Barbara Bush visits Vermont to support Rainville

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(Host) Former First Lady Barbara Bush was in South Burlington on Wednesday to help raise money and campaign for GOP House candidate Martha Rainville.

VPR’s Neal Charnoff reports:

(Barbara Bush) “I’m also known as The Enforcer in our family.”

(Charnoff) According to the Rainville campaign, this was Barbara Bush’s first appearance on behalf of a candidate in three years. This comes on the heels of a visit by First Lady Laura Bush, who spoke to Rainville supporters in May.

Supporters paid $125 for the General Reception. There was also a private reception held at $1000 per couple.

With Martha Rainville at her side, Barbara Bush spoke to the crowd of roughly 200 people for fifteen minutes.

The former first lady opened with jokes about grandchildren, and the never-ending stream of guests to her home. She also made light fun of her husband’s friendship with President Bill Clinton, acknowledging those who refer to them as The Odd Couple .

(Bush) “At a dinner in Washington, George W even announced that after Bill’s second heart surgery, when he came out of the four-hour operation, he awakened to be surrounded by his loved ones, Hilary, Chelsea and George, my husband. To which President Clinton responds These Bushes will do anything to get another president in the family.”

(Charnoff) Mrs. Bush pointed out that the relationship between Clinton and her husband tightened when they traveled together to raise money for tsunami and hurricane relief, and showed how friendship can trump political differences.

But the heart of Mrs. Bush’s speech echoed President Bush’s recent pronouncements about the war on terror. She likened the current crisis to the Cold War, and said that having Martha Rainville in Congress would be an essential ingredient in the fight against terrorism.

(Bush) “Despite the negative press and the low poll numbers, the Presidents unwavering in his determination to defeat international network of terrorists, but this war must be a team effort, including a strong Congress who understands the mission at hand, and who can make thoughtful decisions. I cannot think of anyone who fits that description better than Martha Rainville.”

(Charnoff) Mrs. Bush said that as the first female Adjutant General of the National Guard, Martha Rainville has been a role model and an inspiration to many.

(Bush) “She broke the glass ceiling, in a military institution, and proved herself time and time again, under more than the most difficult circumstances that our nation has faced.”

(Charnoff) The former first lady also acknowledged the difficulty of running as a Republican in Vermont.

(Bush) “I know that Vermont is a very strong independent state when it comes to politics, and that running as a Republican is certainly very challenging. I have battle scars to prove it. However, it takes the right person at the right time with the right qualities to bring a new voice to the Congress, and that person is Martha Rainville.”


(Charnoff) Mrs. Bush also met briefly with Governor Jim Douglas and a former Vermont First Lady and Lieutenant Governor, Barbara Snelling.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Neal Charnoff in South Burlington.

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