‘George Bush was absolutely the best’: former VP Dan Quayle pays tribute to his late boss

Former Vice President Dan Quayle paid tribute Sunday to his late boss, President George H.W. Bush, calling the country’s 41st president “a great individual” who “loved his country.” Speaking on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Quayle said that Bush, who died Friday, will be remembered for both his accomplishments while in the White House and … Continue reading “‘George Bush was absolutely the best’: former VP Dan Quayle pays tribute to his late boss”

Former Vice President Dan Quayle paid tribute Sunday to his late boss, President George H.W. Bush, calling the country’s 41st president “a great individual” who “loved his country.”

Speaking on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Quayle said that Bush, who died Friday, will be remembered for both his accomplishments while in the White House and for his devotion to the United States.

“George Bush was absolutely the best,” Quayle, the 71-year-old former vice president said. “He was a great individual in my opinion; he was a great president.”

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The former vice president added: "He loved his work. He loved the country. And it was such an honor for me to work with him every single day that he was president."

Quayle’s words on “Sunday Morning Futures” echoed those of an opinion piece he penned for the Wall Street Journal shortly after Bush’s passing in which the former vice president recalled the help the late president gave him during their term in office. Quayle wrote that Bush’s character – and the fact that he himself served as President Ronald Reagan’s vice president – helped make their relationship while in office such a positive force.

“Vice presidents don’t always stay on the best terms with the presidents they serve,” Quayle wrote. “What starts out as partly a political calculation, the selection of a running mate, is by no means certain to mature into warm friendship. In our case, what made all the difference was a few choices we made early—and the character of Bush himself.”

On “Sunday Morning Futures,” Quayle added: “The man, George Bush, was very good to me.”

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George H.W. Bush died Friday at the age of 94, and about eight months after the death of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.

"Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” Bush's son and former president, George W. Bush, said in a statement. “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

George H.W. Bush was known for his gentlemanly demeanor, dedication to traditional American values, willingness to take on foreign despots like Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Panama's Manuel Noriega, and presiding over the breakup of the Soviet Union.

"He got things done," Quayle said on Sunday. "The Berlin Wall came down, Eastern and Central Europe freed from the yoke of Communism, Apartheid in South Africa was eliminated, success in putting Saddam Hussein back into Iraq, Noriega apprehended. He did so many things in a short period of time."

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During his life, Bush served as a congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations and envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of the CIA, two-terms as vice president and, finally, president.

Air Force One was being sent to Texas to transport Bush's casket to Washington, where his body will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda. The public can pay their respects from Monday evening through Wednesday morning.

Bush will be buried Thursday on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University at the family plot next to his wife Barbara, who died in April, and their 3-year-old daughter Robin, who died in 1953. The Bush family is still arranging funeral services, but the White House said President Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to attend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

George H.W. Bush reflects on aging and the importance of family in letter to his children

Although there have been countless books written about him – by everyone from his wife and his son to historians and former aides – President George H.W. Bush never penned a proper memoir.

Unlike some of his Oval Office predecessors, and all of his successors, the 41st president of the United States never put pen to pad to tell his life story — despite living a colorful and historic life that saw him, among other things, become a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, head the CIA, help bring about the end of the Cold War and watch his son be sworn-in as president.

Instead of writing a memoir, Bush sent letters and kept a diary from the age of 18, where he laid down his thoughts about everything from family and love to life and aging. With his passing on Friday at the age of 94, Bush’s presidential library is releasing excerpts from his letters and diaries as a tribute to his life and legacy.

In the first of the series, Bush wrote in a letter to his children, dated September 1998, about aging: “Last year there was only a tiny sense of time left, of sand running through the glass.”

Bush continued: “I want to put this aging on hold for a while now. I don’t expect to be on the A-team anymore, but I want to play golf with you and I want to fish or throw shoes and I want to rejoice in your victories and I want to be there for you if you get a bad bounce in life and no doubt you will for the seas do indeed get rough.”

