Bush Grandsons Entering Politics, Trying to Turn the Latino Vote Republican

George P. Bush looks on as his father and uncle, brothers and First Sons, Florida Governor Jeb and President George W. embrace.

George P. Bush looks on as his father and uncle, brothers and First Sons, Florida Governor Jeb and President George W. embrace.

George P. Bush first became famous as the grandson of the forty-first U.S. President George Bush, the son of former Florida Governor James Ellis “Jeb” Bush, the nephew of forty-third President George W. Bush and great-grandson of the late U.S. Senator Prescott Bush (R-Connecticut), the original “P.” of the clan.

George P. Bush leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the 1988 Republican National Convention which nominated his grandfather.

George P. Bush leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the 1988 Republican National Convention which nominated his grandfather.

He was only 12 years old when he led the National Republican Convention, which nominated his grandfather for the presidency in 1988.

President Bush holds his grandson Jebby during the 1988 convention.

President Bush holds his grandson Jebby during the 1988 convention.

Famously, Vice President Bush pointed out to outgoing President Ronald Reagan his two grandsons and granddaughter by his son John Ellis “Jeb” Bush as “those little brown ones.”

Four years later, he made remarks introducing his grandmother First Lady Barbara Bush at the 1992 re-nominating convention, before the stage flooded with his parents, aunts and uncles and all his cousins.

George P. Bush introduces his grandmother at the 1992 Republcan National Convention.

George P. Bush introduces his grandmother at the 1992 Republican National Convention, his uncle Neil Bush, sister Noelle, aunt Margaret with her two children by Marvin Bush.

While George P. Bush and his younger brother Jeb “Jebby” Jr. are half-Latino, their acculturation was heavily influenced by their strictly Catholic mother Columba Garnica Gallo, who met their father while he was an exchange student in her hometown of Leon, Mexico.

Their Florida home was dominated by a large, gold-framed icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

She spoke very little English at the time of her marriage to Jeb Bush, and her children all learned to speak Spanish.

At the 2000 convention which nominated his uncle for the presidency, George P. Bush made a bilingual speech praising George W. as “un hombre de grande sentimientos,” (a man who loves his family and his country) and ended with “Que viva W! Que viva Bush! Y que vivan Los Estados Unidos! Muchas gracias.

P. Bush presided over a Republican Leadership Conference on June 18, 2012.

P. Bush presided over a Republican Leadership Conference on June 18, 2012.

He has kept a high visibility at national Republican conventions even when a family member isn’t being nominated, serving as the Texas Republican Party’s deputy finance chairman and forming Maverick PAC in support of younger candidates of the party.

Some speculate that if Texas Governor Rick Perry seeks re-election that George P. Bush might run as Lieutenant-Governor – or even challenge him. He might also pursue the post of state Attorney General. Whatever he chooses, he hopes to help maintain the party’s hold on statewide office since 1994. Latinos, who generally vote Democratic, represent more than two-thirds of the population growth in Texas. “We for sure are running,” George P. admitted two weeks ago, “the question is the office.”

George P. Bush speaking in Dallas.

George P. Bush speaking in Dallas.

Until Perry makes his own decision, Bush says he’s likely to run for Land Commissioner, an important state position traditionally used as a gateway to further higher office. It also manages what’s called the Permanent Schools Fund, which he says he can improve with his experience in asset management

Whether he will eventually run and be elected to national office is yet to be determined but he’s clearly positioning himself as a leader intent on garnering the growing Latino vote into the Republican column. “I am an American, but like many, I come from a diverse background. And I’m really proud of it, and I respect leaders who respect my heritage,” he remarked in 2000.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, he addressed these issues using the pronoun “we,” though its unclear if he means a staff, Latinos, people under 40, he and his wife or the entire Bush clan:

President George Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush, their children, children-in-law and grandchildren, 1992.

President George Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush, their children, children-in-law and grandchildren, 1992.

Still, the other side of his family is a unique influence.

“Who better to ask for advice on politics than two former presidents and a former governor?” he admits.

Senator Prescott Bush with his son, future President George Bush.

Senator Prescott Bush with his son, future President George Bush.

A shared bloodline, however, doesn’t ensure shared political views.

In the Bush family, for example, one can trace an evolution of political leanings.

Prescott Bush lost his first attempt to win the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat because Catholics opposed his support of Planned Parenthood, for which he served as the treasurer of its first national fundraising campaign.

Racial segregationists despised his support of the United Negro College Fund, for which he served as his state chairman. Although perceived as a quintessential New Englander, he was actually born and raised in Ohio.

His son, President George Bush was born in Massachusetts, raised in Connecticut and inherited his maternal family’s Maine summer home, but relocated to Texas and re-identified as a Southwesterner. His policies were a mix of what conservatives saw as liberal and liberals saw as conservative views.

