It has been seven years since he dominated the American political stage, but his approachable Texas drawl remains instantly recognizable. And former President George W. Bush’s testimonial for his brother Jeb’s campaign, in an ad now running in South Carolina, begins with a phrase he made familiar: “The first job of the president is to protect America.”
Right to Rise, the “super PAC” supporting Jeb Bush’s campaign, has been deploying well-respected surrogates to make the case for his national-security credentials. First, four military officers praised Mr. Bush’s “guts.” Now, it is the former president, who says Mr. Bush’s “good heart and strong backbone” will unite the country and the world in the fight against terrorism. It is a positive message for the former Florida governor, who has been aggressively attacking his rivals.
His famous family is stepping up to aid Mr. Bush, who continues to struggle in the polls: His mother, Barbara, hit the campaign trail this past week in New Hampshire, and the ad featuring the former president drew immediate notice there, though the South Carolina Republican primary is not until Feb. 20.
“I am my own man,” Mr. Bush insisted last year when, trying to play down his lineage, he even left his surname off his logo. Now he is turning to his family for help. And it may be a canny move: Right to Rise says Republicans’ opinions of George W. Bush remain very positive. And one ofJeb Bush’s most memorable debate moments, which was widely shared on social media, came when he defended his older brother, saying he “kept America safe.” Now, the former president is assuring voters that Mr. Bush would do the same.
Changing channels ...
Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign apparently did not learn its lesson after he was criticized in Iowa for conveying the impression that The Des Moines Register had endorsed him, when its editorial page had actually come down in favor of Hillary Clinton. In the New Hampshire version of the ad, his campaign seems to suggest that he was endorsed by The Valley News, which has yet to endorse either Democrat.
New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, found a cheeky way of accusing Mr. Kasich’s rivals of “mudslinging.” In a new ad, actors portraying the likes of Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie, Donald J. Trump, and Senator Marco Rubio are slathered in mud. Mr. Bush’s stand-in flings bits of dirt with a conspicuously limp, left-handed wrist snap. Mr. Rubio’s, however, is not a grown man but a boy, a foot shorter than the other candidates, who frantically sips from a water bottle.
The synthesizers and throbbing bass halfway through the most recent Trump campaign commercial might be more at home in an N.F.L. pregame video or a homemade dubstep track. But it gives a unique energy to the ad, in which voters do much of the talking, and sets it apart from Mr. Trump’s most recent ad attacking Senator Ted Cruz.
$4 MILLION How much Right to Rise has spent on “Vane,” attacking Mr. Rubio on immigration policy and as a flip-flopper, the most for a negative ad of the cycle so far.
$84 MILLION Spent so far by all candidates and super PACs in New Hampshire this cycle.