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Media Advisory: NPR News Interview with Former President Bush

Former President George W. Bush holds an event at his presidential library and museum in Dallas on Feb. 28 for his exhibit of veterans portraits. Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush holds an event at his presidential library and museum in Dallas on Feb. 28 for his exhibit of veterans portraits.

Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday, April 12, 2017; Washington D.C. – In an interview airing on Thursday's Morning Edition, NPR's David Greene spoke with Former President George W. Bush.

Stations and broadcast times are available at NPR.org/stations.

Excerpts from the conversation are available below.

When asked about the U.S. foreign aid budget, and funding to programs such as PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief), Bush said:

"The foreign aid budget is relatively tiny compared to all the rest the money we spend. So the fundamental question is, can we do both as a society? Can there be creative ways to finance infrastructure, public private partnerships, and at the same time deal with serious world problems? I obviously made the decision that we could. I think it's — I know it's in our interest to, you know, help deal with a pandemic that would have left thousands of people without parents, which could have been an easy recruiting tool for al-Qaida particularly in East Africa where there had been bombings in the past. It's in our moral interest.

(...)

"On the other hand PEPFAR as a program, and its follow on being the cervical cancer effort, is a program that prevents extremism, because when you have an entire generation of people being wiped out and the free world turns its back, it provides a convenient opportunity for people to spread extremism. America didn't care about you. We do. You were abandoned as an orphan. We're not going to abandon you. And therefore, I believe in this case that it's in our national security interests as well as in our moral interest to continue funding this program."

When discussing U.S. immigration policy and border security, Bush said:

"I have been dealing with the immigration issue ever since I was a governor of the state of Texas. I laid out what I thought was a comprehensive plan that would work in an Oval Office address when I was the president. I still think that's going to be the plan that ends up being adopted at some point in time

(...)

"OK let's discuss the issue of people here illegally. What are the options? Do nothing. Well, I think that option's been bypassed because of the election; people talked about it a lot. Secondly, legalize everybody, and that option simply won't work. It's not a good option. It will never pass Congress, and I wouldn't propose it as president. So then what do you do? And my judgment is, is that there needs to be a way for somebody to be able to get in line to become a citizen so long as they met certain criteria."

(...)

"I think it's very important for us to recognize the importance of Mexico and the relationship we have with Mexico. We want Mexico to succeed. It's in our national interest they succeed. And we want to be allies with Mexico and not alienate Mexico."

When discussing his new book called "Portraits of Courage," a collection of stories and oil paintings, Bush said:

"It is- what's personal is my great pride and respect for our troops. I know these men and women quite well. There is not an ounce of self-pity in their being. They need help. And so, the book's purpose is to call attention to their courage, but also to the need to help them transition from the military life to civilian life. You know, as a matter of fact getting to know them, you know, has been uplifting. And that's what this book is all about is honoring them."

"I guess if the troops had come back and said, "I can't believe you did this to me," or, you know, I'd feel a lot worse. Or I'd feel worse. But I don't. I'm comfortable knowing that I, you know, made a considerate judgment that I thought was in the best interest of the country. And I'm comfortable knowing that the troops - look, I've had "we'd do it again, Mr. President." Couple of those guys I painted were back in combat on one leg. And it is remarkable. And so there is a lot of passion in the paintings. What I thought you're going to ask is I can't believe you're a painter. Most people can't."

PLEASE NOTE: A transcript of the interview is available upon request, but is embargoed until airtime on April 13th


Contact:

Ben Fishel, NPR Media Relations
Email: mediarelations (at) npr.org