In one of the few television interviews he's granted since his departure from office, former President George W. Bush said that his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, should "run for President if he wants to. He'd be a great one."
The 43rd president made the comments in an interview with Jay Leno Tuesday on NBC's "The Tonight Show," where he appeared with his wife Laura.
The question about his brother was a rare detour into current events in the interview, which was primarily concerned with Bush's post-White House life and his painting habit.
Bush told Leno that he was inspired to take up painting after reading a Winston Churchill essay. When he hired an instructor for weekly lessons, he said he told her "There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it."
Bush shared paintings of his dog Barney and a stray cat that he adopted and named Bob ("so I can remember how to spell it when I got older") and said painting has changed his life. He presented Leno with a portrait of the comedian, prompting Leno to say: "I can't make fun of him now."
When Leno mentioned that Bush had avoided speaking on policy questions during his post-presidential career, Bush said, "I don't think it's good for the country for a former president to criticize his successor. ... It's hard for some to believe, but I think eight years in the spotlight's enough."
When asked to reflect on his presidential legacy, Bush said "It's gonna take a while for history to judge my decisions. Therefore, I'm not too worried. They're still writing biographies about the first guy (George Washington). The 43rd doesn't have to worry."
The interview also touched on the troubles of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, to whom Bush recommended, "have an annual physical." Bush, 67, credited his own annual doctor's visit with detecting the artery blockage that forced him to undergo heart surgery this past August. When asked what he thought caused the issue, Bush joked, "I didn't behave that well when I was younger and I might have smoked some."
Jeb Bush, who served as Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, has been mooted as a possible candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, but has not said publicly whether he will enter the race.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.