Former President George W. Bush criticized the modern Republican Party as being “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist,” in an interview with “Today” host Hoda Kotb.
“It’s not exactly my vision, but I’m just an old guy they put out to pasture. Just a simple painter,” Bush said when he was asked if he was disappointed with the current party.
Kotb then introduced a hypothetical Republican candidate for president in 2024 who would be “pro-immigration, pro-a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, pro-DACA, pro-reasonable gun control, pro-education funding for public schools.”
“Would that Republican have a shot in 2024?” Kotb asked.
“Sure, yeah,” Bush replied, adding that “it depends upon the emphasis” the candidate would like to focus on concerning how they would approach certain issues.
“I think if the emphasis is integrity and decency and trying to work to get the problem solved, I think the person has a shot,” he said.
“By the way, I think pro-immigration isn’t the right way to put it. I think border enforcement with a compassionate touch is how I would put it.”
Watch @hodakotb’s full interview with former President George W. Bush on immigration, his friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama, the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, and his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants.” pic.twitter.com/DiktIhhKTo
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 20, 2021
The former president also addressed the temptation to criticize his predecessors.
“Yeah, I guess I have been, sure,” he said. “[But] if I did, Michelle Obama might not be my friend.”
Bush added that people’s fascination with his friendship with the former first lady “really points out how bitter we’ve become.”
Bush appeared on “Today” to discuss his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants.”
In the book, he features portraits of various American immigrants and says he hopes to inspire a more “respectful tone” for immigrants on Capitol Hill, according to The Hill.
“Please put aside all the harsh rhetoric about immigration,” he said, addressing Congress.
“Please put aside trying to score political points on either side.”
He told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell that the immigration debate “can create a lot of fear.”
“A nation that is willing to accept the refugee or the harmed or the frightened, to me is a great nation,” he said. “And we are a great nation.”
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