(JTA) — Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a joint statement rejecting “racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms.”
“As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded by the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights,” the Bushes wrote Wednesday, referencing another former president, Thomas Jefferson.
Their statement, issued from their summer residence in Kennebunkport, Maine, comes in the wake of President Donald Trump’s stunning comments on the violence in the southern Virginia city over the weekend.
At a news conference Tuesday in New York, Trump doubled down on his claim that there was “blame on both sides,” equating combative left-wing counterprotesters with the bands of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who were demonstrating against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The Bushes, both Republicans, have been critical of Trump in the past. In February, George W. Bush raised questions about Trump’s campaign contacts with Russian officials.
Jeb Bush, who lost to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, urged him on Twitter and Facebook to “unite the country.”