According to a new biography of her, her animosity for Trump and what he represented led Mrs. Bush to vote for a write-in candidate in the last presidential election

By Adam Carlson
April 05, 2019 09:24 AM
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty; JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty

A candid new biography of former First Lady Barbara Bush detailed the depth of her disdain for President Donald Trump, the leader of the party that Bush helped rule American politics for much of the last 40 years.

But Trump shrugged off Bush’s dislike as recounted in Susan Page’s The Matriarch, published Tuesday. According to Page, the animosity for Trump and what he represented led Bush to vote for a write-in candidate in the last presidential election and keep a countdown clock to the end of his term near her bed.

“I have heard that she was nasty to me, but she should be,” Trump told the Washington Times. “Look what I did to her sons.”

Trump successfully beat a primary challenge from Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor whom Trump frequently derided in personal terms — a template he still follows.

After Mrs. Bush appeared in an ad for her son, Trump mocked “low energy” Jeb in January 2016: “He desperately needed mommy to help him.”

Trump also built his candidacy on the highly unusual (and successful) strategy of savaging his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush, Mrs. Bush’s eldest son.

“Look, she’s the mother of somebody that I competed against,” Trump acknowledged in his Washington Times interview. “Most people thought he [Jeb Bush] was going to win and he was quickly out.”

The president told the paper: “I hit him very hard in South Carolina. Remember? He was supposed to win South Carolina and I won it in a landslide. I hit him so hard.”

According to The Matriarch, Trump’s ascension changed the way Mrs. Bush viewed the Republican Party, of which she had been a leading figure for decades.

RELATED VIDEO: Jeb Bush Pays Tribute to Mom Barbara Bush at Her Funeral Service

According to the book, she told author Susan Page last February, two months before she died at 92, that she “probably” didn’t consider herself a Republican any longer.

Mrs. Bush couldn’t “understand why people” were for Trump, and “expressed astonishment that women could support him,” Page writes.

These were not new feelings: In her diary in the ’90s, Mrs. Bush wrote that Trump “now means Greed, selfishness and ugly.”

After the 2016 presidential election results were in, Barbara “woke up and discovered, to [her] horror, that Trump had won,” Page writes.

When her husband, former President George H. W. Bush, called Trump to congratulate him, Trump “was very nice” and trying “to be conciliatory,” according to Page, citing Mrs. Bush’s diary. (As much as Trump has a history of denigrating his foes, he can be equally gushing about them in person — calling the New York Times a “great American jewel” after his election.)

In Trump’s call with Bush senior, “He said that George was a great president and he admired us both,” according to Mrs. Bush’s diary. “He said Jeb was strong and a great man. He is trying … at this moment … to be conciliatory. He says he wants to represent all the people.”

• With DIANE HERBST