It appears that both Bush presidents are not crazy about President Donald Trump.
Historian Mark Updegrove spoke with CNN to discuss his new book about both former presidents titled “The Last Republicans.” He told CNN that George H.W. Bush voted for Hillary Clinton and called Trump a “blowhard.” He also stated that Trump “doesn’t know what it means to be president.”
The White House recently responded with their own criticism. “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 stated. “And that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
The official continued, “President 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 women of our great county.”
This is the first time both Bushes publicly issued such blunt criticism of Trump. They went on the record to give their opinions on the 2016 presidential race. While Bush Jr.’s criticism was more moderate, the elder Bush didn’t hold back. He stated that he isn’t “too excited about him being a leader.”
Updegrove wrote that the younger Bush didn’t think Trump would win the presidency when he first entered the race. When Trump became the GOP nominee, he was surprised. “When you’re not out there and you’re not with the people, you don’t get a good sense of (the mood),” he said.
The younger Bush is right — many miscalculated the impact Trump had on many voters who kept silent about their opinions. It was the “silent majority” that got him elected.
As far as their chosen candidates, neither Bush voted for Trump. The elder Bush stated that he voted for Hillary Clinton while the younger told Updegrove that he left that part of the ballot blank. He voted Republican on the rest of the ballot. He also indicated that he did not vote for Hillary Clinton because he was concerned about her judgment.
George W. Bush told Updegrove that 2016 was “a strange election year,” and that both candidates were “among the few in the country” who made each other “viable.” This statement illustrates what many Americans felt — while a large number of Trump voters were enamored by the candidate, many others voted for Trump to prevent Clinton from winning the presidency.
The title of Updegrove’s book comes from a comment made by George W. Bush. In 2016, he told Updegrove that he feared that he “will be the last Republican president.” According to the author, this statement was not about Clinton possibly winning the election, it was because he saw that the GOP was having a bit of an identity crisis. It was also because Trump is not a Republican in the traditional sense — while he exhibits conservative qualities, he also has a populist bent.
Updegrove gave his opinions on the younger Bush’s comments. “There’s no question that I think there’s a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. And the Republicans have to figure out who they are, and what they stand for.”
The author is correct in his assessment. As a matter of fact, both parties are in a season where they are both figuring out who they really are. If the GOP is going through a transformation, hopefully it will come back to true conservatism.