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If President Donald Trump were to call George W. Bush to ask for advice, how would the 43rd president respond? He’d start with a simple message: Good luck.
“I’d say the same advice I gave before: It’s a really hard job and I wish you all the best,” Bush told Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY.
“It depends on what he asked,” he added.
Noting that he wants to see Trump succeed in office, Bush offered this suggestion to the current commander-in-chief: “You picked some really good people. Empower them and make sure they’re able to give you their unfettered advice.”
He named Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster as three examples of the “really good people” Trump selected.
Bush has made a concerted effort not to criticize the presidents who have followed him: former President Obama and now President Trump, who’s generated countless headlines with his executive order that restricted immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Geist asked Bush to reflect on comments he made soon after the 9/11 attacks, in which he encouraged Americans to reach out to their Muslim brothers and sisters and embrace them. His message was one of tolerance, he told Geist.
“I believe freedom of religion is one of our bedrock principles, that people should be allowed to worship without the government telling them how they can worship,” he said. “That we ought to honor people regardless of the religion they choose, or honor them if they choose no religion. That we’re all equal.”
During the interview, Bush shared the story behind his latest project: "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors," his book of paintings honoring military veterans. To hear more from Bush about the book, his decision to send soldiers into Afghanistan and Iraq, and much more, watch the videos in this story.