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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  November 30, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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passing away at the age of 94. john mentions that he began his political career as a member of the house of representatives in the late 1960s and served and said when he ran for president in 1988 he had one of the most unique resumes of a presidential candidate ever. he had been ambassador to the united nations, ambassador to china, cia director, chairman of the republican national c committee. vice president under ronald reagan and one term as president of the united states from 1989 to 1993. joined now, as well, by andrea mitchell who certainly covered bush during that period and andrea, his presidency, a one-term presidency but a presidency that was defined by stunning global transformation. this was the period when the berlin wall fell. this was the period when soviet communism collapsed and the president that over saw the gulf war in 1991. >> this was such a leader.
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john speaks about the bitter '88 campaign and it was tough. no question about it. but he represented an era and a generation that believed in a higher form of politics, and in public service, and john his biographer is so correct in talking about that period of the no new taxes pledge which the convention, that was moment of his convention nomination in 1988 but he when push came to shove and when the time demanded it, knowing full well that it could cost him his reelection, agreed to what became the bipartisan negotiations at andrew's air force base i covered. i was covering congress at the
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time and he understood what sacrifice he was making and went along with a number of legislative initiatives that he knew were going to be costly to his base, and it was with great sadness and regret that he was defeated by a new generation, by the baby boomers bill clinton and al gore and it was really a passing of the torch. he was the last world war ii veteran, you know, that served in that war to be elected president of the united states. i do remember a moment in june of 1992 at a white house press conference and a reporter from ""usa today"" got up and said mr. president, why do you want a second term? he said, you know, bar and i were sitting at breakfast this morning and wondering the same thing and i guess, i'm paraphrasing, my mother always told me finish what you start.
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that communicated lack of vision or passion or energy but always thought that was a turning point in 1992. and also, of course, ross perot, the third party race really hurt george bush's chances and it was something he found very hard to forgive. >> he was also, andrea, a bridge between two eras of the republican party, comes from his father, prescott bush who had been a united states senator from connecticut a moderate, maybe even liberal republican, certainly on cultural issues, that old tradition of liberal new england republican. he descends from that and runs as sort of a moderate alternative in many ways to ronald reagan for the presidency in 1980 but loses, becomes regan's vice president and sort of a bridge from that old moderate wing of the republican party to the new ascending regan wing that sort of takes over. >> absolutely. if you think about the bush
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family and the way the trump takeover, if you will, hostile takeover of the republican party has really changed the dynamic, how it affected certainly one of bush 41's sons, jeb bush most profoundly and the hard feelings, as well as the feelings that this was not the right direction for the republican party. this has been a time of great sadness and sorrow for many people in the bush orbit, if you will, to see the legacy presented by prescott bush and george herbert walker bush and george w. bush, although he was very different in many ways from his father but the jim baker and bush republican party, that's not the party of donald trump, clearly. and so it remains to be seen what happens. look at the fate of many moderate republicans in house
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races. you know this better than anyone steve kornacki but this is the moment to not think about the political side. i think this is the moment to think about the grace, the kindness, the generosity, the public bush family and the loss of many that loved him dearly and admired him or respected him and his service are feeling now. >> a andrea, as well, he, i remember when he lost in 1992, became an ex president and refrained for all those years from criticizing his successor bill clinton who defeated him in the 1992 presidential campaign and in fact, george h.w. bush and bill clinton in later years formed a friendship there, sort of what seemed if you watched the 1992 campaign to be unlikely but one certainly seemed to blossom from that. again, the news we just received this in the last few minutes,
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george h.w. bush, the 41s president of the united states has passed away at the age of 94. word coming to us from dallas through his son, the 43rd president. we'll pause right now, though, for a special report. this is an nbc news special report. >> steve kornacki here in new york for nbc news with the news coming to us just in the last few minutes, that the 41s president of the united states george herbert walker bush passed away at the age of 94. a statement coming in just a short while ago from george h.w. bush's son, george w. bush, the 43rd president saying that his father had passed away. the entire bush family, he says, is grateful for 41's life and love and condolences.
