“Barbara Bush blamed Donald Trump for her heart attack,” Susan Page writes at USA Today, excerpting her upcoming book on the former first lady, The Matriarch. “It wasn’t technically a heart attack, though she called it that. It was a crisis in her long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease that hit her like a sledgehammer one day in June 2016,” when Trump had secured the Republican nomination after repeatedly humiliating her son, Jeb Bush.
By February 2018, when Page asked Bush if she still considered herself a Republican, she answered, “I’d probably say no today.” Page called that “a stunning acknowledgment” from “one of the most recognizable faces of the Republican Party through two presidencies,” two months before her death.
Still, “Barbara Bush’s negative opinion of Trump dated back decades,” Page writes. In 1990, Bush wrote in her diary that Trump is “the real symbol of greed in the ’80s” and “Trump now means Greed, selfishness, and ugly. So sad.” Two years earlier, Trump had volunteered to be her husband’s running mate, an idea he’d dismissed as “strange and unbelievable.”
Bush was horrified when Trump won, and “she didn’t hide her horror from those close to her,” Page writes, adding:
After Trump was elected, a friend in Kennebunkport gave her a Trump countdown clock as a joke. The red, white, and blue digital clock displayed how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds remained in Trump’s term. She parked it on the side table in her bedroom, next to the chair she would sit in to needlepoint or watch television. She liked the countdown clock so much that when the Bushes returned to Houston that October, she brought it with her. It sat on her bedside table, where she could see it every day. It was there to the day she died. [Susan Page, USA Today]