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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  November 30, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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very well in politics. he reached the highest peak. he was the president of the united states. but we must remember as has been pointed out in this statement that was released he was a texing otexas oil pioneer. he was a very successful businessman. he really gave that up to serve his country in another way outside of the military. >> absolutely. there is an expression, you see this at his presidential library, i mean his office, his personal motto, he has two of them. one was faith, family and friends. and the second was to your point, any definition of a successful life must include service to others. so while a lot of people think of him as being raised in
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grinwhich, and a new england born and bred well-to-do family, he did go out and make his fortune, and he was pretty humble once he started out. once he made money, he turned back to what he thought was most important, which was public service. >> let's go onto talk about as well, so he became the 41st president of the united states, survived by their four children and their spouses. and let's talk about his wife as they preceded him in death. you hardly saw them apart, and we knew obviously back in april when she passed that it broke his heart. and remember, jamie, he went to the hospital after that and everyone was concerned because this was a love story of the ages. >> absolutely. they were married i believe for 73 years, in and of itself
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remarkable. and it was a great love affair. they met when they were very young. he named his plane in world war ii after her. and i think one of the things that was at least for me just heart breaking was when she passed away, there were two moments. one was when the public came to pay their respects, he had been watching on tv and as hard as it was for him, he said i have to go to the church and thank them. and he stopped there for hours greeting people. and then the second thing was, you know, just the pictures of him at her funeral and at the gravesi site.
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and then as you point out 24 hours later he ended up in the hospital. and, you know, we weren't sure he was going to make it. it was a very, very rough time. and it will not go without notice. you know, after she passed he said we wanted to go up to maine where she spent every summer of his life except one summer when he was in the war. and he had a wonderful summer there, this past summer. and he saw his granddaughter, barbara, get married quite recently. but there was the sense that he was on borrowed time this past year. >> jamie, standby. i want to bring in now cnn's
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dana bash. dana joins us in houston now via telephone. this awful news coming in late on a friday night, and here on the east coast early and to a saturday morning, dana. truly a loss not only for america but for the world. >> no question. look, george h.w. bush was a gentleman first, a patriot first, a family man, someone who people around the world saw particularly as he got older, in his later years in realtime and frankly more in retrospect as really unique. and somebody who served his country with such zeal and with such honor, and just to see the
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way that he was particularly again in his later years with people in both parties, members of congress, people who were running for president and became president after him. the relationships that he formed with them, with their spouses i think really -- it really says a lot. and it is an incredible, an incredible loss. a life well-lived, of course. and george h.w. bush said this, you know, probably more than anyone, but it is a time to celebrate his life. but of course a time to mourn the passing of him and his life but also what he represented. >> you know, it's -- i think for the first time we started calling presidents by numbers and 41 is important, 43 is important. and the only reason we did that is because his son ended up becoming the 43rd president of
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the united states, which he was extremely proud of, and he was often referred to as 41, and george w. bush was referred to as 43 to make a simpler, but i think it was terms of endearment. >> oh, absolutely. i covered the bush 43 white house for a while and saw his father, you know, up close and personal beaming with absolute pride. but also, you know, talk about a small club, he also knew the incredible difficult decisions that his son, any president would have to make. and to have the two of them in that club together was really remarkable. and he of course beamed with pride and also was very cautious in helping his son when his son reached out, but also taking
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many, many steps back and letting his son find his way. >> let's read the statement, dana, and discuss it. this is from speaking of 43, the 43rd president of the united states, george h.w. bush's son, george w. bush, on the death of his father he said in a statement, yeb, neil, doro and i are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years our dear dad has died. 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. that's from his son. imagine having to craft that statement right at this moment. >> no, and look just in the same
