‘His example lives on’
Donald Trump praises ‘unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country’ while Barack Obama notes ‘legacy of service that may never be matched’
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Trump issued a statement less than an hour after Bush’s death being announced and the White House lowered its flag to half mast. “Melania and I join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of former President George HW 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.”
The current president noted Bush’s service in the second world war, at the CIA and in political office. He served as vice-president for eight years during Ronald Reagan’s two terms as president, before being elected to the White House himself, culminating in “a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the cold war”.
The statement added: “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.”
Trump has previously clashed bitterly with the Bush family, but the speed and warmth of the statement contrasted with his slow response to the death of Republican Senator John McCain earlier this year. The president did not attend McCain’s funeral, where Obama and George W Bush both delivered tributes.Advertisement
Obama visited George HW Bush at his residence in Houston earlier this week in what was described as a rekindling of what was already a warm friendship. On Friday Obama, the 44th president, said in a statement that America had “lost a patriot and humble servant”. He continued: “It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try.
“After seventy-three years of marriage, George and Barbara Bush are together again now, two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example … Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight – and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.”
Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in the 1992 presidential election, said he and Hillary gave thanks for Bush’s “great long life of service, love and friendship”. “ I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children and their growing brood.
“He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina,” said Clinton, adding that he would “always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts”.
Announcing the death of his “dear Dad” in a statement on Friday, Bush said: “George HW Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”