George W. Bush to make first appearance for brother Jeb

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WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Republican George W. Bush on Monday will seek to give a fresh burst of enthusiasm to his brother Jeb Bush's White House bid in South Carolina, marking the former president's first appearance on the 2016 campaign trail.

George W. Bush will appear with his younger brother at a rally in North Charleston, S.C., early on Monday evening, the Jeb Bush campaign said on Thursday.

The 69-year-old former president is highly popular in the Republican Party and particularly among South Carolina Republicans, who supported his 2000 and 2004 races for president.

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George W. Bush to make first appearance for brother Jeb
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Former US President George H. W. Bush shakes hands with his son, former US President George W. Bush's, during a dedication ceremony at the George W. Bush Library and Museum on the grounds of Southern Methodist University on April 25, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. The Bush library is dedicated to chronicling the presidency of the United State's 43rd President, George W. Bush. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Former President of the United States, George W. Bush, throws out the first pitch as his father Former President George H.W. Bush looks on before the Texas Rangers host the San Francisco Giants in Game Four of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Former President of the United States, George W. Bush, embraces his father Former President George H.W. Bush after throwing out the first pitch before the Texas Rangers host the San Francisco Giants in Game Four of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Former presidents George H.W. Bush, left, and George W. Bush share a laugh during dedication ceremonies for the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
Former presidents George H.W. Bush, left, and George W. Bush look over the crowd at dedication ceremonies for the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
Houston, USA. 17th Nov, 2013. Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, left, and George H.W. Bush ride onto the field before a game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders where they served as honorary team captains for the Texans on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Houston. Credit: George Bridges/MCT/Alamy Live News
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Former President of the United States, George W. Bush, throws out the first pitch as his father Former President George H.W. Bush looks on before the Texas Rangers host the San Francisco Giants in Game Four of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
US President George W. Bush (L) waves as he walks out of the Oval Office with his father, former President George H. W. Bush, after Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 at the White House in Washington, DC, September 25, 2008. The “ADA Amendments Act” will help ensure that individuals with disabilities – including people with diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer – qualify for protection under the ADA and obtain reasonable accommodations. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President George W. Bush (C) looks back towards photogrpahers as he walks out of the Oval Office with his father, former President George H. W. Bush, after Bush signed S. 3406, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 25, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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South Carolina has a sizable presence of U.S. military facilities and military veterans who have supported the former commander-in-chief.

It will be the most public role George W. Bush has taken to date in his brother's campaign. Jeb Bush brought his mother, Barbara Bush, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire last week.

George W. Bush has headlined several private fundraisers for Jeb Bush and on Wednesday his voice was heard on a radio ad in South Carolina.

"We need a strong leader with experience, ideas and resolve. There's no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush will be a great commander-in-chief for our military," the former president says in the ad.

Jeb Bush has drawn large crowds during his appearances in South Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday after experiencing something of a comeback with a fourth place finish in New Hampshire.

He has some ground to make up in South Carolina, however, with front-runner Donald Trump enjoying a big lead there ahead of the Feb. 20 primary vote.

At 6 p.m. EST, a Bush rally will be held at the North Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

"President Bush has been incredibly supportive of his brother's campaign and Governor Bush is excited to have him out on the trail," said Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell.

George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 remains a topic of debate in the race to find a successor to President Barack Obama, with Trump noting that he had opposed the war.

Bush's image has improved among Americans in the years since he left office in 2009. A CNN/ORC poll last June found that 52 percent of adults had a favorable impression of him, compared to about a third of Americans when he left office.

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