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calendar year that they lost their mom. and as jamie was talking about, the year before i came on, that that was after that when president bush, 41, was sick they weren't sure that he was going to last much longer than she did. first of all, because he wasn't well but also because of their incredible love story. i mean, it was right around then we were learning from our colleague sanjay gupta, that a broken heart is real thing, it's a physical thing. and so these bush children have lost both of their parents within a matter of months. again, two lives incredibly well lived. and the people who lived their own way, who frankly passed away their own way, but, you know, as children no matter what age your parent is, it doesn't make it
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easy. >> well said. you're absolutely right. again, if you're just joining us, you can see it there on your screen, george herbert walker bush, the 41st president of the united states has died at the age of 94. i'm speaking now with our dana bash, and i want to bring in now presidential historian douglas brinkley. good morning to you. i wish we could be speaking under better circumstances right now, but how will george herbert walker bush be remembered? >> he'll be remembered as one of america's great presidents. he only served one term, but his foreign poly was just amazing, don. the very fact of the matter was he became the president as the berlin wall came down, oversaw in the reunification of europe to make sure it went smoothly, the break up of the soviet union in 1991. he was a wartime president with
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the gulf war which america won and showed a limit to american intervention and simply liberate kuwait from saddam hussein. and middle east diplomacy -- panama in a successful operation. it's a very large foreign policy record, and he brought together a team of extraordinary people during his presidency to foreign affairs. people that worked for him like dick cheney and coleman powell and others. also, don, he had that great résume of a world war ii hero, the fact he had been with a diplomatic envoy to china,
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ambassador of the united nations, congressman from texas. it's a remarkable story and he supports the patriarch of something akin to a dynasty of able to have his son become president and famously have 41 and 43. and he is loved by democrats, republicans. this past week barack obama came to mind and he came to pay his respects to president bush just a few days before he died. he's really loved by all americans. >> and also signed the american disabilities act, that's huge, douglas. >> that is very large. and i always mention that because people forget -- in parking lots for people with
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disabilities. he pushed very hard for environmentalism particularly with air quality. and he's really -- everybody thought he would have been a two-term president but alas when he ran for re-election in 1992 bill clinton and al gore fashioned themselves as new democrats won. and bush became a one-term president. but he represents duty, honor, country. i once heard barack obama -- i got to talk to him and he told me one of the moving moments when he flew to texas to college station and it was raining, and they're greeting him in a wheelchair was george herbert walker bush because a president was coming to his home state.
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he was the epitome of a gentleman along with barbara bush that just passed this past year. they're just almost synonymous with each other. they had such a long and fruitful marriage. >> and it's a heart breaking time for us. if you're just joining us, the 41st president of the united states, george herbert walker bush, has passed away at the age of 94, the age of 94. with his life story now here is cnn's anderson cooper. >> george hub rt walker bush was born in milton, massachusetts, on june 12, 1924. the son of a future u.s. senator he married barbara pierce.
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in 2001 his eldest son texas governor george walker bush became the 43rd president, the first since john quincy adams to follow his father into the white house. >> i'm now about to enter. so help me god. >> his second son jeb bush served two terms as florida governor, and ran for presidential nomination. he made a fortune in the oil business. there his future in republican politics blossomed. that one fact help bush become elected to two terms as congressman. his disappointment didn't last long. >> we view this item as so seriously we consider it a possible turning point in the history of the united nations. >> his political profile was high enough president nixon appointed him to ambassador of the united nations. president ford sent him to china to head up the u.s. liaison
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office as part of a initiative in u.s.-china relations. and in 1975 bush came home to become director of the cia, a job an associate said he truly loved. he left that job when carter became president and soon became a player in national republican politics. bush ran against reagan in the gop primaries, winning some but withdrawing when it became clear he wouldn't become nominee. as vice president bush spent a lot of time on the road and was reagan's heir apparent in 1998. >> i want a kindler and gentler nation, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. >> he also made a campaign promise that would come back to haunt him. >> read my lips -- >> the selection of a running
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mate surprised many. >> my choice for vice-presidency is senator dan quail of indiana. >> the voters supported the ticket. bush's focus returned to international affairs. he presided over the collapse of communism in the former soviet union and the end of the cold war. he ordered u.s. troops into latin america to capture the panamanian dictator. >> the responsibility for sending someone's son or daughter into harms way rests on the shoulders of the president, so it is the most difficult decision. >> he would order u.s. troops into combat again, ally with other countries to free kuwait from iraqi dictator saddam hussein 's aggression. saddam hussein remained in power and remained a grudge. >> if you've got to have
