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Barbara Bush remembered: Presidents, political leaders pay tribute to former first lady

Barbara Bush dead at 92
Barbara Bush dead at 92 02:44

NEW YORK - President Trump, former occupants of the White House and other political leaders remembered former first lady Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at the age of 92, as "feisty," "an advocate for the American family" and reflecting "the very best of the American spirit."

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement saying in part: "As a wife, mother, grandmother, military spouse, and former First Lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family. Amongst her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection."

Second lady Karen Pence issued a statement calling Barbara Bush a "trusted friend."

Barbara Bush dead 03:15

"Her sage advice snd words of encouragement touched my life in a profound way," Karen Pence said. "Since becoming Second Lady, she has become a trusted friend. I will miss her."

Family literacy was Barbara Bush's signature cause during her time in the White House, and she later launched the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. It's a cause also remembered by former President Carter and Rosalynn Carter.

"Through her own work to promote literacy as a value in every American home, countless families now have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in all aspects of their lives," they said in a statement. "She will be missed."

Former President Obama and first lady Michelle remembered Barbara Bush for her dedication to public service.

"We'll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House," they said in a statement. "But we're even more grateful for the way she lived her life – as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit."

The 1992 election pitted Barbara Bush's husband, George, against Democrat Bill Clinton. While voters chose Mr. Clinton, dealing a personal blow to the Bushes, she left her mark on her husband's successor. Mr. Clinton tweeted that Barbara Bush was "fierce & feisty in support of her family & friends."

"We will never forget the courtesy and kindness she and President Bush showed us, starting when I was governor in 1983," the Clintons said in a statement. "I'll always treasure my summer visits to Kennebunkport. Barbara joked that George and I spent so much time together I had become almost a member of the family, the 'black sheep' that had gone astray."

Greg Abbott, governor of Barbara Bush's home state of Texas, issued a statement calling on "all Texans" to "join us in keeping [the Bush family] in our thoughts and prayers."

"Barbara Bush dedicated her life to helping others," Abbott said. "As only the second woman in history to be both the wife and mother of U.S. presidents, Barbara Bush had a unique and profound impact on our country."

Sen. Ted Cruz issued a statement calling attention to her "private role which she prized above all."

"From China to Texas to Washington DC, Barbara Bush worked on a beautiful floral needlepoint rug, stitching together changing times and geography with constant love and support for her family," Cruz posted on his Facebook page. "Her masterpiece eventually graced the floors of the Executive Mansion, making the White House a true home. It was a symbol of her lifelong tapestry of love and service, stronger than executive orders, long hours, and sleepless nights."

Even after her time in the White House, the Bush family continued to grow their political dynasty. Their oldest son, George W. Bush, was elected president in 2000. Their son Jeb, the 43rd governor of Florida, threw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

On Sunday, a family spokesperson said Barbara Bush decided to decline further medical treatment and instead focus on "comfort care." She had been in the hospital for congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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