Hello Ricocheters! Nancy Gibbs here, also posting for the first time, along with my co-author Michael Duffy.
We’ve watched with particular interest how The Presidents Club has come out of the shadows these last few days. First came the White House reunion: 41, 43 and 44 all together for the unveiling of George W. Bush’s portrait last week, a moment of bipartisan camaraderie even as the two campaigns were hurling mudballs at each other. Meanwhile Bill Clinton, Obama’s unmatched but unbridled surrogate, was causing the White House all kinds of heartburn by calling Mitt Romney’s Bain record “sterling.” He was back on message last night, when he joined Obama for three New York fundraisers and faithfully declared the prospect of a Romney presidency “calamitous” for the country.
We’ll discuss the Clinton Challenge later: for the moment, it is President Bush I am more curious about. At the Club reunion last week, the protocols were generally honored: “It’s been said that no one can ever truly understand what it’s like being President until they sit behind that desk and feel the weight and responsibility for the first time,” President Obama said. “And that’s why, from time to time, those of us who have had the privilege to hold this office find ourselves turning to the only people on Earth who know the feeling. We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences. We all love this country. We all want America to succeed. We all believe that when it comes to moving this country forward, we have an obligation to pull together.”
This was all but an echo of what Bush himself had said when he turned over the keys to Obama in January, 2009, with all the Club members standing by: “We want you to succeed,” Bush said. “Whether we're Democrat or Republican we care deeply about this country. All of us who have served in this office understand that the office itself transcends the individual.”
Which just makes me wonder: how will the Romney campaign handle the most recent Republican president—particularly this summer, as the conventions approach and the veepstakes loom and President Bush breaks silence with a new book about strategies for economic growth.
On May 15, the day Bush endorsed Romney, the campaign issued a press release touting the support of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; Bush’s endorsement did not merit a mention. The first President Bush and son Jeb have been embraced; is W. radioactive? Or due for a revival? I’d love to hear your thoughts.