Obama Heading to Texas for Bush Museum Dedication, Fundraising

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President Barack Obama is headed to Texas to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with former President George W. Bush in what could serve as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle against terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Obama is due to attend the dedication on Thursday of Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University, along with former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter and hundreds of Bush administration alumni.

While Democrat Obama and Republican Bush have deep political differences, they share a common belief that the United States must defend itself against terrorism.

The September 11 attacks defined Bush’s eight years in the White House and last week’s Boston Marathon bombing handed Obama another challenge to homeland security.

“They failed because, as Americans, we refused to be terrorized,” Obama said last week, referring to those who set off bombs near the marathon finish line. “They failed because we will not waver from the character and the compassion and the values that define us as a country.”

Bush used similar language to rally Americans.

Obama has hosted a number of fundraisers to help raise money for his party in the hope that Democrats can wrestle control of the House of Representatives from Republicans and add to the Democrats’ Senate majority in 2014 midterm elections.

Without adding Democratic seats, Obama may find it difficult to overcome Republican opposition to many of the priorities of his second term.

Thursday’s dedication of Bush’s library and museum has put the 43rd president back in the limelight he has largely avoided since leaving office in January 2009.

At the time, the United States was laboring under the burden of two wars and a collapsing economy. Bush’s approval rating at the time was 33 percent. A Washington Post-ABC poll this week put his approval rating at 47 percent, about equal to Obama’s.

The museum exhibits cover major points of Bush’s presidency and offer visitors an opportunity to decide how they would have responded to those challenges.

A central feature of the museum concerns the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Obama has found himself pursuing some of the same policies that Bush began, such using drones on military targets and trying to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.

Obama is expected to speak at the dedication along with the former presidents.