Former U.S. President Bush Improving, 'Singing'

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Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush's condition is improving and he is in good spirits -- even singing, a spokesman said Friday.

"President Bush remains in the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital, where he continues to improve," family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement issued from Houston.

"The president is alert and, as always, in good spirits -- and his exchanges with doctors and nurses now include singing," the spokesman said.

"The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes and, like their doctors, are cautiously optimistic that the current course of treatment will be effective."

Earlier in the week, McGrath said Bush had taken a turn for the worse, with a "series of setbacks" sending the 88-year-old to the intensive care unit with a "stubborn fever."

But Friday's report was decidedly more upbeat, though McGrath did not speculate about a possible release date.

Bush was first admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on November 7 for bronchitis treatment and released on November 19. But he was readmitted four days later after his cough flared up again.

Doctors initially hoped to have the elder statesman home for Christmas, but he was instead forced to spend the holiday in the hospital, where he was joined by his wife Barbara, son Neil and grandson Pierce.

Bush, a Republican, served just a single term in the White House from 1989 to 1993, despite sending U.S. troops to victory in Iraq in the first Gulf War, expelling Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.

The decorated World War II veteran served in a number of top government posts, including as vice president to Ronald Reagan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

His son George W. Bush served two terms as president and also went to war with Iraq, this time sending U.S.-led troops all the way to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam, whom he had wrongly accused of hoarding weapons of mass destruction.

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