Republican George W. Bush on Monday will seek to give a fresh burst of enthusiasm to his brother Jeb Bush’s White House bid in South Carolina, marking the former president’s first appearance on the 2016 campaign trail.
George W. Bush will appear with his younger brother at a rally in North Charleston, S.C., early on Monday evening, the Jeb Bush campaign said on Thursday.
The 69-year-old former president is highly popular in the Republican Party and particularly among South Carolina Republicans, who supported his 2000 and 2004 races for president.
South Carolina has a sizable presence of U.S. military facilities and military veterans who have supported the former commander-in-chief.
It will be the most public role George W. Bush has taken to date in his brother’s campaign. Jeb Bush brought his mother, Barbara Bush, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire last week.
George W. Bush has headlined several private fundraisers for Jeb Bush and on Wednesday his voice was heard on a radio ad in South Carolina.
“We need a strong leader with experience, ideas and resolve. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush will be a great commander-in-chief for our military,” the former president says in the ad.
Jeb Bush has drawn large crowds during his appearances in South Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday after experiencing something of a comeback with a fourth place finish in New Hampshire.
He has some ground to make up in South Carolina, however, with front-runner Donald Trump enjoying a big lead there ahead of the Feb. 20 primary vote.
At 6 p.m. EST, a Bush rally will be held at the North Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
“President Bush has been incredibly supportive of his brother’s campaign and Governor Bush is excited to have him out on the trail,” said Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.
George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 remains a topic of debate in the race to find a successor to President Barack Obama, with Trump noting that he had opposed the war.
Bush’s image has improved among Americans in the years since he left office in 2009. A CNN/ORC poll last June found that 52 percent of adults had a favorable impression of him, compared to about a third of Americans when he left office.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)