The 2016 campaign has baffled and captivated George W. Bush. The 43rd president left his home at Dallas, he rises daily before dawn to read political news online. He sent off emails to his old advisers telling them to check on the latest campaign developments and gossips. He switches on the TV AND tunes into the debates, even though they take longer than his bedtime.
When he is alone and with friends, Bush and his heartthrob, Laura, are baffled at an election season that has been taken-over by Donald Trump. At one social event last month, Clay Johnson, a long time friend, said he could remember when he and Bush said to each other, “Can you believe what’s going on?”
“He, like everybody else in America, is taken aback,” Johnson said. He and Bush buttressed over the race for 30 minutes, and not exempting the rise of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. Bush reportedly told Johnson he thought expectations for his brother, Jeb, were so low that he could rebound by springing a surprise in an early at a place like South Carolina.
On Monday Presidents’ Day, Bush will help his brother Jeb do just that. After long time off in politics which he deliberately did, Bush is stepping back into the political spotlight for an evening rally in North Charleston with his brother, the former Florida governor.
No doubt Bush’s appearance would command respect and would rekindle the urgent push Jeb’s needs in his struggling candidacy ahead of next Saturday’s primary.
It’s been seven years now since Bush left the White House, the party has changed so much from the one he commanded in the early 2000s. The GOP is now a battle ground between the business establishment, movement conservatives and pitchfork populists.
Bush has been disturbed by a Republican electorate, who so far, has prioritized Trump’s anger and displayed his strength over Jeb’s qualifications and experience, friends and former advisers said.
“He knows that all the qualities it takes to be a good president are not necessarily all the qualities it takes to be elected president,” said Donald L. Evans, a confidant and former Cabinet member. “Entertainment and show time is one thing, but being the leader of the free world, being the leader of this country in these troubled, difficult times, is something totally different.”