Republicans plan for Cheney’s brief fundraising stop

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(Host) The Vermont Republican Party is preparing for a visit from Vice President Dick Cheney later this week.

As VPR’s Steve Zind reports, the vice president’s brief Vermont appearance could be the most lucrative fundraising event in the state Party’s history.

(Zind) Vice President Cheney will touch down at Burlington Airport Thursday morning. He’s expected to spend a little over an hour at a conference center at the airport before he flies out again. That’s enough time to raise a significant portion of the state Republican Party’s annual budget.

R.L. “Skip” Vallee is Vermont’s Republican National Committee member. Vallee says he hopes Cheney’s visit will raise as much as $200,000 for the state Republican Party and its candidates. That’s almost double what the Party has raised at any single event in the past.

Admission to the Cheney’s visit starts at $200 and tops out at $5,000:

(Vallee) “Obviously this is more of a fundraiser than a message event. We have a lot of candidates with a lot of needs, so our ticket prices are quite steep. So given that, I think we’re doing quite well.”

(Zind) Donors at the $5,000 level take part in a round table discussion with the Vice President, get their picture taken with Cheney and attend a reception.

The Bush administration is concentrating on Senate campaigns across the country in hopes of regaining control of Congress. Vermont doesn’t have a Senate race this year. Still, Vallee says, the administration is interested enough in the state’s gubernatorial contest to send Cheney:

(Vallee) “The vice president just doesn’t go anywhere and I’m very grateful for the interest shown by the White House in this race and for Vice President Cheney coming here.”

(Zind) Activists plan to use the vice president’s visit to highlight the possibility of a war with Iraq. Chris Meehan is director of the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington. Meehan says the center is organizing a protest against military action.

(Meehan) “Hopefully a hundred or more of us will be demonstrating outside of where Vice President Cheney will be speaking.”

(Zind) Vice President Cheney last visited Vermont two years ago during the presidential campaign.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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