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OpinionColumnistsMark Chiusano

Peter King waxes nostalgic on George W. Bush

Rep. Peter King, center, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer

Rep. Peter King, center, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer during a press conference at Penn Station, Manhattan on March 11, 2019. Credit: Charles Eckert

Rep. Pete King’s news releases often cover a variety of topics a little off the news, from baseball to books he likes.

But Tuesday’s missive reflected on George W. Bush’s presidency.

“I strongly believe that George W. Bush was one of our strongest and most underrated Presidents,” he wrote, below a picture taken with the president. “Just yesterday I received this photo of Rosemary and me with President Bush that was taken during his speaking engagement at CW Post last fall. That photo caused me to think back on the Bush Presidency and my own personal experiences with the 43rd President.”

The news release came the day before Bush’s name would be back in the news for the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was also a day after Bush had talked of the value of immigration at a Dallas naturalization ceremony, using rhetoric starkly different from President Donald Trump’s.

King’s note included anecdotes about Bush’s “integrity and character,” as when Bush insisted on spending time with a wounded veteran friend of King’s during a busy NYC trip.

The Point asked King whether Trump had a similar strength of character.

“Hard to answer,” he emailed. “I have seen some very human responses by Trump.”

He declined to elaborate.

Then on Wednesday Trump launched a not-particularly-Boy-Scout fusillade against John McCain, the war hero and senator who died in August. Trump said he didn’t like the guy and was upset he’d gotten no “thank you” for his role (which was limited) in McCain’s funeral.

Here the Seaford Republican criticized Trump publicly, tweeting: “Time for @POTUS Trump to end the shots at John McCain a true patriot, good man and true friend.”

Were the Bush and McCain messages about character connected, The Point emailed?

“Really a coincidence. I just got the Bush photo the other day. Wrote the post before the McCain story broke. After POTUS speech in Ohio yesterday I thought it was time to say something. Owed it to John.”

Mark Chiusano