Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Michelle Obama shared ‘a genuine expression of affection’ for one another during that moment when they were photographed embracing in Washington last September, the 43rd commander-in-chief said on Thursday.
Bush told People that he developed a lighthearted rapport with the former first lady, who took a liking to his sense of humor.
‘Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like,’ Bush told People.
Bush, 70, and Obama, 53, found time to strike up a friendship while seated next to one another during official events, like the recent opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and Nancy Reagan’s funeral.
At the museum opening, Bush and Obama were photographed in a warm embrace. The image went viral and is often considered the definitive snapshot of their relationship.
In July, Bush and Obama held hands while singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic during the memorial service for five police officers killed by a sniper in Dallas.
Bush was evidently swinging his arms and appeared to be enjoying himself, prompting some to criticize him for not acting appropriately during a solemn occasion.
‘I can’t remember where else I’ve sat next to her, but I probably have a few wise cracks and she seemed to like it okay,’ says Bush.
‘I needle her a little bit and around her, I’m fairly lighthearted. [The Obamas] are around serious people all the time and we just took to each other.’
Bush has been making the rounds on media in recent days to promote his latest undertaking – an exhibition of his oil paintings depicting US military veterans.
The collection, on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas until October 1, features 66 portraits and a four-panel mural.
Bush’s paintings pay tribute to the nearly 100 wounded or traumatized personnel who he has known personally since leaving the White House in 2009.
As the 43rd US president Bush had commanded the US military members, who all served in the wars he launched in Iraq and Afghanistan following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The former commander-in-chief released on Tuesday a book titled ‘Portraits in Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors,’ which includes images of the portraits and the veterans’ personal stories.
Bush said he wanted to use the paintings and book to highlight the veterans’ struggles with post-traumatic stress and the transition to civilian life.
While Bush has been busy painting, his good friend Michelle Obama and her husband, former President Barack Obama, are expected to soon get busy writing.
During the ceremony in Washington, Bush enlisted the then-president to take a photo of him posing with a family. Bush then posted the photo with a message of thanks to Obama on his Instagram account
Earlier this week it was learned that the Obamas had signed a deal with publisher Penguin Random House, which will pay the former first couple a whopping $60 million for their memoirs.
‘We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama,’ the chief executive of Penguin Random House, Markus Dohle, said in a statement.
‘With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same.’
Dohle then added: ‘Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.’
As part of the deal penguin will also donate 1million books in the Obamas name, a move that might have taken down the price paid in the deal.