Former President George W. Bush on Sunday congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., becoming the most prominent Republican to publicly declare the election over in defiance of President Trump’s refusal to accept the results.
“I extended my warm congratulations to him and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night,” Bush said in a statement after speaking with Mr. Biden by telephone. “I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election as Vice-President. Although we have political differences, I know Joe Biden is a good man who earned his chance to lead and unify our country.
He added: “I want to commend President Trump and his supporters for a tough campaign. He won the votes of over 70 million Americans – an extraordinary political achievement. They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard by Republicans elected to all levels of government.
Mr Bush, the only living former Republican president, put his mark on the outcome even as many elected leaders in his party held back either out of loyalty to Mr Trump or out of fear of crossing paths with the outgoing president. Mr Trump falsely claimed the election was stolen without any evidence, leaving his party in the awkward position of following a president refusing to accept the reality of other Republicans, even if they don’t say it out loud.
Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have refused to publicly acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory without necessarily embracing Mr. Trump’s outlandish claims. Many of them have remained silent or straddled the line with statements calling for all legal votes to be counted and suggesting that the president should be allowed to sue or request any recount permitted by law. Only a few well-known Republicans, like Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, praised Mr. Biden.
While Mr. Bush has said that Mr. Trump has “the right to demand recounts and initiate legal proceedings,” his statement made it clear that he did not think they would succeed and that he could encourage d ‘other Republicans to speak out and step up pressure on Mr. Trump to stop fighting. results with unfounded claims.
“The American people can be confident that this election was fundamentally fair, their integrity will be maintained and the outcome is clear,” he said.
Mr Bush spoke a day after his brother, former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, who lost the Republican nomination to Mr Trump in 2016, delivered his own congratulatory statement to Mr Biden , writing on Twitter that he “will pray for you and your success. “
The Bush family has been at odds with Mr. Trump since that primary contest. Mr Trump excoriated Jeb Bush and attacked his brother on several occasions as he sought to be made a Republican that year. The former president said he voted for “none of the above” in 2016. His father, former President George HW Bush, said he voted for Hillary Clinton that year, and his father, former President George HW Bush, said he voted for Hillary Clinton that year. wife, Barbara Bush, wrote on behalf of Jeb on her ballot.
The younger Mr. Bush had a friendly working relationship with Mr. Biden years ago, though the two often disagreed on politics and politics. Mr. Biden voted to allow Mr. Bush to use force against Iraq, which led to the 2003 invasion, but later became a harsh critic of the war.