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Trump praises George H.W. Bush's humility and 'unflappable leadership'

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMissouri pastor faces backlash after suggesting wives should lose weight, strive to look like Melania Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - FBI director testifies on Jan. 6 Capitol attack Overnight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions MORE early Saturday morning honored former President George H.W. Bush following news of his death, praising his humility and decades of public service.

"Melania and I join with a grieving Nation to mourn the loss of former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away last night," Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

"Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service—to be, in his words, 'a thousand points of light' illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world," Trump continued.

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Trump, who has at times criticized his recent predecessors over their policies — and mocked Bush's son, former 2016 Republican presidential rival Jeb Bush, during the campaign, claiming he "didn't want help from his family in his failed campaign and didn't even want to use his last name" — expressed condolences to the Bush family on Saturday following the death of their patriarch at the age of 94.

The president said the elder Bush "always found a way to set the bar higher," pointing to his days captaining the Yale baseball team before going on to become the Navy's youngest aviator during World War II and then serving in Congress, as ambassador to China, CIA director, vice president and eventually president.

"With sound judgement, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction," Trump said.

"Along with his full life of service to country, we will remember President Bush for his devotion to family—especially the love of his life, Barbara. His example lives on, and will continue to stir future Americans to pursue a greater cause. Our hearts ache with his loss, and we, with the American people, send our prayers to the entire Bush family, as we honor the life and legacy of 41."

Bush's family announced late Friday that the former president had died, describing him "as a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.” No cause of death was given, but the statement said that “the entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

Members of the Bush family have at times criticized Trump since he took office, with Bush confirming to author Mark K. Updegrove in his book "The Last Republicans" that he voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction MORE over Trump in the 2016 election, saying he considered Trump to be a "blowhard."

Former President Obama and his wife Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' Michelle Obama on conversations with her daughters: 'Me and Barack, we can't get a word in' Michelle Obama offers advice with release of young readers' edition of 'Becoming' memoir MORE also honored Bush in a statement late Friday, calling him "a patriot and humble servant" with "a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try."

"George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey," they said.