July 31, 2008 10:22

First Lady Laura Bush will be in Lafayette on Thursday, Aug. 14, for a fundraiser on behalf of Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy. Local businessman Will Mills and his wife Sandra will be hosting the event at their Robley Drive home. Mills, who has been in the oil business and also owns MPW Properties, has been major contributor and supporter of the Republican Party. Invitations say the event is paid for and authorized by the Kennedy Majority Committee, a joint fundraising committee established on behalf of the John Kennedy for U.S. Senate, Inc and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Tickets are $1000 per couple for the general reception and $2500 per couple for a VIP photo reception.

The First Lady’s visit follows a fundraiser President Bush headlined for Kennedy back in April. The White House attention underscores the national party’s interest in the race; several Republicans have identified Landrieu’s seat as the GOP’s best opportunity for a pickup in the Senate. Kennedy also has had his work cut out for him in keeping up the incumbent Landrieu’s fundraising machine. 

The Kennedy campaign hopes to set up a stark contrast with Landrieu when it comes to their more high-profile national supporters, emphasizing their candidate’s conservative credentials (Kennedy switched to the Republican party last year) while trying to group Landrieu in with some of her more liberal supporters. Kennedy recently put out a press release highlighting a Landrieu fundraiser being hosted by Mike Bloomberg, labeling the New York Mayor a “gun grabbing liberal."

"The first lady has agreed to campaign because she believes in John Kennedy’s campaign for change in Louisiana,” says Kennedy campaign spokesman Kyle Plotkin. “I think the important thing here is the contrast that’s taking place. Mary Landrieu will be traveling to the upper east side of Manhattan to fundraise with Mike Bloomberg, who is quite liberal as everyone knows and opposes the second amendment, while John Kennedy is standing with First Lady Laura Bush.”

Bloomberg hosted a $1000-a-head fundraiser for Landrieu yesterday. The New York mayor is a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party before being elected and is now an independent. He has praised Landrieu as a centrist who works with both parties.

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