Former President George W. Bush criticized Donald Trump’s policies of "isolationism, nativism, and protectionism" at a private fundraiser Tuesday in Cincinnati for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, without naming the Republican presidential nominee.
Bush did not put his comments in the context of the 2016 presidential campaign, but he told the crowd of about 400 people that he had been reflecting on threats against American exceptionalism, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing four people who attended the event.
When asked about the future of the GOP, Bush reportedly responded, "As long as everyone feels welcome, I think we’ll succeed."
Trump has splintered the Republican Party by challenging conventional party beliefs, leading some prominent figures to speak out against the GOP nominee. He has called for renegotiating free trade deals and reconsidering longstanding military alliances. Trump has repeatedly spoken out against Bush for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The business mogul has also caused controversy by proposing a ban on immigration to the United States by Muslims and people from countries with terrorism problems.
"No one could say he directly spoke in attack mode against Donald Trump. Neither could anybody miss the fact that he thought there were some cutting-edge issues that Trump is advancing that need to be scrutinized and debated," said Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the 43rd president’s brother who ran against Trump in the primary, has withheld an endorsement for the GOP nominee. The entire Bush family, including his father, former President George H.W. Bush, did not attend the Republican National Convention this year, reflecting the divide between Trump and much of the party’s political establishment.
Bush spoke in the Diamond Club of the Cincinnati Reds baseball stadium for 20 minutes and answered questions for the remainder of the hour. Bush appeared at two events Tuesday for Rob Portman, who served as U.S. trade representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget in his administration.
A spokesman for Portman, Michawn Rich, said Bush helped raise "well over $1 million in a single day."