The former president went on to talk about being “viscerally involved” in the life of his children. Bush had six children: former President George W. Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, author Dorothy Bush Koch, businessmen Neil and Marvin Bush, and Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia.

In his letter, Bush also joked with his family about getting emotional in his old age and talks about living a happy life.

“If I shed tears easier now, try not to laugh at me, because I’ll lose more saline and that makes me feel like a sissy,” Bush wrote. “And besides, it’s okay to cry if you’re a man, a happy man, me. All Bushes cry easily when we’re happy or counting our blessings or sad.”

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In a video to accompany the excerpt, Bush’s presidential library cobbled together videos of the former president and his family playing horseshoes, riding in a speedboat and enjoying meals at their estate in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“Remember the old song ‘I’ll Be There Ready When You Are,’” Bush wrote. “Well, I’ll be there ready when you are where there is so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. If you need me, I’m here. Devotedly, Dad.”

Bush will be buried Thursday at the Bush Library Center, according to officials. The Bush family is still arranging funeral services, but the White House said President Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to attend.

Reporter’s notebook: Bush 41 played crucial role in Cold War’s end and new German beginning

One of President George H. W. Bush’s biggest accomplishments was presiding over the peaceful end of the Cold War

With his background in politics, diplomacy, military, intelligence and as vice president at the side of President Reagan there was probably no one better equipped for the job.

As a reporter, I was there at the fall of the Berlin Wall, the upheaval in eastern Europe, and former Soviet Union. I heard the enthusiasm for change and for the support of the US and President Bush. I heard frustration, too, that he wasn’t doing even more.

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But as analysts now point out, while President Bush talked about “the winds of change,” he also talked about “helping people help themselves.”

FILE – In this Oct. 29, 1991, file photo, President George H.W. Bush gestures during a joint news conference with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, at the Soviet Embassy in Madrid. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara Bush. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

In a statement Saturday, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said: “We happened to work together in years of great changes. …The result was the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race…He was a genuine partner.”

He was, in fact, ahead of other western leaders.  Many were wary of a united Germany, but President Bush helped a new Germany be a part of NATO and the European Union.

Meeting with President Trump in Buenos Aires, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said (in a rare public use of English),  “I was with Chancellor Kohl in the White House, visiting with George Bush.  And he is the father, or one of the fathers, of German reunification and we will never forget that.”

And French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “He was a world leader, who strongly supported the alliance with Europe.”

We saw President Bush in Berlin in 1989 on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.  On that day he said,  “The wall can never erase your dreams.”

He helped a lot of folks to dream, in Europe and around the world.

Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.

I wasn’t supposed to like George H.W. Bush — Then I got to know him

I first met George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at age 94, not long before he was elected as Ronald Reagan’s vice president in 1980. At the time, if anyone was predisposed not to like the future vice president and president, it was me.

In 1980 I was holding my first job in politics, working as a press aide to former Texas Gov. John B. Connally – who, like Bush and Ronald Reagan, was seeking the 1980 Republican presidential nomination.

None of Connally’s aides had anything nice to say about Bush. Apparently, Texas wasn’t big enough for the two of them. I had no personal knowledge of Bush and therefore, no reason to doubt the negative comments.

Fast forward to when I joined Reagan’s campaign shortly after he was nominated for president. On my first day, as I was boarding the campaign plane, a crusty Reagan veteran staffer demanded: “Who’d you work for before?”  I said: “Connally,” to which the interrogator responded: “Good, as long as it wasn’t Bush.”

I didn’t get it. I thought we were all one big happy ticket. So I sought out Jim Brady, who had been my boss in the Connally campaign, and who was now a senior adviser to the Reagan campaign.

Jim explained that there were still some unhealed wounds between the Reagan and Bush staffs from the 1980 presidential primaries – specifically, that some in the Reagan entourage felt that if it were not for Ronald Reagan, George Bush’s political career would have ended in 1980.

