In 1988, as the then-Vice President Bush accepted his party’s presidential nomination, Bush called groups that promote service “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Bush used the phrase during his campaign and started a Daily Point of Light Award in 1990 for noteworthy volunteers, according to the Points of Light Foundation.
Decades later, Trump took a swipe at the phrase during a rally in Montana in July, CNN reported at the time. “You know all of the rhetoric you see. ‘Thousands points of light.’ What the hell was that, by the way?” Trump asked the crowd.
“Thousand points of light,” he continued. “What does that mean? I know one thing: Make America Great Again we understand. Putting America first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? It was put out by a Republican, wasn’t it?”
In a White House statement following Bush’s death, Trump included the phrase to honor Bush.
“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,” Trump’s statement reads.
On Saturday, the White House announced that Trump plans to attend Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral and designated Wednesday a national day of mourning.
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“From a letter my grandfather wrote in 1997: a point of light was a vision about serving others, one that lit up our country, one I hope our country hasn’t lost,” Bush Hager said alongside the letter.
Ari Fleischer, who served as former President George W. Bush‘s press secretary, called Trump’s slight “so uncalled for.”
“Going after a 94-year-old, former President’s promotion of volunteerism. I don’t mind potus being a fighter. I do mind him being rude,” Fleischer tweeted.
“With sound judgement, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War,” Trump’s statement added. “As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.”
Trump also tweeted Saturday, “President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!”