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Congressman pulls out of fund-raiser at Rolling Stones concert

WASHINGTON—A conservative Texas Republican won't be holding a fund-raiser at the Rolling Stones concert in Washington this fall after all, his spokesman said Thursday.

Rep. Michael McCaul's "family came first," Jack Hirschfield said a day after Knight Ridder asked about McCaul's participation in the Oct. 3 event. The Stones' upcoming album includes a number that makes many supporters of President Bush cringe. It's titled "Sweet Neo Con" and it begins: "You ride around your white castle, on your little white horse/ You lie to your people, and blame it on your war, of course."

Although Hirschfield said Thursday that the Stones' fund-raiser was taken off McCaul's schedule in June, Hirschfield hadn't been aware of it when a reporter had called earlier this week. The fund-raiser's organizer, Nancy Bocskor, said she first heard that McCaul was pulling out on Wednesday.

"Stuff came up and he needed to be with the kids," she said. "And his spokesman apologized."

The Stones concert was to have been a joint event for McCaul and Rep. Kevin Brady, another Republican from the president's home state. Late Thursday, Bocskor confirmed that the event would go ahead just for Brady. She bought 40 tickets, which she planned to sell for $2,000 each.

Brady's spokesman didn't return phone messages left over three days.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article earlier this month, included the McCaul-Brady event among several awkward encounters between liberal performers and conservative politicians seeking to raise money.

In another of them, Reps. John Shimkus, R-Ill., and Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., plan a fund-raiser at an Elton John concert Sept. 10 at the Nissan Pavilion south of Washington.

Both lawmakers voted for a national ban on gay marriage, which Congress rejected last year. The singer plans to marry his male partner this fall. Earlier this year, Sir Elton declared President Bush "the worst thing that has ever happened to America."

This didn't keep the singer from chatting amiably with the president at a Kennedy Center Honors ceremony at which Sir Elton received a special award for his contributions to American culture.

A spokesman for Shimkus, Steve Tomaszewski, said his boss's fund-raiser at the Elton John concert was neither an endorsement of the singer's politics nor a betrayal of Shimkus' stand on gay marriage. Shimkus won't attend himself, however, because of a scheduling conflict, Tomaszewski said.

Another House conservative, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., plans to carry on with a planned Stones fund-raiser Oct 3.

"I don't think that one song would dissuade potential donors from coming," said Brian Kennedy, Pombo's spokesman. "People enjoy Barbra Streisand's music whether they enjoy her politics or not."

Footnote to history: The Stones didn't sing "Sweet Neo Con" at their Boston concert last Saturday, at which California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger held a fund-raiser, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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