Former President George W. Bush was taken aback by the amount of attention that his friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama received from the public.
The 74-year-old Republican, who served as 43rd president of the United States from January 2001 to January 2009, admitted that he was “shocked” that the idea of a friendship between him and Obama, the first lady from January 2009 to January 2017, would cause so much conversation.
The Obama-Bush friendship first gained attention when the two shared a hug at the 2016 opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, but as Bush points out, their friendship “became more famous” when a shared moment was captured on-camera during Sen. John McCain’s funeral in 2018.
“I think the one that became more famous was when I gave her the Altoid during McCain’s funeral and it shocked me,” he told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell during an April 18 interview on the “Sunday Morning” show. “We got in the car and I think Barbara or Jenna said ‘Hey you’re trending!’ The American people were so surprised that Michelle Obama and I could be friends.”
The “Decision Point” author believes that the massive public reaction shed light on the “problem” that exists in many Americans’ way of thinking. “I think it’s a problem that Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they couldn’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends.”
In 2019, “The Michelle Obama Podcast” host said that her friendship with Bush is possible because they share similar values at their cores. “Our values are the same,” she stated. “We disagree on policy, but we don’t disagree on humanity, we don’t disagree about love and compassion. I think that’s true for all of us — it’s just that we get lost in our fear of what’s different.”
Most recently, Mrs. Obama and the former president were reunited during President Joe Biden’s January inauguration ceremony and were photographed sharing a laugh with their significant others, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Laura Bush, by their sides.