WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is basing part of his reelection campaign on the conceit that George W. Bush bequeathed him a deep economic and diplomatic mess that he has managed to clean up.
But Obama will put the nasty digs of the campaign trail to one side Thursday, as he welcomes the former president back to the White House, for the ceremonial unveiling of his official portrait.
White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted that there would be no hard feelings on show, from Obama’s side at least, saying that the few men who had shared the loneliness of office had much to share.
“There’s not a lot of need to talk about where they differ,” Carney said.
“There are differences there without question between his approach and the approach and the policies of his predecessor,” Carney said.
“(But) I think there is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences.”
Carney noted that former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush — father of George W. — fought a tough campaign in 1992 but started to bond a few years later when the Democratic president invited his predecessor back to the White House to see his portrait hung in the presidential mansion.
George Bush and Clinton became firm friends and both frequently laud one another in public to this day.
The second former president Bush will return to the presidential mansion a few weeks after the publication of a new book examining the fraternity that exists between retired US commanders-in-chief.
“The President’s Club,” by Time magazine journalists Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, relates how former president’s advise their successors behind the scenes, and occasionally irk the men that follow them in the Oval Office.