David Hume KennerlyGetty Images
One of the internet’s favorite friendships is that between former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Republican president and Democratic first lady have an unlikely bond, filled with big greetings at public events, conversation, and, yes, hugs.
This weekend, Bush spoke about the relationship with CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell. He discussed the public reaction when their friendship became apparent to the American public. The first moment was in 2016, when the pair shared a hug at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
“The big hug, yeah,” Bush said. “But I think the [moment] that became more famous was when I gave her the Altoid during [late Senator John] McCain’s funeral.”
Indeed, Bush passed Obama a small mint during the funeral, in a moment that quickly went viral. The 43rd president described his surprise at the public outpouring in response to these interactions. He expressed disappointment that many Americans may be surprised that politicians in separate parties can be close.
“It shocked me,” he said. “We got in the car and I think Barbara or Jenna [Bush, the president’s daughters] said, ‘Hey, you’re trending!’ The American people were so surprised that Michelle Obama and I could be friends.”
“I think it’s a problem that Americans are so polarized in their thinking that they can’t imagine a George W. Bush and a Michelle Obama being friends,” Bush added.
Michelle Obama, too, has described her affection for President Bush. The pair are often seated next to each other at formal events, where they’ve developed a running rapport.
“President Bush and I, we are forever seatmates because of protocol, and that’s how we sit at all the official functions,” Obama told Today in 2018. “He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the ‘formers’ gather. So we’re together all the time.” She later added, “I love him to death. He’s a wonderful man, he’s a funny man.”
Watch Bush’s interview in full below:
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