Former President George W. Bush issued a rare public statement on Sunday, congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on his victory and also giving a nod to President Trump’s unsuccessful reelection bid.
“I just talked to the president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night,” Bush said.
“I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency,” Bush said of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a California senator who shattered gender and racial barriers with her win.
Biden and Harris gave victory speeches Saturday night, hours after the Associated Press and other major outlets called the race in the Democrats’ favor. In the address in Biden’s home state of Delaware, the new president-elect vowed to be a commander in chief who doesn’t “see red states and blue states, [but] only sees the United States.”
But Trump has yet to acknowledge Biden’s victory, as major party candidates have done throughout modern political history when it was clear they had lost. The incumbent president has alternated between silence and tweets promoting conspiracies falsely asserting that the election was rigged.
“No matter how you voted, your vote counted,” Bush said. “The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
The 43rd president added: “I want to congratulate President Trump and his supporters on a hard-fought campaign. He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans — an extraordinary political achievement. They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.”
Since his departure from office in January 2009, Bush has largely avoided the spotlight, though he did back his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who lost the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in a bitter race against Trump.
Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, has been more public on the campaign trail. Over the past few years, Obama has condemned Trump’s inflammatory statements and policies, and Obama held fiery rallies last month for Biden, his vice president for eight years.
But unlike Bush, Obama’s own statement reacting to Biden’s victory did not mention Trump.
“Your efforts made a difference,” Obama said, addressing Americans. “Enjoy this moment. Then stay engaged. I know it can be exhausting. But for this democracy to endure, it requires our active citizenship and sustained focus on the issues — not just in an election season, but all the days in between.”