George W. Bush TV Ad: ‘Jeb Will Unite Our Country’

Former President George W. Bush waves to the crowd, December 2015.
AP/Brandon Wade

Former President George W. Bush appears in a new TV ad from Right to Rise, a Super PAC supporting his brother Jeb Bush’s presidential bid.

The ad begins running on Friday in South Carolina, where the primary will be held on February 20.

“The first job of the President is to protect America,” says George W. Bush in the 30-second spot. “Our next President must be prepared to lead.”

“I know Jeb,” his brother continues, appearing personally in the video after some opening patriotic images.  “I know his good heart, and his strong backbone. Jeb will unite our country. He knows how to bring the world together against terror, and he knows when tough measures must be taken.”

“Experience and judgment count in the Oval Office,” Bush concludes. “Jeb Bush is a leader who will keep our country safe.”

Politico quotes George W. Bush spokesman Freddy Ford saying the former President’s support for his brother should come as no surprise: “I think it speaks for itself. He’s said from day one that Jeb is the best candidate and will be a great President.”

Although the ad is meant for South Carolina, USA Today notes that New Hampshire’s contest next week “could be a make-or-break moment for Jeb Bush’s candidacy.” In today’s media universe, the ad will surely be seen by many New Hampshire voters, and they will also be aware of the buzz it generates.

New Hampshire primary voters are often described as “strategic” in their outlook, so it’s helpful for Bush and his supporters to send the message that they intend to compete seriously in South Carolina.

The Hill finds Bush currently running fifth in New Hampshire, and “struggling for voter support nationwide, currently hovering below 5 with everyday Americans.”

The new TV ad marks George W. Bush’s strongest presence in the 2016 race to date.  Of course it’s not surprising he would support his brother, but political strategists may wonder at the effect the previous President’s name and legacy will have on the race. Before the primary began in earnest, conventional wisdom held that getting out from under the “Bush dynasty” shadow was one of Jeb Bush’s most important tasks. This was said to be especially true if the nominee was Hillary Clinton, because Jeb Bush would be the one GOP candidate who couldn’t make hay about Clinton dynastic politics.

George W. Bush’s appearance will certainly annoy Bush-hating liberals and media figures still afflicted with chronic Bush Derangement Syndrome… which wouldn’t be a bad thing for Jeb at this juncture in the GOP primary.

For all the mixed feelings about George Bush’s two terms in office, there is still much affection for his leadership after 9/11, and this endorsement is coming from precisely that direction, delivered through a very well-crafted ad, at a moment of anxiety about national security, and strong doubts about either of the leading Democrats’ ability to keep America safe.