeply strained relationship with one of America's most important allies for the last 50 years. However William Timken Jr., an Ohio industrialist, does have one big claim to the job: he raised at least $200,000 for the president's re-election campaign in 2004--ranking him among the elite class of fund-raisers known as the Bush Rangers....
  • The Oval: Changing the Subject?

    They looked like the quintessentially civilized gentlemen. It was early enough in the summer morning to stroll through the colonnade in front of the Oval Office wearing dark jackets without breaking into one of Washington's heavy sweats. They had just shared a cup of coffee and congratulated one another on a fine first day working together. All they needed was a croquet set for a little spin around the Rose Garden.It was Wednesday morning and President Bush had summoned reporters and photographers for his second photo op with Judge John Roberts in 12 hours. The message was clear: his Supreme Court nominee would bring "great dignity to the court" after a confirmation process that he hoped would proceed "in a dignified, civil way." There was so much dignified and civilized behavior on display that Judge Roberts could only go one place from there: to the world's greatest deliberative and dignified body, otherwise known as the United States Senate. Roberts would spend the day sipping...
  • The Oval: Stonewalling?

    Contentious news conferences are nothing new in the hothouse of the James S. Brady press briefing room at the White House. But new evidence about Karl Rove's role in the Valerie Plame leak has turned the already tense daily press briefings into something of a frenzy. On Monday, reporters repeatedly slammed White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan for refusing to comment on questions about Rove's discussions with Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, in which the White House deputy chief of staff told the reporter that former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. When reporters pressed McClellan if he stood by previous comments that Rove had no involvement in the leaking of Plame's name, the Bush spokesman demurred, saying "I appreciate the question"--but adding that he couldn't comment because of an "on-going investigation."That was a line repeated by McClellan's boss after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. "I have instructed every member of my staff to fully cooperate in...
  • PRESIDENTIAL BOOKS: A SPACE ON THE SHELF

    Bill Clinton offered an exhaustive look at his life. George H.W. Bush authored a foreign-policy tome with his national-security adviser, and followed with a collection of his letters. Now George W. Bush is mulling his own book, according to one senior aide and one former administration official (both declined to be named about a subject that the White House has not discussed in public).Nothing is on paper, and President Bush has yet to decide who will physically write his book, but he has discussed his ideas with a handful of aides in casual conversations over the last few years. It remains unclear whether the book will stretch beyond Bush's presidency to encompass his life story. Bush's aides take a dim view of the few biographies of him that have appeared to date, and are under no illusions about the sketchy nature of Bush's 1999 book, "A Charge to Keep." That slim volume, written by Karen Hughes (at the time Bush's communications director, and later his White House counselor),...
  • The Oval: Less Extreme Selection?

    Fresh from a transatlantic flight with his Supreme Court dossiers, President George W. Bush landed in Denmark feeling expansive about the prospect of making a big presidential decision. Speaking to reporters in Copenhagen on Wednesday, it was clear that Bush has a clear game plan in mind for the naming of his first Supreme Court justice.Bush has already said he wants his pick to be in place by the time the court resumes its work in October. But in recent weeks his aides have toyed with the idea of delaying any announcement as late as possible to avoid a repeat of the mauling of Robert Bork, Reagan's doomed Supreme Court pick nearly two decades ago. Now Bush explained he was working his way back from the October deadline to figure out when to make his selection. "That's the backstop," he said Wednesday, "and we'll work backward to determine what is best for the Senate calendar to get the hearing and to get the vote, up or down, on the floor of the Senate." Bush is planning to meet...
  • Osama and Saddam

    Just in case anyone was reaching for the remote, President George W. Bush hit his keynote as early as he could while still being polite. After thanking the troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Tuesday night, the first two lines of his speech were blindingly simple. "The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror," he said. "The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001."In other words: forget about the Downing Street memos and Colin Powell's now discredited speech at the United Nations. This is one war, against one enemy, making Iraq simply a continuation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Or, as Bush put it, "Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war." He might as well have stood in front of a picture of the Twin Towers.It's easy to see why this approach is so attractive to the White House. The president's response to 9/11 remains a potent memory in public opinion. So potent that it still drives the only positive numbers in the president's...
  • NO MORE HAPPY TALK

    It's supposed to play host to kings, queens and the leaders of America's closest allies. Instead the East Wing's opulent state dining room will entertain a far more powerful group of guests this week: the 55 GOP senators who hold George W. Bush's second-term agenda in their hands. Along with lunch, the restive Republican majority can expect the president's staple diet of Social Security and Iraq. Just six weeks before Congress adjourns for the summer, Bush's message is simple: don't go wobbly. Yet for some of his supporters who are seeking an exit strategy at home and overseas, the prospect of another presidential pep talk isn't enough. "Hopefully the session we have will be an honest conversation," says South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, "about the mistakes he's made, about the mistakes we've made and about what we can do better."To most Americans, there's plenty of room for improvement. The only thing worse than Bush's job-approval ratings is the dismal level of support for the...
  • The Oval: Strategic Planning