George W. Bush in his ROTC uniform.

George W. Bush in his ROTC uniform.

His son, President George W. Bush was born in Connecticut but spent most of his life in the Lone Star State and had a strong self-identity as a Texan, with an Administration initiating a conservative agenda.

President George Bush and his son, future President George W. Bush strolling the White House South Lawn.

President George Bush and his son, future President George W. Bush strolling the White House South Lawn.

On the issue of immigration reform, it would seem from what George P. Bush, founder and chairman of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas has indicated, he leans more liberal.

The Rice University grad and University of Texas at Austin law grad filed his form to run for office the very day after Mitt Romney lost the election, the party’s failure to attract Latino voters being identified as one primary reason, some ten percent of the national voter population last fall.

After clerking for a federal judge he worked at investment firms as a partner, then founded his own St. Augustine Partners, a company that invests in oil companies in Texas. A volunteer, he served as a navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan; it might be presumed he, like his grandfather and uncle, supports a strong defense budget.

George P. Bush and his wife Amanda

George P. Bush and his wife Amanda.

He also works jointly on various Texas charities with his wife, attorney Amanda Bush, who represents clients in a variety of matters including complex commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, and media and First Amendment litigation.

By coordination or coincidence, just after President Obama’s re-election in November of 2012,  the media visibility of several other of the forty-first President’s grandchildren seemed to suddenly rose. They join a roster of presidential grandchildren working in media or public services.

Former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, their daughters Barbara and Jenna another Bush cousin arrive at the wedding of Jebby Bush.

Former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, their daughters Barbara and Jenna arrive at the wedding of Jebby Bush.

Contracted as a Today correspondent in 2009, Jenna Bush began assuming a higher profile in the fall of 2012, named a Southern Living editor and listed as co-founder of a website.

Previously, she’d worked as a charter school teacher and worked at a shelter as part of an internship for UNICEF’s Educational Policy Department.

Her decidedly liberal twin sister Barbara Bush has been a leading figure among the generation of her family.

She taped a video in support of marriage equality among same-sex couples and co-founded the public health-focused non-profit, Global Health Corps after working directly with patients with AIDS in Tanzania, South Africa, and Botswana.

Jenna and Barbara Bush celebrate a White House birthday.

Jenna and Barbara Bush celebrate a White House birthday.

Their cousin, a former print advertising model for high-end clothing design houses, Lauren Bush has worked for the UN World Food Programme. She is the daughter of Jeb and W.’s brother Neil and his first wife Sharon.

President George Bush pushes granddaughter Lauren Bush on swing set outside the Oval Office.

President George Bush pushes granddaughter Lauren Bush on swing set outside the Oval Office.

A vegetarian since the age of four and married to the son of designer Ralph Lauren, clothing design was always her passion and she developed her own design company as “Lauren Pierce.”

Family history, however, might repeat itself in another way.

"Lauren Lauren," Lauren Bush and David Lauren in their 2011 wedding picture.

“Lauren Lauren,” Lauren Bush and David Lauren in their 2011 wedding picture.

It may, perhaps, mirror the friendly rivalry between brother Jeb Bush, who was elected Governor of Florida, and George W. Bush, who was elected as Texas.

Although it was widely intended within the family and its supporters that Jeb Bush would be the one to run for President, the competition with his brother led to “W.” being nominated in 2000.

Although the third generation of Bushes had all been raised in Texas, Jeb went to Florida while W. stayed there. In a reverse move, George P. and his siblings John “Jebby” Ellis and Noelle were raised in Florida but George P. has settled in Texas while Jebby has remained in Florida.

Columba Bush, a native of Mexico, is mother of George P. and Jebby Bush.

Columba Bush, a native of Mexico, is mother of George P. and Jebby Bush.

There, Jebby Bush has also become enmeshed in Republican Party politics, focusing on the state’s vast Latino population.

In 2008, he earned hands-on experience in national campaigning as the Florida state coordinator for former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani’s presidential campaign.

He co-founded Florida Hispanic Outreach, which goes by the shortened “SunPac” to get Republican candidates to commit more directly to issues important to the Latino community, particularly immigration policy, register more Florida Latinos, where they remain under-represented compared to the large population percentage and “promote the core conservative values.” He also sits on the National Immigration Forum board of directors.

Jebby Bush interviewed on CNN on November 20, 2012. mediaite com

Jebby Bush interviewed on CNN on November 20, 2012. (mediaite com)

Two weeks to the day after Obama won the 2012 presidential election, Jebby Bush was out on the airwaves, doing an interview with Soledad O’Brien on the Republican Party’s failure to capture the Latino vote. Finding promise in Latino Florida Governor Marco Rubio, criticizing Romney for failing to attempt to make inroads into the Latino community, he also suggested that to balance its emphasis on religious convictions, the Republican Party had to become a “pro-science.”