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security, if i have to have it with the secret service, i've got the best there is and we will continue to be careful. >> the united states retaliated with a missile attack against iraq's intelligence headquarters. the man behind the plot would not be captured for another decade, and the second president bush ordered a u.s. invasion of iraq. >> ladies and gentlemen, we got him. >> at home president bush was hammered by critics for compromising with congress on tax increases and breaking his no new taxes promises. >> well, it was a mistake to go along with a democratic tax increase. and i admit it. >> in a three-way battle with bill clinton and ross pero, he lost. at his son's request he also briefly reentered the public
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spotlight. >> in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami. >> he joined with former president bill clinton to help raise money for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in asian. as a young navy pilot bush's plane was shot down and he had to bail out over the pacific. as a far older man he would jump from planes again to celebrate his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays. >> it feels good. it's an exhilaration. it sends a message with these guys all around the globe just because you're an old guy you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner. get out and do something, get out and enjoy life. >> it brought him back to the white house in 2011 to receive the nation's highest civilian honor, the presidential honor of freedom. >> this is gentleman inspiring citizens to become points of
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light in service to others. >> president bush posed for a photo with other surviving presidents. the years had taken a toll on his body but his dignity and resolve shone through. >> i do not fear what is ahead, for our problems are large but our heart is larger. our challenges are great but our will is greater. >> president h.w. bush dead at the age of 94. presidential advisor david gergen joins us now. david, just as anderson was saying in the piece there, a man of great dignity. >> he was a man of great dignity, and in the rearview mirror of history, that dignity his dead kagds dication to serv
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book better and better, don't they? he was the last of the group of presidents we call our world war ii presidents. men who came of age in the war and called the latest generation. they came home from service as george h.w. bush did and took off their uniforms and went to work to move the country forward. we have presidents through kennedy through george h.w. bush we call our world war ii presidents. it's a passing of a generation. >> he was certainly a man of quiet character. he did not like to pat himself on the back. he wasn't braggadocious, but as douglas brinkley pointed out, he will be remembered for his great foreign policy acumen. >> i think that's right, especially in the way that he
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brought the cold war to an end. we didn't fire a shot, but we won the cold war. and very importantly he made it clear he did want want anybody in his administration to dance on the grave of the soviet union but rather to treat them with more respect and to try to in great them into the community of peaceful nations. that obviously worked for a while, it hasn't worked, you know, right now that whole effort is under threat. but nevertheless bringing the cold war to a successful and peaceful conclusion, and thensary, very importantly he was extremely successful moving forward with the reintegration of the country which had plunged the war into a world war twice in the first half of the 20th century. and way he handled the german integration has tributed to a much more peaceful germany ever
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since. >> can we talk with the way he dealt with his predecessors and the way he dealt with other presidents? you could not have asked for a more classier hand-off to a president than this, from one to another. >> i think it worked both ways. in the past of course it wasn't easy but nevertheless a smooth transition from reagan to bush, from a president to a vice president. but then after he lost, it was a heart breaking loss for him after one term. but nonetheless he passed on the presidency to jimmy carter and his team. i thought with enormous grace. and it went smoothly, and after george h.w. bush left office, he became friends with carter and then he became very good friends with bill clinton. and bill clinton was almost like a son they never had in the bush household. and it was sweet to see that. i think it really was one of the
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things that contributed to in the country a sense of we're all in this together. >> talk to us then about the '90s, about that hand-off having been a presidential advisor. this was the time of the first iraq war. and then having as you said to lose to bill clinton and then turn -- and there there are at the white house there during the inauguration -- and turning over the levers of power to a democratic challenger in a very hard fought campaign. >> let me just say -- i'm glad you helped me correct that, absolutely. george h.w. bush was defeated by bill clinton and it was a hand-off to bill clinton which did go smoothly. and as i say later the two of them later became friends. but it was hard for george h.w. bush to lose that election.
