During a conversation with CNN's Jake Tapper on the network's weekly Sunday morning show, "State of the Union, " former Florida governor Jeb Bush had lots of things to say, or, rather in the style of the overhauled Jeb! campaign, assert.
There was Bush's claim that people, namely voters, are beginning to see that Donald Trump is not strong but so weak and insecure that he publicly insults women, entire ethnic groups and the disabled. A third-party presidential bid by former New York mayor and sometimes Republican Michael Bloomberg, is, according to Bush, "not going to happen," because the "party process is going to work." There's no need for members of the still-large GOP presidential field to contemplate dropping out and consolidating support behind one experienced establishment candidate because voters are about to begin speaking. And he clarified his position on abortion: He had done all that he could to create a "culture of life" while governor and now would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
All of this is pretty predictable. But when Tapper asked Bush about the possibility of deploying brother and former president George W. Bush on the campaign trail, Bush made an assertion that some Americans no doubt will find surprising: George W. Bush is popular among Republicans, his brother said. Then the onetime presumptive GOP front-runner added that he looks forward to seeing his brother on the campaign trail.
Yes, Jeb Bush said that — George W. Bush, the 43rd president who left office with some of the lowest approval ratings in U.S. history, is again popular with voters in his party. And all indications are that Jeb Bush is right.
First, here's how George W. stacked up against other former presidents toward the end of his second term. Note that his approval ratings were worse than those for former president Richard Nixon.
A Gallup trend line of George W.'s approval ratings over the course of his White House tenure put his approval ratings just a bit higher when his term ended in January 2009.
But something has changed. In November 2015, a Bloomberg Politics poll found that public esteem for George W. when he left office was low. However, his overall approval rating reached 45 percent in a November 2015 Bloomberg Politics poll. A majority of Americans — exactly 50 percent — still said they view him unfavorably. But a closer look at the numbers makes it clear that Republicans feel differently.
A full 77 percent of Republicans told Bloomberg's research team that they view George W. favorably. That figure made him the most popular Republican included in the survey.
Several longtime Bush family political supporters and operatives have said publicly for months that George W. should be deployed to stump for his brother. However, this is not a risk-free enterprise for Jeb Bush in an election in which voters have exhibited the most substantial and sustained levels of support for non-establishment, outsider candidates. A campaign that emphasizes that Bush could become the third man with his last name to sit in the Oval Office may not have much appeal.