George W. Bush: ‘It’s a problem that Americans are so polarized’ they can’t imagine him being friends with Michelle Obama

Former President George W. Bush reflected in a new interview on the surprise many Americans expressed at his friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama.

In an interview released on Sunday with CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell, Bush noted several times that his friendly relationship with Obama has gone viral, including when they hugged at the 2016 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and when he passed her a cough drop during former Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2018 funeral. 

“It shocked me,” Bush said of the reaction to the viral moment at McCain’s funeral. “We got in the car, and I think Barbara or Jenna said, ‘Hey, you’re trending.’”

“The American people were so surprised that Michelle Obama and I could be friends. I think it’s a problem that Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they can’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends,” Bush told O’Donnell in the interview released Sunday.

Obama has previously called the former president her “partner in crime” during official functions. She told NBC’s “Today” show in 2018 that “President Bush and I are forever seatmates because of protocol; that’s how we sit at all the official functions.”

“I love him to death,” she added. “He’s a wonderful man. He’s a funny man.”

Bush in 2017 told People magazine that Obama “kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.”

Bush during the interview that aired Sunday also revealed that one of his biggest regrets of his presidency was a failure to reform the U.S. immigration system. 

“I campaigned on immigration reform. I made it abundantly clear to voters this is something I intended to do,” Bush said.

He was promoting his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” which features oil paintings by the former president of immigrants to the U.S.

Tags George W. Bush John McCain Michelle Obama Michelle Obama

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