After months in which former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush seemed reluctant to embrace his family name, his brother, former President George W. Bush, lent his voice to the campaign in South Carolina on Monday. Speaking to an excited crowd in North Charleston, the former president navigated between jokes and anecdotes about visiting the Palmetto State while running for president in 2000 and strongly endorsed his brother's bid for the White House.
“This is a serious election for a serious job,” Bush said before introducing his brother to the crowd. Throughout the speech the elder Bush touted his brother’s qualifications for the presidency and cast him as a level-headed candidate in a race that has been dominated by the likes of outspoken businessman Donald Trump, who has made a name for himself as an entertainer as well.
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The crowd was clearly receptive to the former president’s message as he laid out what he believes are the most important qualifications for the job. He applauded the state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, and made a point of noting that her family had come to the United States in 1969 from India. He spoke at length about his decision-making during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and said his brother knows how to handle an executive office and would keep the country safe.
“If serving as president of the United States makes me a part of the so-called establishment, I’m proud to carry that label,” Bush said of the seeming distrust of so-called establishment candidates — like Jeb Bush — in the GOP field. He then made fun of the whole concept, quoting his father, former President George H.W. Bush, as saying “Labels are for soup cans.”
Before the former president spoke he was introduced by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who endorsed Jeb Bush’s campaign after his own bid for the GOP nomination failed. As Graham noted, the Bush presidencies were popular in the state. That the former president was campaigning for his brother Monday shows the campaign's confidence in that link.
Jeb Bush’s campaign has seemed to flounder in the face of attacks from Trump, who on Saturday accused the former president of lying to justify invading Iraq.
South Carolina holds its Republican primary Saturday.