A look back at the letter George Bush wrote Bill Clinton as he left office

The letter, written as President George H.W. Bush was leaving the White House, has begun attracting attention on social media amid President Trump's fight against election results.
/ Source: TODAY

This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated following the 2020 election.

As the White House continues the fight the outcome of the presidential election, a letter President George H.W. Bush penned to his successor in 1993 as he left the Oval Office is making the rounds as an example of grace in defeat.

On TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Monday, Jenna Bush Hager reflected on the note written by her grandfather to then President-elect Bill Clinton, saying the elder Bush wrote it out of "a love and respect for our country."

"No matter who you voted for, it's not about that," Jenna said. "It's not about the political parties or the one man that sits at that office."

On Tuesday, former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shared the note on Instagram, saying, "Here's how it's done in America."

The handwritten Inauguration Day letter wished “great happiness” to Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in a crushing 1992 re-election bid.

"When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago," Bush wrote. "I know you will feel that, too."

The outgoing president also offered encouragement and some advice for dealing with critics, saying there will be "very tough times" ahead, "made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair.

"I'm not a very good one to give advice; but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course."

“Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you,” Bush concluded.

Presidents writing letters to their successors and leaving them in the Oval Office on Inauguration Day is a White House ritual. George W. Bush left one for President Obama in 2009.

Ronald Reagan, in his note to the elder Bush, his vice president, famously counseled, "Don't let the turkeys get you down."

According to Jenna, the letter was the beginning of a bipartisan friendship between the two former presidents.

"The joke is everybody's family has a black sheep, and President Clinton is our black sheep," Jenna said, laughing. "(My grandfather) was a like surrogate father for him."