A new biography of Barbara Bush reveals that the former first lady blamed Donald Trump and the “angst” he caused for what she called her heart attack—a medical episode caused by congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease—during the presidential campaign in which Trump frequently mocked her son Jeb, according to excerpts adapted and published Wednesday by USA Today.
The upcoming biography, The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, also reveals that Bush said in the months before she died that she did not consider herself a member of today’s Republican Party.
Bush had told author Susan Page in October 2017 that she still considered herself a Republican, but when Page asked again in February 2018, she answered, “I’d probably say no today.” According to USA Today, her dismay with Trump’s presidency was so strong she kept a Trump countdown clock a friend gifted her jokingly that displayed the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Trump’s term expired:
She parked it on the side table in her bedroom, next to the chair she would sit in to needlepoint or watch television. She liked the countdown clock so much that when the Bushes returned to Houston that October, she brought it with her. It sat on her bedside table, where she could see it every day. It was there to the day she died.
According to USA Today, her disdain for Trump dated back to the 1980s. In a diary entry from 1990, she wrote that Trump was “the real symbol of greed.” Later, after his public divorce with Ivana Trump finalized in 1992, she wrote, “Trump now means Greed, selfishness and ugly. So sad.”
Bush, who died in April, just a few months before her husband, said George H.W. Bush voted for Hillary Clinton in the election. She told Page that, rather than vote for Clinton, she wrote her son Jeb’s name on the ballot.