President Bush has arrived in Stockton to helpbraise funds for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill Simon. The president will be giving a talk at the Memorial Civic Auditorium and then will attend a luncheon for Simon. Simon was at the head of the receiving line when Bush stepped off Air Force One this morning. He got a handshake and a brief chat before the president moved along. Bush climbed into a limousine and headed to a welcoming rally without Simon. Karl Rove, the president´s chief political strategist, suggested to reporters on the flight from Oregon that Bush´s time in California has at least as much to do with Bush´s own prospects in 2004 as Simon´s in November.
Bush was asked how a fraud verdict against Simon´s investment firm squares with the president´s tough talk on corporate crime. Bush said Simon assured him he will be vindicated and he plans to take Simon at his word. Bush is expected to help raise some three million dollars for Simon during his visit to California. Bush´s visit to Portland yesterday was greeting by boisterous protests which ended in a clash between police and demonstrators opposed to the president´s policies on the environment, Iraq and other issues. Riot police used pepper spray and beat some of the hundreds of protesters with batons.