WASHINGTON – Former President George H.W. Bush says the post-White House friendship he has nurtured with the man who turned him out of office won't make him go any easier on his successor's wife, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Bush and former President Clinton in recent years have worked together on numerous charitable causes, including jointly raising money for victims of the Indonesian tsunami in late 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"And I might say I've enjoyed playing golf with the guy," Bush said.
But none of that will make him hold his tongue against Hillary Clinton, who leads the Democratic presidential nomination race.
"I'm enough older that he has treated me with great deference and I would say friendship. And so there is a friendship there," Bush said of former President Clinton in a taped interview broadcast on "FOX News Sunday."
"But just as he's not going to tiptoe about his differences with the president, I wouldn't tiptoe with my differences with Hillary," Bush said. "But I don't plan to be all involved in this."
Bush also was asked to explain the country's attachment to the Bushes and Clintons. A Bush or Clinton has been on the ballot in every presidential contest since 1980; Bush's son, George W., is finishing his second term as president.
"Well, I don't know that it's an attachment to families. I think it's being in the right place politically at a certain time," the elder Bush said.
He said the American people have a way of sorting these things out.
"They go to caucuses or go to the primaries and just work, grind your way up the -- to whatever lies ahead, and that's what's happened. There hasn't been any anointing in the process," he said.
The former president also said he's not as sure as he once was that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination.
"In her own party there seems to be more willingness to take her on and to argue about stuff," he said. "But she's a formidable opponent and she's done very well, in my view. Now would I be for her? No."
He declined to say which Republican presidential candidate he is for.