George W. Bush says the Republican Party he served as president has become “isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist” and says he’s especially concerned about anti-immigration rhetoric — a direct attack on former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” reforms to the party.
“It’s a beautiful country we have and yet it’s not beautiful when we condemn, call people names and scare people about immigration,” Bush told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday.
Bush, who was in New York to preside over a naturalization ceremony, said his new book, “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants,” aims to ”elevate the discourse.”
The former president did not directly mention Trump, who aggressively curbed illegal immigration during his tenure and sought to build a “big, beautiful wall” at the southwest border with Mexico to keep out unlawful migrants.
Trump, a fellow Republican, disparaged illegal immigrants as invaders and said Mexico is “not sending their best.”
But Trump has dominated the Republican Party, even out of office. Hard-right House Republicans last week discussed forming an America First Caucus, which one document described as championing “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and warning that mass immigration was putting the “unique identity” of the U.S. at risk.
Bush, asked to describe the state of the party, replied, “I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist, and, to a certain extent, nativist.”
He added, “It’s not exactly my vision as an old guy, but I’m just an old guy that’s put out to pasture.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article