The Note: Bush 43 gets his moment, amid remembrance of his father

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects as former president George H. W. Bush lies in state in the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, Dec. 3, 2018.PlayMandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Crowds pay respect to a former president

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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Together for the first time since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the presidents club gathers on Wednesday under traditional, yet uncomfortable, circumstances.

For all the personal and family drama surrounding the Clintons, Obamas, Bushes, Carters and Trumps, the man in the spotlight at Washington National Cathedral will be the one whose presidency landed in the middle of the 41st and 45th.

Former President George W. Bush, now the only living Republican former president, will get an unusual opportunity to set the political tone in eulogizing his father. Trump will be just a few feet away, with memories of the insults and crass nicknames he rode to the White House still fresh among those in the crowd -- and beyond.

Remembrances of former President George H.W. Bush have doubled as reminders -- intentional or not -- of how different Trump and his political moment are from the world the former president inhabited.

As Trump labels himself a "Tariff Man" and pursues a stance on Saudi Arabia that has many GOP senators outraged, Bush 43 stands this week as heir to his father. He could also serve as much more than that.

PHOTO: Former first lady Laura Bush and former President George W. Bush greet President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump outside of Blair House, Dec. 04, 2018 in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Former first lady Laura Bush and former President George W. Bush greet President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump outside of Blair House, Dec. 04, 2018 in Washington.

The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek

Former Vice President Joe Biden wasn't shy about why he thinks he has was it takes to be the next commander-in-chief.

"I think I'm the most qualified person in the country to be president," Biden said Monday, at an event in Montana as part of his national book tour.

With eight years as vice president and 36 years as a United States senator, it's hard to argue Biden is wrong on the facts, but it's worth pointing out that governing experience and a steady governing hand weren't what Americans chose in 2016.

And it may not be what they're looking for in 2020 either.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala in Las Vegas, Dec. 1, 2018. Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law 20th Anniversary Gala in Las Vegas, Dec. 1, 2018.

Although some were uniquely qualified, many had considerably less experience than their Republican opponents. They overcame that with an energetic appeal to both the Democratic base and Independents disillusioned with the GOP in the era of Trump.

While always considered a long-shot, and likely derailed by the legal controversy surrounding him, attorney Michael Avenatti's brief candidacy serves as a reminder of why people thought even he was a viable presidential candidate.

"Dems want a fighter to beat Trump," Avenatti wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

If that fighter doesn't necessarily have the experience that Biden has, but could be an effective foil against a president who has the ability to hijack the news cycle at any moment, does it really matter?

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

In 2016, Trump won Michigan and Wisconsin by 0.23 and 0.77 percentage points, respectively -- razor-thin margins that produced an outsize impact as the states' 26 combined electoral votes helped Trump hold off Hillary Clinton.

Knowing the fervor with which Democrats are eyeing 2020, one might think Republicans in those two states would be doing everything they could to protect their base. Instead, as GOP state legislators in both states attempt to strip incoming Democratic leaders of some of their powers, it seems as if they can't see the forest for the trees.

In the short term, these Republican plays -- which allow the state legislature to intervene in state lawsuits in Michigan and eliminate the solicitor general's office in Wisconsin, among other changes -- may cushion the impact of new Democratic governors and their cabinets, but they may also be alienating voters as such actions are increasingly characterized as undemocratic subversions of election outcomes.

Democrats proved, with major wins in Senate and House races in both states, that buyer's remorse over Trump may have already settled in. But if, instead of embracing bipartisanship, Republicans continue down the path of obstruction, a more significant GOP loss could be on the horizon.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News' John Verhovek, who describes the election fraud allegations rocking North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz explains why senators from both sides of the aisle were madder than ever after being briefed by CIA Director Gina Haspel Tuesday about the murder of Jamaal Khashoggi. And, ABC News Senior Investigative Producer Josh Margolin discusses the sexual assault allegations surrounding a former staffer of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.


  • President Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will pay their final respects to former President George H.W. Bush at Washington National Cathedral. Bush's remains will be sent back to Houston at 1:45 p.m. EST
  • ABC News Live is providing full coverage of George H.W. Bush's funeral services. Watch on, The ABC News App, Hulu, and Roku.
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