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President Bush arrives today for his fourth visit to the state headlining a pair of fundraisers where he will attempt to tap Mitt Romney's formidable Utah money machine to support Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.
Ticket sales for one of the two events have apparently been lackluster, prompting the McCain campaign to move the event.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and head of the 2002 Winter Olympics, will host an evening reception at his spacious Deer Valley home for supporters willing to contribute $30,800 per person or $70,100 per couple to the McCain campaign and the Republican Party nationally and in several contested states.
About 200 supporters are expected to attend the event.
Romney and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will also co-host a $500-per-person afternoon fundraiser - with a $10,000-per-person private reception beforehand. The event was originally scheduled at the Grand America Hotel, but was moved to the Avenues home of Sam Stewart, a prominent investment fund manager.
Two Republican sources familiar with the event said that response to the afternoon fundraiser had been lackluster, prompting the campaign to move the event to the private residence.
Tickets were still available Tuesday afternoon.
The White House said Tuesday that, in Arizona, a fundraiser was moved to a private residence so it could be closed to the press, at the request of the McCain campaign.
Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, would not address why the event was relocated.
"We're on track for another set of good fundraising events and we're confident we'll have the resources to compete and win in November," he said.
McCain visited Utah in March for a fundraiser at Grand America Hotel that was closed to reporters. He had raised $502,650 in the state through the end of April.
It will be Bush's fourth visit to the state, more than any other sitting president in history, according to Republican activist and history buff Ron Fox.
While the president's approval rating remains below 30 percent nationally according to several polls, he does considerably better in red-state Utah. A poll by The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this year showed Bush had a 55 percent approval rating in the state.
He received 72 percent of the vote in his 2004 re-election and won every county.
The president has been doing considerably less fundraising in 2008 than he did during the 2006 election cycle. So far this year he has raised $36.6 million for Republican candidates and committees.
By contrast, he raised $131.6 million in 2006, according to figures from the Republican National Committee.
"I think the president still does very well with Republicans when it comes to fundraising and I think that's where he's spending a lot of his time is raising money for the Republican Party and supporting candidates in various corners of the country," Huntsman said last week.
Bush is scheduled to arrive aboard Air Force One at the Utah Air National Guard base at about 2 p.m. His motorcade will take him to the event at the Stewart home for the afternoon fundraiser.
Afterward, the president will return to the National Guard base and take his custom helicopter, Marine One, to Park City to attend the big-ticket fundraiser at Romney's Deer Valley home.
While the president is dining with donors in Deer Valley, Park City residents will be breaking out burgers and wienies at the "Bash Bush Barbecue" at the City Park, starting at 6 p.m. Park City musician and activist Rich Wyman will provide music and an open mic, as well as charcoal.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is organizing a protest at about the same time at Washington Square, surrounding the Salt Lake City-County Building. And Moveon.org is setting up a second event across the street at Library Square.
Bush will stay overnight in Park City before choppering back to Salt Lake City for a scheduled courtesy call with the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It will be Bush's first meeting with President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors since they were installed in February after the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley.
"He meets with [the First Presidency] regularly and thinks that they have a good role to play in America, in terms of helping communities and spreading the word of love," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "I don't think the president would ever pass up an opportunity to meet with the president of the Mormon church."