Former President George W. Bush, seen here speaking at a veterans’ event in Washington last summer, is returning to the campaign trail next week after a long absence to help his brother Jeb. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ending years of self-imposed absence from the campaign trail, former President George W. Bush next week will hold his first joint rally with his brother Jeb. The former president will appear in South Carolina, whose February 20 primary could decide the fate of the younger Bush’s drive for the Republican nomination.
Dubya, as he is sometimes known, will join his brother for a 6 p.m. rally on Monday at the North Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Bush won the South Carolina primary in 2000 and 2004, and remains popular that state. In this campaign cycle, he headlined several fundraisers for his younger brother, and appeared in an ad for a super-PAC that supports Jeb, but has otherwise kept a low profile.
The 43rd president left office deeply unpopular, weighed down by the war in Iraq and the collapse of the global economy. In 2008, GOP presidential nominee John McCain campaigned with him as little as possible. In 2012, Bush did not attend the Republican nominating convention in Tampa, and participated in the gathering briefly by video.
But recent public opinion polls show that the former president’s stock has risen with Americans, with his favorable ratings at or near 50 percent. And the elder Bush, 69, has remained popular among the Republican Party’s more conservative members and evangelicals, who are expected to make up a substantial fraction of South Carolina primary voters.
“President Bush has been incredibly supportive of his brother’s campaign and Governor Bush is excited to have him out on the trail,” said a spokeswoman for Jeb Bush’s campaign, Kristy Campbell. “With the threats facing our nation and our allies, we need a steady hand. Few people understand that better than President Bush, who knows that we need a tested, strong leader as our next commander-in-chief. “
Jeb Bush came in sixth in the Iowa caucuses on February 1 and fourth in the New Hampshire primary on February 9. In the Granite State, Jeb campaigned with his mother Barbara.
The State newspaper first reported the news about the former president.