Fundraising for Bush presidential library tops $200 million

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by By LORI STAHL / The Dallas Morning News lstahl@dallasnews.com

wfaa.com

Posted on November 6, 2009 at 1:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 12:08 PM

Former President George W. Bush has raised more than $200 million for his library at SMU, sources close to him said, putting him more than two-thirds of the way toward a $300 million goal by groundbreaking next year.

None of the $212 million raised so far has come from foreign donors, sources said, although Bush Foundation officials have said they will seek donations from outside the U.S. at some point.

The money has been raised from hundreds of donors, with those in Texas playing a particularly large role. Bush's cadre of backers helped propel him to the Governor's Mansion before the White House. And many helped his father become president before that.

The Bush Foundation, which has a 12-person staff, has designated fundraising co-chairs in all 50 states.

Asked to comment on fundraising, foundation president Mark Langdale would say only, "We're on track."

The foundation has declined to name any of the donors, saying that some prefer anonymity.

The latest news comes as Bush and his wife, Laura, are scheduled to roll out detailed plans for the library center at Southern Methodist University next week.

The former president will give a keynote speech outlining his vision for the Bush Institute, which will be in the same building as the archive and museum. No other presidential library has an institute, and questions have lingered about the purpose and scope of this one.

Critics have worried that it will be a mechanism for reworking Bush's legacy, but supporters have said it will draw scholars and world leaders to campus to focus on global concerns in an academic setting. Programs are expected to begin next year, even before groundbreaking on the library itself.

Until now, Bush has kept a fairly low post-presidency profile. Although he's given several speeches in Canada and Asia, he has made relatively few public appearances in the U.S.

Last month, however, he was among former officials who spoke at a motivational seminar in Fort Worth. But a joint appearance with former President Bill Clinton in New York was recently canceled after promoters touted it as a "debate."

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