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Laura Bush campaigns, promotes

First lady Laura Bush helped raise funds for Republican candidates in three states Wednesday while making time to visit a historic urban neighborhood.
Laura Bush
First lady Laura Bush addresses the crowd at a fund-raiser in Fairmont, W.Va., on Wednesday.Bob Shaw / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

First lady Laura Bush helped raise funds for Republican candidates in three states Wednesday while making time to visit a historic urban neighborhood.

Bush, honorary chair of the Preserve America campaign that supports community historical preservation and revitalization, spent more than an hour touring the museum and interpretive center in Dayton's Wright-Dunbar Village. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the area was home to black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright.

"This area is really a wonderful example for the rest of the country for the way to use your historic assets and literary assets to try to revitalize neighborhoods," Bush said.

The community earlier this year received a $70,000 federal grant through Preserve America.

Historic preservation vs. development
Bush saw a restored Wright brothers bicycle shop, displays on their early experiments with flying and listened to a reading of Dunbar poetry in an interactive exhibit.

Idotha Bootsie Neal, president and executive director of Wright-Dunbar Inc., said Bush's visit helps raise the profile of the historic district while celebrating its heritage.

"It brings attention to historical preservation as well as to redevelopment of an urban core area," Neal said.

Federal grants have helped rehabilitate buildings that are around a century old, and bolstered hopes for drawing businesses into the district.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a former Dayton mayor who's helped the preservation efforts, Sen. Mike DeWine, their wives and Turner's two daughters joined Bush on the tour.

Busy campaign day
Earlier, she headlined a fund-raising luncheon for DeWine at a country club in suburban Kettering. The cost was $1,000 a plate, and $2,100 to get a photo with Bush. DeWine's campaign expected some 200 people.

President Bush has been at two Ohio fund-raisers this year for DeWine, being challenged by Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown.

Turner's campaign for a third term took an unusual turn this week when his Democratic opponent, Stephanie Studebaker, said she was withdrawing from the race after her arrest on a domestic violence charge. A special primary election will be scheduled.

Turner said he wasn't fretting about who his new opponent will be.

"My campaign is going to be about my record, and that won't change regardless of who is on the other side," Turner said.

The day's campaign schedule for Laura Bush began with a fund-raising breakfast in Lexington, Ky., for Rep. Geoff Davis, being opposed by Democratic former Rep. Ken Lucas. From Dayton, she was headed to Fairmont, W.Va., to help raise money for congressional candidate Chris Wakim, facing Democratic incumbent Rep. Alan Mollohan.