McCain Keeps Bush Fundraiser Under Wraps

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UPDATE: Sen. Barack Obama hit McCain over the fundraiser at an event today in Nevada:

"I just had the privilege of visiting with Felicitas Rosel and Francisco Cano at their home here in Las Vegas.

Today, John McCain is having a different kind of meeting. He's holding a fundraiser with George Bush behind closed doors in Arizona. No cameras. No reporters. And we all know why. Senator McCain doesn't want to be seen, hat-in-hand, with the President whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years."

EARLIER:

President Bush is lending his massively unpopular hand to help fundraise for GOP nominee John McCain tonight. The fundraiser will be behind closed doors. Bloomberg explains the dance that McCain is aiming to pull off, taking money from Bush while trying to distance himself from his policies.

John McCain's challenge in winning the presidency isn't unique. George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Al Gore in 2000 also struggled to chisel an identity separate from a two- term incumbent president of their party.

There's one big difference: in 1988, Ronald Reagan had a 51 percent approval rating, according to Gallup surveys, and in 2000 Bill Clinton's was 57 percent. Today, President George W. Bush's rating is 28 percent and the leading House Republican political analyst, Virginia Representative Tom Davis, said the president is "absolutely radioactive" for party candidates, including McCain, the presumptive presidential nominee.

Reuters also delves into McCain's contradictory relationship with the President:

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has said he wants help from Bush, who can haul in enormous campaign cash. But McCain has walked a fine line with the unpopular Bush, backing the president on the Iraq war while bucking him on how to address climate change.

Bush will kick off raising money for McCain on Tuesday and Wednesday at three events in Arizona and Utah, but they will only be together at one and it will be out of the public eye. That has raised questions about whether Bush helps or hurts the Arizona senator.