George W. Bush Won’t Campaign For Ted Cruz

Former President Bush has waded back into politics but don't expect him to be campaigning for Ted Cruz.

As I noted last week, former President George W. Bush has waded back into politics to some degree with fundraising appearances in Texas and Florida, but there’s one candidate he won’t be campaigning for:

Former President George W. Bush is hosting a series of fundraising events for vulnerable Republican candidates, including a couple of House members facing tough re-election bids in his home state of Texas.

Politico first reported that Bush held a closed-door event Wednesday morning in Fort Worth for Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, and will host a similar gathering next week in Dallas for Rep. Pete Sessions, the Republican who serves as Bush’s congressman.

The former president will also headline fundraisers in the coming days and weeks for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for Senate in that state; North Dakota Senate candidate Kevin Cramer; Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley; and Indiana Senate candidate Mike Braun.

“While he prefers to consider himself retired from politics, President Bush recognizes how important it is to keep the Senate and decided to help a few key candidates,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told Politico.

Noticeably absent from the list is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican who is facing a surprisingly robust challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.

Cruz once worked for the former commander in chief, both on Bush’s presidential campaign and then in his administration. The senator also met his wife, Heidi, while working for Bush’s campaign, leading him to say that he “will always be grateful” to the former president.

But Bush hasn’t reciprocated many warm feelings for Cruz, who made his name by rebelling against the GOP establishment that Bush represents.

Bush reportedly dissed Cruz at a private fundraising event in late 2015 by saying, “I just don’t like the guy.” Bush and his wife, Laura, also haven’t given to Cruz’s campaigns, despite supporting other Republicans since leaving the White House, according to campaign finance records.

Ford, the Bush spokesman, on Wednesday said there are currently no plans to host a fundraising event for Cruz, adding that he’s not aware of the senator having requested such assistance.

While Cruz did work for the Bush Administration, there’s no indication that he worked closely with the President at any point in time, or indeed that Bush even knew who he was before he became Texas’s Solicitor General and, later, Senator in 2012. Given that, I’m not sure it’s accurate to call this a “diss” or anything of the like. Additionally, it’s obvious that Bush and Cruz come from very different wings of the Republican Party and that Bush has probably never been very comfortable with Cruz’s brand of conservatism or the manner in which he has conducted himself as either a Senator or a candidate for President.

What does make this interesting, though, is that it does appear to demonstrate yet again the electoral disadvantages that Cruz is facing as he seeks to win election to his sophomore term in the Senate. While other Republicans on the statewide ballot have wide leads over their Democratic challengers, Cruz is fighting off a stronger than expected challenge from Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Shortly after O’Rourke won his party’s nomination, there was at least some indication that Cruz could be in for a real challenge in the form of polling that showed Cruz with only a three-point lead over the Congressman, which was within the poll’s margin of error. Polling taken about a month later, though, seemed to show that the initial bounce in O’Rourke’s favor had fizzled out and that Cruz was well-positioned to be comfortably re-elected notwithstanding the fact that national Democrats were pouring money into O’Rourke’s campaign. More recent polling, such as a poll taken just under a month ago, though, showed the race back to being a close race and an indication that Cruz could be in real trouble in a race that he should be winning easily. A more recent poll from Emerson College shows Cruz with just a one-point lead, while the RealClearPolitics average gives the Senator a mere 3.2 point advantage. This is compared to another statewide race in Texas, Greg Abbott’s bid for his own second term in office, where Abbott has an average lead of 14.5 points over his Democratic opponent. The polling for other statewide races in the Lone Star State, such as Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Commissioner of the General Land Office, a position currently held by Bush’s nephew George P. Bush shows Republicans with similarly strong leads. All of this suggests that Bush isn’t alone in just not liking Ted Cruz.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    What did Cruz expect? He’s a naturally unpleasant person who went out of his way to make himself even more loathsome. Was there anyone in the senate, other than a few Tea Partiers, who could stand being in the same chamber with him? I’ll never forget the image of him smirking at Bob Corker while Corker was staring death rays at him.

    9
  2. de stijl says:

    Karma is a bitch.

    4
  3. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Cruz is a naturally unpleasant person who ran for President in 2016 and just sort of rolled over and showed his belly when Trump went after both his wife and his dad. Imagine Stephen Miller in a street fight situation – that’s Cruz; the guy who have to account on bailing on you leaving you one short.

    It’s polling as a toss-up, but it is Texas which breaks late to red recently – but that was pre-Trump. If Beto pulls out a win I will hoist a frosty beer in his honor. That would be a hard-fought and huge win.

    3
  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Won’t campaign for Cruz, but will campaign for the agenda. A distinction without a difference.

    7
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    All of this suggests that Bush isn’t alone in just not liking Ted Cruz.

    Him and several million Texans.