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he had a very high approval rate, it was 88% after he went into kuwait and liberated kuwait from saddam hussein, and then also had the restraint not to go into iraq. his numbers went up to 88%, and then over the next few months or so he dropped precipitously after six months. he never got the cred in the polls about that, but i remember the story telling, he had a great sense of humor. and i remember after he left the presidency, he was quite along in age jumping out of an airplane, it was remarkable. but he said when he got down to the ground, he was taken off the parachute and barbara walked over to him and she said,
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george, i haven't seen anybody fall that fast that's run for president. >> i want you to standby, david, and i want to bring in cnn's wolf blitzer. wolf blitzer is traveling with the current president now. wolf, if you can hear me -- wolf, can you hear me? >> i hear you. >> you became white house correspondent shortly after bush left office, if my timing is accurate. but certainly his legacy carried on into that administration you were covering in that white house. >> well, i was the pentagon correspondent for cnn while he was president of the united states, don. and i remember vividly covering all of his aspects as president of the united states, including of course during the first gulf war operation desert shield and operation desert storm. remember it was in august of 1990 he was president of the united states. dick cheney was then the defense
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secretary. and all of a sudden saddam hussein invaded kuwait. it was august 1st, august 2nd, 1990 and there was enormous uncertainty what was going to happen next. with the iraqis, they were moving through kuwait like a knife through butter. there was nothing stoppy the iraqis through kuwait, and president bush, he had to make some critically important decisions. and he made very important decisions to send a very strong signal through the defense secretary, through the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general colin powell at the time, the u.s. was going to respond militarily. eventually as we all know in january of 1991 the u.s. did respond in operation desert shield became operation desert storm. and within a few weeks the air war had done its mission and then the ground war.
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kuwait was liberated. president george h.w. bush was clearly very popular as a result. u.s. troops -- and the u.s. deployed more than half a million troops in the persian gulf area to get the job done, and it was done relatively quickly and then the u.s. pulled out, did not go into iraq itself. pulled out, got the job done and at that point as david gergen was pointing out, the president was extremely -- >> that is cnn's wolf blitzer. he's in buenos aires and obviously there's technical issues there. but explaining the technical difficulties of george h.w. bush. that will be his legacy, just how well he handled foreign policy. and because he was a man who was of quiet calm and reserved, he didn't like to brag about his
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accomplishments in that way. i want to bring back in david gergen who's a presidential advisor to pick up on what wolf blitzer was talking about. we have to remember during that time, david, there was the first gulf war that we dealt with. operation desert shield which became operation desert storm, but it lasted for less than a month from january 16th, 1991 to february 27th, 1991 where the u.s. declared victory in iraq. i'm wondering how much that had to do with the outcome of that particular election. >> well, you know, the -- there are two things that i think from a foreign policy standpoint stand out and then we can move to the politics of it. i think were particularly instructive how they handled foreign policy well and be successful at it.
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to go in and kick saddam hussein out, he formed the international coalition of the willing. then secretary of state traveled across much of the world to bring nations to support that effort and also help pay for it. and at the end of the day the united states actually made money. i mean, by the time everybody paid their bills we weren't actually in the black, which never happens. but the important thing was to have the coalition because it gave moral force why saddam -- why he was able to kick saddam out of there. but the other thing that was extremely important and that was when we knocked saddam out of kuwait and he started retreating, his forces were retreating back in towards baghdad, there was a lot of pressure from some of the junior people around george h.w. bush to go into iraq and go after
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them. and bush refused. he was very restrained about it, and he did it for two reasons. one, he didn't like the idea of shooting soldiers in the back because they were retreating. but very importantly he had made a commitment to the saudis and others that once we kicked saddam out of kuwait, we would not follow him into the iraq. and george bush was a man of his word, that's why people trusted him and he commanded so much respect because he didn't want to break his promise totho thos countries even though they were building pressure. and that made a big difference in how later presidents -- for example, barack obama himself made it very clear when he came into the office one of the men he respected was george h.w. bush. and those lessons were passed from one president to another in a very, very successful way.
