Former President George W. Bush lent his brother’s campaign a jolt of energy at a rally tonight in North Charleston, South Carolina, using humor to punctuate his pitch for Jeb Bush.
‘I’ve been one to defy expectations, I’ve been misunderestimated most of my life,’ the former president said, delivering some of his trademark alphabet soup. The audience gave a big laugh.
But beyond the laugh lines, Bush, branded his brother as a smart, strong leader in an unpredictable world.
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‘I’ve been one to defy expectations, I’ve been misunderestimated most of my life,’ the former president said
Former President George W. Bush (right) entered the 2016 campaign fray, stumping for his brother Jeb Bush (left) today in South Carolina
The former White House occupants lent Jeb Bush a bolt of energy for his campaign, as the former Florida governor has struggled to find his footing as a presidential candidate
‘I’ve seen Jeb in action, he’ll be a strong and steady hand when confronted with the unexpected,’ Bush added.
Bush spoke of his brother’s ‘quiet conviction.’
‘And in my experience the strongest person usually isn’t the loudest one on the room,’ the elder Bush said, which could be interpreted as a slight dig on GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
The former president stretched out his political arms again by telling the South Carolinians in the audience – who head to the polls Saturday – about some of his favorite campaign memories from the state.
‘I walked in the Okra Strut in Irmo,’ Bush said. ‘I was pleased they didn’t make me dress as an okra stalk,’ he added, referencing the popular Southern vegetable.
His favorite memory, Bush said, took place at Tommy’s Country Ham House in Greenville, South Carolina, a popular spot for political candidates to eat.
The former president (left) stretched out his political arms again by telling the South Carolinians in the audience – who head to the polls Saturday – about some of his favorite campaign memories from the state
Former President George W. Bush (left) told a number of colorful stories about his brother Jeb Bush (right) before a South Carolina audience tonight
Former President George W. Bush (right) talked about staying out of the public eye since leaving the White House. Laura Bush (left), he said, describes it as the ‘after life’
‘I was eating some bacon, when I looked out the window and a PETA protester dressed like a pig pulled up in a dumptruck. He unloaded a huge load of manure in the parking lot to try and prevent me from leaving,’ Bush recalled.
‘It was kind of a sign of things to come,’ he added.
‘But let me tell you something about the Ham House, even a steaming pile of manure can’t ruin their good bacon,’ the former president said.
Since leaving public office, Bush has kept a low profile, or, as he put it ‘kind of quiet in the public square.’
‘Eight years in the limelight was plenty,’ Bush said. ‘And Laura and I are really happy in what she describes as the “after life.”‘
Bush used this update to rattle off a number of jokes.
‘We’re spending a lot of time on our ranch where we’ve become tree farmers, gives me a chance to practice my stump speech,’ he said.
Former President George W. Bush (right) used humor to punctuate his pitch for another Bush in the White House, telling jokes like ‘we’ve become tree farmers – gives me a chance to practice my stump speech’
‘I’ve been misunderestimated most of my life,’ President George W. Bush said at one point during his speech, making the audience nostalgic for his trademark garbled prose
‘I’ve written two books, which has surprised a lot of people particularly up East who didn’t think I could read, much less write,’ he continued.
‘And as a real shock to people, I’ve become an oil painter, but let me assure you, I know, that the signature is worth more than the painting,’ he added.
He also talked about the Bush family to trigger some Republican nostalgia, reminding voters what it was like to have GOP presidents in the White House.
He motioned to Laura Bush, dressed in all red.
‘She was the greatest first lady ever,’ Bush said. ‘My little sister Doro is here and she talks to mom nearly every single day, so don’t tell her I said that,’ the former president laughed.
He also recalled being present for a part of young Jeb Bush and Columba Bush’s love story, noting how the two brothers would attend Houston Astros games, but only one would be watching the game.
‘I’d watch the game and Jeb would write love letters to his future wife and our next first lady, Columba Bush,’ W. said.
‘Speaking of families, I think the voters should vote for the candidate who’s got the most opinionated mother,’ he cracked.
After the jokes, Bush made his pitch, but still used plenty of good humor.
‘I thought it was appropriate to discuss a subject I know a lot about, what it’s like to be president,’ he said.
With Republicans seriously looking at political outsiders this election cycle, George W. Bush tried making the ‘establishment’ label being thrown at his brother okay.
