Former President George W. Bush, currently on a press tour promoting a book of his paintings, said he does not like the "racism" and "name-calling" under the administration of President Donald Trump.
"I don’t like the racism and I don’t like the name-calling and I don’t like the people feeling alienated," Bush told People in an interview alongside his wife Laura. "Nobody likes that."
It is not clear exactly what incidents of racism and name-calling Bush was referring to in the interview, but he did say that there have been periods in American history during which the political climate was polarized and emotions eventually cooled.
"I’m optimistic about where we’ll end up…" Bush continued. "We’ve been through these periods before and we’ve always had a way to come out of it. I’m more optimistic than some."
When People asked Bush if he felt compelled to interfere and take on a leadership role during the country's divisive times, the former president responded: "No. When President [Barack] Obama got elected, friends would call, ‘You must speak out! You must do this, you must do that.’ Turns out, other people are doing the same thing this time. I didn’t feel like speaking out before because I didn’t want to complicate the job, and I’m not going to this time."
Instead, Bush said he's speaking out via his Bush Center, an organization working in the fields of immigration, women's reproductive health in Africa and leadership training for Muslim women from the Middle East that the Bush Center brings to Texas, Politico reports.
"There’s a lot of ways to speak out," Bush said. "But it’s really through actions defending the values important to Laura and me. We’re a blessed nation, and we ought to help others."
When asked if Trump's travel ban restricting those from several predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. could threaten programs of the Bush Center, he said: "Now that you mention it, it might bother me, but we’ll figure out how to bring them over."
Bush, who launched the 2003 Iraq War under false pretenses that the country had weapons of mass destruction, which caused the deaths of nearly 200,000 Iraqi civilians and nearly 5,000 U.S. and coalition soldiers, according to Iraqi Body Count, is currently on a press tour to promote "Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors," a book of paintings he made of troops wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.