Former President George W. Bush shocked a group of donors to the Jeb Bush campaign on Sunday night with some blunt talk about one of his brother's biggest rivals – and it isn't Donald Trump.
“I just don’t like the guy,” Bush said about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday night, according to Politico
, reporting conversations with donors who attended the event.
“The tenor of what he said about the other candidates was really pretty pleasant," one donor noted. "Until he got to Cruz.”
According to Politico, Bush took a harsh view on Cruz's apparent alliance
with Trump, the GOP front-runner, when they stood together at a Capitol Hill rally last month in opposition to the Iran deal. He also noted that he found it suspicious that Trump has criticized every other candidate, except for Cruz.
One donor paraphrased George W. Bush's remarks: "He said he found it ‘opportunistic’ that Cruz was sucking up to Trump
and just expecting all of his support to come to him in the end.”
Another donor said that “He sort of looks at this like Cruz is doing it all for his own personal gain, and that’s juxtaposed against a family that’s been all about public service and doing it for the right reasons.
"He's frustrated to have watched Cruz basically hijack the Republican Party of Texas and the Republican Party in Washington."
Cruz's campaign initially declined to comment on the former president's remarks, however, a statement from the senator was released Monday night.
“I have great respect for George W. Bush, and was proud to work on his 2000 campaign and in his administration," Cruz said. "It's no surprise that President Bush is supporting his brother and attacking the candidates he believes pose a threat to his campaign. I have no intention of reciprocating. I met my wife Heidi working on his campaign, and so I will always be grateful to him."
However, Politico reports that Freddy Ford, George W. Bush's spokesman, pushed back at the donors' reaction that he views Cruz as his brother's main obstacle in the 15-candidate primary field.
"The first words out of President Bush's mouth last night were that Jeb is going to earn the nomination, win the election, and be a great president," said Ford "He does not view Sen. Cruz as Gov. Bush's most serious rival."
George W. Bush, who now resides in Dallas, has appeared in four fundraising events in less than a month for his brother's campaign, hoping to capitalize on the family legacy and donor network, Poilitico reports.
In an attempt to reward new donors to the Jeb Bush campaign, he will also be appearing along with his father, former President George H.W. Bush at an event in Houston this weekend – an opportunity to see two former presidents and, potentially, a third in the same room.
But despite the 43rd president's recent appearances at events, a donor told Politico that "He emphasized that he’s not going to be out on the campaign trail doing public events." The donor added, "“He wants to be helpful and supportive like any brother would be. But he said, ‘You’re not going to see a lot of me.’"
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