As we noted in a separate article about the claim that “all living ex-presidents have warned Americans not to vote for Donald Trump,” the two living Republican former presidents have not expressed any enthusiasm for the GOP’s current presidential nominee. Although neither George H.W. Bush nor George W. Bush has openly criticized Donald Trump or advocated that voters cast their ballots for someone else, neither has either one of them publicly endorsed the Republican nominee, as they typically would.
But on 19 September 2016, George H. W. Bush seemingly endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (if only by proxy) when Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, posted on Facebook to announce that the 41st U.S. President had told her he was voting for Clinton:
Townsend reportedly confirmed that announcement to Politico, proclaiming, “That’s what he said.”
So has the elder Bush broken with precedent and endorsed the rival party’s nominee? He himself didn’t issue an endorsement or say anything about his candidate preference publicly; all the news about his voting for Hillary Clinton so far is hearsay relayed by someone else. And Bush’s spokesperson, Jim McGrath, did not confirm (or deny) what Townsend reported, saying: “The vote President Bush will cast as a private citizen in some 50 days will be just that: a private vote cast in some 50 days. He is not commenting on the presidential race in the interim.” McGrath also noted via Twitter that Townsend’s claim had not been verified:
Those reporting how @GeorgeHWBush will vote this year, it's not clear anyone was there to verify KKT. Still checking, keep your powder dry.
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) September 20, 2016
On the other hand, “leaking” information unofficially through a friendly third party is a time-honored method in the political world of disclosing things that one cannot (or prefers not to) say directly.
The Bush family has avoided getting involved in the current race ever since Jeb Bush (son of George H.W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush) suspended his presidential campaign. George W. Bush has made some efforts in the service of ensuring that Republicans retain control of the Senate, but neither he nor his father has endorsed any of the presidential candidates, nor did either of them attend the Republican National Convention at which Donald Trump was nominated.