DES MOINES (AP) _ Sharpening his rhetoric less than two weeks before Election Day, President Bush charged Thursday that voting Democrat would amount to voting for higher taxes.
``The lever you pull will determine the taxes you pay,'' Bush said at a $400,000 fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti, running against Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell in central Iowa's 3rd District.
``Americans will cast their ballots on Nov. 7, but you're going to feel the results every April 15,'' the president argued.
Speaking to Republican supporters in America's heartland, Bush also denounced a New Jersey state Supreme Court ruling on the question of gay marriage, an issue for the conservative bloc of voters the GOP needs to retain control of Congress.
The court on Wednesday pushed New Jersey further in gay rights than all but a few states, ruling that same-sex couples are entitled to all the benefits that heterosexual married couples have.
``Yesterday in New Jersey we had another activist court that issued a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage,'' Bush said. ``I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. And I believe it's a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.''
It was Bush's second political trip to Iowa this year.
In April, Bush raised money for Jim Nussle, the GOP's candidate for governor. Nussle said a scheduling conflict prevented him from joining Bush at the Lamberti fundraiser held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. That didn't stop Nussle's opponent, Democrat Chet Culver, from accusing Nussle of ``running and hiding'' from Bush because of the president's low approval numbers.
Later, Bush was attending a $700,000 fundraiser in Warren, Mich., for Republican Mike Bouchard, who is in a tight race to defeat Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The president's visit is a sign that the GOP remains hopeful that Bouchard can topple Stabenow.
Both Bouchard and Stabenow have campaigned heavily on the economy in the past few months. Michigan's unemployment rate in September was 7.1 percent _ the second-highest in the United States behind only Mississippi.
Michigan's Gov. Jennifer Granholm and other Democrats say the administration has neglected the problems of the Big Three automakers. The White House says the president talks to the automakers all the time, and that Bush will hold his long-promised meeting with the heads of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group in mid-November.
Bouchard, who has been the Oakland County sheriff since 1999, trails Stabenow in the polls, but Bush's visit will boost Bouchard's campaign coffers. Stabenow has raised more than $12 million since becoming a senator in 2001; Bouchard has reported raising about $4.6 million as of Sept. 30.