Friends, Alumni of Presidents Bush Hit the Streets of South Carolina for Jeb

PHOTO: Jeb Bushs friends and alumni of his father and brothers administration campaign in Charleston, SC.PlayCandace Smith/ABC News
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As more than 50 volunteers gathered in the Embassy Suites on a misty Friday afternoon, the message was clear.

"We're here en masse and we're not messing around," Eric Thomas, 22, said.

He was one of the youngest volunteers for Jeb Bush this weekend. Many old pals of the former Florida governor and alumni of his father and brother's administration came out in droves, most traveling from the sunshine state to door knock, phone bank, and engage in some old fashioned retail politicking.

It was a trip organized by Husein Cumber, an executive vice president with Florida East Coast Industries who has known Bush for years, after volunteering for his 1998 gubernatorial campaign.

“By having us tell them these personal stories, they [voters] now have the opportunity to know Jeb in a personal way that you can't get in a 30 second sound bite …but can only get by someone knocking on the door and having a conversation with you,” Cumber said.

"The Validators"

The campaign calls these groups "The Validators", supporters and donors that know Bush or the family personally. The campaign is planning to deploy many of these groups into the early states throughout January and February, redeploying them through other states if Bush can survive an arduous process in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

Many are friends of Presidents Bush past. Frances Fisher flew from Palm Beach with her husband Jeffrey and 12-year-old Harrison. She worked in President George H.W Bush's administration and on First Lady Barbara Bush's Advance Team. She and her husband recently hosted a fundraiser featuring Laura Bush.

"I worked for 41, Jeb's father so that's been my motivation all these years," she said. "Once you know the Bush family and you're touched by them and have an opportunity to serve them you just want to keep on going."

Those sentiments seemed to be echoed by South Carolina residents. In one door that Cumber and his wife, LeAnna knocked on, the voter seemed unimpressed by Jeb.

"He's not doing well. I don't know about him," she lamented.

But she added, "He's a Bush, you know we already like the Bushes."

This much, at least anecdotally, seemed to be true. Both Bush presidents won their respective South Carolina primaries.

Across the state in Hilton Head, on Saturday evening Bush was finding this to be evident. Over 550 voters (a large crowd for him) packed the Marriott ballroom; an enthusiastic crowd that gave him a standing ovation twice.

Perhaps, knowing the lingering popularity of his family, Bush invoked them, engendering much applause from the crowd.

"I started campaigning in dad was running, you can imagine, in Midland, Texas, they had an elephant. George, Jeb, Marvin, or Neal, Marvin and Doro. We all had to sit on this elephant with a picture with my dad and my mom on the ground. This is the kind of stuff you do in political life. So I'm like 800 years old in political—it’s like dog years," he joked.

Will George W. Appear on the Trail?

A recent Bloomberg national poll found that 77 percent of Republican voters give former President George W. Bush a favorable rating, in stark contrast to his dismal exit polls when he left office, with only 34 percent of Americans approving of his overall job.

But, out on the trail, voters at Bush's town halls generally are endeared to his family, a fact that George P. Bush, Bush's eldest son and heir apparent to the family throne knows all too well.

"Yeah, my uncle is very popular here," he told ABC News. "I don't have control over the schedule and calendar but expect to see some Bushes out there campaigning," he added.

Bush told Fox News that he would "consider" asking his brother to join him out on the trail, a move that could be fraught with complications.

"There's a lot that has been said about how the name hurts than has been said about how the name helps, said Jorge Arrizurieta, a prominent Bush supporter who participated this past weekend. "And in a republican primary, I would venture to say the name helps a lot more than it hurts."

Arrizurieta was the assistant to the National Chairman for President George H.W. Bush's Transition Team and the State Finance Vice Chairman for the George W. Bush Presidential campaign.

He mused that South Carolina would seem to be a logical place to unleash the 43rd president.

"I don't know for certain if that's when it's going to happen," Arrizurieta said. "We do know that he's incredibly popular and we do know that we want to win and need to win."

Making Headway

Over the two days, the supporters knocked on more that 5,000 doors, Cumber told ABC News. On the stops that ABC News was present for, some voters expressed support for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, but many were open to the idea of a Bush presidency.

Rachel Miller, a North Charleston resident, was still in her pajamas when she was approached by a group of volunteers. She admitted that she fit the profile of a Trump supporter. "I'm like a lot of the people who like Donald Trump. I just don't like Donald Trump," she told a volunteer.

But by the end of their conversation, Miller was putting a Jeb! bumper sticker on her car.

"I'm proud for him that he has people like this care that came into our neighborhood today to tell us that maybe don't know as much as others," Miller said.

She added, I'm not saying that other candidates aren't doing it but they haven't been to my neighborhood."