Why Jeb Bush Might Want George W. to Hit the Trail

PHOTO: George H.W. Bush is flanked by his sons George W. Bush and Jeb Bush after completing a parachute jump in Kennebunkport on June 12, 2009 for his 85th birthday.PlayGregory Rec/Getty Images
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There are only two presidential candidates running in 2016 whose families boast former presidents.

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One is Hillary Clinton, who, earlier this week, unleashed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the campaign trail. The other is Jeb Bush, who hinted that he may soon bring out a former president of his own: His big brother, George W. Bush.

“It is something to consider, because he is very popular,” Jeb Bush said in an interview with Fox News Tuesday.

He elaborated on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” calling his brother “the most popular president amongst Republicans in this country.”

Clinton calls her husband her “secret weapon,” but what about George W.?

Former President Bush’s popularity has improved since leaving office, hitting 52 percent favorability in a June 2015 CNN-ORC poll. But this marked the first time since the beginning of his second term in 2005 that the former president polled at higher than 50 percent.

After leaving the White House with a dismal 34 percent approval rating, some people have questioned whether the elder Bush’s legacy has hindered his brother’s own presidential ambitions.

Although Jeb Bush, 62, has rejected the notion that his brother is a burden to his campaign, George W.’s presence on the campaign trail would mark a shift from 2008 and 2012, when Bush 43 stayed almost entirely out of the spotlight.

Unlike former President Bill Clinton, who actively stumped for both his wife and, later, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, 69, only offered his endorsements for John McCain and Mitt Romney.

At the time, former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon explained to ABC News that "Bill Clinton loves to be on the radar [and] George W. Bush does not."

But former President Bush’s absence from those campaigns may not have been an accident.

“Frankly, Republican strategists do not want to remind the American people of those eight years of Bush's presidency,” Democratic strategist Mark Siegel told ABC News in 2012.

Jeb Bush’s campaign has not announced specifics about any potential appearances by the former president. George W. Bush’s office did not reply to a request for comment.