    2
  6. Slugger says:

    Perhaps I am unduly cynical, but I see these actions by Bush as an attempt by him to enhance his legacy. I don’t recall much grass roots sentiment calling for the deep reservoirs of wisdom held by Bush to heal America. He needs to overcome the perception that he engineered the bootless war in Iraq, fumbled hurricane Katerina, and was at the wheel when our economy drove off the road in 2006-08. Thus, he is doing some PR work. Cruz has a real challenger; Bush does not want to be associated with yet another defeat, and this makes him shy away from Cruz. I am guessing that the people who Bush is working for are actually going to win. Winners attract support.
    I do think that Bush projects an engaging personality, but many people manage this bit of marketing.

    4
  7. george says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Not necessarily. I know quite a few people who have the same political views as I have who I would never support politically because they’re assholes and worse.

    The newspapers used to be great at this; they’d show up to a peace rally (this was in the 70’s), and find the three or four biggest jerks in the rally organization (and there were always a few), and then interview them as being representative of our whole organization.

    I have no trouble at all believing that Bush (who I consider along with LBJ to be the worst President since WW2 – Vietnam and Iraq being the biggest unnecessary causes of killing since then … mind you Trump still has two years to cause far more death) personally hates Cruz and so would refuse to help him electorally. The idea that people who agree politically should like and help each other is simply wrong, so much of politics is how abstract principles are implemented, and narcissistic assholes implement every political ideology in evil ways (Trump being the latest poster child for narcissistic asshole, though Cruz is in his neighborhood).

  8. de stijl says:

    @TM01:

    So a guy who drove drunk…

    You haven’t heard the full scoop! His opponent’s dad killed JFK and his wife is less attractive than Melania! I know! It crazy nutso!

    (BTW, remember that time when you called me anti-semetic? I do, asshole.)

    6
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @TM01: I’m sure you were a perfect angel when you were a teenager. What happened?

    As to the subject at hand, Ted Cruz and Charles Manson would be a difficult choice.

    3
  10. de stijl says:

    @TM01:

    Sounds like GWB is just as petty and vindictive as Obama.

    George Bush’s wife killed someone in a car accident. Are you that oblivious?

    7
  11. MarkedMan says:

    I posted this in another thread but probably worth repeating here.

    When Franken was still a Senator he wrote the following, “I probably liked Ted Cruz more than any other Senator liked him, and I hated Ted Cruz.”

    4
  12. MBunge says:

    What’s interesting about Bush’s decision not to campaign for Cruz is that it fits in with the GOP establishment’s bizarre indifference to the 2018 midterms. You would think the likely loss of the House and possible loss of the Senate would send the party leadership to Defcon 1 but they seem remarkably nonplussed.

    It’s almost as if the Never Trump Rump has convinced the rest of the Republican leadership class that losing in 2018 will somehow weaken Trump and empower them. Which is possible, I suppose, but history seems to indicate the exact opposite. GOP loses in November will likely produce a more Trumpian GOP House and Senate membership and leave Republican political professionals a lot less tolerant of Trump-bashing from their own side.

    Mike

    3
  13. Gustopher says:

    @TM01:

    Sounds like GWB is just as petty and vindictive as Obama.

    Where does the right-wing claim that Obama is petty and vindictive come from?

    It’s one of the problems I had with him — he didn’t hit back, basically ever. And yet, it’s somehow a Fact(tm) on the right that he was thin-skinned, petty and vindictive.

    7
  14. mattbernius says:

    @MBunge:

    You would think the likely loss of the House and possible loss of the Senate would send the party leadership to Defcon 1 but they seem remarkably nonplussed.

    I could be entirely wrong, but I suspect there is a not insignificant portion of party leadership that wants the Democrats to take back, at the very least, the House.

    The reality is that, despite your arguements to the contrary, the last two years has *not* been good for GOP Leadership. They are in complete control of Congress and could barely pass a tax reform bill. They completely failed to execute their biggest promise — the repeal of Obamacare.

    Despite being the party in control of government, their Speaker is stepping down because it’s all but impossible to wrangle his own party, due in not insignificant part to the Tea Party/Trump contingent.

    The best possible thing for mainstream Republicans is to have Democrats take back enough power that they can return to the 2010 – 2018 strategy of simply blaming them for everything.

    Additionally, I think there is a lot of Republican leadership that is counting on a Trump implosion. Not necessarily full impeachment, but enough of a rebuke that it turns him both into a lame duck and will spark a revolt against the Tea Party wing of the party. The only way that happens is if they temporaily lose power.

    And let’s also not forget that Cruz has never been a GOP leadership darling. So they are not necessarily going to be all that sad if he loses.

    4
  15. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Not just someone, her ex-boyfriend. Just ran him over, whoops!

    1
  16. teve tory says:
  17. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge:

    What’s interesting about Bush’s decision not to campaign for Cruz is that it fits in with the GOP establishment’s bizarre indifference to the 2018 midterms.

