Former President George W. Bush is no longer an albatross — and many of those who worked in his White House are now running for office, even touting their service to No. 43 in their campaigns.
"His approval rates are up — he's viewed as someone who as president did his level best every day to do what's in the best interest of the country, and that's respected," Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio told The Hill.
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Portman, a vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, directed the Office of Management and Budget under Bush and was among the first from his administration to win office in 2010, the Hill reports.
Those alumni currently seeking office "will be judged on their own merits, just as I was," Portman said.
Among those Bush associates now running for office are Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman who announced his candidacy for Virginia Senate last week; Dan Sullivan, who is running for the Senate in Alaska; Elise Stefanik, a congressional candidate in upstate New York; Taylor Griffin, who is also running for Congress, in North Carolina; and West Virginia House candidate Charlotte Lane.
In addition, two former Bush officials are running for governor, the Hill reports: Tom Foley in Connecticut and Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas.
Bush's approval ratings have risen from the 25 percent lows when he left office in 2009, the Hill reports, reaching positive territory for the first time last year.
"In previous races, it was a little bit different to have 'Bush administration official' next to your name," Stefanik told the Hill. She is the leading Republican seeking the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.
"President Bush's approval numbers are going up as President Obama's is going down," she added. "Regardless of whether people agreed with his policies, there's respect for his courage of conviction on his issues, and all the work he's done post-presidency."
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