It comes as no surprise to President Trump that the late first lady, Barbara Bush held him in low regard. “I have heard that she was nasty to me, but she should be. Look what I did to her sons,” he told The Washington Times in an interview published Thursday.
A new biography of Bush, “The Matriarch,” by USA Today’s Susan Page, contains a number of attacks on the president’s character, both in her interviews with Page and also in her journals, which were provided to Page.
President Trump soundly defeated Bush’s son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in the 2016 primaries, and often disparaged him as “low-energy.” Her other son, former President George W. Bush, was also a frequent target of attacks by Mr. Trump, as well, largely for his handling of 9/11 and prosecution of the Iraq War.
“Look, she’s the mother of somebody that I competed against. Most people thought he [Jeb Bush] was going to win and he was quickly out,” Mr. Trump told the Washington Times.
“I hit him very hard in South Carolina,” he said. “Remember? He was supposed to win South Carolina and I won it in a landslide. I hit him so hard.
“That’s when his brother came to make the first speech for him,” Mr. Trump recalled. “And I said, ‘What took you so long?'”
In the end, the president seems to think her dislike of him is justified: “She was nasty to me, but she should be.”
But Bush’s dislike for the president predated his remarks about her sons. In 1990, Page notes, Mr. Trump had remarked on then-President George H.W. Bush’s high-dollar speeches in Japan. Barbara Bush wrote in her diary, “Trump now means greed, selfishness and ugly. So sad.”
Page talked with CBSN’s Elaine Quijano about the extent of Barbara Bush’s negative reaction to Mr. Trump. Near the end of her life, Bush told Page she’d “probably say no today” when she was asked whether she considered herself a member of the party in the era of Trump.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” she said of the Trump presidency in an interview with Page. “We’re a strong country, and I think it will all work out.”
Page told Quijano that she thought it was “the accumulation of concern over the direction of the country, about the nature of President Trump’s rhetoric.”