Presidents React To George H.W. Bush’s Death

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Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came together last year in College Station, Texas.

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Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came together last year in College Station, Texas.

Rick Kern/Getty Images for Ford Motor Comp

Updated at 11:15 a.m.

The current and former U.S. presidents have been offering their condolences and paying tribute to the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, who died Friday.

President Trump, who’s in Argentina for the Group of 20 summit, said in a statement, “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.”

He added, “President Bush always found a way to set the bar higher.”

Trump was scheduled to speak to Bush’s son former President George W. Bush on Saturday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to attend Bush’s funeral service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. A state funeral is also being arranged.

The president will designate Dec. 5 as a national day of mourning, Sanders said.

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Former President Barack Obama said, “America has lost a patriot and humble servant” and described the “tremendous good” Bush accomplished in his life — from helping new immigrants to reducing nuclear weapons and “ending the Cold War without firing a shot.”

Former President George W. Bush called him “the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.” He said the family was grateful for his father’s life and love and for the compassion and condolences of people who cared and prayed for him.

In a statement, former President Bill Clinton described Bush’s long record of service in the military, Congress, the CIA and as president, where he served from 1989 to 1993. “He never stopped serving,” Clinton said. “I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life’s greatest gifts.”

Clinton also penned an op-ed in The Washington Post on Saturday, writing that many people were surprised at their relationship “considering we were once political adversaries.” Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 election. He said Bush “could be tough in a political fight, he was in it for the right reasons: People always came before politics, patriotism before partisanship.”

Former President Jimmy Carter said the Republican’s administration “was marked by grace, civility and social conscience.” The Democrat added that through the Points of Light initiative that Bush founded, which promotes volunteerism, he embraced “a uniquely American volunteer spirit” and bipartisan support.

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Lawmakers added their own messages of support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “His legacy will rank among the most distinguished statesmen our nation has ever produced.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “I am deeply grateful to his family for having shared such a wonderful man with us all. May it be a comfort to them to know that so many Americans mourn with them.”

She later called him “a gentleman of the highest integrity and deepest patriotism,” adding that “his life and legacy will remain an enduring gift to the nation.”

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine described a U.S. Navy anchor monument in the coastal town of Kennebunkport — a gift from the community to Bush, who had an estate there. She said it was a fitting tribute, as he “consistently and vigorously demonstrated the values that are the anchor of American society. Courage, duty, honor, and compassion define our nation and his life.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis remembered Bush’s bravery as a naval aviator in World War II and how he used the experience to build a stronger world. He said in a statement that Bush’s service to the nation “demonstrated how we as a people can draw on our humility, diversity and devotion to our country to meet every challenge with fortitude and confidence.” Mattis also said that Bush’s example “will long guide our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines for how to live life without regret.”

Top military leaders who served under Bush told NPR how much they would miss the 41st president. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, his national security adviser, said, “The world has lost a great leader; this country has lost one of its best and I have lost one of my dearest friends. I am heartbroken.”

Gen. Michael Hayden, the former CIA and National Security Agency director who worked on Bush’s National Security Council, told NPR, “His decency, honor and kindness served as a beacon and should continue to serve as an example for people the world over. He was among the best of us, and will be sorely missed.”

James Baker III, former secretary of state and White House chief of staff under Bush, said he led with “strength, integrity, compassion and humility” on the global stage and in everyday interactions. “His passion was a deep love of family and country.”

Bush’s second-oldest son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took to social media early Saturday morning to write, “I already miss the greatest human being that I will ever know. Love you Dad!”

The family lost Bush’s wife, Barbara, in April at age 92.

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