George W. Bush returns from political exile to help brother Jeb

CHARLESTON, S.C. - George W. Bush never mentioned Donald Trump. But with his folksy touch, the former president unleashed a tough takedown of the billionaire businessman who has upended a Republican Party his family has long led.

See Full Article

"I understand Americans are angry and frustrated," Bush said Monday during his first campaign rally for his brother, Jeb Bush. "But we do not need somebody in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration."

Trump's rise has confounded the Bush family and its allies. But despite months of predicting the brash billionaire would fade, it's Jeb Bush whose White House hopes are in peril, particularly if he's unable to pull out a strong showing in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

The former president emerged from his self-imposed political hibernation to try to give Bush a President's Day boost. He layered each validation of his younger brother with an implicit critique of Trump.

He urged voters to back a candidate who will be "measured and thoughtful" on the world stage. A candidate whose "humility" helps him understand what he doesn't know. A candidate who can win in November's general election.

"All the sloganeering and all the talk doesn't matter if we don't win," Bush said. "We need somebody who can take a positive message across the country."

With his brother as a strong warmup act, Jeb Bush delivered an impassioned version of his campaign speech, touting his experience as Florida governor and vowing he could put Republicans back in the White House for the first time in eight years.

"I can beat Hillary Clinton," he said of the Democratic front-runner. "I can promise you that."

The former president's return to presidential politics has been met with blistering attacks from Trump about the unpopular Iraq war and the economic recession that began at the end of his administration. Trump has also repeatedly reminded voters that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks happened on Bush's watch.

"If the ex-president is campaigning for his brother, I think he's probably open to great scrutiny, maybe things that haven't been thought of in the past," Trump told reporters Monday.

Rather than gloss over 9-11, Bush leaned in. As the crowd fell into a hushed silence, he recounted in detail his whereabouts on the morning of the attacks and praised the troops that served in the two wars he started in response.

"Your most solemn job as voters is to elect a president who understands the reality of the threats we face," he said.

As he praised South Carolina's Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian-born parents, Bush pointedly said: "Thank goodness our country welcomed her parents when they immigrated here in 1969."

It was a reminder of how much the Republican Party has changed since he was president. While Bush championed failed legislation that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the U.S. illegally, many current GOP presidential candidates have fought to outdo each other with tough enforcement policies and even mass deportations.

Jeb Bush spent months trying to figure out what role, if any, his brother might play in his campaign. The 43rd president left office deeply unpopular with a nation fatigued by the Iraq War and angry over his botched response to Hurricane Katrina. He's also a reminder to voters eager to break with the political establishment that Jeb Bush would be the third man from his family to serve as president.

But South Carolina is a state that has long been friendly to the Bush family. Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush each won two Republican primaries in the state, and their family retains deep social and political ties here.

Pete and Tisha Petersen were among the Bush family fans who attended Monday's rally. Neither is sure whom they'll vote for in Saturday's primary, and both said the former president's return to the campaign trail has indeed rekindled memories of the Iraq war and the economic recession.

But Tisha Petersen said that, "for people who love the Bush family, I think it's not such a bad thing either. It shows loyalty." And her husband said that with Jeb Bush struggling to get traction, he may not have had any other choice but to campaign with his brother.

"Jeb doesn't quite have that edge that his brother had," he said. "Maybe his brother will give him a little bit of that."

George W. Bush has kept a low profile since leaving the White House in January 2009. He retreated to his home state of Texas, where he picked up painting and delved into work on his presidential library, public health projects in Africa, and events for wounded military service members.

The former president is the latest member of the prominent political family to hit the campaign trail to help prop up Jeb Bush. Family matriarch Barbara Bush had hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire, delighting voters with her outspoken style and tenacity, as the 90-year-old traipsed through snow to get to events.

-----

Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Columbia, South Carolina, and Jill Colvin in Charleston contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Ont. teen subject of Amber Alert wasn't actually abducted, police say

    Canada News CTV News
    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Police in Peel Region west of Toronto say a 15-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Monday was not kidnapped as initially suspected. The alert had cited witnesses as saying the girl had been forced into a van in Mississauga by two men. Source
  • Okla. shooting victim saved by plate in neck: investigators

    World News CTV News
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Investigators say a metal plate in an Oklahoma man's neck saved him from paralysis or worse when he was shot. Robert Thurman told 911 dispatchers Friday that his sister Gretchen Thurman shot him, The Tahlequah Daily Press reported. Source
  • South Korean court denies request to arrest Samsung Group chief

    World News CBC News
    A South Korean court on Thursday denied a special prosecutor clearance to arrest the head of Samsung Group, the country's largest conglomerate, amid a graft scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Source
  • Virginia man who killed noted musician and his family is executed

    World News CBC News
    Virginia has executed a man convicted of killing two young girls and their parents during a New Year's Day home invasion more than 11 years ago. Authorities say 39-year-old Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Source
  • Alaska volcano erupts again, sends ash cloud to 31,000 feet

    World News CTV News
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska volcano active since mid-December has erupted again. Bogoslof Volcano in the Aleutian lslands erupted at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday and sent up an ash cloud estimated at 31,000 feet. The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the aviation threat code to red, the highest level. Source
  • Hardworking Winnipeg server gets life-changing $1,000 tip

    Canada News CTV News
    A Winnipeg restaurant server thought one of her customers was out to lunch when she received a life-changing $1,000 tip on Saturday. Jennifer Peitsch choked back tears of joy as she asked if the woman’s extravagant gratuity on an $87.15 meal at Mongo’s Grill was indeed real. Source
  • Dramatic video shows two armed robberies in central Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    Two separate, but equally frightening, armed robberies were caught by surveillance cameras in central Alberta. During the past month there have been a number of armed robberies in the area, which are being investigated by RCMP. Source
  • So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV. But at times, his answers seemed aimed at an audience of one: the man who will replace him at noon Friday. Source
  • PM Trudeau should protect Kathy Katula from trolls: Tory MP

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Justin Trudeau must protect real Canadians like Kathy Katula from Liberal trolls and haters, a Conservative MP says. Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre came to the aid of Katula — the 54-year-old Buckhorn, Ont. grandmother who made headlines for her emphatic plea to the PM to not pile the carbon tax onto her as she’s already towing the poverty line — and said Trudeau needs to as well. Source
  • WikiLeaks' Julian Assange backs away from extradition pledge

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange retreated from his pledge to accept extradition to the U.S. if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency, arguing Wednesday via his lawyers that what he was really asking for was an immediate pardon for the ex-Army analyst. Source