(CNN) – As White House aides put the finishing touches on President Obama's Oval Office address marking the end of combat missions in Iraq, how will they negotiate the biggest elephant not in the room – former President George W. Bush?
In an interview with CNN's John Roberts Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was decidedly unclear when it came to whether the president would tip his hat to his predecessor's successful surge strategy – a strategy both Obama and Vice President Biden stridently opposed when they were both presidential candidates during the early stages of the 2008 race for the White House.
In his interview with CNN, Gibbs suggested the improved conditions in Iraq were the result of more than the decision to add more troops in 2007.
(CNN) - Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will travel to Haiti next week to meet with government officials and others involved in relief efforts after January's massive earthquake.
The two former presidents will make the trip on behalf of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, established to raise money for long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts in the impoverished nation, according to a statement from the fund Thursday.
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake January 12 killed at least 220,000 people and demolished large parts of Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital. About 300,000 people were injured and 1 million were left homeless, the government said.
In the aftermath of the January earthquake, President Barack Obama asked President Clinton and President Bush to raise funds for high-impact relief and recovery efforts to help those who are most in need of assistance," said the fund's statement. "In response, the two presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to respond to unmet needs in the country, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life over the long term for those affected and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and 'build back better.' "
(CNN) - It appears former President George W. Bush isn't following the Senate Republican primary in Florida as closely as many members of his party.
Bush, appearing at the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series on Tuesday, joked that he had never heard of Marco Rubio.
Rubio, of course, is the former Florida House Speaker and conservative favorite who recent polls suggest is locked in a tight race with Gov. Charlie Crist.
"Who the hell is Marco Rubio?" Bush said when asked about his thoughts on the election, according to local television station WINK.
Bush appeared to be joking, the station reported.
A spokesman for Bush told CNN the former president "of course knows who Marco Rubio is."
" He knows him, and he respects him," Spokesman David Sherzer said. "For anyone to use this quote out of context is a shame."
Jeb Bush, the ex-Florida governor and brother of the former president, also took part in the town hall event and said he is not taking sides in the divisive Senate primary.
While the national party quickly lined up behind Crist's candidacy last year, Rubio has won support from a steady stream of conservatives, most recently from Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Rubio heads to Washington later this week for a series of fundraisers and an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Committee.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) - President Obama announced Saturday that President George W. Bush and President Clinton have agreed to lead an effort to raise funds for Haiti.
Clinton, who is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, said he wants to accomplish a fundraising effort like the one he organized with President George H.W. Bush after the Asian tsunami in 2005.
"Right now, all we need to do is get food and medicine and water and a secure place for them to be," he said.
(CNN) - Former President Bush released a statement Friday marking the eight-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Eight years ago, our Nation and our freedom came under attack. On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I hold the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. We honor those who volunteer to keep us safe and extend the reach of freedom – including members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers, and intelligence and homeland security professionals. Their courage, service, and sacrifice is a fitting tribute to all those who gave their lives on September 11, 2001. On this day, let us renew our determination to prevent evil from returning to our shores.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - "Read my lips: No new taxes."
That famous phrase from George H.W. Bush came as he accepted his party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Committee convention in 1988.
At the time, it was exactly the red meat Republicans were looking for. But campaigning and governing are two very different things.
Bush was elected as the nation was slipping into a recession. When confronted with a growing national deficit, he had to find a source of revenue.
That revenue came in the way of raising taxes, a move that especially rankled members of the GOP and became an issue for Democrats to run on in 1992. Democrat Bill Clinton was swept into the White House.
Pushing forward to 2009, another president may have trekked onto the same territory.
On Monday, the White House sought to shoot down concerns that middle-class families may face a tax increase in order to combat rising deficits and a struggling economy after its two top money men floated the idea that tax increases to fund the nation's economic recovery could extend beyond the wealthiest Americans.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after former President George W. Bush seemed to criticize the Obama administration for departing from a number of his anti-terrorism policies, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back.
Asked about Bush's remarks during Thursday's press briefing Gibbs had a simple response. "We won," Gibbs told reporters.
In a vigorous defense of his own national security policies during a speech in Pennsylvania Wednesday, Bush appeared to take issue with the new administration's early decision to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.
"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," Bush said, according to a report by the Washington Times. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."
Gibbs said Thursday that the American people had made their own decision about battling terror.
"I think we've had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular – we kept score last November and we won," Gibbs said.
(CNN) - In his most critical comments to date of the Obama administration's policies, former President George Bush Wednesday warned against the nationalization of healthcare, government overreach in the country's financial system, and the potential effects of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said during a speech to business leaders in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the Washington Times. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he also said in the closed-door speech, according to the paper.
During the remarks — one of Bush’s first in the United States since leaving the White House - the former president commented on a wide-range of issues currently confronting the Obama administration, including the new president's push for universal healthcare.
"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."
Asked directly if he thought his successor was embracing "socialist" polices, Bush stopped short of weighing in one way or the other, instead saying: "We'll see."
(CNN) - It appears President Obama has to step up his reading pace if he wants to beat his predecessor in one particular measure: how many books a president can polish off a year.
In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Obama said he is currently reading Joseph O'Neill's 270-page novel "Netherland," a book Obama first said he began back in April.
If Obama is close to finishing the novel, that puts him on less than a 10 book-a-year pace, far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time.
According to former top Bush aide Karl Rove, he and the former president engaged in a friendly wager every year to see who could read more books.
In 2006, Bush read 95 books to Roves 110: a Herculean pace of nearly two books a week - in an election year to boot - for the ex-president. But, according to Rove, Bush's reading slowed a bit in the final years of his presidency, finishing a not-too-shabby 51 books in 2007 and at least 40 in 2008.
And if that's not impressive enough, Rove also said Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year.
While Obama may have had to put aside “Netherland” last month in favor of pages of court briefs with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, it nevertheless appears the president has some summer reading to do.
BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (CNN) - Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney's assertion that their enhanced interrogation program was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented future terrorist attacks.
In his largest domestic speech since leaving the White House in January, Bush told an audience in southwestern Michigan that after the September 11 attacks, "I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you."
Although he did not specifically allude to the high-profile debate over President Obama's decision to halt the use harsh interrogation techniques, and without referencing Cheney by name, Bush spoke in broad strokes about how he proceeded after the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in March 2003.
"The first thing you do is ask, what's legal?" he said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.' I can tell you that the information we got saved lives."
But Bush avoided the sharp tone favored by his former vice president in recent weeks, and went out of his way to stress that he does not want to disparage the new president.
"Nothing I am saying is meant to criticize my successor," Bush said. "There are plenty of people who have weighed in. Trust me, having seen it firsthand. I didn't like it when a former president criticized me, so therefore I am not going to criticize my successor. I wish him all the best."
The former president was speaking to nearly 2,500 members the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The format of the speech was changed at the last minute when Bush decided to answer questions directly from the audience members, instead of responding to pre-submitted questions provided to a moderator.