George W. Bush To Campaign For Republican Candidates

After spending most of his post-Presidency on the political sidelines, former President Bush is hitting the fundraising trail for GOP candidates in Texas and Florida.

In a move that would have been seen as unlikely as recently as a year or two ago, former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising trail for some Republican candidates:

Former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising circuit for a handful of Republican House and Senate candidates, joining the party’s push to maintain its congressional majorities.

Bush has maintained a low profile since leaving office in 2009. Yet as the midterm campaign season enters its final weeks and the party braces for the prospect of a Trump-fueled wave, Bush — who has been critical of the president — is putting his muscle behind Republicans in heated races.

Bush’s tour will begin Wednesday morning, when he holds a closed-door event in Fort Worth, Texas, for GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a second-term congressman who faces the hurdle of seeking reelection in a West Texas district that President Donald Trump lost in 2016.

Then, on Friday, Bush will travel to Florida to hold a pair of events for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is in a pitched battle for a Senate seat. One of the fundraisers will benefit New Republican, a pro-Scott super PAC.

Bush will return to the circuit next week, when he headlines a Sept. 19 fundraiser in Fort Worth for North Dakota Senate hopeful Kevin Cramer. The following day, Bush will hold a Dallas fundraiser for Texas Rep. Pete Sessions.

Sessions, who occupies a rapidly diversifying suburban Dallas district, is embroiled in one of the most competitive races in the country. Sessions has said that he’s eager to campaign with Bush, who has a personal interest in the contest: He is a resident of the district, and it’s where his presidential library is located.

Then, next month, Bush will host fundraisers for two Senate hopefuls — Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana.

Unlike President Obama, who last week hit the campaign trail for Democratic candidates with a series of public speeches, President Bush appears to be limiting his campaigning to private events and high-dollar fundraisers. Nonetheless, it’s a marked change for a former President who had largely spent the eight years of the Obama Administration, as well as the 2016 Presidential campaign, on the sidelines. Outside of a few campaign appearances with his brother Jeb Bush during the race for the Republican nomination, Bush has largely stayed out of politics since leaving office in 2009. In no small part, of course, that was due to the fact that Bush left office with relatively low approval ratings and a Republican Party that wasn’t exactly eager to associate itself with him. The fact that some candidates at least are willing to ask for his help is interesting for this fact alone since it appears to show something of a rebirth for the former President inside the Republican Party. Of course, the fact that Republicans are now being led by Donald Trump may have something to do with that. Compared to Trump, the Bush 43 years aren’t looking quite so bad.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kit says:

    The Bush years were disastrous both domestically and internationally, and Obama made a dreadful mistake in not prosecuting those who broke the law. While the Right had been dragging the country towards the edge for years previously, Bush accelerated the process. Still, the man himself was decent, and the country still seemed recognizable despite ugly acts like torture. Now that the sun has set, those years seem like some glorious sunset.

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  2. Kylopod says:

    @Kit:

    Still, the man himself was decent

    I’m always seeing this claim, and I think people are too quick to make it—especially in the age of Trump, whom practically everyone looks “decent” next to, including some individuals who are pretty awful. Bush has always been described as likable in personal encounters, and obviously he’s a family man who has never committed adultery as far as we can tell, much less sexual assault.

    However, I have always found him extremely arrogant, and to project a callous indifference to the effects his policies have on ordinary people’s lives. This is the man who presided over a record number of executions as governor of Texas, including some that were pretty questionable, and who was reported to have made fun of one of them. This is the guy who launched a war that took the lives of thousands, then joked about his inability to find WMDs. This is a guy whose campaign launched a vicious racist attack on McCain’s teenage daughter (Bush may not have known about the attack when it happened—it seems to have been the work of Rove—but he certainly never apologized for it), and he is reported to have said to McCain in private basically “It’s just politics.”

    Trump’s crude narcissism and profound incompetence sometimes leads people to give his predecessors a pass simply because they look good in relative comparison, and I think that’s a mistake. Bush may not have been a pig, but he was hardly decent.

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  3. Tyrell says:

    I am opposed to these unseemly, inappropriate forays into partisan politics by former presidents. They are setting a disturbing precedent.
    I try to stay on the side of tradition. Look at the example of Carter.

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  4. SenyorDave says:

    Trump’s crude narcissism and profound incompetence sometimes leads people to give his predecessors a pass simply because they look good in relative comparison, and I think that’s a mistake.

    Great point! I was talking about this with friends recently. One said to think of the three worst people we personally know and compare them to Trump. None of us could think of anyone we knew that was a worse person than Trump. He has set the bar so low that anyone looks “decent” compared to him. IMO, “Better than Trump” is only a slightly higher bar than “Better than Jeffrey Dahmer”.

