While there’s been a lot of brotherly love shared between George W. Bush and Bill Clinton lately, Jeb Bush joked Tuesday that his connection to the former Democratic president only goes so far.
“There’s a club of past presidents. There’s mutual respect there, I admire that,” the former Florida governor said. “But Bill Clinton is not my step-brother, OK?”
Bush’s remark – a nod to the familial bond his brother, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton say they share – sparked a round of laughs at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Responding to a question from Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention about how the 13,000 evangelicals in attendance could pray for Hillary Clinton, Bush said he prays “for everybody in positions of leadership, for sure” and reiterated a call he’s been making for a return to civility in politics.
“It’s important to recognize that people you don’t agree with aren’t necessarily bad people. They just might be wrong,” he said, drawing some laughs. “There’s no reason to personalize everything, demonize people.”
Bush said doesn’t ascribe any bad motives to Clinton.
“But I think her approach – the top-down, progressive approach where it’s all decided from up above and just basically get in line and do what we’re told – is not the one that has created the greatness of the most extraordinary country on the face of the earth,” he said.
Hillary Clinton was invited to speak at the event but did not participate.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who like Bush is also running for the Republican presidential nomination, appeared at the same conference via video. He was also asked how “to honor and pray for” Hillary Clinton.
“God loves Hillary Clinton as much as he loves me or you or anyone else in this gathering,” Rubio said, also making the point that political differences shouldn’t lead to hate.
Like Bush, Rubio is also Catholic, but he frequently attends a Southern Baptist church.
“Just because someone doesn’t agree with you on public policy doesn’t make them not worthy of our prayer,” he said. “They are still our brothers and sisters, we are all still children of the same God.”