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and i think again george h.w. bush deserves a lot of credit for doing that. it did not give him the political victory that he expected. he assumed that the country would be grateful. he didn't go out and try to sell it hard. he was bashful about that, and he just never got the -- he didn't get the votes from the voters. they wanted to move onto other things. but nonetheless as brinkly said, it douse go down in the books as a highly successful foreign policy and one that continues to be a model for today's world, and we ought to be paying a lot more attention to it, frankly, than we do. >> well said. i want you to standby, david gergen. more on the life of george herbert walker bush now. >> so help me god. >> congratulations. >> reporter: george h.w. bush may have sat in the oval office for just four years, but his legacy will last for
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generations. in foreign policy -- >> this will not stand, this aggression against kuwait -- >> reporter: -- bush's coalition building during desert storm was unprecedented, uniting nearly 40 countries and ending the conflict in a matter of weeks. a play book for all presidents that followed. >> if you want to know how to fight a war, take a look at the way george bush fought the first gulf war. >> reporter: the cold war ended on his watch without a shot taken or a bomb dropped. >> he didn't gloat because it would not be in his nature to gloat at someone else's misfortune. >> reporter: that same diplomatic restraint also shown when the iron curtain collapsed. >> on the day that the berlin wall came down, we all went over to the oval office to tell president bush he had to go to berlin. >> you wanted him to. >> i wanted him to go to berlin, and he said what would i do,
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dance on the wall. he said this is a german moment. i thought the president of the united states to step back, this is a german moment. >> i think he deserves credit for getting the world off in the right direction at the end of the cold war. the cold war being over was not an excuse to pack up and go home. it was an excuse to build a new world of cooperation. time will prove that he was right in wanting an integrated cooperative world of strong security but lots of freedom, lots of democracy, lots of interaction between people. >> reporter: on the domestic front bush is credited for making improvements to the clean air act and signing the americans with disabilities act. critical legislation that revolutionized access for millions including bush himself when he suffered from parkinson's in his final years.
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>> that community i think holds my grandfather up as a hero. they have all these big kind of liberal advocates that advocated for their movement, but my grandfather's the guy who got it done. it's not just through things like wheelchair access but changing the culture how people with disabilities can shine in places where they might not have jobs and i think that's a legacy. >> reporter: and another legacy people will remember bush for this. >> get out and do something, get out and enjoy life. >> reporter: bush did just that, jumping over and over and over again, even for his 90th birthday. >> i think the reason he did it is because he's got a young heart, and it's the thrill of the jump. and once he did it the first time, he became a natural for the next four or five times. >> reporter: and while bush 41
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disliked the world dynasty, no question he was thrilled -- >> i george walker bush do solemn solemnly swear -- >> reporter: when his son became the president of the united states. >> he felt a sense of pride and i was grateful for that. i was happy he was happy. >> did he give you any advice? >> no, no. and he was very guarded about giving me advice unless i asked for it. >> reporter: but for many bush 41 will long be remembered for what he did after the white house. >> the family legacy isn't about who's president or first lady or governor. the family legacy is the legacy of service. >> reporter: he turned a campaign vision into a post-presidential mission statement. >> i meant a kindler and gentler nation like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. >> reporter: that call prompted millions to volunteer.
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and bush and wife barbara did their part, too, helping to raise an estimated $1 billion for charity. >> it does fit my dad's philosophy that the definition of a successful person is not just about how much money you make or the ws in your column, it's about helping others. it's about acting on your heart. >> is there a phrase that you think embodies him? >> i would say it is service above self. >> reporter: a legacy that led him to receive the highest civilian award in the united states, the presidential medal of freedom. >> his life is testament that public service is noble call. we honor george herbert walker bush for service to america that spanned nearly 70 years. >> and that was president obama. that was february 15th of 2011 when he gave and george h.w. bush received the presidential
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medal of freedom at the white house, a white house that he once presided over. and speaking of president obama, i want to read this statement that's coming from the office of barack and michelle obama. by the way, president obama just visited george h.w. bush, president 41 three days ago. and so he says he and the former first lady say in a statement of the passing of george h.w. bush, america has lost a patriot and humble servant in george herbert walker bush. while our hearts are heavy today they are also filled with gratitude. not merely for the years he spent as our 41st president but for the more than 70 years he spent in devoted service to the country he loved. from a decorated naval aviator who nearly gave his life in world war ii to commander in chief of our armed forces with plenty of posts along the way, ambassador to the united nations, director of central
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intelligence, u.s. envoy to china, vice president of the united states. again, i am reading from a statement from the office of barack and michelle obama. george h.w. bush's life is testament to the notion that public service is noble, joyous calling, and he did tremendous good along the journey. expanding america's promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons and building a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from kuwait. and when democratic rev lugs bloomed across eastern europe, it was his steady diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but ending the cold war without firing a shot. it's a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he'd want all of us to try. after 73 years of marriage george and barbara bush are together again now.