    What are you expecting them to do? What is this pattern that Bush not helping Cruz fits into.

    McConnell is keeping the senate in session to cut campaign time for Democrat incumbents. That doesn’t seem like giving up.

    Cruz is just unpleasant — to know him is to hate him. He’s kind of a one-off.

    2
  18. teve tory says:

    @Gustopher: The same morons claimed that Obama was narcissistic and then elected Trump.

    Conservatism has been a scam on idiots by the wealthy for many years now.

    6
  19. Eric Florack says:

    Of course you won’t campaigning for Ted Cruz. Bush is establishment. Cruz is not. All the more reason to vote for Ted Cruz and keep him fighting for us instead of the establishment

    @mattbernius: exactly. Because the establishment GOP is a lot closer to the establishment Democrats than they are to people that voters actually want

    1
  20. xsnake says:

    Bush. We used to support this turd?

  21. george says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Cruz is a senator – you can’t get much more establishment than that. Seriously, next you’ll be saying billionaires are common folk (and there are more billionaires than there are senators).

    2
  22. de stijl says:

    When I was ~10 my aunt and uncle snuck me into Death Race 2000 at a drive-in. I laid down on the back seat floor space and they covered me with a blanket. Death Race 2000 was a hard R movie with gore and nudity and sexy-time stuff. David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone’s first non-porn credit (I didn’t know that ’til later).

    Best babysitters ever. They made me party to a crime! Arguably two crimes! It was fucking awesome!

    (This is relevant because in that movie a whole bunch of folks got run over by cars in awesome ways.)

    Trailer:
    https://youtu.be/F2GEKV1dOgY

    1
  23. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Not just someone, her ex-boyfriend. Just ran him over, whoops!

    Hey, we can’t definitively prove it was purposefully vindictive! That’s just a bunch of sensationalist hooey pushed by gullible yokels.

    1
  24. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    That’s just a bunch of sensationalist hooey pushed by gullible yokels.

    I’m replaying Fallout: New Vegas and this the actual quote from No-Bark Noonan which I paraphrased inartfully:

    Sensationalist hooey, cooked up by superstitious yokels seeing phantoms of their own imagining.

    Here’s his whole dialog tree, It’s fascinating:
    https://youtu.be/jiqFM0JDSCs

    I need to attend to the bit about Ol’ Sticky, the stickin’ knife.

    1
  25. de stijl says:

    @mattbernius:

    And let’s also not forget that Cruz has never been a GOP leadership darling.

    Your understatement was epic.

    2
  26. de stijl says:

    @Eric Florack: @george:

    george, I’m gonna side with Eric Florack (I know, bizarre!).

    Yes, he is a Senator, but within a Republican context he is and has been utterly anti-estabishment.

    For years he has done everything he could and burned every bridge to undercut McConnell and his team. Cruz is crazy focused on that topic. If you define “the establishment” as current Congressional leadership, Cruz is definitely anti-establishment. It is one of the reason he is so hated amongst his peers.

    2
  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Eric Florack:

    All the more reason to vote for Ted Cruz and keep him fighting for us instead of the establishment

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. I knew you weren’t the brightest bulb in the box but I thought your filament was at least still intact.

  28. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “Where does the right-wing claim that Obama is petty and vindictive come from?”

    He’s black.

    6
  29. wr says:

    @de stijl: “Cruz is definitely anti-establishment”

    Sure, but the only thing he is pro is Ted Cruz. That’s why everyone who knows him hates him when they seem to tolerate self-proclaimed anti-establishment clowns like Rand Paul.

    1
  30. de stijl says:

    test

  31. Gustopher says:

    @wr: Are you saying that “thin-skinned” is just a substitution for “dark-skinned”, and that the rest of the “petty and vindictive” is just made up to justify “thin-skinned”?

    I mean, that’s my working theory, but I was hoping to learn something else.

  32. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Black people cannot be entirely American – only white people are truly American, you see. Especially those born in Kenya who scammed a birth announcement in the local paper and a fake birth certificate Only days old and half a world away, but so powerful.

  33. george says:

    @de stijl:

    That’s a very narrow reading of ‘establishment’. Cruz is one of the 150 most powerful politicians in America (and he’s actually probably in the top 20). That’s exactly what ‘establishment’ refers to.

    Trump too likes to say he’s not part of the establishment (despite currently being the most powerful person on the earth). Soro’s and Koch also claim to not being part of the establishment. In fact, I wonder if you’ll find more than a handful of powerful politicians and business people who admit to being part of the establishment … what does the term mean, if not the most powerful people in the country, the ones who who control it?

  34. MiSSterious says:

    @mattbernius:
    “I could be entirely wrong, but I suspect there is a not insignificant portion of party leadership that wants the Democrats to take back, at the very least, the House”
    Bingo Matt! Uniparty political enterprise working against the President. Both parties are gearing up to attack the President from all sides after the 2018 election.