Politics & Government

George W. Bush says Obama rarely calls him, his brother ‘wants to be president’

George W. Bush gives a speech during the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, on April 10, 2014. (Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News/MCT)
George W. Bush gives a speech during the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, on April 10, 2014. (Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News/MCT) MCT

Former President George W. Bush put in a plug for his brother’s potential presidential candidacy, expressed confidence in the interim director of the Secret Service and said President Barack Obama rarely picks up the phone to call him.

In a wide ranging interview Wednesday with Fox News’ Fox and Friends, Bush also defended the Iraq War, saying “the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power

Bush -- who as a former president has a Secret Service detail -- said he knows Joseph Clancy, who was named as the acting Secret Service Director to replace the outgoing Julia Pierson “very well.

“He's a good man,” Bush said of Clancy, who retired from the agency in 2011. “I trust his judgment a lot. Joe will do a good job.”

Pierson resigned Wednesday from the agency that has been rattled by a series of security lapses.

Bush also told the network that he believes his brother, Jeb, the former Florida governor, wants to be president. The former president said he talked with his brother at a recent event honoring veterans and was “pushing him to run for president.

“He, of course, was saying ‘I haven't made up my mind.’ “ Bush said. “And I truly don't think he has. And plus, I don't think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him.”

But, Bush added, “I think he wants to be president. I think he'd be a great president. He understands what it's like to be president, for not only the person running or serving, plus family. He's seen his dad. He's seen his brother. And so he's a very thoughtful man and he's weighing his options.”

He also defended the war in Iraq, though the U.S. now finds itself fighting Islamic State militants there.

“The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, the Taliban in power,” Bush said. “Obviously we're still in Iraq. The presence isn't as significant as it was in 2009, but we're there. And now we've got pilots in harm's way dealing with a group of ideologues who murder the innocent. Same exact modus operandi of those who murdered 3,000 on our soil.”

He said he would not “second guess” Obama’s decision not to leave troops in Iraq when the U.S. left in 2011, but said he agreed that troops should have been left there.

“I understand how tough the job is and to have a former president bloviating and second guessing is I don't think good for the presidency or the country,” Bush said. “He and his team will make the best informed decisions they can make, but I agreed with General Dempsey's assessment.”

Former President Bill Clinton recently said Bush, as president, called the former president at least twice a year, and they talked for 30 to 45 minutes.

“He was president and he had seen things I hadn't seen yet,” Bush said of Clinton. “Or we both shared the same experiences and I wanted his take on it. Plus, I liked talking to him. We're the only Baby Boomer presidents, and now we're the only Baby Boomer presidents who happen to be grandfathers.”

He said when Clinton’s granddaughter was born, he called Clinton and “handed the phone to 41, who spoke to him as well.”

But Bush made it clear that he and Obama don’t talk very often. He said Obama called me to tell him that Osama bin Laden had been killed, “for which I was grateful.”

But, he added, “he's not on a regular basis, which is OK. It doesn't hurt my feelings. It's a decision he has made. Presidents tend to rely upon the people they're close to and he's got a team that he has grown close to over the six years he's been president, or nearly six years, and he relies upon their judgment. And I understand that.”

Bush noted he has a book coming out Nov. 11 on his dad. He said it was prompted by historian David McCullough's daughter, who told Bush that her father wished he had read a book by John Q. Adams about his father, John Adams.

“And I said, ‘I can do that.’ “Bush said, adding that “for those looking for an objective analysis of George H. W. Bush, this isn't the place you ought to turn. This is a love story about great man.”

Bush said he’s asked all the time if he misses Washington and said “the answer is no,” But he added, he misses “being pampered” and misses “saluting men and women who have volunteered to serve our nation.”