James Baker: Bush’s last day was ‘very gentle’

Former Secretary of State James Baker said the passing of his friend, former President George H.W. Bush, was a peaceful one.

“That last day was really a very, very gentle and peaceful passing for him,” Baker said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In the interview, Baker shared an anecdote from the morning of Bush’s death.

“When I showed up at 7 o’clock in the morning, one of the aides who assisted him physically said, ‘Mr. President, Secretary Baker is here,'” he said. “And he opened both eyes, he looked at me, he said. ‘Hey, Bake, where are we going today?’ And I said, ‘Well, jefe,’ I said, ‘We’re going to heaven.’ He said, ‘Good, that’s where I want to go.’ Little did I know or did he know, of course, that by 10 o’clock that night he’d be in heaven.”

Baker said through years of illness and the death earlier this year of his wife, Barbara Bush, the former president kept up his drive and will to live, joking “about wanting to live to be 100.” But the former top aide and longtime friend of Bush’s said that, nevertheless, his passing was calm.

Baker, who also worked as Bush’s White House chief of staff, noted the split partisan control of Washington during the elder Bush’s presidency and offered it as a lesson for politicians in the current era.

“I mean, we need to stop yelling at each other and start listening to each other,” Baker said. “At least be willing to listen. You don’t have to agree.”