CINCINNATI — George W. Bush will visit Cincinnati in August to raise money for Republican senator Rob Portman, continuing a fundraising tour that some believe is meant to shore up support for vulnerable Republican congress members as their party struggles with a polarizing nominee.
The fundraising event is scheduled for 11 a.m. August 2 at the Great American Ball Park, and Portman for Senate communications director Michawn Rich confirmed Tuesday that Bush would be in attendance.
Bush and his father, fellow former president George H.W. Bush, both abstained from endorsing Trump in May when he became the Republican party's presumptive nominee, and neither plans to attend July's Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Recently, as many polls — including one posted Sunday by ABC News and the Washington Post — report Trump lagging behind Hillary Clinton in terms of public support, outlets like the New York Times have projected an image of the younger Bush as an 'unlikely savior' of the Republican Party, able to keep his party's representatives from being swept out of office by a possible anti-Trump tide come November.
Sen. Portman and Bush have a political history of working closely together; Portman served as both Director of the Office of Management and Budget and as United States Trade Representative during Bush's presidency.
Ohio Democrats blasted Portman's collaboration with Bush in a news release after the former president's attendance was announced; a spokesperson for Ted Strickland, who is running for Portman's current seat, said the former governor's campaign would "welcome President Bush to campaign with Senator Portman whenever he wants because it is the perfect opportunity to remind Ohioans about Portman’s devastating record of hurting our working families."
The Ohio Democratic Party also criticized Portman's time as a member of the Bush administration.
“Senator Portman is hoping that President Bush can distract from the damaging effect of Donald Trump at the top of the ticket — but all it’s going to do is remind voters of Portman’s decades-long record in Washington of pushing the interests of the wealthy and well-connected he serves at Ohio’s expense,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten. "You’d think that the last thing Portman would want to do is remind voters of his record of hurting working families under Bush, but with Trump at the top of the ticket, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
The divisive Republican nominee will be in Cincinnati next Wednesday for a private fundraiser of his own.