Former President George W. Bush says he’s ‘optimistic’ about the future of the country in spite of the ugliness that followed Donald Trump to Washington.
‘I don’t like the racism, and I don’t like the name-calling, and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,’ the 70-year-old Republican told People magazine. ‘Nobody likes that.’
But it’s nothing that the nation hasn’t seen before, Bush said, and President Trump will soon realize that doing the job is much different than campaigning for it.
Bush left the White House with a bottom-of-the-barrel approval rating and stayed silent for much of Barack Obama’s tenure. He’s doing interviews now to promote a book of his paintings of wounded warriors, Portraits in Courage, that he’s using to raise money for and awareness of veterans issues.
The former president and his wife, Laura, did not vote for Trump. They wrote in their votes, which they have not shared.
In an interview with People from their Dallas, Texas, home the former president also revealed that he hasn’t spoken to Trump over the phone. The sitting president hasn’t called him for advice. Neither did Barack Obama.
‘It doesn’t hurt my feelings. I understand the nature of the job,’ Bush told the publication. ‘There’s a lot incoming when you’re the president and you just got to focus on your job.’
The Bush family has been at odds with Trump since the GOP primary, when George’s younger brother, Jeb, 64, went head-to-head with the billionaire and lost.
Trump called the younger Bush ‘low energy’ and criticized his brother for sending American troops into Iraq, a war he said was a ‘big fat mistake.’
Still, George and Laura attended Trump’s inauguration last month. Barbara Bush and former President George H.W. Bush, 92, did not after a doctor recommended against it.
Speaking to People, George W. Bush, said he’s not overly worried about the path Trump’s taking the country down, even though the political climate since he took office has become ‘pretty ugly.’
‘We’ve been through these periods before. And we’ve always had a way to come out of it,’ he said. I’m more optimistic than some.’
Bush said all presidents have to get their sea legs under them.
‘It happens every time. People campaign and then the job’s different when they get in there. And the job has a way of bringing a reality to each president’s situation, and that’s gonna happen now,’ he said.
The 43rd President of the United States has avoided bashing Trump travel ban preventing travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States, even though it could have an adverse effect on the Bush Center, the organization he uses as a vehicle for advocacy that also maintains his presidential library.
‘When President Obama got elected, friends would call: “You must speak out! You must do this, you must do that.” Turns out, other people are doing the same thing this time,’ Bush said. ‘I didn’t feel like speaking out before because I didn’t want to complicate the job and I’m not going to this time. However, at the Bush Center we are speaking up.’
Located on the grounds of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the organization holds immigration ceremonies and leadership trainings for Muslim women from the Middle East.
People noted that Trump’s travel restrictions could complicate the Bush Center’s work.
The former president replied, ‘Now that you mention it, it might bother me but we’ll figure out how to bring them over.’
In an Monday appearance on the Today show, Bush was also asked to comment on Trump’s travel ban that has been criticized for the way it affects Muslims.
‘I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or to not worship at all,’ the former president said. ‘A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely.’
Continuing, Bush said of his own time in office, which began nine months before terror struck on 9/11, ‘I understood right off the bat that this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people — they want to advance an ideology and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past.’
Bush refused to take a definitive stand on Trump executive action yet said: ‘I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law.’