The White House entered into an escalating war of words with both Bush presidents yesterday after news broke that former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush both slammed President Trump in a new book slated to go on sale later this month.
“If one presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had,” a White House official said in a statement sent to numerous news outlets. “And that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
The scathing statement, which stressed that Trump “remains focused on keeping his promises to the American people by bringing back jobs, promoting an ‘America First’ foreign policy and standing up for the forgotten men and woman of our great country,” came after critical passages of Mark Updegrove’s new book, “The Last Republicans,” surfaced in published reports.
In the book, which is focused on the two former presidents based on interviews conducted before the election, George H.W. Bush reportedly refers to Trump as a “blowhard” and says, “I don’t like him. I don’t know much about him … And I’m not too excited about him being (our) leader.”
In another passage about Trump, George W. Bush told Updegrove he felt he “doesn’t know what it means to be president.”
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The book also reveals that neither man cast his vote for Trump. George H.W. Bush said he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush said he left the top of his ballot blank.
The excerpts release came less than a month after George W. Bush delivered a blistering rebuke of the state of American politics during an address at the George W. Bush Institute that many considered a rebuke of the Trump presidency, though he didn’t mention the president by name. During his speech, Bush condemned “nationalism distorted into nativism” and said he was dismayed to see “discourse degraded by casual cruelty.”
“Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said, adding that “bigotry seems emboldened.”
And though the back-and-forth is sending shockwaves through the world of politics, former Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors, who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, said he doesn’t think it’s reflective of a growing divide in the GOP.
“The Bush family is deeply respected in this country, and one of the reasons for that is they’ve tended not to meddle with current presidents,” Connors said. “In this case, (George W. Bush’s brother) Jeb was ridiculed by Trump, and that builds family resentment. So be it. … I don’t approve of everything Donald Trump does. I don’t like Trump’s style. But if Jeb Bush were not involved in this, I don’t think they’d be saying anything.”
Flip Flop: “I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president,” Mr. Bush explained to Fox News’s Sean Hannity in 2014, on why he refused to critique his successor’s policies. “I think it’s bad for the presidency, for that matter.” – George W. Bush, 2014
But former Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston disagreed.
“Both presidents Bush are appalled by his behavior,” Johnston said. “They tried to comport themselves in a certain way as president, unlike Trump, who gets more outrageous by the day.”
Johnston said the feud is evidence of divisions in the Republican party that will only intensify in the months ahead. “If they don’t pass the tax bill, the war will be fiercer,” Johnston said. “The moderate Republicans in Congress are furious to be put in this position. … Donald Trump is not a Republican; he’s a Trumper. He commits verbal abuse against his own friends and supporters. The Bushes are representing a lot of Republicans who can’t speak out because they’re up for re-election and they don’t want to alienate Trump supporters.”
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