Skip Nav

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Friendship

George W. Bush Says Bill Clinton Is a "Brother With a Different Mother"

Bill Clinton may have beaten George W. Bush's father in the 1992 presidential election, but the two former presidents seemingly have a unique and fascinating friendship. During a forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Library on Thursday, July 13, the two discussed their bond — and made several not-so-veiled references to our current president — when they discussed importance of unity and "humility" in the Oval Office.

As for Clinton's close friendship with Bush's father, Bush said, "It starts with Bill Clinton being a person who refused to lord his victory over Dad. He was humble in victory, which is very important in dealing with other people. Dad was willing to rise above the political contest. It starts with the individual's character and both men, in my judgment, displayed strong character."

"Why do I have a friendship with him?" Bush asked of his bipartisan bromance with Clinton. "Well, he's called a brother with a different mother."


In the discussion, the two did not mention President Donald Trump by name once, but they did not hold back from throwing a little shade.

"If you want to be president, realize it's about the people, not about you," Clinton said. "You want to be able to say 'things were better off when I quit, kids had a better future, things were coming together.' A lot of these people who are real arrogant in office, they forget . . . . You don't want to say, 'God, look at all the people I beat.'"

The men also referenced the advice former presidents pass down to their successors. George Bush Sr. gave Clinton advice about being the commander in chief, and Clinton did the same when George W. Bush was elected president after his two terms. Bush did the same for Barack Obama, which also explains the warm relationship Bush and Michelle Obama share.

The two reflected on the power of the presidency in their conversation. "The decisions you make have a monumental effect on people," Bush said. "Presidency is often defined by the unexpected. It makes the job interesting."

Clinton added, "If you don't deal with the incoming fire, it will undermine your ability to do anything else. If all you deal with is incoming fire, you can't keep the promises you made when you were running."

He also said that "the best thing that can happen to you when you are in politics is to be consistently underestimated." Bush chimed in jokingly, "I was pretty good at that."

Watch the hour-long Presidential Leadership Scholars conference here.

Latest News