Former President George W. Bush, whose push for immigration reform and the invasion of Iraq spurred a backlash that helped result in the rise of Donald J. Trump, is just not proud of the present state of the Republican Party.
“I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist,” Mr. Bush stated in an interview on NBC’s “Today” present that aired on Tuesday, selling his new ebook of work and essays honoring immigrants in America.
“But I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture — a simple painter,” added the forty third president, who stated he printed the ebook to “elevate” the discourse round immigration.
Over the weekend, Mr. Bush known as on congressional Republicans to tone down their “harsh rhetoric about immigration” and urged them to enact complete modifications, together with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“The problem with the immigration debate is that one can create a lot of fear,” he told CBS.
Mr. Bush has principally steered away from political fights after leaving workplace in 2009 with low approval rankings stemming from the bloody aftermath of his invasion of Iraq. He has been extra prepared to weigh in after the departure of Mr. Trump, who lashed out at him throughout the 2016 presidential marketing campaign after suggesting Mr. Bush ought to have been impeached for invading Iraq. Mr. Trump additionally attacked Mr. Bush’s brother Jeb, who started the marketing campaign as a top-tier contender for the celebration’s nomination.
Immigration is now the difficulty that divides them most.
Mr. Bush’s help of a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, later adopted in extra restricted kind by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, proved deeply unpopular with the celebration’s base — and Mr. Trump took benefit of that political opening by taking a a lot more durable line, together with pushing for building of a border wall.
A Reuters poll in March discovered that 56 p.c of Republicans don’t favor a path to citizenship, up from 38 p.c who held that place early in Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Mr. Bush acknowledged President Biden’s victory on Nov. 8, 2020, among the many first high-profile Republicans to take action. And Mr. Biden consulted Mr. Bush and former President Obama earlier than asserting the Sept. 11, 2021 deadline for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In the interview on Tuesday, Mr. Bush expressed his disgust on the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters searching for to overthrow the outcomes of the election.
“It kind of made me sick — not kind of made me sick, it did make me sick,” he stated. “I felt ill. I just couldn’t believe it.”
However, the vote to certify the election, which got here hours after the riot, confirmed his religion “in the institutional stability of our country,” he added.
In his CBS interview, Mr. Bush — who ran hard-edged, extremely partisan presidential campaigns — expressed bewilderment on the state of politics at the moment, saying he was “shocked” that folks had been shocked when he embraced Michelle Obama throughout John McCain’s funeral in 2018.
“Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they can’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends,” he stated.