Story Highlights• President called annual fundraising dinner an "unqualified success"
• Dinner brought in nearly $12 million less than last year
• Poll shows Bush's approval rating dipping below 30 percent overall
• Despite drop, dinner's chairman says he is pleased with night's success
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush called it an "unqualified success," but this year's President's Dinner, which raises money to support GOP congressional candidates, raised almost 50 percent less than last year.
The dinner's take -- $15.4 million -- was a stark illustration of the changed political circumstances for Bush, who broke all known fundraising records in getting and keeping the White House.
Last year, when Bush headlined the same dinner, the event raised $27 million. This year's take is less than 60 cents for every dollar raised in 2006.
The dinner comes the same day a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Bush's approval rating dipping below 30 percent overall and down to just 62 percent among his fellow Republicans.
Despite the drop in contributions, the dinner's chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, said he was "pleased with the success we've achieved through tonight's dinner."
"I'm honored to play a role in helping my Republican colleagues in their upcoming races and look forward to working with them to build from tonight's momentum," he said in a statement.
The take from Bush's appearance, while reduced, still showed the power of the presidency to pull in large numbers. In one night, he raised more than half as much as the three best-funded 2008 presidential candidates raised during the first three months of the year.
Wednesday's event at the Washington Convention Center raised $7.5 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raises money to support GOP Senate candidates, and $7.9 million for its House counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee.
CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report
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