Lunedì, 15 Febbraio 2016 07:18

News24.com | George W Bush takes to stage to talk down Trump

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Charleston - George W Bush never mentioned Donald Trump. Butwith his folksy touch, the former president unleashed a tough takedown Mondayof the billionaire businessman who has upended a Republican Party his

familyhas long led.

"I understand Americans are angry and frustrated,"Bush said during his first campaign rally for his brother, former FloridaGovernor Jeb Bush. "But we do not need somebody in the Oval Office whomirrors and inflames our anger and frustration."

Trump's rise has confounded the Bush family and its allies.But despite months of predicting the brash billionaire would fade, it's JebBush whose White House hopes are in peril, particularly if he's unable to pullout a strong showing in Saturday's South Carolina primary.

The race has entered an increasingly nasty phase in SouthCarolina, with numerous negative ads airing on local television following anunusually caustic debate this past weekend in which Trump confronted Jeb Bushabout his brother's record as president.

Trump has led polls in South Carolina, but is trying to fendoff attacks from his chief rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who describes himselfas "a consistent conservative" who can be trusted. Bush is trying topull ahead of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich toemerge as the more mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz, both of whom partyleaders consider unelectable.

George W Bush emerged from his self-imposed politicalhibernation to try to give Bush a boost. He layered each validation of hisyounger brother with an implicit critique of Trump.

He urged voters to back a candidate who will be"measured and thoughtful" on the world stage. A candidate whose"humility" helps him understand what he doesn't know. A candidate whocan win in November's general election.

"All the sloganeering and all the talk doesn't matterif we don't win," Bush said. "We need somebody who can take apositive message across the country."

With his brother as a strong warm-up act, Jeb Bush deliveredan impassioned version of his campaign speech, touting his experience asFlorida governor and vowing he could put Republicans back in the White Housefor the first time in eight years.

"I can beat Hillary Clinton," he said of theDemocratic front-runner. "I can promise you that."

The former president's return to presidential politics hasbeen met with blistering attacks from Trump about the unpopular Iraq war andthe economic recession that began at the end of his administration. Trump hasalso repeatedly reminded voters that the September 11, 2001, terror attackshappened on Bush's watch.

"If the ex-president is campaigning for his brother, Ithink he's probably open to great scrutiny, maybe things that haven't beenthought of in the past," Trump told reporters Monday.

Rather than gloss over 9/11, Bush leaned in. As the crowdfell into a hushed silence, he recounted in detail his whereabouts on themorning of the attacks and praised the troops that served in the two wars hestarted in response.

"Your most solemn job as voters is to elect a presidentwho understands the reality of the threats we face," he said.

As he praised South Carolina's Republican Governor NikkiHaley, the daughter of Indian-born parents, Bush pointedly said, "Thankgoodness our country welcomed her parents when they immigrated here in1969."

It was a reminder of how much the Republican Party haschanged since he was president. While Bush championed failed legislation thatwould have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the USillegally, many current Republican presidential candidates have fought to outdoeach other with tough enforcement policies, even mass deportations.

Jeb Bush spent months trying to figure out what role, ifany, his brother might play in his campaign. The 43rd president left officedeeply unpopular with a nation fatigued by the Iraq War and angry over hisbotched response to Hurricane Katrina. He's also a reminder to voters eager tobreak with the political establishment that Jeb Bush would be the third manfrom his family to serve as president.

But South Carolina is a state that has long been friendly tothe Bush family. Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush each won twoRepublican primaries in the state, and their family retains deep social andpolitical ties here.

George W Bush has kept a low profile since leaving the WhiteHouse in early 2009. He retreated to his home state of Texas, where he pickedup painting and delved into work on his presidential library, public healthprojects in Africa, and events for wounded military service members.

The former president is the latest member of the prominentpolitical family to hit the campaign trail to help prop up Jeb Bush. Familymatriarch Barbara Bush had hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire, delightingvoters with her outspoken style and tenacity, as the 90-year-old traipsedthrough snow to get to events.

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