Former President George W. Bush is diving back into politics in an effort to try to save his party’s most vulnerable senators, including those whose campaigns have become more challenging with Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, NBC News has confirmed.
“President Bush believes that it’s critical to keep the Senate in Republican hands. He is actively helping some senators in tight races who are strong leaders and share timeless conservative values,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told NBC News.
The New York Times first reported the news.
In recent weeks, Bush has headlined fundraisers for two Republican senators and is committed to helping three more. He has already headlined events for Senators John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. He is committed to headlining events for Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Bush’s office confirms that at the event for McCain, the former president stressed the importance of preserving the Republican-held Senate as a “check and balance” on the White House – a check Bush believes would be needed whether the next president is Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Bush has largely avoided politics since leaving office in January 2008. He did not campaign for Mitt Romney during the 2012 election and announced he would not attend next month’s Republican convention in Cleveland.
Bush did, however, make campaign and fundraising appearances during his brother Jeb Bush’s failed 2016 run. Trump harshly criticized Jeb Bush throughout the Republican primaries, and he continues to do so nearly four months after the former Florida governor exited the race.