He made the same case in 2011 to reporter Marcos Restrepo of the publication Hispolitica, and not only gave his uncle a plug, but Obama as well: “In 2000, 2004, 2008 whoever was able to do well with the Hispanic vote eventually won the general election. I think Obama sees that, I think George W. recognized that and I think it is important for the party to recognize that, too.”

Just where might his political interests lead?

Jebby Bush is the leading name mentioned among Florida Republicans for its 26th congressional district in the 2014 election.

He also has put unwanted headlines for being drunk in public and resisting arrest almost a decade ago behind him.

Sandra Mary Algudady and John Ellis Bush Jr. , son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, exit Saint Jude Catholic church in Miami, Saturday May 29, 2010

Sandra Mary Al-Gudady and John Ellis Bush Jr. , son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, exit Saint Jude Catholic church in Miami, Saturday May 29, 2010. (AP)

Just as his father’s marriage to a Mexican woman has helped expand the clan’s political reach through the personal perspective gained by him and his brother, Jebby Bush has done likewise, marrying Sandra Mary Al-Gudady, an Arab-American, in 2010.

According to a Conservative Middle East Council article of October 28, 2008, Sandra Bush has served as director of the London-based StratReal Foundation, a global charity for children of all backgrounds.

She has worked closely with Jordan’s Queen Rania, who she named as a strong role model for Muslim business women in the Middle East.

During a briefing to the British Parliament  called “How Women are transforming the Middle East,” she made the case that a blanket view of all Muslim women wearing face coverings symbolized submission was a questionable one.

And, just as the four generations of the Kennedy family have remained a fixture for more than half a century of national and regional Democratic politics, so too has the Bush family been in Republican politics.

The characteristics of both clans are always evolving, a matter not just of changing issue and demographics but perhaps the more important element of life experiences shaping the perspective of those who people their generations as individual human beings.

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Categories: First Families, First Sons, George W. Bush, History, Presidential Grandchildren, Presidents, The Bushes

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6 replies »

  1. Great article about a really diverse traditionally Republican family dedicated to public service. That wing of the party appears to be disappearing or at least is obscured by the folks who are saying very crazy things. I doubt that identity politics will be enough to win over the Latino vote if moderate Republicans do not take their party back. (And if you had told me eight years ago that I would be calling Bushes “moderate” I would have laughed out loud.)

    • Thanks so much. I agree with you on the fate of the party. Only over time as the demographics shift younger and more Latino will the party perhaps more naturally shift moderate. I don’t think it can be done artificially. Even if the party powers back moderate candidates it is futile unless it has the solidity of a voter base. The one great lesson to the two Obama general elections is that motivated voters still hold the ultimate power. Primary rules, however, make that initial process still vulnerable to the manipulations of media and money.

  2. Thanks for the update on George P (Jebby) Bush. It appears he’s on his way to continuing the Bush family legacy. No matter what one’s political preference may be, it’s always fascinating to read the history of dynasties such as the Bush and Kennedy families. Thanks for another great story with photos, Carl. We’ve all watched “Jebby” grow up and he’s certainly off to a solid start with tutoring by his grandfather, uncle and father. What a trifecta!

    • It will be interesting to see whether George P. or Jebby is the first to win offi ce. I think voter demographics in Florida versus Texas will have a lot to do with it. Perhaps like their father and uncle they will both be elected to state office for an overlapping period of time.

  3. The American penchant for dynasty politics by turns fascinates and perplexes me. That is, what motivates both the dynastic candidates themselves and those who support them? As usual, you’ve done us all a service–and entertained us at the same time–by shedding some light on various aspects of these folks and what their lives are like. The pictures are fabulous and the insights first rate.

    • Thanks for your generous remarks about the story. I think that not even the biographers of John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush who succeeded in the mammoth undertaking of getting elected President like their fathers, Benjamin Harrison who also did so like his grandfather, as well as Robert Taft, who attempted but failed to attain the presidency as his father had, and even those sons, brothers, grandsons and nephews of numerous other Presidents who either succeeded or failed in their campaigns for other national, state and even local political office (Maureen Reagan is the only woman relative of a president who ran for political office, to my knowledge, a failed effort to win the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat from California) can give us a clear answer as to what motivated them – especially those who saw first-hand the obstacles, challenges and personal sacrifices necessary for the endeavor. In fact, its not even clear that most of these men really knew (or publicly disclosed) what moved them to carry on “the family business.”

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