The Obamas and Bushes got a chance to catch up on Tuesday as they shared a trip on Air Force One to and from Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa.
Barack and Michelle Obama shared their round-trip passage with George W. and Laura Bush for the event, which drew a host of dignitaries and world leaders.
After the memorial for Mandela ended, the Obamas and Bushes boarded Air Force One together. During the trip they had dinner together in the airplane’s conference room, and were joined by Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Attorney General Eric Holder, and national security adviser Susan Rice.
There has been little interaction between the Obamas and Bushes since the contentious 2008 election, in which Obama sharply criticized Bush’s presidency. Obama and many of his supporters tried to make the election a referendum on Bush’s policies, and when Obama soundly defeated John McCain many took it as a rejection of the legacy Bush had left.
But since then tensions have cooled. While Obama has still made references to Bush and his policies, the frequency has waned considerably since the election.
Bush, meanwhile, has left the political scene completely. While many other Republicans from Bush’s White House years remain sharp critics of Obama, Bush has not once publicly criticized the president.
Obama and Bush did meet once earlier this year, and once again it was in Africa. The two American presidents came together in Tanzania to lay a wreath at the US Embassy, commemorating the bombing that took place August 7, 1998.
The Obamas and Bushes actually had another presidential family represented during their first leg of the trip. Hilary Clinton flew to South Africa on the same plane as the current and former president, but flew home separately with husband Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea.