Former President George W. Bush is hitting the fundraising circuit for a handful of Republican House and Senate candidates, joining the party’s push to maintain its congressional majorities.
Bush has maintained a low profile since leaving office in 2009. Yet as the midterm campaign season enters its final weeks and the party braces for the prospect of a Trump-fueled wave, Bush — who has been critical of the president — is putting his muscle behind Republicans in heated races.
Bush’s tour will begin Wednesday morning, when he holds a closed-door event in Fort Worth, Texas, for GOP Rep. Will Hurd, a second-term congressman who faces the hurdle of seeking reelection in a West Texas district that President Donald Trump lost in 2016.
Then, on Friday, Bush will travel to Florida to hold a pair of events for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is in a pitched battle for a Senate seat. One of the fundraisers will benefit New Republican, a pro-Scott super PAC.
Bush will return to the circuit next week, when he headlines a Sept. 19 fundraiser in Fort Worth for North Dakota Senate hopeful Kevin Cramer. The following day, Bush will hold a Dallas fundraiser for Texas Rep. Pete Sessions.
Sessions, who occupies a rapidly diversifying suburban Dallas district, is embroiled in one of the most competitive races in the country.
Sessions has said that he’s eager to campaign with Bush, who has a personal interest in the contest: He is a resident of the district, and it’s where his presidential library is located.
Then, next month, Bush will host fundraisers for two Senate hopefuls — Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana.
“While he prefers to consider himself retired from politics, President Bush recognizes how important it is to keep the Senate and decided to help a few key candidates,” said Freddy Ford, a Bush spokesman.
Bush’s foray comes as another former president, Barack Obama, launches a nationwide push for Democratic candidates. But unlike Obama, who’s been holding public rallies, Bush’s events will be closed-door affairs. Each of the fundraisers is private.
While Obama has forcefully thrashed Trump in recent days, Bush has been tighter-lipped about his feelings toward the current president.
But in October 2017, Bush — without mentioning Trump’s name — delivered a speech that was widely regarded as a rebuke of Trumpism.
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism — forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he said at the time.
“We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”