Powell: Bush family strength came from Barbara

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell reflects on his close friendship with Barbara Bush.

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 11:46 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 11:51 AM

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell reminisced on his memories of the Bush family following former first lady Barbara Bush's death on Tuesday.

Powell told CNN's "Inside Politics" on Wednesday that he became friends with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush when they shared adjacent offices (and a bathroom) for two years at the White House. Powell said that two days after Bush lost his presidential re-election campaign in 1992, he called the President to check in.

"We talked for just about five minutes and I hung up. And an hour later my wife calls me and said, 'Barbara just called.' And I said, 'About what?' 'They want us to come up to Camp David this weekend,'" Powell said.

Surprised that the Bush family would choose to be with them at such a sensitive time, Powell said he went to Camp David with his wife and children at the first lady's behest.

There, the families watched movies, and though he said it was "a wonderful evening," "we didn't talk a lot."

Later that evening, Powell said, the President wanted to take a walk through the woods of the camp. Powell's wife and the first lady followed behind them.

"I'm not asking anything. I'm not saying anything, and he just turned to me and says, 'It really hurt,'" Powell said. The former secretary of state says he replied: "Mr. President, I know."

"But you can tell that the strength in that family, and the strength that he had, came from Barbara," Powell continued, choking up. "She was that kind of woman. She was always there. She was always steadfast. She was a grand, grand woman."

Powell served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through Bush's presidency and later went on to serve as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration.

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