The passing of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday generated responses and condolences from world leaders past and present. There has been heightened interest in how President Donald Trump would respond to the death of the 41st President of the United States.
Trump, who has received criticism for his lack of tact, expressed his appreciation for Bush with a press statement and comments on Twitter. He also canceled a G20 press conference in respect for Bush’s death.
President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2018
Trump plans to attend Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington. He later announced the closing of federal executive departments and agencies on Dec. 5 “as a mark of respect for George Herbert Walker Bush, the forty-first President of the United States.”
The White House statement inaccurately pointed out that Bush went to Yale and then the Navy. Bush enlisted in the Navy at the age of 18 and then attended Yale after the war. The statement also misspelled “judgment,” which the Trump camp has done in the past.
“Melania and I join with a grieving Nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away last night.
“Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service—to be, in his words, ‘a thousand points of light’ illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world.
“President Bush always found a way to set the bar higher. As a young man, he captained the Yale baseball team and served as the youngest aviator in the United States Navy during the Second World War. Later in life, he rose to the pinnacle of American politics as a Congressman from Texas, envoy to China, Director of Central Intelligence, Vice President of eight years to President Ronald Reagan, and finally President of the United States.
“With sound judgement [sic], common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.
“Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family—especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41.”
There has been tension between Trump and the Bush family, particularly after Trump engaged in a war of words with Republican 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, George H.W. Bush’s son, in the primaries. During the 2016 presidential race, George H.W. Bush called Trump a “blowhard” and said he would vote for a Democratic candidate. The White House wrote to CNN that George W. Bush’s decision to enter a war with Iraq in 2003 was “one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”
A reporter on Saturday asked Trump: “Mr. President, do you regret any of your comments about George H.W. Bush’s family?”
Trump declined not to answer, tersely saying, “Thank you very much, everybody.”