Bush died in April 2018 at age 92, shortly after her family announced she was in failing health. Her husband, former President George H.W. Bush passed away a few months later in November at age 94.
According to an excerpt from the upcoming book “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty,” author Susan Page, who is also USA Today’s Washington bureau chief, asked the former first lady in October 2017 if she considered herself a Republican. Bush said she did. However, when Bush was asked the same question in February 2018, she had a different answer.
“I’d probably say no today,” she replied.
Bush was hesitant to campaign for her son Jeb when he launched his 2016 presidential bid because she saw first-hand from her husband and other son, George W., how “brutal” the presidency — and the road to it — could be. She said she decided to campaign for Jeb because he was her child and “because she was alarmed by Trump,” Page wrote.
Jeb Bush ended up dropping out of the race after a poor showing in the South Carolina primary.
In 2016, Barbara Bush suffered what she called a “heart attack” and blamed the episode on the presidential campaign and Trump’s constant ridicule of Jeb during the election cycle.
However, Bush’s criticism of Trump goes back to the 1990s. Page read some of Bush’s diaries and found clippings of Trump’s separation from his first wife Ivana.
“The Trumps are a new word, both of them,” she wrote in her diary. “Trump now means Greed, selfishness and ugly. So sad.”
Later, the former first lady spoke about Trump’s candidacy and surprise about his supporters.
“I don’t understand why people are for him,” she said.
Bush wrote in her diary that she “could not vote for Trump or Clinton” and ended up writing Jeb’s name on the ballot.
Before Trump won, Bush had a note prepared to send to Bill Clinton that said, “Welcome to the First Ladies Club” as a joke. However, she “woke up and discovered to my horror that Trump had won.”
A friend of Bush’s sent her a “Trump countdown clock” which showed how much time remained in the Trump presidency. She kept the gag gift on the bedside table.
After Trump won, Bush met with the newly elected president and wrote in her diary that he “was very nice.” She also penned letters to first lady Melania Trump and second lady Karen Pence.