South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn told reporters that George W. Bush said Joe Biden was the only person who could have beat Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential election.
Clyburn, 80, also said that Bush commended him for helping Biden’s presidential campaign.
Clyburn told reporters on Wednesday that the 43rd president said to her, ‘You know, you’re the savior because if you had not nominated Joe Biden, we would not be having this transfer of power today.”
The top Democrat and House Majority Whip continued, “He said to me that Joe Biden was the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president.”
However, Bush Chief of Staff Freddy Ford does not want the conversation between them to turn into anything more than it was.
“This has been a bit overhyped,” Ford (who did not respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE) said to the Times. “President Bush was acknowledging the congressman’s role in saving President Biden’s candidacy — nothing more, nothing biblical.”
“Let’s not make this into more than it is. He was saying Clyburn helped saved Biden’s nomination….nothing Biblical here.”
Clyburn’s support of Biden was a significant part of his victory in the Democratic primary—South Carolina was a must-win contest for Biden, 78.
Biden surpassed expectations in the state with nearly a 30-point lead.
Clyburn also co-chaired Biden’s inauguration committee.
“We are going to discourage anything that could be a spreader. We are going to say to people: ‘Please, follow our example,’ ” Clyburn told reporters of the large virtual event.
Biden’s inauguration was attended by Forever President Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. The trio also appeared on Wednesday night primetime special “Celebrating America,” where they wished Biden well.
“I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” Bush said then.
Bush has remained low since leaving office in 2009. Still, he spoke out in what could be seen as a disapproval of Trump’s presidency. After Trump’s 2017 address, he commented, “That was some weird s***.”
Following the Capitol riot, Bush released a statement strongly condemning the violence and madness, PEOPLE reported.
“Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight,” Bush’s statement read. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic.”
Continued the former president: “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.”