Former President George H.W. Bush plans to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president this fall, according to a prominent Kennedy family member who spoke to the Republican patriarch this week.

On Monday, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend posted a picture of herself with Bush on Facebook and added, “The president told me he’s voting for Hillary!!” Townsend, who had met with Bush in Maine, later confirmed the conversation to Politico, which shared a photo of the Facebook post.

Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, said in a written statement Tuesday that the 92-year-old former president’s vote is private and Bush isn’t commenting on the race. McGrath later said on Twitter that he’s “still checking” if anyone was there to verify Townsend’s conversation.

The Bushes, who have summered at their family compound on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport for decades, are Maine’s highest-profile political family. News that the family patriarch might be voting for a Democrat instead of Republican nominee Donald Trump could factor into the decision-making process for moderate Maine Republicans in November, according to a University of Maine political science professor.

CNN reported Tuesday, citing network sources, that Bush made the comment about voting for Clinton during a Points of Light Foundation meeting in Kennebunkport on Monday with about 40 people in the room. The comments were meant to be kept private, according to CNN, which noted that Kennedy Townsend later deleted the Facebook post and has declined to comment on it.

Evan Sisley, left, an aide to former President George H.W. Bush, seated, captures a memorable moment for Jerry Furr of Charlotte, N.C., at L.L. Bean in Freeport.

Evan Sisley, left, an aide to former President George H.W. Bush, seated, captures a memorable moment for Jerry Furr of Charlotte, N.C., at L.L. Bean in Freeport. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

During an unannounced visit Tuesday to L.L. Bean in Freeport, the former president declined to answer any questions, including who he plans to vote for in November. He spent about an hour touring the store with L.L. Bean board Chairman Shawn Gorman and President/CEO Stephen Smith. He also shook hands and posed for pictures with several customers who recognized him.


Bush left the store with two pairs of boots, the retail chain’s signature item, and a pair of moccasin-style slippers. Gorman and Smith would not let him pay for the items, insisting they were gifts. The executives also outfitted his Secret Service agents with shirts.

Asked why Bush was visiting L.L. Bean, his aide, Evan Sisley, said the former president had two things on his to-do list before heading back to Texas for the winter. One was to visit the landmark Maine retailer, something he hadn’t done in the past few years, and the other was to get a “good slice of blueberry pie.”

Sisley said Bush already got the pie – at Patten’s Berry Farm in Kennebunkport.


Bush hasn’t said that he supports Trump, who defeated Jeb Bush, the former president’s son, and 15 other candidates in a testy Republican primary.

Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, has said he will not vote for Trump and either will vote for the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld or will write someone in on his ballot.


Other members of the Bush family, including former President George W. Bush, have refrained from endorsing Trump as well. Meanwhile, former first lady Barbara Bush, wife of the elder Bush, told CBS News she didn’t know how women could vote for Trump after his verbal assaults on Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly.

Former first lady Laura Bush, the wife of George W. Bush, along with one of the couple’s adult daughters, Jenna Bush Hager, demurred on the topic of voting for Trump in an interview with People magazine, but Hager did say, “It was a little worrisome there’s such a rhetoric of hate or bullying. I wouldn’t want my children to speak to other kids that way and they’re 3.”

Also last week in Washington, Laura Bush appeared with first lady Michelle Obama during an American University conference on veterans. Both women spoke on the bipartisan nature of their friendship, their mutual admiration for one another and on the positive relationship between their families.

If confirmed, the elder Bush would join a list of prominent Republicans with Maine ties who have said they won’t support Trump, including former Sen. Bill Cohen, who also served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Sen. Susan Collins. Maine’s senior senator has said she won’t vote for either Trump or Clinton.

Former Sen. Olympia Snowe, another popular Maine Republican who served 18 years in the Senate and 22 years in the House, has not commented on either candidate, as she serves on the board of directors for the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has received candidate endorsements from the Bush family, is supporting Trump. LePage has appeared with Trump at three rallies in Maine in the past year. He also has said Trump was his third choice as the party’s nominee, behind New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.



Mark Brewer, a University of Maine political science professor, said the news that Townsend had announced the elder Bush was going to vote for Clinton came up during one of his classes Tuesday.

Former President George H.W. Bush looks over a fishing rod with Shawn Gorman, left, board chairman at L.L. Bean, during Bush's visit to the retail store in Freeport on Tuesday.

Former President George H.W. Bush looks over a fishing rod with Shawn Gorman, left, board chairman at L.L. Bean, during Bush’s visit to the retail store in Freeport on Tuesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Brewer said he agreed with one of his students who suggested that “most voters aren’t going to be asking themselves ‘What would George H.W. Bush do?’ when they enter the voting booth in November.”

He said it wasn’t surprising, given the circumstances around Trump and his criticism of two of Bush’s sons, that the 41st president would not be supporting Trump. More surprising was that it appeared, according to Townsend, that the senior Bush was taking it a step further in saying he would vote for Clinton, Brewer said.

That news may hold some sway for moderate Republican voters who might still be weighing their choice 49 days from Election Day. It would likely be one more “datum” they would calculate before picking a candidate to vote for, Brewer said. Nationally, he said, the news of a single endorsement or non-endorsement from a former president probably wouldn’t have much impact, even though it now appears that all four surviving former presidents and President Obama have indicated they either don’t support or outright oppose Trump.

“I also think it might have an outsized impact in Maine – you know, nationally very minor, but maybe in Maine, still minor but maybe bigger,” Brewer said. “H.W. was the last Republican candidate to win the state, the family is held in relatively high regard here, especially H.W. He’s got a positive reputation even among some Democrats. I think it might make a bigger difference here.”


Based on a recent Colby College poll that suggests Maine’s 2nd Congressional District appeared to be favoring Trump, Brewer said, news that a Bush could vote for Clinton “might make a difference in Maine.”

“Not the difference, but part of the difference,” he said.

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.


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