Laura Bush Hits the Fundraising Circuit

The Bush family is increasingly being featured at campaign fundraisers for Jeb Bush.

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Former US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush look on during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 2015.

Photographer: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Jeb Bush is calling in help from perhaps the most popular member of his family.

Former first lady Laura Bush will help raise money for her brother-in-law's Republican presidential campaign with a pair of fundraisers next month in Florida.

She's scheduled to host an event in Palm Beach with Columba Bush, Jeb Bush's wife, on Oct. 7, according to a fundraising schedule obtained by Bloomberg. The former first lady also will host a group of donors a day earlier in suburban Orlando.

Laura Bush's plunge into the fundraising circuit, an arena she's shown some reluctance to enter in the past, comes as the family becomes increasingly involved in raising cash to help elect a third consecutive Bush Republican president. It also comes as the former Florida governor has taken on the front-runner, Donald Trump, more directly. Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz suggested there has been a boost in Bush fundraising as a result.

“This has absolutely heightened people's awareness concerning the choice: a proven, reform-minded conservative versus a liberal, Democrat socialite masquerading as a Republican,” Diaz wrote in an e-mail. “As a result, we are getting a great response from donors.”

Jeb Bush acknowledges that he can't win by running as the third Bush, and interviews with voters last week in New Hampshire showed that, after more than six months on the trail, many are still reluctant to expand the family's political dynasty. Sensitive to that, Bush focuses his own legacy, relying on stories about his time as Florida governor. On Thursday in New Hampshire, Bush held a town hall meeting while standing in front of giant letters of his first (not last) name. 

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting on Sept. 10 in Salem, New Hampshire.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush at a town hall meeting on Sept. 10 in Salem, New Hampshire.
Photographer: Michael C. Bender/Bloomberg

Yet Jeb Bush is loath to distance himself from his brother and father. And the campaign's fundraising schedule indicates he’s not about to hide the family or shun the advantages it can bring him. 

In addition to Laura Bush's events, former President George W. Bush hosted a fundraiser on Thursday in New York and will hold a pair of events later this month in Texas and another in Rogers, Arkansas, in October. George W. Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, will both be on hand for the campaign's next donor retreat on Oct. 25 in Houston.

Columba Bush hosted a fundraiser in South Carolina last month, and is scheduled to host additional events this month in Los Angeles, suburban Washington, D.C., and San Antonio, Texas. Her sons, Jeb Jr. and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, are also active. Jeb Jr. will host a half-dozen fundraisers within the next month, while George P. Bush is scheduled for one in Washington.

“Politics, you know, really does end up being a family business,” Laura Bush often said at fundraisers while her husband was president. “Everyone gets involved, whether they want to or not.”

Then-President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb dance with their wives, Laura and Columba, during inaugural festivities in 2005.
Then-President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb dance with their wives, Laura and Columba, during inaugural festivities in 2005.
Photographer: Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

Since leaving the White House, Laura Bush has remained active in literacy issues and, with first lady Michelle Obama, on a program that aims to empower women and children around the world. She's hosting an event at the George W. Bush Presidential Center later this month for the Global Women's Network, which promotes women's education, health and economic issues.

Laura Bush, who recently became a grandmother for the second time, has also ventured into another family business as a paid speaker. She's the keynote speaker later this month at a fundraising dinner in Oklahoma City for Water4, a global clean-water initiative and has been the featured guest this year at events for Volunteer Center of North Texas, the Texas Legislative Conference and RootsTech, which bills itself as the world's largest genealogy conference.

“After many adventures, we are back home in Texas, living what I call the afterlife, in a state that George calls the promised land,” she told the RootsTech conference in February.

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