George W. Bush Called Biden and Harris to Congratulate Them as He Says 'We Must Come Together'
Bush also said noted that President Donald Trump, while losing, had earned millions of votes in "a hard-fought campaign"
Former President George W. Bush on Sunday morning sent his well wishes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, both of whom he personally called after their election victory this week.
Bush, 74, said in his Sunday statement that despite his political differences with the Democratic nominees, he hoped for their — and the country's — success.
He also briefly addressed President Donald Trump's evidence-free allegations that the election was stolen from him. Not so said Bush, the last Republican president before Trump, whom Bush congratulated for "a hard-fought campaign."
"The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength," Bush said. "No matter how you voted, your vote counted. President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear."
"He [Trump] earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans — an extraordinary political achievement," Bush said. "They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government."
Bush said Sunday morning that he had just recently spoken with Biden, 77, and that he "thanked [Biden] for the patriotic message" in Biden's victory speech Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware.
"Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Bush said. "The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans. I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can."
Since leaving office in 2009 — at the nadir of his popularity, with the country embroiled in Middle East conflicts and the Great Recession — Bush has followed in the footsteps of other former presidents who embrace apolitical roles in civic life, instead focusing on various humanitarian causes.
His family has had a tempestuous relationship with Trump, 74, at times: The latter campaigned as an anti-Bush Republican, in many ways, and neither Bush nor former First Lady Laura Bush voted for Trump in 2016. (This year, they kept their choice private.)
Since Biden was projected as the winner of the election, other former presidents and notable politicians on both sides of the aisle have congratulated him and Harris, who will be the first woman and first Black or Asian person elected vice president.
While some Republicans have echoed Trump's call for a legal challenge to the election, others — such as Sen. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee — have been more circumspect, saying that while fraud allegations are serious and worth investigating, sweeping dismissal of the results without evidence was undemocratic.
Bush, in his Sunday statement, said there was yet more work to be done.
"The challenges that face our country will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris — and the best of us all," he said. "We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future. There is no problem that will not yield to the gathered will of a free people.
"Laura and I pray for our leaders and their families. We ask for God's continued blessings on our country. And we urge all Americans to join us in wishing our next President and Vice President well as they prepare to take up their important duties."