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Jeb Bush Gets A Brotherly Hand From George W. In South Carolina

Campaign 2016 Politics Reuters Top News

Jeb Bush Gets A Brotherly Hand From George W. In South Carolina

Former U.S. President George W. Bush (L) joins his brother Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush (R) on the campaign trail for the first time in the 2016 campaign at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Former President George W. Bush came to the aid of his brother Jeb Bush’s Republican presidential campaign in South Carolina on Monday with a rousing endorsement of his character and a call for voters to reject the angry bluster of Donald Trump.

The appearance of the elder Bush on the campaign trail may help Jeb Bush with South Carolina Republicans who hold the former president in high regard. But it also carries some risks, given his launching of the Iraq war in 2003, which ended up being unpopular with many Americans and which Republican front-runner Trump has seized on to criticize him.

George W. Bush, who has stayed out of politics for the most part since leaving office in early 2009, showed he remains an engaging speaker, generating cheers repeatedly over 20 minutes from the biggest crowd Jeb Bush has enjoyed in his campaign.

Without mentioning Trump by name, the 69-year-old George W. Bush left no doubt he was talking about the New York billionaire who uses incendiary rhetoric at his campaign events.

“These are tough times and I know that Americans are angry, but we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and our frustrations,” the former president said.

Real strength, he said, means facing challenges and prevailing.

“Strength is not empty rhetoric. It is not bluster. It is not theatrics. Real strength comes from integrity and character. And in my experience, the strongest person isn’t usually the loudest person in the room,” George W. Bush said.

Whether the elder Bush’s presence will help his 63-year-old brother in the South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday remains to be seen. Jeb is running fourth in polls in South Carolina, behind Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Trump, at a news conference in Charleston earlier in the day, continued a stream of insults directed at the Bush family, insisting that the former president bore responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that took place on his watch.

“Excuse me, the World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush, right? It came down. That was the greatest attack in the history of the United States – worse than Pearl Harbor… We weren’t safe,” Trump said.

George W. Bush offered some vivid imagery of what took place on Sept. 11 without addressing Trump’s criticism and saluted U.S. military personnel, a key constituency in South Carolina.

In his first public campaign appearance of the year for his brother, George W. Bush also met privately with South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, who has yet to endorse a candidate for the primary vote.

George W. Bush’s standing has risen among all Americans since he left power in 2009 and he has stayed on the sidelines of his brother’s presidential bid, headlining private fundraisers but otherwise staying off the campaign trail.

That he is getting out in public now shows the urgency Jeb Bush sees in a good performance in South Carolina. Bush finished in sixth place in the Iowa caucuses and in fourth place in the New Hampshire primary – the first contests in the state-by-state battles to pick a party nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Jeb Bush predicted a good showing on Saturday, telling the crowd that “Saturday is going to be a surprise.”

Trump is also keeping an eye on Cruz and trying to prevent him from gaining ground on him. He issued a statement accusing Cruz of dirty politics for running a negative ad against him.

Trump also threatened to sue Cruz to determine whether he can legally serve as president since he was born in Canada and therefore might not meet the requirements set out in the U.S. Constitution.

“One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him,” Trump said.


(Additional reporting Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry and Dan Grebler)

Photo: Former U.S. President George W. Bush (L) joins his brother Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush (R) on the campaign trail for the first time in the 2016 campaign at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst



  1. underledge February 16, 2016

    The entire Bush dynasty are nothing but a bunch of crooks.

  2. oldtack February 16, 2016

    In James Ewell Browning Bush the Republican Party had the weakest Wuss of the entire circle. He has the Name recognition and he has the financial backing of the super pacs. But he lags in the lower echelons – because he is weak in all aspects. . After about 100 million dollars of financial backing he still is floundering so he does the bullied child thing – he call in Mama to help him. Mama is no help – she is 90 years old and looks and acts like a ninety year old. So- he says “I know” I’ll call my big brother and he will run these bullies off. Wow! And we ask “Do we want this namby- pamby Ass to make the crucial decisions for our Country?” His Grandfather, his Dad and his big Brother damaged this Nation enough in their tenures. We don’t need “Little Lord Fauntleroy Jr. to inflict further damage.

  3. Stewart Hanna February 16, 2016

    I don’t know which is worse. Palin or Dubya.

  4. AlfredSonny February 16, 2016

    Lets help top 1% get richer and lower 99% poorer by voting Republican!

  5. 1Zoe55 February 16, 2016

    This seems more like desperation on Jeb’s part. Why in the world would you bring George W. Bush and all his rotten baggage into your campaign? Please parade Georgie in front of the general public and let’s see how much applause this man gets. I would wager there would be some uncomfortable moments for this puppet George, who allowed Dick Cheney to be the real president. Why not have George W. Bush visit the graves of the more than 5,000 military men and women who were killed in his phony war? There he and Cheney could ask for forgiveness from these honorable men and women.

    1. ralphkr February 16, 2016

      Well, 1Zoe55, I must admit that this is about the first honest thing any Republican candidate has done during this hurrah. Jeb is finally admitting that he will be just as stupid and damaging to the US as his brother was. Not that we did not already suspect that once you compare Jeb’s advisers & his brother’s advisers (nearly all the same people).

    2. johninPCFL February 16, 2016

      GWB has an 84% approval rating amongst the South Carolina GOP voters. Remember Fort Sumter? They worship child sacrifice the same way the jihadis do.

      1. I of John February 17, 2016

        wow what a comment!

  6. Bob Eddy February 16, 2016

    Oh my…I’m in a life boat! Throw me an anchor! Well, Cruz has Sarah wrapped up and Trump has Ted Nugent. I guess the pickins for “celebrity” endorsements is getting thin over there on the Republican side.

    1. Richard Ross February 16, 2016

      I believe the creep Nugent is a Cruz supporter.

      1. Bob Eddy February 16, 2016

        No, Nugent has joined the illustrious group of Trump supporters that include Charlie Sheen, Dennis Rodman, Ann Coulter, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and now dedicated homophone and racist John Rocker. Cruz did, however snag the endorsement of the ever irrelavent Sarah Palin.

        1. Richard Ross February 17, 2016

          Nugent supports Cruz, and Palin suports Trump. Check it out. However, it’s a difference without a distinction because they’re all a bunch of nut jobs.

  7. Joan February 16, 2016

    “w” has been trotted out because so many of the voters in SC have military roots. Jeb! Is betting that they will listen to an endorsement from a draft dodger and someone who involved this country in not one, but two diasterous wars.
    I think George W was doing what he was intended to do, painting pictures of his feet in the bath.

  8. I of John February 17, 2016

    Sorry JEB!, you’re still just circling the bowl. Brother W is only going to make you bob a little while you head for the drain.


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