The free, 90-minute event is designed to honor the senior Mr. Bush and also will celebrate civic and philanthropic leaders and the contributions of more than 4,500 Daily Point of Light Award winners.
Organizers said the 41st president believes public service is central to a meaningful life.
“Service is shared across differences and certainly transcends party lines,” Ms. Nunn said.
The forum also will showcase the advances of service under the Obama administration.
Aides said Mr. Obama’s schedule just has him touching down for the Bush forum and then leaving the same day, though the state party hopes he sticks around for a town hall or political fundraiser.
Texas may seem deep red, but Democrats think it’s getting bluer.
“I always believed that we can win Texas in 2012,” former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told The Washington Times.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine told Democrats earlier this month they have a steep climb because the second President Bush was re-elected in 2004 in Texas by 23 points.
“Then came 2006 and a Democratic resurgence. Now the Texas Democratic Party is one of the best organized in the country,” he said at the party convention, which he chose to hold in Austin to showcase the party’s potential in the state.
Mr. Obama lost to Republican Sen. John McCain 55.5 percent to 43.8 percent last fall, in part because Republicans spent little money in the noncompetitive state. Democrats added to their numbers during the hard-fought primary contest between Mr. Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton — when 2 million of 2.9 million primary participants were first-time voters.
The party recently has made gains in Congress and the Statehouse, where they are two seats from recapturing power. Ms. Gray said she thinks the Obama visit will boost morale.
She said national Democrats who once scoffed have shifted their tone since noticing the state’s gains and are putting money behind the possibility. The DNC has placed dozens of paid staffers in Texas.
As for the Democrats’ hopes of winning back Texas, Mr. Preston said he isn’t worried.
“That’s almost funny at this point. They are tilting at windmills since this one of the reddest states in country,” he said.
Nevertheless, the trend is encouraging for Democrats, who once enjoyed winning Texas.