The Unites States begins its formal farewell to the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, with a service at the U.S. Capitol after the casket carrying his remains arrived Monday afternoon. (Dec. 3)
One former president will eulogize George H.W. Bush at Wednesday’s state funeral service. The current one will not.
The official schedule of events commemorating the United States’ 41st president does not list the speakers lined up for ceremonies at the Washington National Cathedral, but The New York Times and CNN both reported that they include his son and 43rd president, George W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Senator Alan Simpson and biographer Jon Meacham.
President Donald Trump has said he will attend but is not scheduled to speak, which is not entirely surprising considering his past acrimonious relationship with the Bush family.
This marks the second time in recent months that Trump has been kept at arm’s length after the death of a major political figure, both of them fellow Republicans.
Before legendary Senator John McCain passed away in late August, he left instructions that Trump not be invited to his funeral after they clashed publicly and repeatedly.
George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at 94, did not go that far, opting for a gesture of unity despite the family’s friction with Trump.
The animosity was heightened during the primaries before the 2016 presidential election when Trump mocked the energy level of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, his opponent for the nomination, the son of the 41st president and the brother of the 43rd.
Trump has also referred to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, launched by George W. Bush, as “the single worst decision ever made,’’ and as recently as this fall derided the phrase “a thousand points of light,’’ the elder Bush’s signature quote when calling for volunteerism.
In April, Trump skipped the funeral of former first lady and family matriarch Barbara Bush — longtime wife of the 41st president — who two years earlier told CBS, “I don’t know how women can vote’’ for him.
However, Trump has responded in statesmanlike fashion to the passing of George H.W. Bush, canceling his news conference at the end of the G-20 summit Saturday “out of respect’’ for the family and tweeting kind words about the late president.
On Monday night, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid a visit to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where Bush’s remains lay in state, and earlier in the day he tweeted, “Looking forward to being with the Bush Family to pay my respects to President George H.W. Bush.’’
In a prepared statement Monday, Trump was effusive in his praise for Bush.
“President George H.W. Bush led a life that exemplified what is truly great about America,” Trump wrote. “As with so many of his generation, the Greatest Generation, President Bush worked selflessly throughout his long life to bring about a world of justice and lasting peace. With his passing, we mark one of the last pages of a defining chapter in American history.”
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