DALLAS — Former President George W. Bush acknowledged on Sunday that he may have downplayed how much he sought advice from his father during his presidency, a sign of the influence George H.W. Bush still has over his son.
George W. Bush made the acknowledgement in a public forum, talking about his father's biography with the book's author, Jon Meacham.
During their conversation, Meacham recalled a conversation he'd had with George W. Bush for the book: "I think you downplayed at times how much you talked to your dad." The younger Bush nodded.
The forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas touched on the father's career as a Navy pilot, his disappointing loss to former President Bill Clinton in 1992, and his reflections on his son's tenure in the White House. The talk came two days before Meacham's Destiny and Power becomes publicly available.
In the book, former President George H.W. Bush criticized his son for setting an abrasive tone on the world stage and failing to rein in hawkish Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. That sensitive topic was not addressed in the Sunday forum where the younger Bush was asking the questions.
The biography is the fullest account yet of the elder Bush, the only modern ex-president not to write a full-length memoir. It draws on diaries Bush kept from the 1960s to the 1990s and interviews the author conducted from 2006 to 2015.
On some days he sounded like he was "a step away from the grave," Meacham said, referring to the exhaustive schedule kept by Bush. Meacham praised the elder Bush for his candor in recording his own history.
"This is a man who turned on the tape recorder and told the truth," Meacham said.