Former president George W. Bush said Sunday that he called Biden and Harris to congratulate them on their win and, in a statement, declared that the voters “have spoken” while also voicing support for Trump’s legal right to pursue recounts in close battleground states.
Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, is the latest former occupant of the Oval Office to congratulate Biden and Harris. Former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, all Democrats, also have congratulated the president- and vice president-elect.
In his statement Sunday, Bush said he had just spoken with Biden and “thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night.”
“I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency,” Bush said. “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country. The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans. I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.”
Bush, who has largely receded from the national political stage since leaving office in 2009, also congratulated Trump and his supporters “on a hard-fought campaign.”
“He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans — an extraordinary political achievement,” the former president said. “They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.”
In what appeared to be a rebuke of Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, Bush said that the high turnout this year can be interpreted as “a positive sign of the health of our democracy” and that “no matter how you voted, your vote counted.”
But Bush — who himself became president after the Supreme Court ruled to settle a recount dispute in Florida — also affirmed Trump’s right to seek legal redress.
“President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated,” Bush added. “The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
He called for all Americans to unite “for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future,” and to “join us in wishing our next President and Vice President well as they prepare to take up their important duties.”