“I did then, and I do now,” Bush told anchor Norah O’Donnell. “And I think it’s undignified to wanna see my name in print all the time. I think it basically sends a signal that I miss being famous and, you know, I want people to see me. Listen to me! And, you know, I don’t. I really don’t.”
Without overtly criticizing Trump, Bush said that he felt humbled in his time as president. “To me, humility shows an understanding of self. It shows a belief in a higher power that is necessary to be an effective leader. And we were short of humility.”
O’Donnell then asked Bush if he was referring to the last four years of the Trump presidency, to which the former president responded: “Yeah, absolutely.”
Since leaving office in 2009, the former Republican president has concentrated on painting. His works are now the subject of a new book entitled Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants. The book’s publication is timely given the current immigration debate and the Biden administration’s much-scrutinized handling of the border issue.
As he indicated to O’Donnell, Bush acknowledged his inability to get immigration reform passed during his presidency. In 2006, he said, “America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.”
“Is it one of the biggest disappointments of your presidency?” asked O’Donnell.
“Yes, it really is,” the former president replied. “I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do.”
He also rebuked the anti-immigrant rhetoric that became an integral part of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“The problem with the immigration debate is that one can create a lot of fear: They’re comin’ after you,” said Bush. “But it’s a nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, that to me is a great nation. And we are a great nation.”
Bush also said in the CBS interview that he would support a Biden administration pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if they passed background checks and paid taxes. However, he added: “Whether my own party listens to me or not is another question.”
In January, Bush condemned the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump supporters, calling it “sickening and heartbreaking.”
“Insurrection could do grave damage to our Nation and reputation,” he said in a statement. “In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law. To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment. Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.”
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s representatives for comment.
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