Trump ap­plauds pa­tri­arch of ri­val po­lit­i­cal fam­ily

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - NATION - By Zeke Miller and Cather­ine Lucey

Don­ald Trump, the dis­rup­tive, an­ti­estab­lish­ment pres­i­dent who spent years de­rid­ing much of what Ge­orge H.W. Bush stood for, set aside dif­fer­ences in pol­i­tics and tem­per­a­ment Satur­day to honor the for­mer pres­i­dent a day af­ter his death.

Trump de­clared a pe­riod of na­tional mourn­ing and or­dered Amer­i­can flags to be flown at half-staff for 30 days to honor a man of “sound judg­ment, com­mon sense and un­flap­pable lead­er­ship.” The pres­i­dent and first lady Me­la­nia Trump added that Bush had “in­spired gen­er­a­tions of his fel­low Amer­i­cans to pub­lic ser­vice.”

The quar­ter-cen­tury since Bush left of­fice fea­tured his Repub­li­can Party’s steady march away from his steely prag­ma­tism and in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ship, cul­mi­nat­ing in the dra­matic break from long-held GOP prin­ci­ples ush­ered by Trump’s elec­tion. It co­in­cided with a swing in the na­tion as a whole to­ward more tribal pol­i­tics. While Trump spoke gra­ciously, he has not al­ways been so kind to Bush or his fam­ily. He ran against one of Bush’s sons, Jeb Bush, in the GOP pres­i­den­tial pri­maries in 2016, and was sharply crit­i­cal of the two-term pres­i­dency of an­other, Ge­orge W. Bush. He shat­tered the un­writ­ten norms of the small fra­ter­nity of Oval Of­fice oc­cu­pants by keep­ing up crit­i­cism of the Bushes from the West Wing.

The White House an­nounced Satur­day that the Trumps would at­tend a state fu­neral for the for­mer pres­i­dent at Wash­ing­ton’s Na­tional Cathe­dral. The an­nounce­ment marked a re­ver­sal from ear­lier this year, when the pres­i­dent was point­edly not in­vited to the fu­neral of for­mer first lady Bar­bara Bush, the fam­ily ma­tri­arch and the late pres­i­dent’s wife of 73 years. Me­la­nia Trump at­tended in­stead.

The Trumps were in­formed of Bush’s death late Fri­day while in Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 sum­mit of rich and de­vel­op­ing na­tions. Trump said he spoke with for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to ex­press his sym­pa­thies. He praised the elder Bush, who died Fri­day at age 94, as “a high-qual­ity man who truly loved his fam­ily.”

Sit­ting along­side Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, he re­fused to an­swer whether he had any re­grets over his past crit­i­cism of the Bushes. He did say that Bush’s death “re­ally puts a damper” on his par­tic­i­pa­tion at the sum­mit.

Trump also des­ig­nated Wed­nes­day as a na­tional day of mourn­ing. He en­cour­aged Amer­i­cans to gather in places of wor­ship “to pay homage” to Bush’s mem­ory, adding, “I in­vite the peo­ple of the world who share our grief to join us in this solemn ob­ser­vance.”

The procla­ma­tion hails Bush as “one of Amer­ica’s great­est points of light,” a ref­er­ence to one of the for­mer leader’s sig­na­ture phrases about the im­pact of Amer­i­can civic cul­ture.

Trump mocked the “points of light” phrase at some of his cam­paign ral­lies this year. He con­trasted it with his own cam­paign slo­gan, say­ing “Putting Amer­ica first, we un­der­stand. Thou­sand points of light, I never quite got that one.”

In Au­gust 2015, Trump tweeted a dig at the pres­i­dency of Ge­orge H.W. Bush, writ­ing: “The last thing we need is an­other Bush in the White House. Would be the same old thing (re­mem­ber “read my lips, no more taxes”). GREAT­NESS!” As a can­di­date, Bush promised “no new taxes” but re­versed him­self in of­fice.

Those harsh as­sess­ments were set aside in the Trumps’ com­ments Satur­day.

Zeke Miller and Cather­ine Lucey are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

Katie Schubauer / AFP / Getty Images

The U.S. flag flies at half-staff at the White House in trib­ute to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who died Fri­day.

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