President Bush was introduced to members of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's government yesterday after addressing the Australian Parliament to thank Australia for its commitment to the Iraq war. Bush is to land in Hawaii today.
Bush arrives today
The president will meet with
several Pacific leaders and attend
fund-raisers during a 12-hour stopover
President Bush touches down on American soil this morning after leaving Australia, his last stop on a six-country Asian marathon.
Before reaching Australia, Bush told the press that the trip had been tiring, and he was hoping for more time here in Hawaii.
Gov. Linda Lingle agreed yesterday, saying she also hoped that Bush could spend more time here.
But when the blue-and-white Boeing 747 lands this morning at Hickam Air Force Base, Bush will leave Air Force One for only 12 hours in a state not known for Republican sympathies.
The state has voted only twice for Republican presidents -- Nixon and Reagan -- and is considered a traditional Democratic bastion. Bill Clinton won Hawaii in 1996, 48 percent to 37 percent, and Al Gore beat Bush handily in the isles in 2000.
Bush has agreed to meet with the leaders of nearly a dozen Pacific island nations and territories today during his stop, and Lingle said she hopes that such a meeting will show Hawaii to the president in a different light.
"The visit gives us a chance to position Hawaii as a leader in the Pacific-Asian region," Lingle said.
Bush is stopping here on his way back from a week-long trip to six nations. Talk about the war on terrorism, North Korea's nuclear ambitions and economic issues dominated the trip, which included the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Thailand.
Lingle said the half-day stop here will also give her Republican administration a chance to "cement and strengthen ties" with the Bush White House.
"This is really important to us. The departments of the federal government have been really good to Hawaii this year," Lingle said.
For Bush, who is becoming a prolific political fund-raiser, the stop will give him a chance for two political events.
First he has a $10,000-a-ticket event planned at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental hotel, and this evening, a larger fund-raiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The first fund-raiser is for the local GOP and could pick up $200,000 for the local party to use in next year's state elections.
The evening affair, with tickets at $1,000 and $2,000, could raise close to $1 million for the Bush re-election campaign.
Bush raised $5.2 million at two events in Cincinnati last month, and published reports earlier quoted Bush campaign officials saying that he raised a similar amount in California in June.
Laure Dillon, executive director of the Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition, said that Bush's extensive fund raising comes with strings attached.
"This much money is very corrupting, and it dissolves and diminishes the relationship between the voter and the elected leaders," Dillon said.
When Bush travels on both business and politics, the cost of his travel is parceled out between government costs and campaign expenses. But the huge armada of security and communications equipment that travel with the president is not charged to the campaign.
The New York Times reported yesterday that through Sept. 30 the campaign had repaid the government roughly $84,000 for travel by Bush, the first lady or the vice president to about 50 out-of-town fund-raisers between the end of June and the end of September. The campaign owes the government an additional $158,000 for such travel.
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Bush's schedule today
Air Force One carrying President Bush is scheduled to touch down at Hickam Air Force Base after 8 a.m. for a roughly 12-hour visit on his way back to Washington.
Details of his visit have been kept confidential for security reasons, but some expected highlights include:
>> A visit to the battleship USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony, something that has been done by every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy.
>> A meeting with Pacific island heads of state as part of an East-West Center conference this week.
>> A fund-raiser for the state Republican Party at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental hotel.
>> An evening fund-raiser for the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Bush's visit is the first by a sitting U.S. president since the 9/11 attacks -- Bill Clinton was the last to visit in September 1999 -- and means extremely tight security.
>> Honolulu police warn motorists to expect road and highway closures as the president's motorcade travels. Police cannot give advance notice of the closures because of security concerns.
>> The Federal Aviation Agency said that from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, no general aviation aircraft will be allowed to fly within a 10-mile radius of Honolulu Airport. Don Wallace, FAA spokesman, said the only exceptions will be for flights by law enforcement officials, for medical emergencies and by regularly scheduled commercial flights. The 10-mile radius will move with the president.
>> The Coast Guard plans to have armed boats in the waters surrounding beachfront areas of the Kahala Mandarin and the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Coast Guard also will set up a security zone around Pearl Harbor, the boundaries of which will be announced via radio to the boating public once Bush is in the water there, said Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer Tyler Johnson.
Memorial shuts for Bush visit
Due to President Bush's visit to Pearl Harbor today, the USS Arizona Memorial will be closed from 7:30 a.m. until noon.
There will be no public access to the Arizona Memorial visitor center, museum, bookstore or parking lot during the closure. There will also be no Navy shuttle boat transportation during this time.
Strict security measures are being enforced at the visitor center. No purses, handbags, fanny packs, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags or luggage are allowed in the center.
Normal operation, including shuttles to the memorial, will resume at noon.
Star-Bulletin staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.