Former President George W. Bush has congratulated Joe Biden on his projected election victory, CNN reports. The ex-President announced in a statement on Sunday that he had called Biden to send his best wishes.
"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. He further stated that he offered "prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can."
Bush also commented on Trump's claims of election fraud, stating that he "has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges." Bush narrowly defeated former Vice President Al Gore following a recount and legal challenges to the results in the state of Florida, which lead to Bush being declared the winner of the state by the Supreme Court, surpassing Gore by a mere 537 votes.
Bush, the only surviving Republican ex-President ever since his father passed away in 2018, described the outcome of the election as "fundamentally fair" and "clear," breaking from many members of his party who have backed Trump's challenges to the results
President Trump has so far refused to concede the election, citing allegations of voter fraud tipping states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania in Biden's favour. While some irregularities have been reported, no evidence of widespread election fraud has been presented thus far, and many of Trump's lawsuits disputing the election results have been thrown out of court.
The Bush family has had an adversarial relationship with President Trump since well before he started campaigning for President in 2015. Trump lambasted Bush for the Iraq War, which Trump described as a "disaster," and ruthlessly mocked his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, throughout the 2015-2016 Republican primaries until the younger Bush, who was originally favoured to win the Republican nomination, dropped out of the race.
Since then, George W. Bush has become an occasional critic of the President, albeit speaking in indirect terms due to his retirement from politics. "Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children," Bush said, alluding to Trump. Jeb Bush has also offered criticism of the President on occasion.
The late matriarch of the Bush family, Barbara Bush, joined her family members by criticizing Trump multiple times both before and during his presidency. "He's said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military," the former First Lady argued. She further described Trump as a "comedian" and a "showman."
"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," Bush pleaded in his statement.