Karl Rove, the political adviser to President Bush, made a brief visit to a Manhattan nightclub yesterday and netted the Bush-Cheney re-election effort about $400,000. But Mr. Rove also caught a glimpse of what might greet Republicans when they come to New York for their national nominating convention this summer.
Mr. Rove was the guest speaker at a fund-raising reception at the club, Eugene, on 24th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. Marvin Bush, the president's brother, also attended the event.
"Fabulous, fabulous," Mr. Rove said as he left after giving a 20-minute talk to several hundred people gathered inside.
Billionaires for Bush
But while Mr. Rove was inside, more than 100 protesters were outside, standing behind blue police barricades chanting slogans, waving placards and offering a bit of street theater that confused the police.
At one point, as hundreds of guests with invitations waited to pass through velvet barriers to enter the club, a small group of men in bowler hats and women in gowns marched up, chanting, "Four more wars" and "Re-elect Rove."
As the group approached, a man who appeared to be a security agent of some type, was overheard whispering into a microphone: "We've got two groups. One for and one against."
Actually, it was two against. The person was confused by a group that calls itself Billionaires for Bush, a collection of activists who use satire to make a political point. Indeed, members of the Sierra Club, who were protesting on the other side of the street were also confused and began shouting at what they thought was a pro-Bush contingent.
" We want the truth and we want it now!" the Sierra protesters shouted.
The billionaires shouted back, "Buy your own president!"
It took a few minutes, but the police finally realized what was going on when they escorted the group behind the blue barricades as well. Still, the show was not over. A black town car pulled up and out stepped a man whom who the crowd assumed to be Mr. Rove. "There is Karl Rove," people shouted.
Reporters, photographers and television cameramen swarmed the man, but the police pushed them back. Another man lifted the velvet rope to let him enter. But the would-be Mr. Rove walked over to the crowd of protesters and began shaking hands, when finally, again, this was seen to be a joke. It was not Mr. Rove, but an actor playing the part.
Each of the groups has said it planned to stage similar events when the Republican National Convention comes to New York City from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.
None of this dampened the enthusiasm of those who attended the event. It was organized by some of the Bush campaign's select fund-raisers, called Mavericks, who included Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's daughter, Emma Bloomberg, and Gov. George E. Pataki's daughter, Emily Pataki. Mr. Bloomberg also attended, slipping in and out of a service entrance. Those in attendance said Mr. Pataki did not show up.
Andrew Prisco, 23, who said he lives in Manhattan and works in financial services, said Mr. Rove told the audience, which he estimated at about 700, that the two most important issues facing the nation were terrorism and the economy.
"It was very inspirational," Mr. Prisco said.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company