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two points of light that never dimmed, two points of light that ignited countless others with their example. the example of a man who even after commanding the world's mightiest military once said i got more of a kick out of being one of the founders of the ymca in midland texas back in 1952 than almost anything i've done. what a testament to the qualities that make this country great. service to others, commitment to leaving behind something better, sacrifice in the name of lifting this country closer to its founding ideals. our thoughts are with the entire bush family tonight and all who were inspired by george and barbara's example. from the former president barack obama and the former first lady michelle obama on the passing of president george h.w. bush. i want to bring in now jeffrey
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enggle, the director for the center of presidential history. he joins us now by phone. i think what the former president is true. a statesman in many ways who was as humble as anyone. >> yes, he really should be remembered as perhaps the last great gentleman of washington, d.c. he really was from another ear a, from the world war ii era but also from an era where you really could reach across the aisle. and even if you just agreed with your political opponents, he'll see them as loyal and faithful americans and he was a man that represented the idea of cooperation and negotiation as much as partisan victory. >> it is believed -- or you believe that he governed one of the most successful, one of the most successful times in history. why do you say that?
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>> we could say he's the most successful one time president in history and the reason is he governed during what is arguably during the most complex and international system, an international series of problems in american history with the only challenge being franklin roosevelt during world war ii. as people have said during his time in office the cold war ended. the entire structure of the international system ended and germany was solved through bush's leadership. and that's not even mentioning the invasion of such as panama or the defense of kuwait and the reconquest of kuwait and iraq. it's almost difficult to imagine that all of those events occurred during a four' year term. in fact, to be honest all those events occurred by and large during the first half of bush's presidency. if you think about president donald trump at this point, he has not faced -- thank goodness
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he has not faced any of the difficult international problems that bush not only faced but really conquered and succeeded in during his first two years of his administration. just remarkable remarkable series of events to occur during one presidency. >> standby please, jeffrey enggle. i wa i want to get now to anita mcbride. she was the director of personnel under president george h.w. bush. thank you for joining us, ms. mcbride. and i am so sorry for your loss. >> thank you for having me on. i know my heart is crushed, and anybody who had the privilege to work for and know this incredible, wonderful man life jeff engel and others and a statement from mrs. and president obama i was inspired, and that's how we met thanks to
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george h.w. bush and ronald reagan. it's just a personal and the country a loss for everyone right now. >> i have to say we keep talking about him being president of the united states. we would be remiss, he was the vice president of the united states. >> that's right. >> and served in that capacity with dignity as well as, as did the former first lady barbara bush, right? >> yes, absolutely. and the president was his personal aide as vice president, and you have to know george h.w. bush more as president than vice president, but no president can ask for a more loyal servant and loyal public servant. he was just a great example for all of us working in the white house, young people from all over the country learning under these two incredible leaders.
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>> this stood out to me, and i want you to respond to this because you mentioned the former president barack obama. it says even after commanding the world's mightiest military he once said i got more of a kick out of being one of the founders of the ymca in midland texas back in 1952 than almost anything i've done. that's incredible. >> and if you go to his boyhood home of george w. bush in midland it was the home of george h.w. bush and barbara bush, and you really see what a humble life they had there and the big move of course as we all know from connecticut and down to the west texas plains. it's just a -- and a person who was always a part of his community no matter where he
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lived. here in new york where i am right now i was just think ability his years as the u.n., you know, ambassador. and then of course as the envoy to china. he and barbara bush riding their bikes around at the time. he was a fixture in the community and certainly left his mark and her mark everywhere. >> the director of white house personnel under george h.w. bush, anita mcbride, we've been speaking to her. speaking to her absolutely and again i'm sorry for your loss, she's been talking about george bush, the man, the family man. here's cnn's wolf blitzer on the story of george h.w. bush, the family man. >> reporter: he trusted others and inspired their loyalty and above all he found joy in his family and his faith. those are the words of an admiring son, george w. bush,
