The former President endorses the Republican in the race while his son attacks
Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue flew to Kennebunkport, Maine over the weekend to seek former President George H. W. Bush’s endorsement of his bid to fill an open Senate seat in Georgia.
Bush’s endorsement of the Republican candidate should have been a no-brainer. But the former President has a special affinity for Perdue’s Democratic opponent, Michelle Nunn, who is on leave from her job as CEO of Bush’s Points of Light Foundation. Bush has said in the past that he was “lucky” to have Nunn, who came to work with the Bush Family Foundation after Points of Light merged in 1992 with City Cares, a national volunteer organization she’d started in Georgia.
Bush did end up endorsing Perdue but he didn’t mention Nunn, saying his support for Perdue grew out of his increasing opposition to the Senate Democratic leadership. Control of the upper chamber is at stake this November. “I have lost any confidence in the current Senate leadership, and believe David Perdue will be an independent voice for Georgia while working for positive solutions to our toughest challenges,” Bush, 90, said in a statement. “Barbara and I commend him to every Georgian voter who cares about America’s future.”
But then on Monday, Bush’s son Neil Bush, who is chairman of the Points of Light board, issued a statement expressing unhappiness with Perdue. At issue is a a Perdue campaign that says Points of Light gave money to “inmates and terrorists.”
“That’s ridiculous. It really makes my blood boil to think that someone would make that kind of an allegation, whether it’s an independent political group or a candidate for office,” Neil Bush, 59, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Anyone who makes that claim needs to understand the facts and then they need to denounce those claims. To attack an organization founded by my father, whose integrity is unimpeachable, to smear our organization for political gain, is in my opinion shameful.”
The line was drawn from internal research into its own weaknesses the Nunn campaign compiled, which was then leaked to the press. Perdue’s campaign on Wednesday said it had no plans to take down the ad, despite Bush’s criticism. “Michelle Nunn’s own campaign plan highlights serious concerns about her group’s association with terrorist-linked organizations,” said Megan Whittemore, a Perdue spokeswoman. “The people of Georgia will have to decide if that’s who they want representing them in the U.S. Senate.”
But opposition research documents tend to paint worst-case scenario attacks, and even FactCheck.org said the Perdue attack distorted Nunn’s leaked memo. “Actually, the grants refer to $13,500 that eBay sellers—not the foundation—donated to the U.S. affiliate of the international charity Islamic Relief Worldwide,” the group said. “Also, there is no evidence Islamic Relief USA, a federally approved charity, has ties to the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas.”
Nunn said in a statement that she was “appreciative of what Neil Bush said.”
“Washington can learn a lot from organizations like Points of Light,” Nunn said. “But David Perdue playing politics and falsely attacking an organization that helps so many is exactly what’s wrong with Washington and politics today. David Perdue should take down his dishonest ads and quit falsely attacking Points of Light.”