In discussing Mr. Trump, the elder president was blunter. “I don’t like him,” Mr. Bush said in May 2016. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” Rather than being motivated by public service, Mr. Bush said Mr. Trump seemed to be driven by “a certain ego.”
The younger Mr. Bush was more circumspect, but also clearly disapproving. The Bushes felt stung by Mr. Trump’s ground-burning attacks that helped destroy the campaign of Jeb Bush, the son and brother of the presidents.
“You can either exploit the anger, incite it,” George W. Bush told Mr. Updegrove, “or you can come up with ideas to deal with it.” Jeb, he said, came up with solutions, “but it didn’t fit with the mood.”