Former President George W. Bush called House Majority Whip James Clyburn “the savior” for his endorsement of Joe Biden in last year’s presidential primary, the Democratic lawmaker revealed.
Speaking to reporters during a press call Wednesday after the swearing in of the 46th commander-in-chief, Clyburn (D-SC) revealed that Bush made the comments to him directly that morning as they awaited the start of the inauguration.
“George Bush said to me today, he said, ‘You know, you’re the savior because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today,’” the No. 3 House Democrat said after being asked what he was thinking as he watched President Biden being sworn in.
“He said to me that Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Clyburn continued.
The House majority whip said that while he was sitting there watching Biden take the oath of office, he thought of his late wife Emily Clyburn, who passed away due to complications from diabetes in September 2019 at age 80.
Because she was ill at the time of the 2019 Democratic primary, Clyburn’s better half was unable to join him at his annual fish fry, an event attended by nearly every candidate — including Biden.
Clyburn told the story of their conversation that evening when he returned home from the event, quoting his wife as saying, “No matter how many people are in this race, our best chance of winning the presidency is to nominate Joe Biden.”
It was Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary that revived his candidacy and catapulted him back to front-runner status following dismal showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Biden’s ascent to the nomination is largely credited to his dominating performance in South Carolina.
A representative for the 43rd president did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon after Clyburn’s revelation began making the rounds, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford downplayed the former president’s comments.
“Let’s not make this into more than it is. He was saying Clyburn helped saved Biden’s nomination,” Ford wrote, “Nothing Biblical here.”
Still, Bush has had a difficult relationship with his only GOP presidential successor since the 2015 launch of his political career.
When Trump entered the political arena, he found himself up against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the former president’s younger brother who was originally viewed as the GOP frontrunner in the crowded 2016 field.
After clinching the Republican nomination, none in the Bush family endorsed Trump, with the former commander-in-chief himself saying he chose “none of the above” when asked if he voted for Trump or Hillary Clinton. He declined to say who he supported in 2020.
Clinton wrote in her 2017 bestseller “What Happened” that following Trump’s speech at his inauguration, Bush turned to her and remarked, “Well, that was some weird s–t.”
Bush did not dispute the former secretary of state’s characterization of events.
The 43rd president was careful during the Obama years to not speak ill of his successor’s work regardless of political differences.
During the Trump era, Bush never disparaged the incumbent president by name, though he offered occasional condemnation of his actions.
With Post wires
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