As the 2016 Republican National Convention gets underway, the party seems more divided than ever, a rift George W. Bush reportedly addressed in a recent meeting with former aides.
The Republican establishment has been pushing back against Donald Trump's candidacy throughout the election, with a "Never Trump" movement rising that reportedly escalated into chaos and confusion on the floor of the convention on Monday. Many long-time Republican politicians are alarmed by the current state of the party, concerns George W. Bush echoed while speaking at a reunion in April, according to a new report from Politico.
"I’m worried that I will be the last Republican president," he reportedly told former aides and advisors at the event.
Bush has declined to comment on Trump's candidacy directly, but Politico's report comes at the start of the first Republican National Convention in 40 years with no members of the Bush family in attendance. Their absence follows a bitter campaign for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was leading in early polls but quickly lost ground to Trump, who targeted him with brutal verbal attacks as the race went on. Former Bush staffers and cabinet members are also sitting out the event, including Condoleezza Rice and former Montana governor and chairman of Bush reelection campaign who said, according to the New York Times, "I’m very fearful for my republic."
"I thought my fellow citizens would exercise the judgment to steer the country in the right direction," he said.
In addition to the Bush family and former cabinet members, a number of high-profile Republicans are skipping the convention, including former Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. While McCain claimed he was working on his own reelection, Romney has been vocal in his opposition of Trump, saying before he was named the official candidate, "If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished."