Former Bush presidents denounce racism in wake of Charlottesville

HOUSTON — Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush joined the chorus of lawmakers speaking out to condemn the racist violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

But the statement, coming one day after President Donald Trump was widely criticized for appearing to draw a moral equivalency between white supremacists and those protesting against them, did not directly address the president’s response.

“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights,” they said in a joint written statement on Wednesday.

“We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”

While Wednesday’s statement does not specifically mention Trump or the impromptu remarks he made during a news conference Tuesday, its release does suggest the former presidents felt the need to distinguish their own views from those expressed by the Republican currently occupying the Oval Office.

Former President Barack Obama tweeted his reaction to the attack in Charlottesville as news unfolded Saturday quoting Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom,” in what has become the most liked tweet ever on the social network.

George W. Bush — the brother of Trump’s Republican primary opponent Jeb Bush — never truly warmed up to Trump during the campaign and has been critical of the president in the past, particularly when discussing issues that revolve around race.

Earlier this year, George W. Bush voiced his displeasure about the political climate and some of the president’s policies when peppered with questions about Trump’s controversial actions on immigration and his targeted travel ban.

“I don’t like the racism, and I don’t like the name-calling, and I don’t like the people feeling alienated,” Bush told People Magazine. “Nobody likes that.”

He also offered some muted criticism for Trump in February during a wide-ranging interview on NBC’s “Today” show that touched on Russia, the travel ban and the free press.