Sen. George Allen of Virginia planned to hold two fundraisers in New Hampshire today for his 2006 Senate re-election campaign.

Allen is weighing a presidential bid in 2008. His trip to New Hampshire, a state critical to would-be occupants of the Oval Office, could be part of a strategy to capture the Republican nomination for president.

Allen’s campaign manager, Jason Miller, said, “This trip is purely to raise money for Senator Allen’s re-election.” He said Allen has done fundraising events in eight states outside Virginia this year, including in Pennsylvania yesterday.

The former Virginia governor will become another potential presidential candidate to have recently visited the home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have already done so.

The Virginian’s trip is a signal to people that he’s taking this presidential race very seriously, said political scientist Robert Holsworth of Virginia Commonwealth University.

It gives a signal to the Republican base, to people who are likely to contribute or to work in the presidential campaign, and to people who will write about it, “that when you’re mentioning possible candidates it’s, ‘Count me in,'” Holsworth said.

Allen is scheduled for fundraisers in and around Manchester that are not open to the public or the media, his campaign manager said.

The senator knows he needs to raise a lot of money, especially if he faces a “self-financing multimillionaire” next year, Miller said, in an apparent reference to Gov. Mark R. Warner, who sources recently have said is unlikely to run against Allen. Another millionaire whose name Democrats have floated as a potential challenger is former Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer Jr., a Northern Virginia automobile dealer. No challenger has emerged yet.

Richmond Times Dispatch

George Allen, Bill Frist, Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich? Jeb Bush is looking better every day. If it weren’t for Jon Kyl, George Allen would be the dumbest member of the Senate. I hope Mark Warner makes mincemeat of him.

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