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Cheney Bringing Message to L.A.

Times Staff Writer

Vice President Dick Cheney arrives in Los Angeles tonight as part of a four-day swing through Western states that opens a new stage in the Bush-Cheney reelection effort.

From now on, aides say, the vice president intends to intensify his work on the campaign -- with fundraising and speeches -- as it kicks into gear with the president’s State of the Union address Jan. 20.

“This vice president is an important part of our campaign,” said Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman. “He has obviously helped us raise resources. He’s very effective at delivering the president’s message.”

Traditionally, a vice president takes the role in a political campaign of speaking to the party base, allowing the president to stay more in the center to target independents and swing voters.

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But in California, where Republicans tend to be moderate, campaign insiders say Cheney will concentrate on subjects that are not seen as partisan issues, such as national security and space.

They are hoping that visits from President Bush and Cheney can pick up from the momentum of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election as governor and deliver more votes in November for the Republican Party. Bush and Cheney got only 42% of the California vote in 2000, compared with 53% for the Democratic ticket.

“Dick Cheney is a strong asset for us in California, and not just because he’s speaking to the base, but because the war on terror and national security are issues that transcend parties,” said one state GOP insider. “It’s very important for us to consolidate Republicans.”

Cheney began his Western tour in Colorado on Monday, speaking to troops at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, followed by a fundraising event in Denver. Today, he will go to Seattle and Portland for Washington and Oregon state GOP fund-raisers before flying to Los Angeles in the evening.

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As he does on most stops, Cheney will split his time Wednesday between official and campaign events. First, he will speak on foreign policy to a luncheon sponsored by the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. He will also tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and make remarks to scientists about space exploration. Bush is expected to speak the same day in Washington, D.C., about the future of space exploration.

While in Los Angeles, Cheney is scheduled to attend two private fundraisers. After spending a second night in the city, the vice president plans to depart for Las Vegas on Thursday and meet with veterans in Phoenix before returning to Washington.


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