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george h.w. bush the president of the united states for one term from 1989 to 1993 and nbc news' lester holt has a look back at his life. >> i come before you and assume the presidency at a moment rich with promise. >> for george bush, becoming president was the capstone of a lifetime of public service that would also include being the father of a president. in fact, the bush family has been among the most prominent in american political history. but while george herbert walker bush grew up in wealth and privilege and went to the best schools, he also learned the importance of serving his country. a navy pilot during world war ii, he was shot down over the pacific and rescued by a passing submarine. the moment incredibly captured on camera. he returned home, married his
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sweet heart barbara pierce and started a family moving to texas in 1948 to get into the oil business. they suffered the lose of daughter robin to leukemia but raised five children. in 1964, the year he turned 40, bush got into politics, running for senate. >> i certainly hope and i'll bet you do, too, that our children can grow up knowing what freedom really is. >> he lost but later won a house seat and ran for senate again in 1970. this time with help from president nixon. >> and george bush in my opinion is the best man for america. >> when he lost again, nixon appointed him ambassador to the u.n. >> i consider myself a very lucky guy. >> but his next job was chairman of the republican party, during watergate. >> you try being chairman of the republican party during the watergate day. you're talking about a gasly assignment. >> bush escaped watergate
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unscathed and nixon's successor made him the envoy to china. >> put it this way, i'm darn happy about it. >> a year later, an even bigger assignment. >> director of the central intelligence agency. >> cia i love. one year only, but i just loved it. i loved defending the culture and time when everybody was down on it. >> when ford lost to jimmy carter, bush left the cia. >> what he'll do next, he didn't say. >> what he did next was run for president. >> i do pledge a new candor. >> bush lost the nomination to ronald reagan in 1980 and his political career seemed over until this stunning announce the. >> george bush is nominated for president. >> for eight years, bush was regan's loyal vice president, surviving questions about his role in the iran contra scandal. >> i'm here today to announce my
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candidacy for president of the united states. >> bush emerged from regan's shadow. >> i want a kinder and gentler nation. >> and made a promise he would later break. >> read my lips, no new taxes. >> george bush defeated democrat michael decaucus in 1988 and became president of the united states. >> so help me god. the bush years saw epic events on the world stage. the massacre, the fall of the berlin wall, and the collapse of the soviet inunion itself. >> by the grace of god, america won the cold war. >> but his presidency's defining moment was saddam hussein's invasion of kuwait. >> this will not stand, this
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aggression against kuwait. >> bush launched operation desert storm and drove iraqi forces out. >> aggression is defeated the war is over. >> but saddam hussein remained in power until bush's son toppled him 12 years later. >> i thought saddam hussein would fall of his own weight when the war ended, and i thought they would throw him the hell out of there and they didn't. >> bush's post war popularity soared and sank over economic concerns closer to home. in 1992 he lost to bill clinton becoming a one-term president. >> i had my chance. i gave service to this country, and now, i'm perfectly content to let history be the judge. >> george bush enjoyed an active retirement full of grandchildren, fishing, even sky diving. and he saw his eldest son become
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president, but he kept his advice to a minimum and his son charted his own course. bush was no stranger to partisan politics, but he aspired to a higher idea as when he teamed up with bill clinton on global relief efforts. >> you can be political opponents and still work together for something more important than your own political future. >> a former president for decades, he saw granddaughter jenna bush haguer become a today show correspondent. >> what is a.g. like? >> better than the alternative. >> he saw them turn away from the bush brand it represented. >> excuse me. one second. >> no. >> rejecting son jeb's bid for the presidency. >> so tonight, i'm suspending my campaign. >> and survived his wife of 73 years, barbara bush and welcomed an outpouring of affection for her.
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theirs was the longest marriage in presidential history. throughout his long life, george bush was admired as a man of decency, modesty and achievement, values that to the end reflected what was most important to him, his family. >> i just want to get up into heaven and i don't get there by bragging on myself, my mother told me that years ago. >> lester holt with a look back at the life of the 41s president george h.w. bush that again, died at the age of 94. we're joined by joe scand a republican member of congress just after george h.w. bush left his presidency. joe, thank you for joining us. i'm remembering the final days of george h.w. bush's presidency in the early years of retirement. he was a one-term president and got 38% of the vote in 1992 but would close his speeches by saying that he believed history would be kind to his presidency.
