Meet a Rare Republican Candidate Touting His Connections to George W. Bush

WASHINGTON - MARCH 28: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) is joined by White House Counselor Ed Gillespie while walking across the South Lawn of the White House March 28, 2008 in Washington, DC. Bush is taking a day trip to New Jersey to talk about the housing crisis and what his administration is doing to try and stem the economy's slide into recession.
National Journal
Julie Sobel
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Julie Sobel
Jan. 17, 2014, 8:48 a.m.

Ed Gillespie made his of­fi­cial en­trance in­to Vir­gin­ia’s Sen­ate race Thursday with a well-pro­duced video that mainly served up stand­ard Re­pub­lic­an cam­paign fare: in­tro­du­cing a good-look­ing fam­ily, telling an up-by-the-boot­straps per­son­al story, and slam­ming an op­pon­ent for cast­ing “the de­cid­ing vote” on Obama­care and vot­ing for new taxes. But one as­pect of the video is un­usu­al for GOP can­did­ates in re­cent years: The spot fea­tures prom­in­ent pho­tos of the can­did­ate with George W. Bush. Re­pub­lic­ans have shied away from tout­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the former pres­id­ent in cam­paigns since Bush left of­fice in 2008.

The former Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee chair­man, launch­ing a chal­lenge to pop­u­lar Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Warner, notes early in the video that he helped pay for col­lege with a job as a U.S. Sen­ate park­ing lot at­tend­ant. “Over the years, with lots of people’s help and ad­vice, I rose from that park­ing lot to the West Wing, serving as coun­sel for the pres­id­ent of the United States,” says Gillespie, as two pho­tos of him with Bush flash across the screen.

Gillespie isn’t the first can­did­ate to in­voke the pres­id­ent in a pos­it­ive way in a cam­paign ad: Vir­gin­ia’s oth­er sen­at­or, Tim Kaine — who pre­vi­ously chaired the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee did so last cycle. In an ad that aired in Septem­ber 2012, he men­tioned work­ing with the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion as a pic­ture of the two to­geth­er ap­peared on­screen, and de­clared to the cam­era that “as your sen­at­or, I’ll part­ner with who­ever’s pres­id­ent of the United States to do what’s right for Vir­gin­ia.”

But this cir­cum­stance is dif­fer­ent than a Demo­crat in­vok­ing the former pres­id­ent to show he’ll reach across the aisle in the Sen­ate. So why would this GOP can­did­ate be play­ing up his re­la­tion­ship with Bush in his in­tro­duc­tion to voters?

First, when it comes to former pres­id­ents, dis­tance makes the heart grow fonder — and Bush is no ex­cep­tion. The 43rd pres­id­ent is not nearly as un­pop­u­lar now as he was when he left of­fice: By last year, his num­bers had re­boun­ded to near the 50 per­cent mark.

Second, it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for Gillespie to tell his life story without men­tion­ing his work for the pres­id­ent. Serving as a seni­or ad­viser in the West Wing is a high­light of his ca­reer, not something he could po­ten­tially down­play if he wanted to.

And third, the Bush as­so­ci­ation is likely less dam­aging to his pro­spects than an­oth­er as­pect to his ca­reer (which he did not men­tion in the video): lob­by­ing. Demo­crats have already made it clear they in­tend to pound Gillespie for his work as a lob­by­ist. The Demo­crat­ic Sen­at­ori­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee routinely refers to Gillespie as “lob­by­ist” or “D.C. lob­by­ist” — and their state­ment on Gillespie’s en­trance in­to the race Thursday men­tions his work for the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion once, but re­peatedly slams his lob­by­ing back­ground and char­ac­ter­izes him as a “ca­reer lob­by­ist with a par­tis­an his­tory of slash-and-burn polit­ics.”

Still, des­pite those factors, don’t count on see­ing Bush on the cam­paign trail any­time soon in purple Vir­gin­ia.

What We're Following See More »
ONLY BROAD PRINCIPLES
Mulvaney: Tax Reform Details Won’t Be Released This Week
0 minute ago
THE LATEST

Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."

Source:
OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS
Trump To Sign Order Calling For Expanded Drilling
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is expected Monday to sign an executive order which will mark his administration's first action on offshore oil and gas drilling. The order is expected to call for a "review of the locations available for offshore oil and gas exploration and of certain regulations governing offshore oil and gas exploration."

Source:
DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
Pence Cuts Asia Trip Short For Big Week
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Vice President Mike Pence has cut his Asia trip short "to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday." Pence will return to Washington on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Trump has a busy week ahead, as he plans to roll out a tax reform on framework, sign a number of executive orders, and works to keep the government open past Friday.

Source:
24% GOOD ENOUGH FOR FIRST PLACE
Macron, Le Pen Lead French Elections
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen led the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, according to early projections, as voters redrew the political map, placing the European Union at the center of a new political divide. Projections by the Kantar-Sofres polling firm showed Mr. Macron on track to win the first round with about 24% of the vote, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with nearly 22%." The vote marks the end of the country's dominance by conservative and socialist parties. The top vote-getters head to a runoff on May 7.

Source:
MENDING FENCES?
Trump to Deliver Keynote for Holocaust Memorial Event
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump will deliver the keynote address for at the National Holocaust Museum's National Day of Remembrance ceremony on Tuesday. He'll speak from the Capitol Rotunda. The move is likely an effort to try to mend fences with Jewish groups. In January, "the White House ignited controversy when it didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day." And certain members of his inner circle are still suspected of harboring white supremacist or anti-Semitic views."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login