President Bush encouraged House Republicans to stick with his goal of overhauling Social Security as he helped them raise $8 million at a gala dinner Tuesday night.

Bush was the keynote speaker at the $2,500-per-ticket National Republican Congressional Committee dinner at the Washington Hilton as both parties kicked off the spring fund-raising season.

Bush said Republicans have won election to most of the seats in Congress because they fulfill their campaign promises. Even though a majority of Americans in recent polls say they don’t agree with Bush’s handling of Social Security, he said he intends to see through his promise to make it a top priority of his second term.

“I have been to 15 states so far on this issue, and I’m just warming up,” Bush said.

Democrats have been united in opposition to Bush’s plan to create personal investment accounts in exchange for lower guaranteed benefits. Some Republicans also have been wary, and Bush sought to reassure his supporters.

“Those on the side of reform are going to win,” Bush said.

NRCC officials said more than 3,000 people attended the dinner. Singer Patti LaBelle sang the national anthem a cappella, and the singing duo Peaches & Herb was lined up for after-dinner entertainment.

The NRCC is raising money to help Republicans keep and expand their House majority. Its Democratic rival also held its spring fund-raiser Tuesday.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asked supporters to give or raise at least $5,000 each to attend the evening event at the landmark Washington restaurant Charlie Palmer Steak. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California was among the VIPs expected at the dinner.

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© 2005 The Associated Press