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and it is striking in the generation or so that's passed since he left office, there does seem to have been a reassessment of who those four years meant to american history. >> in a dramatic way. much of the same way, this year we're celebrating the 40-year anniversary of -- it just passed, of the camp david accords, with jimmy carter and also in january the 40-year anniversary of the relations with china because of jimmy carter, another one-term president. but historically, his parallel is with harry truman who think about this, we have one of two first -- one-term presidents who book ended america's long twilight struggle with the soviet union. you had truman who was run out of office in 1952 was almost universal
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universally low with approval ratings in the '20s and when he left office considered a failure and we look back and see it was truman that brought us nato, the marshall plan, the truman doctrine, the very things that contained the soviet union and on the other end of the cold war, you had george h.w. bush who actually managed remarkably the fall of the berlin wall in '89, the fall of the soviet union in '91 and doing it with grace and understanding it was no time to gloat and really, history will remember him as singularly responsible for a united germany. germans certainly believe that, that over the strenuous objections of the french and many other countries that did not want to see germany reunited, george h.w. bush knew that that was essential to balance for the balance of power in europe and it was for a new
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modern post cold war europe. it was his vision that did that, but, you know, he -- i've been listening to lester's report and what sean said and nicole wallace. he was a congressman and cia director and am basketball toba china. he was a remarkable man. he was a great man. but every person that knew him will tell you more importantly he was a good man, and in 2018 i think that's the most important thing and i know andrea was talking about how the bush family was so hurt with the changes that had happened in the republican party but, you know, his legacy was not only george w. bush but also jeb bush, a man who i consider to be the most
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effective political leader i've ever seen in my life over my 25 years having a front row seat to a lot of leaders, but, you know, just today george p. bush called out the -- was only one of two texas republican leaders to call out a county republican party in the state of texas that actually was trying to kick a man off of their executive committee because he's a muslim american. and george p. bush in words that i know had to make his father proud and certainly would have made his grandfather proud talked about how the republican party was to be an inclusive party and a party that would not be limited away, that republicans in 2016 and 2017 and
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2018 have tried to contain the party to be something radically different than when his entire family believe it should be. so this is a great loss. so somebody had the opportunity to visit him in his home and knowing the distance and know his family. it is a great loss. i'm very optimistic george h.w. bush's vision not only of the republican party but this country he proudly served his entire life from the moment he left to go fight world war ii to the last day he left the white
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house, george h.w. bush's vision of america will prevail, not donald trump's and certainly not the republican parties of the last two years. >> we're joined, as well, by chris matthews, host of msnbc's "hardball." we're talk thanksgiving about the -- talking about the presidency of him, one of the major reasons is iraq and the legacy of the iraq war launched in 2003 and then the counter example of george h.w. bush and operation desert storm in 1991. the liberation of kuwait from iraqi occupation and george h.w. bush declining to press ahead and move to baghdad and topple saddam hussein then and saying the united states, you did not want to get yourself involved and opting to bring the troops home. he said at the time we kicked the vietnam syndrome, that
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decision, the wisdom of that decision to many has changed over the last generation because of what ultimately happened in iraq. >> yeah, i think he and their vision of realism has basically survived through the neo conservative era that i think we've gotten past. i think the people who used terms like freedom agenda, things like that have been basically let's just put it in the past. i just want to say something about him personally. back in when he first was elected president, he elected -- he invited our family to the white house for a movie and dinner or dinner and a movie and it was kind of nice. he invited my wife and i and a couple other people, not many journalists but invited us to dinner and he -- my mom and dad were coming into town. i wasn't going to ditch them so
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i asked to bring both and my mom was at the time in early onset of alzheimer's disease, which was not obvious but we knew, and he couldn't have been more wonderful that night. we arrived at the white house and many times like joe and others who have been to the white house, coming up the stairs is an unusual opportunity to go upstairs to the family area and i remember he greeted us, my mom and dad and kathleen and i at the top of the stairs and what happened was, mrs. bush took care of us and a few others and took us on a wonderful tour and then for some reason, he grabbed my parents, the president did and took them on this amazing personal tour of his bedroom. i mean, everything in the white house. that's just niceness about him. i remember a few moments later, we were out on the lincoln balcony and i look into the window and there were three people chatting away like old
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pals and it was president bush and my parents and i just never have forgotten and my dad looked across the room and i remember saying greatest night of my life. he was just an old gentleman of the old school, and old money i suppose and knew how to be a gentleman and i'll always remember how well he treated my mom and dad. he just came through that night, steve. >> and andrea mitchell, so much was commented on, speculated on, written about that relationship between father and son, george h.w. bush, george w. bush, the 43rd president, the 41s preside president and the iraq decision the son made, what was your sense of that? >> my sense of that very, very
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definitely was the father would not have done anything to under cut the son. he was so respectful of the office and relationship but it was very clear just by knowing how those closest to george herbert walker bush, the former national security advisor and co-author that took his residence to spend more time were in semi retirement boats and as they entered elder years and had many health issues, as well. they really were closely connected and it was clear from the very day that brent wrote the op ed column against going to war in august or september of 2002 against that decision, he was exiled from the white house by the son.
