George W. Bush condemns the Republican Party as 'isolationist, protectionist,' and 'nativist' and says it's scaring people about immigration

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Eliza Relman
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Former President George W. Bush on "Today" on Tuesday.
Former President George W. Bush on the "Today" show on Tuesday. Screenshot/CBS News
  • George W. Bush called the GOP "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist."

  • In an interview with the "Today" show he called for "border enforcement with a compassionate touch."

  • "It's an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate," Bush said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Former President George W. Bush gave a new interview in which he described the Republican Party as "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist."

"It's a beautiful country we have, and yet it's not beautiful when we condemn and call people names and scare people about immigration," he told the "Today" show on Tuesday. "It's an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate, and I'm trying to have a different voice."

Bush, who on Tuesday released a new book of his paintings, "Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants," joked that his opinion was somewhat irrelevant.

"It's not exactly my vision, but I'm just an old guy they put out to pasture, a simple painter," he said.

During an interview with CBS News' Norah O'Donnell that aired Sunday, Bush said that failing to pass immigration reform during his two terms in office was one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency.

Bush said that he wanted "border enforcement with a compassionate touch" and that he wasn't "pro-immigration" because that involved "open borders."

He called for a stronger asylum process with more judges and courts to handle people's claims and for a visa system to allow more workers in to fill "empty" American jobs. Bush also argued there's a shortage of "manpower" on the border to handle the steep rise in migrants, particularly children, who've crossed the US-Mexico border in recent months.

Bush didn't support former President Donald Trump's reelection but also didn't make any public statement before the election. He has said the January 6 Capitol siege made him "sick," and on Tuesday he lamented the pervasiveness of political misinformation online.

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