On a personal level, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush came to quickly respect and like each other very much. I witnessed that firsthand. Bush could not have been a more loyal or deferential vice president.

What’s more, the Bush people did not realize how much he and they owed to Reagan. Brady went on to tell me that on the other hand, many in the Bush campaign felt that he had a distinguished record of accomplishment of his own: successful businessman, congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, liaison to the People’s Republic of China, and Central Intelligence Agency director.

With all that experience, Bush was clearly eminently qualified to be vice president (and president). What’s more, they felt Bush added needed foreign policy chops to the ticket and that his presence reassured moderate Republicans that Reagan was OK, thereby broadening the ticket’s appeal.

I shrugged. Both arguments seemed to make sense, but I did not give it much thought. So when I entered the White House at noon on January 20, 1981, as a Reagan White House press office staffer, I was mildly skeptical of Bush and his people.

But I swiftly saw that whatever resentments and rivalries there may have been between the Reagan and Bush staffs, they did not extend to either Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush.

Exhibit A: To the consternation of a few longtime staffers, President Reagan appointed the highly respected Bush operative James A. Baker to be his White House chief of staff. Reagan did so because he knew that Baker was the most qualified for the position and would do a great job.

Reagan was right. Baker set what is widely regarded – to this day, on both sides of the aisle – as the “gold standard” for that position.

On a personal level, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush came to quickly respect and like each other very much. I witnessed that firsthand. Bush could not have been a more loyal or deferential vice president.

President Reagan relied on his vice president’s advice, trusted his judgment, and appreciated his unfailing support and discretion. And they enjoyed each other’s company. Over the eight years, they had lunch (usually Tex-Mex) together every Thursday when both were in Washington.

It was just the two of them. Reagan enjoyed those so much that in the handover note to Bush he left in the drawer of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office on his last day as president, Reagan wrote:  “I’ll miss our Thursday lunches.”

My initial skepticism about Bush was unfounded and evaporated quickly as I observed and got to know him. I was impressed by how he interacted with his staff – there was obvious mutual respect, loyalty and affection – and how kind he was to the Reagan staff.

Within weeks after he took office as vice president,  Bush knew my name and what I did, and often on Mondays, after the Reagans and I returned from a weekend at Camp David, he would cheerily ask: “So, Mark, how were the movies?” when he saw me in the hallways.

We were not together frequently during the White House years. We actually had more interactions after the Reagans left the White House. When, in early 1989, word reached us in former president Reagan’s Los Angeles office that some on the Bush White House staff were making negative comparisons to the press about Bush’s and Reagan’s working habits,  I complained to my former boss, White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater. A few days later, in the mail arrived a lovely handwritten note from President Bush to President Reagan apologizing for any such comments, promising that he had admonished his staff appropriately, and assuring him that he and Barbara had nothing but admiration and love for both Reagans.

When I was about to leave former President Reagan’s staff, President Bush unhesitatingly agreed to Reagan’s recommendation that I be appointed to a presidential commission. And shortly after he delivered his beautiful eulogy at Reagan’s funeral, I wrote to Bush telling him how much his words meant to all of us who had known and loved Ronald Reagan.

To my surprise and delight, Bush responded with a handwritten note thanking me for my letter and telling me how much he, too, loved Reagan.

Some Reagan people have suggested that George H.W. Bush’s term as president was nothing more than Reagan’s third term. Ronald Reagan did not feel that way. While he was gratified that Bush won, he believed it was because Bush had earned it, was eminently qualified and would do a terrific job.

Ronald Reagan chose George H.W. Bush to be at his side because he firmly believed that if history decided – whether by unforeseen events or at the ballot box – that Bush should succeed him, the country would be in good hands. Reagan was right.

Mark D. Weinberg is the author of “Movie Nights with the Reagans.” He served as Special Assistant to the President and Assistant Press Secretary in the Reagan White House, and as Director of Public Affairs in former President Reagan’s office. He is currently a communications consultant, speechwriter, commentator and public speaker.