Former President Bush endorses Hutchison

January 22, 2010 5:10:29 PM PST
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison secured a high-profile endorsement Friday from former President George H.W. Bush in the increasingly contentious battle for the Texas GOP gubernatorial nomination. Bush said he and his wife, Barbara, are supporting Hutchinson over Gov. Rick Perry in the March 2 Republican primary because she is an effective leader who has the right vision and values to lead the state.

"A vote for Kay Bailey Hutchison is a vote for a conservative leader who can and will deliver positive action on so many issues facing Texas," said Bush as he stood in the driveway of his Houston home next to Hutchison and his wife.

Hutchison said she was humbled by the endorsement.

"I could not be more excited and thrilled that (Bush) is here, as the quintessential Texan endorsing me today to lead Texas," she said.

Bush said he has nothing against Perry, whom he has campaigned for previously. Perry was lieutenant governor when Bush's son, then-Gov. George W. Bush, was elected president in 2000 and resigned, making Perry governor.

"I have no issues with Rick Perry. I think he's treated me very nicely since I've been out of office," Bush said. "But we just feel close to (Hutchison) and know she can do this job. So it's more about what I'm for than whether I'm against something."

Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry's campaign, said the governor is focused on his own endorsements, which include more than 100 trade groups, individuals and conservative organizations.

"Gov. Perry respects President Bush, thinks he's been an outstanding public servant and holds him in high regard," Miner said.

Hutchison has said Texas needs a change in leadership after a decade of Perry in office. Perry has portrayed Hutchison as a Washington, D.C., insider who is out of touch with the needs of Texans.

Earlier this week, former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker announced his support for Hutchison. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also has endorsed her.

Perry planned to trot out some high profile support of his own as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is set to campaign for him in the Houston area on Feb. 7.

Polls have shown Perry is ahead in the race by 10 to 12 points.

Bush said he is not fazed by the poll numbers, telling reporters that polls when he ran for president in 1988 predicted he was "doomed to failure."

"I think she's doing well. I think she's going to win. That I'm sure of," he said.