US President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Picture: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE
US President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Picture: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE

President Donald Trump went in person on Tuesday to pay his respects to the grieving Bush family in his latest show of peacemaking with the political clan he once fought bitterly.

Trump, whose ascendancy to the head of the Republican Party saw him exchange vitriolic attacks with the establishment Bushes, has taken pains to demonstrate unity since the death of former president George HW Bush, aged 94, on Friday.

Ahead of Wednesday’s state funeral — at which Trump will reportedly sit in the front row, but not deliver a eulogy — the president tweeted he would visit the “wonderful Bush family” at the presidential guest residence Blair House across from the White House.

On a chilly afternoon, former president George W Bush, son of the deceased elder Bush, greeted Trump and the first lady, Melania, outside Blair House and took them inside for a private visit. Earlier, Laura Bush went over to get a tour with Melania of the White House Christmas decorations.

Trump’s relations with the Republican establishment have been rocky since his insurgent campaign took him to the party’s nomination and then a stunning election win in 2016.

He did not attend the funeral in 2018 of the elder Bush’s wife, Barbara, even though former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton were there. Melania represented the White House.

Trump also did not attend the funeral in August of another Republican leader, former senator John McCain.

The Bush family has assured Trump that eulogies at the funeral will avoid any criticism of him, the Washington Post reported.

After meeting with the Trumps, and one day after Monday’s sombre ceremony in which much of official Washington paid their respects, George and Laura Bush made a low-key return to the Capitol rotunda, accompanied by daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush, to stand once more before the flag-draped coffin.

The former president smiled warmly, shook hands and hugged visitors and well-wishers.

AFP