President George W. Bush cautioned against criticizing gay couples, saying in an interview on “This Week” that you shouldn’t criticize others “until you’ve examined your own heart.”
Bush had waded into the revitalized same-sex marriage debate last week - if only barely - in a comment to a reporter in Zambia, who asked whether gay marriage conflicts with Christian values.
“I shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own,” Bush said last week.
In an interview in Tanzania with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, the former president explained his comment further.
“I meant it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart,” Bush told Karl.
As president, Bush opposed gay marriage, and Republicans pushed ballot measures to ban it at the state level. The topic has seen rejuvenated discussion after the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
On another hot political topic – immigration – Bush said he thinks a major reform bill “has a chance to pass.” In 2007, Bush sought to pass an immigration bill similar to what’s been proposed in Congress this year, seeking to provide citizenship opportunity for undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S.
” I think it’s very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect. And have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people,” Bush said on “This Week. “It’s a very difficult bill to pass because there’s a lot of moving parts… But it looks like they’re making some progress.”
Bush said immigration is important to pass “to fix a system that’s broken,” not to improve the Republican Party’s political standing among Latino voters.
“Good policy yields good politics, as far as I’m concerned,” Bush said.
The 43rd president traveled to Africa with former first lady Laura Bush to promote their Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, a program through their foundation to expand care and prevention of cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Last week, the Bushes helped renovate a clinic in Zambia that will serve as a cervical-cancer screening and treatment center.
As president, Bush launched the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to address the wide spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Since leaving the White House, he has received warm welcomes on the continent.
“People admire America,” Bush told Karl on “This Week.” “Africans are thrilled with the idea that American taxpayers funded programs that save lives.”
To anyone who says his work in Africa is an attempt to make up for mistakes made elsewhere during his presidency, Bush called that notion “absurd psychobabble.”
By chance, the Bushes and Obamas crossed paths on their coinciding Africa trips, as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent six days touring the continent to strengthen U.S. ties with sub-Saharan nations. President Obama and former President Bush appeared together in Tanzania, but did not speak publicly, at a ceremony commemorating the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy there.
“This is one of his crowning achievements,” Obama said of PEPFAR before their meeting. “Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved.”
“We just chatted about his trip,” Bush said of their time together, noting that he asked Obama about his daughters. “We didn’t sit around and hash out policy.”
On his ascent to the White House, Obama heavily criticized his predecessor, mostly for the war in Iraq. But Obama has maintained some of Bush’s national-security policies since taking over - a posture that has earned him criticism from liberal supporters.
Obama has continued the use of overseas drone strikes, and, most recently, the White House and the National Security Agency acknowledged that until 2011, the NSA continued collecting email “metadata” records for U.S. citizens. The Bush-launched program continued with Obama’s approval.
Asked why some of his counterterrorism programs have continued under Obama, Bush suggested that Obama realized the gravity of security threats after becoming president.
“I think the president got into the Oval Office and realized the dangers to the United States,” Bush said on “This Week.” “He’s acted in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country. Protecting the country’s the most important job of the presidency.”
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