Clinton, Bush launch new scholars program

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

20 PHOTOS
George Bush and Bill Clinton
See Gallery
Clinton, Bush launch new scholars program
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, left, and George W. Bush, laugh while participating in the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, at The Newseum in Washington. The two are launching a new scholars program at four presidential libraries, aiming to help academics and business leaders learn more about presidential leadership. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Former U.S. President George W. Bush talks about his hopes for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former President Bill Clinton, left, covers his face as he laughs after George W. Bush, made a joke as they participated in the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, at The Newseum in Washington. The two are launching a new scholars program at four presidential libraries, aiming to help academics and business leaders learn more about presidential leadership. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Former President George W. Bush speaks to former President Bill Clinton as former first lady Laura Bush looks on after taking the stage at the dedication of phase 1 of the permanent Flight 93 National Memorial near the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. Saturday Sept. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Former US President George W. Bush (C), Former US First Lady Laura Bush (center row 4L), Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (bottom R 3R) and Former US President Bill Clinton (bottom 2R) attend with world leaders the memorial service of South African former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013. Mandela, the revered icon of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and one of the towering political figures of the 20th century, died in Johannesburg on December 5 at age 95. AFP PHOTO / ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, left, and George W. Bush arrive at the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, at The Newseum in Washington. The two are launching a new scholars program at four presidential libraries, aiming to help academics and business leaders learn more about presidential leadership. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama stands with former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Former president George W. Bush, left, shakes hands with former president William J. Clinton during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush talk about their hopes for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush arrive for an event launching the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Joshua Bolten, chair of the Presidential Leadership Scholars advisory committee, left, moderated a conversation with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program Launch, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, at The Newseum, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush talk about their hopes for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC.With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former Presidents George Bush, left, and Bill Clinton great each other as Hillary Clinton looks on before the start of the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
President George W. Bush, poses with President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Former President Bill Clinton speaks as former President George W. Bush listens in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. President Barack Obama asked former presidents Clinton and Bush to help with U.S. relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Barack Obama, center, walks up to the podium with former Presidents Bill Clinton, left, and George W. Bush, right, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. Obama asked the former presidents to help with U.S. relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, left with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush walk under the Colonnade towards the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. Obama asked Bush and Clinton to help with U.S. relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Haiti's President Rene Preval, second from left, former President George W. Bush, second from right, and former President and U.N. special envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton, left, arrive at the earthquake damaged Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Monday, March. 22, 2010. Former U.S. presidents Clinton and Bush are visiting Haiti to assess recovery needs. They were tapped by President Barack Obama to spearhead U.S. fundraising in response to the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
Haiti's President Rene Preval, left, former President George W. Bush, center, and former President and U.N. special envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton greet people at a makeshift camp for homeless earthquake survivors located next to the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Monday, March. 22, 2010. Former U.S. presidents Clinton and Bush are visiting Haiti to assess recovery needs. They were tapped by President Barack Obama to spearhead U.S. fundraising in response to the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George W. Bush talk about their hopes for the Presidential Leadership Scholars program at the Newseum September 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. With the cooperation of the Clinton, Bush, Lyndon B. Johnson and George H. W. Bush presidential libraries and foundations, the new scholarship program will provide 'motivated leaders across all sectors an opportunity to study presidential leadership and decision making and learn from key administration officials, practitioners and leading academics.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

By KEN THOMAS

WASHINGTON (AP) - Political opposites turned friends, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush launched a new scholars program at four presidential centers with an opening act that might have been mistaken for a comedy routine.

The two former presidents - one a Democrat, the other a Republican - shared laughs and a buddy-like banter on stage Monday, talking about presidential leadership while trading stories about their famous families and life after the White House.

Bill Clinton said he and Bush laughed backstage about people coming up to them at restaurants and asking to take "selfie" photos. Quipped Bush: "At least they're still asking."

With Hillary Rodham Clinton seated in the fourth row, Bush noted that many people ask him about the possibility of another Bush-Clinton White House campaign. His father, President George H.W. Bush, lost to Clinton in 1992, and his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, may seek the GOP nomination in a race that could pair him against Hillary Clinton.

"The first one didn't turn out too good," Bush quipped.

The 42nd and 43rd presidents joined together to announce the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a partnership between the Clinton, Bush, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential centers. At a time of partisanship and gridlock, both presidents said they hoped the scholars program would attract people in business, public service and the military interested in learning about presidential decision-making and applying it to their own careers.

Clinton revealed that he and Bush would speak twice a year during Bush's second term, 30-to-45 minute conversations about policy and politics. While they didn't always agree, Clinton said he never talked about their discussions and said the talks "meant a lot to me."

Clinton said the test of any democracy is finding ways of having a vigorous debate and still reaching resolution to the nation's problems. "If you read the Constitution, it ought to be subtitled: 'Let's make a deal,'" Clinton said.

The elder Bush got in the act from afar, writing in a letter read aloud that every former president displays different qualities, "for example, not all of us skydive."

Bush, who celebrated his 90th birthday in June by making a tandem parachute jump, urged the two former presidents to "keep it brief."

George W. Bush campaigned for president in 2000 on restoring "honor and dignity" to the White House following Clinton's impeachment over a sex scandal. But the two former presidents have developed a bond, strengthened by their mutual admiration for the elder Bush, whom Clinton visited in Maine last week.

Clinton and the younger Bush worked together on relief efforts after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010 and have been active in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Bush noted that his upcoming book, called "41: A Portrait of My Father," would be a "love story. It's a story about seeing someone you admire and learning from them."

As moderator Josh Bolten joking plugged the book's Nov. 11 release date, Clinton mused about writing his own competing Bush 41 book. "I think I can put one together that would be ready to go," Clinton joked.

More AOL Content:
Did chest hair lead to this man's death?
Terror suspects caught slipping into Europe

Read Full Story

People are Reading