    The White House is on a hair trigger and it has nothing to do with Iraq or Al Qaeda. The twitchy, nervous mood is the product of a far more pressing battle--one that promises to shape domestic politics for the rest of the year while also shaping President George Bush's place in the history books.Yet there's something strangely rehearsed about the looming struggle to fill a likely vacancy on the Supreme Court--an opening that could emerge next week if, as is widely predicted, the ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist announces his retirement. That's because all sides, including the president's aides, have been preparing for this moment for the last five years. In 2000 (before the Florida recount), Al Gore liked to strike a populist note by warning that "the Supreme Court is at risk." George W. Bush stoked those Democratic fears by saying he most admired conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Four years later, John Kerry was confronted at every turn by Supreme...
  • The Oval: Who's Right on Gitmo?

    Standing before a crowd of journalists at the National Press Club in Washington this week, Dick Cheney seemed less than surprised that his audience's first question was about Guantanamo Bay. "I thought somebody might ask about Guantanamo today," he quipped when asked whether the prison camp was damaging America's image in the world.His response sounded characteristically robust and carefully researched. Cheney told the story of two former detainees who returned to the battlefield in Afghanistan and were killed by Afghan and U.S. forces. Declaring the camp "an essential part of our strategy," he added: "Does this hurt us from the standpoint of international opinion? I frankly don't think so. My own personal view of it is that those who are most urgently advocating that we shut down Guantanamo probably don't agree with our policies anyway."For all his preparation and research, the vice president must have overlooked a few salient details about Guantanamo Bay's history since the war in...
  • AFRICA: PUSHING BUSH FOR HELP

    Tony Blair is coming to the White House this week to push his friend George W. Bush into increasing aid to Africa ahead of the G8 summit of world leaders in Scotland next month. Blair's vision for Africa is as bold as Bush's for the Mideast--to lift the world's poorest nations out of poverty. He's not alone: last week some of the globe's biggest (and oldest) pop stars said they would revive the Live Aid concert for Africa of 20 years ago (renamed Live 8) to turn the heat up on G8 leaders.But Bush sounded dismissive about Blair's proposals, which include doubling aid and a provision to allow governments to borrow against the promise of future aid. "We have made our position pretty clear on that," Bush said in the Oval Office, with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa sitting beside him. "It doesn't fit our budgetary process."The White House says Bush was not dismissing Blair's vision: according to one senior adviser (who declined to be named because the proposals are still under...
  • The Oval: Donor Woes

    On Oct. 30, 2003, more than 600 people gathered inside a Hyatt Regency hotel ballroom in downtown Columbus, Ohio, where they lunched on roast-beef sandwiches and listened to President Bush deliver a campaign speech. With admission priced at $2,000 a person, the luncheon raised more than $1.4 million for the president's re-election effort.But some attendees got more than just an expensive lunch. Individuals who sponsored a $20,000 table at the event--that is, they convinced 10 people to give $2,000 apiece--got to take their picture with Bush. One of those people was Thomas Noe, a Toledo-area rare-coin dealer who ranked as one of the president's biggest fund-raisers and chaired Bush's northwest Ohio re-election campaign.The event is now the subject of a federal investigation into whether Noe violated campaign-finance laws by reimbursing individuals for contributions to the Bush campaign. According to the Columbus Dispatch, at least $25,000 in contributions collected at the event came...
  • The Oval: Presidential Gifts

    What do you give the man who has everything? In 2004, President George W. Bush accepted more than a dozen gifts valued at nearly $27,000, according to recently filed financial-disclosure forms. The most generous present: a $14,000 custom-made shotgun from Roy Weatherby, a California gun manufacturer.Leisure-time features heavily among the gifts. Bush, an avid biking fan, also accepted a $2,700 mountain bike from Trek Bicycle Corp., as well as more than $500 in biking accessories from the company. Nike gave the president a set of warm-ups valued at $305. Bush also received several thousand dollars in fishing equipment, including a rod, three caps and fishing bait valued at more than $200 from former Commerce Secretary Don Evans. A longtime Bush pal, Evans also gave the president a $149 sweater and a hardcover book called "Longhorn," priced at $240.But it wasn't just the president on the receiving end. First Lady Laura Bush received a $1,300 gold bracelet from close friends Tom and...