Former President George W. Bush became one of the rare Republicans to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris on their victory. The move means every living former president has now congratulated Biden on his victory even as President Donald Trump has refused to acknowledge he lost the election. “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush wrote in a statement. “I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.”
Bush also congratulated Trump and his supporters, noting the president earned more than 70 million votes, which is “an extraordinary political achievement.” Bush went on to say that Trump “has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges” and Americans “can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome clear.” He also urged unity, saying that Americans “must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future.”
Bush issued his statement a day after his brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush, who ran against Trump in the 2016 primaries, also congratulated Biden. It’s hardly a secret that the Bush family were never fans of Trump and the former president revealed in 2016 that he and his wife, Laura, voted “none of the above” in the presidential race. He didn’t reveal how he voted this year.
The former president spoke at a time when Republican leaders have yet to acknowledge Biden’s victory although most also aren’t backing Trump’s unfounded allegations of voter fraud. For now, only a few big-name Republicans, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have congratulated Biden.
The former president issued his statement at a time when video of his father’s 1992 concession speech, when he lost to Bill Clinton, has gone viral on social media as people share it to illustrate how much politics has changed since then. “Here is the way I see it. Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it,” he said. “The people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system.”