President Obama and former President George W. Bush had a few private moments when the two of them were both in Africa last week — and Mr. Bush said those moments were relatively light.
“We just chatted about his trip. He’s at the end of the trip; I remember how tired I used to get,” Mr. Bush said in an interview taped for ABC’s “This Week.” I said, ‘You got to be kind of worn out,’ and he said he had a great trip, looking forward to getting back home.”
“I asked him about his little girls, were they having a good time? He said, ‘You bet,’” Mr. Bush continued. “Because I remember bringing our daughters on some of these trips and how meaningful it was to be with them, but we didn’t sit around … and hash out policy.”
Mr. Bush largely has stayed out of the political fray since handing over the keys to the White House to Mr. Obama in 2009, though he will speak at an immigration event in Dallas this week.
“He’s busy, and I’m retired,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush also joked to ABC’s Jonathan Karl that the two talked about “what a big pain the press is.”
On critics who claim Mr. Bush is emphasizing a focus on his work in Africa to draw attention away from other perceived failures of his administration, he said, “Let ‘em continue to babble.”
“I’m trying to think of the proper word — absurd psychobabble,” he said.
“The only way I can really make news is either criticize the president, which I don’t want to do, criticize my own party or weigh in on a controversial issue,” he continued. “And I’m off the stage. Unless I’m promoting something I strongly believe in, and I believe that what we’re doing in Africa is incredibly important and will continue to do so, so long as I’m ambulatory.”
Mr. Bush, in Africa to promote his presidential center’s health care initiatives, joined Mr. Obama at a memorial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, honoring the victims of the 1998 terrorist bombing at the U.S. Embassy. Both presidents bowed their heads in silence as a U.S. Marine placed a wreath at a large stone memorial on the grounds of the new U.S. Embassy.
Speaking about immigration, an issue Mr. Bush unsuccessfully pushed during his second term as president, he did say that “it’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people. It’s a very difficult bill to pass because there’s a lot of moving parts and the legislative process can be ugly, but it looks like they’re making some progress.”
“I was also frustrated we didn’t pass Social Security reform,” he continued. “I thought the plan I’d laid out on both was reasonable. But sometimes it takes time for some of these complex issues to evolve, and it looks like immigration has a chance to pass.”