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  5. Hal_10000 says:

    I recently wrote a post comparing Trump to Bush and it wasn’t even close. Trump is way worse, even if you ignore his toxic personality. I mean, just yesterday, Trump said he wants to loosen regulations on methane emissions, something Bush wanted to crack down on as its an extremely potent greenhouse gas. I think Bush was a poor President, but hardly the worst. And his PEPFAR program — which has saved 11 million lives — looms large in my evaluation of his tenure.

    Trump has the base in his tiny little grip. But I’d much rather campaign with Bush, if I were running.

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  6. Franklin says:

    With all due respect (and your mileage may vary), I wish he’d hold off for a couple years. A complete slaughter of Republicans is what this country needs right now.

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  7. Kit says:

    @Kylopod: I’m in broad agreement with all of what you said. During the Bush years, this line from Goethe constantly came back to me: There is nothing worse than ignorance in action. We placed Bush on a far larger stage than he was competent to stand. Of course he must be held accountable for the results of his watch. And his lack of curiosity was a fatal character flaw for which we all suffered. Here was a rather ordinary man, decent by the standards of the ordinary Joe, who put a monstrous machine in motion without himself being a monster. That is not high praise.

    During those Bush year, ignorance pinned back its ears and brayed; in the Trump years, nastiness has taken a sh!t on the White House lawn and given us the finger.

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  8. Liberal Capitalist says:

    You have heard of the saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” ?

    This is the admission that the GOP doesn’t even have a hammer.

    What is really crazy is that when you take a look at all the republican presidents, save for Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower, they haven’t got a hammer between the lot of them.

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: I’ve always thought Bush kinda wanted to do the right thing. But he was too ignorant and stupid, not to mention wrapped up in country club conservative ideology, to know what the right thing was. So he did what Cheney and Rove told him to do instead.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    When I saw the headline, my first thought as a good Dem was “great”. But then I saw he’s only doing fundraisers, staying out of public view.

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I can practically smell the desperation. 10 years ago the Republicans wanted only one thing from Bush and that was his absolute absence. Now they want him to rescue them from the reality of trump?

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  12. george says:

    @Kit:

    The Bush years were disastrous both domestically and internationally, and Obama made a dreadful mistake in not prosecuting those who broke the law.

    If Obama had prosecuted Bush for torturing war crimes, Trump would have prosecuted Obama for drone war crimes, and Trump would in turn be prosecuted for various war crimes and so on.

    Chomsky has pointed out that every American president since WW2 has been a war criminal, (and it actually goes a lot further back than that). Which means that no sitting president is going to prosecute their predecessor, because they know that just being the head of a global superpower means they will be responsible for war crimes as well.

    Obama was a much better president than Bush, and much more popular; I suspect his campaigning will be much more successful. So the Democrats are much better off having both of them free than in having both of them in jail (having just Bush in jail is not an option).

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  13. Kit says:

    The moral seems to be: War criminals just gotta do what they gotta do. I don’t buy it. If you want to torture, or example, change the laws and do so. Withdraw from treaties if you must. I fail to see what purpose the charade serves.

    And if a president wishes to prosecute his predecessor, then he can set the standard by which he risks being judged in turn.

    We lack the moral conviction to follow the laws, and the courage to change them. Just what are we defending?

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  14. george says:

    @Kit:

    That is indeed the standard, and its been in effect since at least WW2, though of course its pretty easy to argue that it was existence long before that – the ‘Indian Wars’ in the 19th century are full of war crimes.

    More over, its been the standard of imperial nations since the start of recorded history. War crimes have always been things only losers are accused of doing. And it continues, because even if people are happy to see the other side’s politicians accused of war crimes, they always manage to find justifications for the war crimes committed by politicians on their side.

    Chomsky pointed out that every US president since WW2 has been a war criminal, but he didn’t come up with a solution, possibly because the only solution is for the US to lose a major war and have the victor run the war crime tribunal. And its almost a guarantee that the foreign victor will have in turn committed war crimes, which will not be tried by the victor’s courts.

    In a world where just about every super power commits war crimes, I suppose we’re defending the right to be ruled by our war criminals rather than some other country’s war criminals.

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  15. Kit says:

    @george:

    In a world where just about every super power commits war crimes, I suppose we’re defending the right to be ruled by our war criminals rather than some other country’s war criminals.

    Perhaps we are speaking at cross purposes here: I’m not talking about handing our politicians over to an international court, but rather judging our presidents by our own laws in our own courts.

    even if people are happy to see the other side’s politicians accused of war crimes, they always manage to find justifications for the war crimes committed by politicians on their side.

    Only those people who don’t really care about setting laws in some semblance of how we are to act, and then seeing that those laws are reasonably enforced.

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