“Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true price in his family,” Trump said on Twitter. “His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!”
Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993 and vice president under President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989, died Friday night. He was 94.
His death prompted an outpouring of praise from lawmakers, former presidents and foreign leaders who recalled his long career in public service and his leadership during the final years of the Cold War and a successful U.S. military offensive in Iraq.
Former President Barack Obama, who recently visited Bush in the hospital, said in a statement: “America has lost a patriot and humble servant in George Herbert Walker Bush. While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude. Our thoughts are with the entire Bush family tonight — and all who were inspired by George and Barbara’s example.”
Sarah Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, said a state funeral would be held at the National Cathedral in Washington. Trump plans to attend the service, Sanders said in a statement.
The Trumps were informed of Bush’s death Friday night while in Buenos Aires, attending the Group of 20 summit.
The president had been scheduled to give a press conference Saturday but announced on Twitter that he was canceling the event “out of respect for the Bush Family and former President George H.W. Bush.” He said he would hold a news conference after the funeral.
It will be the first major national funeral service that Trump will attend as president.
He did not attend the last major funeral in Washington, that of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The president and McCain had a contentious and testy relationship, and Trump was not welcome at McCain’s service, also at the National Cathedral, on Sept. 1.
He has also had a frosty relationship with the Bush family and skipped the funeral of former the former president’s wife, Barbara Bush, who died in April.
Trump famously criticized Bush’s son Jeb as “low energy” when he squared off against the former Florida governor in the Republican presidential primaries. And he has long blasted George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
He also heaped scorn on Bush for breaking his pledge during the 1988 campaign not to raise taxes. In July, he mocked Bush’s use of the phrase “Thousand Points of Light” during his convention speech and inaugural address.
Bush coined the phrase to praise community and volunteer organizations helping Americans in need. Bush’s words and advocacy helped inspire the creation of the Points of Light Foundation, which seeks to foster volunteerism.
“I never quite got that one,” Trump said at a rally. “What the hell is that?” Trump said. “Has anyone ever figured that one out?”
On Saturday, Trump appeared to put the spats aside. The president and his wife, Melania, in a statement issued by the White House hailed Bush for “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.”
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