03/26/2014 12:11 am ET Updated Mar 26, 2014

George H.W. Bush Endorses Sally Atwater For South Carolina Superintendent

Former President George H.W. Bush has come out in support of Republican Sally Atwater, a candidate for superintendent of South Carolina's education system, Newsmax reported Tuesday.

The endorsement -- rare from the former president -- came ahead of a fundraiser for Atwater, hosted at the residence of Bush's daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch, Tuesday evening.

Atwater was married to the late Lee Atwater, who served as a Bush campaign strategist. Bush promoted Lee Atwater to chair the Republican Party following his election in 1988.

The former president touted Sally Atwater's experience and dedication in a statement to Newsmax.

"I was pleased to learn Sally is running for this critically important office in South Carolina after dedicating so much of her life as a teacher to understanding and meeting the needs of students and parents alike," Bush said in the statement. "That real-life experience working where 'the rubber meets the road' -- combined with Sally's commitment to public service -- will serve all stakeholders of South Carolina's education system well. Barbara and I endorse and commend her to one and all."

Atwater faces seven other candidates in the Republican primary to replace Superintendent Mick Zais. Shortly after Zais announced he would not seek reelection, Atwater jumped into the race.

"It was Gov. Nikki Haley's reform initiative for education that really inspired me to run," Atwater told Newsmax. "This measure means everything to the children here in South Carolina. I want to help her implement it."



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