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even though he was his father's very closest trend and advisor and had to step down from the head of the president's foreign intelligence advisory board. they were painful moments. the bridge between them, former white house chief of staff, campaign manager, successfully and then unsuccessfully for george herbert walker bush, and they always managed in public and i think probably in private, as well, to navigate that disagreement over that fateful decision. i have to tell you, i have so many memories that coincide not with the depth of chris matthews personal experience in the white house but when he was president elect, i was signed to go to the white house corresponding at the time and i was sent there on thanksgiving and he was not willing to adjust in his summer
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home and that wonderful place right on the water, not willing to adjust to having a white house travel pool. he didn't want it. he resisterd at first. here he was president elect and e with would follow him in rented cars and finally, he came out of a shopping center, a wine and cheese store and said okay, i give up. why don't you-all come over for wine and cheese and i'll let you organize pools and he invited us over and showed us the tour of the house. so he was a very kind and gentleman. >> andrea mitchell. thank you for sharing that. a mark of the bush footprint on modern american politics from 1980 to 2004, six of the presidential elections featured a bush on the national ticket, father and son. for those of you watching, the coverage of the death of george h.w. bush continues on msnbc and
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much more on nbc on "today." i'm steve kornacki, nbc news. >> continuing our coverage on the death of george herbert walker bush at the age of 94. something we've learned about just in the last hour. again, the 41 st president. peter baker from "the new york times" joins us on the phone. and peter, this question we keep coming back to, i think, the legacy of george h.w. bush as president of the united states, a one-term president and we're so accustomed in history to the one-term presidencies being lumped into the unsuccessful category and this looks like in
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the 25 years since he left office it's headed towards a different category. >> well, that's exactly why he left office on unfortunate terms for him. only won 38% of the vote but a number of years quickly became the most well-regarded of the former presidents, certainly across party lines in many ways as an example of, you know, patriotism and seriousness and dignity and policy across the isle and doing what he thought. i'm here with president trump at the g 20 economic summit and it really is a reminder how this america of george h.w. bush has changed, it's now the party of trump and the style and ideology
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and really quite a moment, i think, he tells us about the change of our country. >> he tried to navigate. he was forced politically in his career to navigate the changes he was seeing in the republican party already in the 1980s and into the 1990s. he switched his position on abortion after the 1980 presidential campaign he made an alliance with evangelical christians in the 1988 campaign. we played that probably one of the most famous promises made by a candidate for president at the 1988 republican national convention where george h.w. bush said read my lips, no new taxes. that was a pitch to the regan ring of the party that didn't trust him and two years later as president he cut that budget deal that did raise taxes but those changes in the republican party peter that we talk about so much today that we see embodied in the presidency in so many ways was starting to see
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many of those changes more than a generation ago. >> absolutely. in someways they brought it down and arrive with newt gingrich and more combative side of the conservative party. no longer willing to go along and get along as they saw president bush going and didn't want to be a milder version. they thought the president was too accommodating and willing to compromise and willing to sacrifice the values and conservative party and that was 1994 with gingrich and comes off saying not only is it no new taxes but he cut taxes and we're not going to make the mistakes that his father made. obviously, president trump was a whole different leap forward in that way and in a lot of different ways, when it comes to
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foreign policy and part of the international consensus, more work to the end of the cold war and giving trump a much more america first policy and domestic politics. i think this is a moment for reflection. we'll see how presidents respond. they are likely to recognize it tonight, by the early morning and questions who goes to the funeral? speaks out? kind of tribute will there be? >> reactions just starting to come into the news about 45 minutes ago we received word of george h.w. bush's passing. here on twitter, reaction from one of his grandsons saying nothing gave my gampy more joy than service to others, especially supporting and caring for those who make the ultimate sacrifice every day. his leadership taught us to be
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kinder and gentler and love each other. george p. bush, a texas stand land commissioner said my grandfather was the greatest man i ever knew. his life spanned the american century. he took part in the texas oil boom and served out a career in public service serving as president during the final days of the cold war and married the love of his life and a father to six including a president and two governors but to me, he will always be gampy who taught me to ho horseshoe, swing a baseball bat. he was a good man courage matched by compassion and dedication was equalled by devotion to family. we'll miss you and love you but never forget you. a series of tweets there from george p. bush, jeb bush's son, one of the grandchildren of george h.w. bush. we have nicole wallace back on the phone with us. nicole, the end of george h.w.
