— DALLAS (AP) — Together on stage, the two families who have dominated American politics for the past two decades joined Thursday to pay tribute to the opening of George W. Bush's presidential center. Whether the families will have another act — in 2016 — was the unspoken subtext.
President George H.W. Bush, frail and seated in a wheel chair, beamed with pride, thanking the audience for honoring "our son." President Bill Clinton, who defeated the elder Bush twenty years ago, joked that he had become the "black sheep son" of the Bush family.
George W. Bush, standing before his gleaming new center, observed that it was the "first time in American history that parents have seen their son's presidential library." Bush said his father taught him "how to be a president. Before that he showed me how to be a man."
The dedication of the red-brick library on the campus of Southern Methodist University placed a spotlight on two of the nation's most prominent political families — and the prospect of another White House campaign involving them in 2016. Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton accompanied her husband on stage while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sat in the audience with his wife, Columba.
Both are considering presidential bids in three years, moves that could create unprecedented dynasties — the first spouses to serve as president or the first brothers — and lead to a similar event at a future library a decade or more from now.
President Barack Obama, who broke the 20-year string of either a Bush or Clinton in the Oval Office, thanked his predecessors, noting that the "world's most exclusive club" acted more like "a support group" of former presidents who help each other. Obama has his own back story with the families — he waged a long primary race against the former New York senator in 2008, campaigned vigorously against Bush's policies and then turned to the former first lady to run the State Department. When Obama needed a re-election boost last year, Bill Clinton was there to help.