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writing about his father. george h.w. bush grew up in connecticut. his father was a backer and eventually a u.s. senator. in 1975 he married barbara pierce, daughter of a publisher of mccall's magazine. more than anyone she was his companion and sustaining light in piece and in war. >> he would complete 58 combat missions. these were tough days, but he had something that kept him going. and if you look closely at the photographs of the planes he flew you will find what kept him going and the name he had pan painted under his cockpit, barbara. >> reporter: four sons, george w, jeb, neil, and marvin and one daughter doro, were adults by the time he became president. over time gatherings at the family compound in maine became
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larger and more raucous. >> what is it like and when inside the family you disagree with the president or a governor? >> there isn't a lot of that. actually when i spend a weekend with my brother or my father we sort of talk about fishing or laughing, and it's not like that. but i think people voice their opinions. >> reporter: although they lived public lives, the bushes garlded their family privacy and resented outsiders attempts to play in and play up rively between the father and son presidents. >> we know who we are, how we get along. and there's no rivalry, no trying to live up to something or bring the boy up -- i mean, it's crazy. we're a close, loving family, larry. and these stories just drove me crazy. >> how about you? >> they are nutty. there were people saying we wanted jeb to be president, not
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george. that's -- two books were written about me that someone that never spoke to me ever. so i think you just overlook those. they're just not true. >> shortly before the start of the 1991 gulf war president bush summed up his feelings about his family in a letter to his children. >> it said i had a little plaque made, it said cabu. we had little navigational instrumentation. because of the five of you whose hugs i can still feel, whose own lives have made me so proud, i can confidently tell my guardian angel my life is cabu and it will be that way because of you.
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>> reporter: wolf blitzer, cnn, washington. >> wolf joins us now live. we've been talking ability the family man. his primary causes including literacy, cancer research, volunteerism. he and his wife barbara would raise more than $1 billion for charity in their years after the white house. >> reporter: he really was an amazing person, and having covered him during many of those years when he was in public office, you could see the decency, don, that he brought. brought to the presidency. brought to all the positions he had as cia director, u.s. ambassador to china, as vice president of the united states. and after he left office he built a very strong relationship with a man who actually beat him back in 1992, bill clinton. and they worked together in many areas, worked together with all the subsequent presidents of the united states including his own son. you know, don, jeff zeleny, our
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white house correspondent is here. we're at the g-20 summit in argentina right now, and as we know president george h.w. bush, he attended many of these kinds of international summits. and jeff, we're just getting in a statement right now from the current president of the united states. >> we are, indeed, wolf. we're getting a statement. he says thu his essential authenticity -- president bush inspired generations of this fellow americans to public service. to be in his words a thousand points of light. illuminating the greatness, hope and fuopportunity of the greatns to the world. president trump says this. he set the bar higher. he went onto serve as the youngest aviator in the united
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states navy during the second word war. later in life he rose to the pinnacle of american politics as a congressman from texas. to china. director of spral intelligence. vice president of a eight years to reagan and finally president of the united states. with sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership. president bush guided the nation and the world to a peaceful conclusion. of the cold war. as president he set the stage for decades of prosperity that followed. through all of that he accomplished he remained humble. a clear sense of direction. president trump concludes in the statement tonight, along with the full life of service to country, we will remember president bush for his devotion to family. especially love of his life barbara. his example lives on and will continue to stir future americans to pursue a greater cause. our hearts ache with his loss and with with the american people send prayers to the
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entire bush family. as we honor the life and legacy of 41. that statement from president trump here in argentina at the summit. certainly a passing of the torch. president bush 41. there's a president's club. and president trump doesn't necessarily fit into that so easily. of course jeb bush ran against donald trump, lost the republican primary. both george h.w. bush and barbara campaigned for their son. but it is a moment here in american history. and the world list. where politics set aside for a moment. and we celebrate this life of george h.w. bush. and as you said earlier extraordinary how he really became so close to bill clinton. who defeated him in 1992. and three days ago brak obama the democratic president visited bush in houston. this is a passing of the torch.
