Former President George W. Bush and wife Laura Bush will be present when Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, PEOPLE confirms.
“President and Mrs. George W. Bush will attend the 58th Presidential Inauguration Ceremony on January 20, 2017, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They are pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power – a hallmark of American democracy – and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence,” the first couple confirmed in a statement.
The 43rd president kept his distance from Trump during a bruising election campaign that pitted the business mogul against Bush’s brother Jeb in the primary.
The former president ultimately did not vote for Trump on Nov. 8, with a spokesman telling The Wall Street Journal that Bush cast his ballot for a candidate other than Trump or Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. However, he did call Trump and offer his congratulations the day after the general election.
“Laura and I wish the President-elect, Melania, and the entire Trump family all our very best as they take on an awesome responsibility and begin an exciting new chapter in their lives,” he said, per the Journal. “We pray for the success of our country and the success of our new president.”
Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, also declined to support Trump during the election, and it was reported that he planned to cast his ballot for Clinton.
George W. Bush is the second former president to confirm his attendance at the inauguration, with Democratic former president Jimmy Carter being the first presidential alum to RSVP.
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Trump’s upcoming inauguration has been fraught as the businessman (and political novice) readies to lead a divided nation. The mogul has has had trouble attracting talent to perform at the Washington D.C. event. Former America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho is the only singer confirmed to perform.
The Rockettes are also scheduled to perform, but many women in the troupe have expressed concerns that their appearance will look like a tacit endorsement of a man who was under fire during his campaign for statements and views that appeared racist and misogynistic.
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