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George W. Bush expresses support for NAFTA, says 'anger shouldn't drive policy'

Former President George W. Bush offered President-elect Donald Trump a thinly veiled word of advice Tuesday, during a speech in Dallas to the pro-trade group North American Strategy for Competitiveness. "I understand anger. But anger shouldn't drive policy," Bush said, in his first public remarks since Trump was elected president last week. "What needs to drive policy is what's best for the people who are angry and how does that benefit people in our country and the countries in the neighborhood." Bush reportedly voted for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton, opting instead to only vote for down-ballot Republicans.

In his speech Tuesday, Bush specifically expressed his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. that Trump has vowed to renegotiate or end. While Bush was careful not to name any names — he noted he did not think it was "helpful for a former president to criticize successors" — he said that any president should "recognize that trade encourages growth and fair trade is important for the workers of our respective countries."

Contrary to Trump's assessment of NAFTA as the "worst trade deal in history," Bush noted the trade deal has "created millions of jobs and helped bolster economies in both the U.S. and Mexico," The Wall Street Journal reported. "Are we going to be a dynamic economy or a stagnant economy?" Bush asked. "A lot of it centers on helping people understand the realities of the world in a positive way."