In biography, George H.W. Bush slams 'iron-ass' Cheney, Rumsfeld

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George H.W. Bush's New Book Has Surprising Criticism of Cheney, Rumsfeld

Jeb Bush told NBC News on Thursday that his father, former President George H.W. Bush, was attempting to "create a different narrative" by heaping criticism on former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for their outsized influence in the White House.

"My brother is a big boy, his administration was shaped by his thinking, his reaction to the attack on 9/11. I think my dad, like a lot of people that love George [W. Bush], want to try to create a different narrative, perhaps, just because that's natural to do," Jeb Bush told NBC's Kasie Hunt.

SEE ALSO: Ranking the 2016 presidential candidates by age

"But George would say, 'This was under my watch, I was commander in chief, I was the leader. And I accept personal responsibility for what happened, both the good and the bad,'" Jeb Bush added.

See photos of Dick Cheney through the years:

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Dick Cheney through the years
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In biography, George H.W. Bush slams 'iron-ass' Cheney, Rumsfeld
CASPER, WY - UNDATED: Congressman Dick Cheney and wife Lynne pose for a photo with their two children Liz (L) and Mary and Basset Hound Cyrano at their home March 1978 in Casper, Wyoming. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Lynne Cheney tastes husband Dick''s stew in the kitchen of their McLean, Virginia home May 1980. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
Dick and Lynne Cheney plant a tree May 1980 in the yard of their suburban McLean, Virginia home while daughter Mary, 10, holds up an earthworm. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
The Cheney family (from left, Dick, Elizabeth,12, Mary 10, with dog Cyrano, and Lynne) admire a tree they planted in the yard of the family home May 1980 in McLean, Virginia. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
The Cheney family (from left) Lynne, Dick, Elizabeth,12, and Mary,10, run in the yard of their family home in McLean, Virginia May 1980. Richard Cheney was nominated as George W. Bush''s running mate July 25, 2000. He also served as Secretary of Defense for former President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
U.S. President Ronald Reagan attends a meeting of the Republican leadership at the White House March 22, 1983 in Washington, D.C. with Republican Minority Leader Bob Michael (L) and Congressman Dick Cheney. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: This file photo taken 14 March 1989 shows former US Defense Secretary-designate Dick Cheney as he appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on the first day of hearings on his nomination on Capitol Hill, in Washington,DC. (Photo credit should read JAMES COLBURN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dick Cheney walks with President George Bush and an entourage March 21, 1989 in Washington, DC. Cheney was elected to Congress from Wyoming in 1978 and served ten years prior to his selection as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
Dick Cheney speaks at his swearing-in March 21, 1989 in Washington, DC. Cheney was elected to Congress from Wyoming in 1978 and served ten years prior to his selection as Secretary of Defense under President George Bush. (Photo by Getty)
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA: US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney (R) stands by as General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefs reporters at the Pentagon 20 December 1989 about the military operation to remove Panama's General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power and bring him to the US for trial on drug charges. (Photo credit should read BOB PEARSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President George Bush (C) addresses reporters 22 August 1990 in Kennebunkport flanked by Defense Secretary of State Dick Cheney (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powel, following a meeting dedicated to the military situation in the Gulf. AFP PHOTO JEREME DELAY (Photo credit should read JEROME DELAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Dick Cheney (L), CEO of the Halliburton Company and former Chief of Staff for President Gerald Ford, talks to former President Ford during a party for their mutual friend, Richard Growald, 1994 in San Diego, California. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: GOP vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney waves to the crowd during the third night of the Republican National Convention at First Union Center in Philadephia. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, : Republican Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney (L) and his wife Lynne (R) wave to the crowd after his acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 02 August 2000. (Photo credit STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and President-elect George W. Bush attend an event saluting America's veterans in Washington. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: Vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney and wife Lynne are on hand for rally at a campaign train stop in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: George W. and Laura Bush and Dick and Lynne Cheney wave at rally in Pittsburgh as they boarded a train for a whistle-stop trip through western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge is behind Bush. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney speaks against the Iranian nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Fmr. Vice President Dick Cheney appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday Dec. 14, 2014. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
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According to the New York Times, the elder Bush told biographer Jon Meacham that Cheney "had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer." Calling the former vice president "iron-ass," the elder Bush said he "just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with."

The former president also called Rumsfeld "an arrogant fellow" and suggested that his lack of empathy made him a poor public servant in George W. Bush's White House.

"I think he served the president badly," H.W. Bush said. "I don't like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything."

"There's a lack of humility, a lack of seeing what the other guy thinks. He's more kick ass and take names, take numbers. I think he paid a price for that," he said.

In a statement to NBC News, Rumsfeld said, "Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions."

The former president's comments, detailed in Meacham's book "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush," are sure to be seen through the prism of the presidential run of his other son, Jeb. The former Florida governor is struggling to regain political momentum, in part after questions about the dynastic nature of his 2016 run.

Jeb Bush said that Cheney, "served my brother well as vice president, and he served my dad extraordinarily well as secretary of defense."

"We have to get beyond, I think, this feeling that somehow 1991 is the same as 2001," he added.

In the book, George H.W. Bush doesn't shy away from criticism of George W. Bush, suggesting that some of his son's rhetoric -- like describing North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an "axis of evil" -- was ill-advised.

"I do worry about some of the rhetoric that was out there -- some of it his, maybe, and some of it the people around him," he said of George W. Bush.

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