Jeb Bush did the morning show tour in advance of brother George W. Bush coming out to support him on the campaign trail
Stirred not shaken: Jeb Bush says Donald Trump refused to shake his hand after Saturday night’s debate after the two bickered about 9/11 and the Iraq war
‘There seems to be a lot of name calling going on, but I want to remind you what our good dad told me one time, labels are for soup cans,’ Bush said.
‘The presidency is a serious job,’ he added.
Bush said that he understood that these were tough times.
‘And I understand that Americans are angry and frustrated, but we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration,’ Bush said.
‘We need someone who can fix the problems that cause our anger and frustration and that’s Jeb Bush,’ he continued.
The former president then stepped aside to welcome his ‘big little brother,’ the taller and younger Jeb Bush, take the podium.
The former president was expected not to touch Trump too much.
‘That’s not his job, He’s paid his dues,’ Jeb Bush said this morning on Fox & Friends. ‘He doesn’t have to get into the slop with Donald Trump.’
Trump took on both Bushes at Saturday night’s Republican debate linking Jeb Bush to his brother’s decision to go to war in Iraq after the 9/11 terror attacks, which Trump labeled ‘a big fat mistake.’
‘Well, it was ugly, I guess,’ Jeb Bush said of the debate, prompted by host Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe.
‘Part of it was related to the need to make sure people knew that Donald Trump was not a conservative,’ Bush explained. ‘And he got angry and kind of lost it a little bit.’
Bush then described one of the more telling moments that happened when the cameras weren’t fully focused on the debate stage.
‘I can’t describe it, I went and shook hands with everybody at the end and I think [Trump] saw me coming to do it and he walked away,’ Bush said. ‘So he may still be angry about it.’
During the two-hour confab Trump and Bush produced some of the biggest fireworks in a night that was packed with punches.
‘The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush,’ Trump said, trying to flatten Jeb Bush’s oft repeated line that his brother kept Americans safe during his eight years in the White House.
Trump suggested that Jeb Bush didn’t know how to deal with the Iraq war in the context of his presidential run
Trump also suggested that Jeb Bush didn’t know how to deal with the Iraq war in the context of his presidential run.
‘It took him five days, he went back – “it was a mistake, it was a mistake” – it took him five days before his people told him what to say and he ultimately said it was a mistake,’ Trump said of Jeb Bush, who he’s harassed through the presidential campaign by labeling the former Florida governor ‘low energy.’
‘Obviously it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake, we can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East,’ he continued.
Further setting fire to the Bush record, the Republican front runner charged that the last Republican president lied to get the country into war.
‘I want to tell you, they lied, they said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none and they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction,’ Trump said.
When it was Bush’s turn, he defended all of his family members.
‘I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind,’ Jeb Bush said.
Donald Trump went on Twitter this morning and pointed out how Jeb Bush is now wheeling out various family members to boost his presidential bid
President George W. Bush (left) and Jeb Bush (right) have been on the campaign trail together before, but it was 12 years ago for the former’s run for re-election
Donald Trump suggested that George W. Bush’s entry onto the campaign trail makes his record fair game
‘While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us save and I’m proud of what he did,’ he added, defending George W. Bush.
‘He had the gall to go after my mother. I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago and looked up and saw my mom, my mom is the strongest woman I know,’ Jeb Bush continued.
Trump just snickered.
‘She should be running,’ Trump said into his mic.
Trump chimed in again this morning with two tweets.
‘Funny that Jeb(!) didn’t want help from his family in his failed campaign and didn’t even want to use his last name.Then mommy, now brother!’ he wrote.
‘Now that George Bush is campaigning for Jeb(!), is he fair game for questions about World Trade Center, Iraq War and eco collapse? Careful!’ the billionaire added.
Tonight, once George W. Bush wrapped up his remarks, Jeb Bush honed in on Trump fast asking the audience if they’d seen the debate.
‘Wow, it was kind of weird, parts of it,’ Jeb Bush said. ‘I never thought in a Republican debate we’d be talking about impeaching a Republican two-term president who was extraordinarily popular for good reason among Republicans – I thought that was a little weird.’
Recycling the line he had already used this morning, Jeb Bush noted how his brother was building a security apparatus to keep the country safe, ‘while [Trump] was building a reality TV show.’
‘I’m sure it was a fantastic one,’ Jeb Bush said dryly. ‘I’ve never seen it.’
‘I’m sure it was great.’