Bush Brings In the Family

Bush Brings In the Family
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HAMPTON, N.H. — Coming soon to the campaign trail: The Bush family.

Jeb Bush told a town hall audience here Thursday that his campaign plans to begin airing an ad featuring his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush. And he said of former President George W. Bush, "I'm sure my brother will be campaigning by my side."

The ad will begin airing Friday, according to the campaign. Meanwhile, there are no firm plans in place to bring George W. Bush onto the campaign trail.

The Bush family has been a complicating factor throughout Jeb Bush’s candidacy, bringing him the advantages of an established political name and the vast network to match it, but making it difficult for him to define himself apart from his father’s and brother’s White House legacies.

Jeb Bush acknowledged those complex dynamics Thursday in response to a question from a woman who described herself as a “Bush-o-phile,” but who wondered why Bush does not hug his family closer on the campaign trail.

“I spend time talking about my family in a loving way,” Bush said. “You can’t ignore them, because that’s weird, that’s kind of a strange thing. And you can’t over-rely on them either. It’s a balance.”

He then suggested, however, that he plans to use his family’s influence, and the respect voters have for his family, to boost his campaign in the final days before the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9.

“I’m not running away from them,” Bush said. “That’s total nonsense.”

Speaking after the event with reporters, Bush suggested he had not intentionally mentioned these plans.

"Did I say that?” Bush joked. "I said it out loud?”

"It’s good to get an endorsement from your mother,” he added. "I don’t think she was prepared to endorse anybody else, but it’s nice validation just in case people were wondering."

Of his brother’s potential cameo on the campaign trail, Bush said it “is still a work in progress.” Asked where George W. Bush might travel for appearances, Bush responded: "He’s popular here, he’s popular in Iowa. He’s the most popular Republican in the country.”

Bush is currently jammed in polling in New Hampshire among three other candidates — John Kasich, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio — who are hoping to appeal to the same segment of Republican voters.

Rebecca Berg is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at rberg@realclearpolitics.com.


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