Barbara Bush blamed Donald Trump for her crisis in her long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease that hit one day in June 2016. An ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. She was accompanied by two former presidents who had been at home with her that day, her husband and her oldest son, and trailed in a car driven by the Secret Service. The controversial presidential campaign and Trump’s ridicule of son Jeb Bush in particular had riled her. “Angst,” she described.
Jeb, whose presidential campaign was already history, urged her to let it go, to focus on herself and have faith in the country.
“There’s just a lot of angst” among those distressed by President Trump’s leadership, Jeb Bush said. “So I think one of the solutions is don’t watch it; don’t obsess.”
“Jeb said, ‘Mom, don’t worry about things you can’t do anything about,’ ” Barbara Bush recalled. “He’s right. Just do good, make life better for someone else.”
When Barbara was asked how she thought things were going in the USA in the Age of Trump?
“I’m trying not to think about it,” she said in an interview as the first anniversary of Trump’s election approached. “We’re a strong country, and I think it will all work out.”
Did she still consider herself a Republican?
In an interview in October 2017, she answered that question yes. When I asked her again four months later, in February 2018, she said, “I’d probably say no today.”
Barbara Bush had been one of the most recognizable faces of the Republican Party through two presidencies. She was the matriarch of one of the GOP’s leading families. But after Trump’s rise, she saw it as a party she could not continue to support, a party she no longer recognized.
The former First Lady was reluctant for Jeb to run in 2016, but not because she thought he wasn’t up to the job. When he and George W. were young adults, nearly everyone viewed Jeb as more likely to be a president.
But eventually, she campaigned for Jeb. He needed her he had lost the opening Iowa caucuses and was struggling to get momentum in New Hampshire. She agreed not only because she would do just about anything for her family but also because she was alarmed by Trump. She recorded an ad, sitting on a dark set, speaking straight to the camera.
“I love my son, and I know that America needs him,” she said in an interview on “CBS This Morning” three days before the primary, sitting side by side with him. “He’s honest, dependable, loyal, relatively funny, good-looking,” the 90-year-old elbowed him good-naturedly and continued, “but funny. He’s got the same values that America seems to have lost. He’s almost too polite. I don’t advise him, but if I gave him advice, I would say, ‘Why don’t you interrupt like the other people do?’ And he does not brag like some people we know.”
She refused to say Trump’s name. “I’m not getting into a spitting match with him,” she said. “He can spit further than I can.”