President George W. Bush was in Africa last week, the same time as President Obama, and took time for an interview with ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl. While there was talk about the serious issues of AIDS relief, immigration and gay marriage, it was clear the former president had not lost his sense of humor.
When asked if he spoke with Obama regularly, Bush said not so much.
“He’s busy, and I’m retired,” he replied.
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which Bush signed as president 10 years ago, is celebrating an important milestone: 1 million African babies born HIV-free thanks to programs preventing mother-to-child transmission. And 7 million people with HIV are receiving much-needed treatment to survive the disease. The president and Laura Bush also just helped renovate a clinic in Zambia that will serve as a cervical-cancer screening and treatment center.
Karl said that some criticize Obama for not doing enough for Africa. To that Bush answered, “It doesn’t surprise me that presidents get criticized.”
While Karl tried to put Bush on the spot and talk about his opinion on gay marriage, the former president said he would not wade back into that debate because he was “out of politics.” But he did comment on an answer he had previously given to a reporter in Zambia.
“I meant it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart,” Bush told Karl.
On immigration, Bush said it was important to fix the broken system, but not to do something just to improve the political standing of the Republican Party.
Karl asked why some of Bush’s counterterrorism programs have continued under President Obama, after much criticism from candidate Obama on the campaign trail.
“I think the president got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States,” Bush said. “He’s acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country. Protecting the country’s the most important job of the presidency.”
Watch Bush’s candid interview and some highlights from his African trip via ABC News here.
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