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with the statement tonight from president trump. >> we're here in argentina. at the summit. i suspect the world leaders who have gathered here the leaders of the 20 industrialized nations they will be paying respect and tribute to the great american. >> no question about it. the meetings are resuming tomorrow. this is the economic forum and this summit came after president george h.w. bush was in office. this summit came after the 2008 financial crisis. certainly it's one of the gatherings of world leaders that george h.w. bush loved so much. look at his record of service. spanning the lifetime of world war ii. fighter pilot. house of represent. cia. vice president. president four years. he was a worldwide leader. no question tomorrow here in argentina, today actually. there's certainly will be a sense of remembrance for the president. as we mark a point in time here,
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this is someone who history will remember so well. not for his for losing his after his first term. but for all he served to america. and certainly this is something we're remembering tonight. as we saw in the statement. >> what's clear is such a decent person. and we just saw what a wonderful family man. loved his family. and the grandchildren the great grandchildren. they're all paying respects right now. >> no question about it. george h.w. bush someone who yes he was 94. but he was the youngest 94 year-old person perhaps in america. he would jump out of planes ef year dpr his birthday. i recall him campaigning for george w. bush in 1999 and 2000 in the iowa caucuses and the same ground his father was passing on in 1980. this is someone who loved family
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loved life. he was the chairman of the republican national committee during water gate. and led the cia. and went onto other points of service. so this is someone who it really is a american legacy that we don't see anymore. not just the family name. of bush. but for so much more of the service. >> if you think about that resume he brought when he was elected president of the united states. he served two terms as vice president. with reagan. in 1988 he was elected took office january 20, 1989. he brought all that service all that record from congress from the cia to u.s. ambassador to china. incredible resume. >> you cannot think of a resume like that. never mind he was vice president and ran against ronald reagan. example of a moment many time we don't see as much today.
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this was someone born to the job in many ways. but came of age in the job through many different ways and of course the first gulf war. this is someone who was viewed as an adversary by so many. there was an asags nation attempt after the gulf war. this spanned partisan ship. we think of the triable politics locked into place. this is a man a leader a president. who was so much more than the r. after his name. he was a true american hero and legend. >> that came through. as i remember having interviewed him on several occasions over the years in various capacities he was such a decent, strong person. who was so deeply committed to doing the right thing. didn't always get it right. he was committed to doipg his best for the american people and we'll remember him fondly. and emotionally through the next several days and weeks.
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>> you're right. jeff zeleny said he was the youngest 94 year-old. listen we should point out he jumped out of planes on his 75th birthday. but on his 80th. 85th and 90th. as well. so listen he was a daredevil in a certain sense. you're right, the humility of this man. it took decades for him to talk about publicly about his peer s experience in war. it was just part of my duty. people say war hero. how come a guy who gets his airplane shot down is a hero and a guy who's good enough that he doesn't get his shot down is not. that's what he told cnn in 2003. >> yeah. truly amazing person. and when we look back an his accomplishment of once again i want to remember what he did during the first gulf war. back in 1991.
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saddam hussein invaded kuwait. he created a coalition of 20 or 30 nations. they built up more than half a million u.s. troops in the persian gulf to go in and liberate kuwait and within a matter of weeks. and air war followed by ground war. and then the u.s. pulled out very quickly. from that region. and he was as you remember he was a enormously popular as a result. politics faded quickly and 1992 up for reelection he was defeated. >> yeah. we're looking at pictures of him now in 1990 in saudi arabia. standby. we'll get back to wolf. and reporting in washington. during the time that george h.w. bush was president of the united states. i want to get to cnn. outside the bush family residence in houston, texas. kalely, good evening to you. where you are. what's going on?
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>> just in the time since this news broke, we have seen the television trucks. line up on the street surrounding the bush residence. this is the home that george h.w. bush and barbara shared for many years here in houston. returned here in 1993 after leaving the white house and as the mayor of houston said in a statement, they could have gone anywhere. after leaving washington. they chose to come here to the beloved city. where his political career began. as the chair of the harris county republican party. here in houston barbara and george beloved figures themselves. a familiar figure. whether you saw them at an astros baseball game. behind home plate. or at a texas football game. ever since that team moved here. people saw them as relatable. as other members of the community. there's very little relatable about the events that will transpire in the city over the
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coming days. we understand the family the bush family will be congregating here. in the next couple days. there will be a private service held at st. martin church. the church they attended for many years. here together the same church barbara's life was remembered a couple blocks behind us here. and then president bush will be flown to dc. there's men before him of his stature have been. the public will be able to view him. he'll lie in state. and a funeral service at the national cathedral. before he is again returned home here to texas. then we will see the largers service the at st. martin church. which we can expect i would think to be something similar to what we saw for barbara bush. of course on another scale. and then his body will be taken by motorcade to