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

  • Trump: U.S. has been on 'wrong side' of NAFTA for many years

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HARRISBURG, Pa. — President Donald Trump has again raised the spectre of the U.S. pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying America has been on the “wrong side” of the trade pact for “many, many years. Source
  • Trump: U.S. has been on 'wrong side' of NAFTA for 'many, many' years

    World News CTV News
    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- U.S. President Donald Trump has again raised the spectre of the U.S. pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying America has been on the "wrong side" of the trade pact for "many, many years. Source
  • Texas cop faked his own death, fled into Mexico

    World News Toronto Sun
    AUSTIN, Texas — Authorities in Texas say a police officer who notified his wife that he planned to kill himself actually faked his own death and fled to Mexico. An arrest affidavit revealed Friday that 29-year-old Austin officer Coleman Martin earlier in the week texted his wife a photo of a note indicating he meant to drown himself in a lake near the border with Mexico. Source
  • Shortlist for new Canadian astronauts includes two women with ties to Calgary

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Space has long captured the interest of Calgary-born Jenni Sidey. When she was a little girl, she recalls looking up to Roberta Bondar, Canada's first female astronaut. "I remember my mum took me to go see her speak when I was younger, so I always had this kind of hero in the back of my head," Sidey said in an interview. Source
  • Canada's defence minister apologizes for embellishing role in Afghan operation

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    For embellishing his role in an iconic 2006 Afghanistan offensive, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has apologized to the public and the troops he leads. His mea culpa for saying “I was the architect of Operation Medusa” came across as sincere. Source
  • Protect yourself from the taxman

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Any time a drab recycled paper envelope bearing the Canada Revenue Agency logo arrives in the mail, how many can truly say their heart doesn’t skip a beat before opening it up to discover the message? Is it a Notice of Audit? A re-assessment? A refusal to a deduction made on your last tax return? Or — good news — acceptance of your return with a statement showing there is no tax owing. Source
  • Without Trump, White House Correspondents' dinner to focus on journalism

    World News CBC News
    There's a thinner presence of celebrities and other famous faces at this year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Saturday evening's red carpet featured boldface names largely from the world of journalism and government. Among the guests are longtime Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Source
  • Without Trump, White House Correspondents' dinner shifts focus to press freedom

    World News CBC News
    There's a thinner presence of celebrities and other famous faces at this year's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Saturday evening's red carpet featured boldface names largely from the world of journalism and government. Among the guests are longtime Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Source
  • Keys to happier life revealed

    World News Toronto Sun
    VANCOUVER — Want to live longer, enjoy life more and actually find that elusive happiness? Among the dozens of big ideas shared this week at the international TED conference — from a robot that could outperform students on college exams to an ultraviolet light that could kill superbugs — were some simpler, almost obvious, life improvements we should all prioritize to live better lives. Source
  • Madeleine McCann's parents hopeful missing girl still 'out there'

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — The parents of Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British girl who vanished during a family vacation to Portugal in 2007, say they are still hopeful they will one day be reunited with their daughter as they mark the 10th anniversary of her disappearance. Source