WASHINGTON – Former President George W. Bush broke his silence on the 2012 presidential race and informally endorsed Mitt Romney on Tuesday, ABC News reports.
“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush said when asked by a reporter after an event promoting a project of the George W. Bush Presidential Center , which will be built at Southern Methodist University.
When the GOP primary was still competitive, Bush had declined to pick a favorite, despite a highly public endorsement by his father, President George H.W. Bush, for the former Massachusetts governor.
Now that the field has thinned, the younger Bush has lined up behind the last Republican standing.
Earlier in the event, billed the “Celebration of Human Freedom,” Bush voiced support for the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday.
“We are with you in your desire for freedom and your struggle for freedom,” Bush said of Syrian protesters. He was vague as to how the U.S. should aid the Syrian protesters, but said the goal should be “to help reformers” in the Middle East.
The event featured activists from around the world, including Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian-American founder of the Tharwa Foundation who introduced Bush.
Bush joked about returning to the Capitol for what he called the “Washington launch” of his “Freedom Collection,” a project that amasses artifacts and testimonies from “dissidents.”
“I actually found my freedom by leaving Washington,” Bush said to laughter.
Discussing North Africa and the Middle East, Bush indicated he might support a more active U.S. role in promoting uprisings by saying he disagrees with being “content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability.”
“In the long run, this foreign policy approach is not realistic,” he said. “It is not realistic to presume that so-called stability enhances our national security.”
After the event, Bush declined to say whether he would support U.S. military intervention in Syria.
Xiqiu “Bob” Fu, the Chinese religious freedom activist who made headlines recently for facilitating Chen Guangcheng’s congressional testimony, also spoke at the event.
Fu, founder of CHINAaid in Midland , introduced former First Lady Laura Bush.
“There must be something in the dusty air of Midland, Texas, that inspires individuals to stand up for what is right,” said Fu, after greeting the audience, “y’all,” in his Chinese-American accent.
Laura Bush then held a transcontinental video conference with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, an opposition leader in Burma.
Suu Kyi said the international community should support the Syrian uprising but do so without violent force.
“We should all help people struggling for freedom anywhere in the world,” she said. “I think it is violence that begets violence.”