The Associated Press
By Anita Chang
October 15, 2002
Barbara Bush on Tuesday became the latest Bush family member to help state Attorney General John Cornyn in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat.
"We need a senator who's close to the president, can work with the president, and the president needs John Cornyn," she told supporters during a fund-raising luncheon at the Fort Worth Club.
The event follows a Cornyn fund-raiser last week in Houston headlined by President Bush's nephew, George P. Bush. He is the son of Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida.
Other Bush family members who have campaigned for Cornyn include President Bush, former President Bush and first lady Laura Bush. Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush senior adviser Karen Hughes have also come to Texas to throw their support behind Cornyn.
Barbara Bush pointed out that she usually does not campaign for candidates outside the family.
"I can honestly tell you except for two sons, I have not done much campaigning in the last 10 years, but I feel so strongly about John that I had to come here," she said.
Tickets were $250 per plate, and officials with the Cornyn campaign said they expect the event to raise $100,000 to $125,000.
While the Bushes have helped Cornyn, his Democratic opponent, Ron Kirk, has received fund-raising assistance out of state from national Democrats such as New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
But Cornyn has the luxury of being a Republican candidate in a conservative state, according to political analysts. In addition, the Bush family's support for Cornyn just makes Kirk's campaign that much more difficult.
"When President Bush goes on Cornyn's television ads and says we need John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate, there isn't a good way for Kirk to counter that," said Rice University political science professor Earl Black.
Justin Lonon, press aide to Kirk's campaign, said that although Barbara Bush is well respected, voters should not be swayed by the Bush family's influence.
"This is not a referendum on George Bush. This election is between Ron Kirk and John Cornyn, and given the choice between these two candidates, the choice is clear and voters will support Ron Kirk on Election Day," he said.
A large portion of Barbara Bush's brief speech included details of her recent family vacation in Maine.
And she brought a mother's perspective to the Senate race, noting that another Republican in Washington would greatly help her son's agenda.
"We've got to have John there, any mother will tell you, to help her boy," Bush said.