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The president as fund-raiser

It's disappointing that President Bush is following the mistaken lead of former President Ronald Reagan in one activity. He is lending the office of the presidency to those computerized mailings begging for political contributions. Reagan was the most active solicitor we have ever encountered. Here are some of his pitches:

June 19, 1981: "Please send the most generous contribution you can afford . . . your help will mean a great deal to me personally."

July 8, 1981: "I hope, at this crucial time, you will strongly consider sending $15, $25, $50, or even $100 . . ."

Nov. 5, 1981: "Since GOPAC must raise such a large amount in so short a time, I hope you will consider sending them a contribution for $25 or $30."

Nov. 13, 1981: "So today I am writing to you personally to ask for your support because, as your president, I cannot win this fight alone . . . I hope you will send a generous contribution . . ."

Jan. 18, 1982: "As your president, I am calling upon you to make a most unusual sacrifice . . . And that's why I'm asking you to become a taskforce member and send $120 a year and more when possible."

You get the idea. These computerized letters went out by the millions over Reagan's signature. That is the kind of work that party officials should do. When the president does it, the office itself is cheapened.

That is why it is disappointing that President Bush has taken it up. He signed solicitation letters as Reagan's vice president (July 20, 1981: "That is why I hope you will strongly consider sending a $15, $25, $50 or even a $100 contribution . . .")

His letter currently circulating begins by invoking the war against Iraq, "when our nation's principles and our resolve were tested," and ends with the inevitable request for a contribution. George Bush can do better than that.

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