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bush's presidency, excuse me, in 1993, it marked major generational turning point in this country's history. he was the final world war two veteran to serve and replaced by bill clinton, a man 22 years younger than him, the first baby boomer president. that moment, the values embodied by the bush generation and transfer to the baby boom generation, that was a major moment in modern american history. >> also, as big of a moment in the history. it was through that campaign that george w. bush i think sort of got that front row seat to just how excruciating politics are at that level. how brought the lights are that shine on you when you're a candidate for the highest office in the land and i think that people that saw george w. bush operate in and around that
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campaign, you in hindsight said that is where he gained the experience that ultimately aided him and his two runs for the white house but i don't know if anyone talked about what it was like for george h.w. bush to watch his son navigate this very same job he had for four years during the eight years of george bush's presidency but it was always one of the most really touching things to see. he had had the same job, george h.w. bush having served as president, you know, just one president between them, bill clinton and yet, there was never any sort of reaching in to the oval office when george w. bush was president. he was there to receive a phone call but never anything heavy-handed and i'm sure people can debate whether that was a good or bad thing. i think on foreign policy, a lot of people in the center on the
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left were more comfortable with 41's philosophy than 43. as a family story, 41 viewed george w. bush as his son first and president second and some of the pictures that hung on the walls the longest were the pictures of 41 and 43 in the oval office on the day 43 was inaugurated and 43 always spoke and the bushes are all criers, but nothing got 43 choked up more than his dad, the 41s president calling him on some of the lowest points of his presidency to tell him he loved him and that was always what was relaid to those of us who got to hear about the calls. >> we're joined by john, biographer of george h.w. bush. someone that knows his story better than probably anybody else out there. john, i want to go back to 1980 with you, a major moment in
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george h.w. bush's political career. he runs for president that year and does better than expected in the republican primaries running over ronald reagan and upsets him in the iowa caucuses that year but falls short and then at the republican national convention, forms this, what at the moment, history makes this look inevitable but at the moment an unlikely alliance, teaming up with ronald reagan. >> president bush used to describe it as out of a blue clear sky the call came. the call for bush to become vice president without which he would not have been president nor george w. bush told me he would be president. one of the most pivotal moments in modern american politics came on the wednesday night of the july convention in detroit when an attempt to put together what was called the dream ticket between then governor regan and former president ford fell apart
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and it was not until i think it was about 11:37 p.m. on that night when regan picked up the phone and called bush jim baker answered the call and the bush hotel suite. bush had given up. it was all over he thought. he addressed the convention earlier that evening. he changed into a red polo shirt and drinking getting ready to figure out how to move on with life when regan called asking two questions. could he support the platform completely and asked specifically about the pro-life part of the platform. bush said absolutely. the next morning, the two had coffee, george h.w. bush and mrs. bush with ronald and nancy regan and as you said, steve, it was a very ftight campaign.
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barbara bush walked up to ronald reagan and said governor, whatever reservations you may have, i just promise you this, we're going to work our tails off for you. and at that moment, ronald reagan was sold on the bushes, and the two became as close of friends as ronald reagan would have in official life. bush's vice presidency is really an interesting period. his role during the attempted assassination of president regan in late march of 1981 was a case of statesmen being at the end of hamlet. there is this chaotic afternoon. bush was in texas and flew back and walks into "the situation room" and suddenly everybody
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feels like order has been restored.the situation room" and suddenly everybody feels like order has been restored. and suddenly everybod feels like order has been restored. he went from the house to the u.n. to china back to the c.i.a. and had really run for president from a base as he used to put it as friends and christmas card list. he had no natural political base. he never won a statewide race in texas until the 1988 primaries. it was an unconventional political life. that's something worth remembering. he rose to the top on a kind of quiet persistent charisma. it's not a word you hear much associated with george h.w. bush. you hear it with kennedy, regan, clinton, obama. but george h.w. bush if you met him, you were basically his for life, and he was one of the great retail politicians in american history.
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>> we have reaction coming in now again through twitter from kellyanne conway. top white house official says heart felt sympathy and deep condolences to the entire bush family on the passing of our 41s president george h.w. bush. thank you, sir. we have reaction from hallie jackson. are you hearing anything. >> reporter: that tweet is among the first reaction from the white house. we're here in argentina from the g 20. it is right in the middle of the night, about 2:30 in the morning. that said, it's possible we'll see something in the coming minutes in the coming hours from the president as he has just
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finished up meeting with leaders here at the g 20 for what you could call a cultural event and dinner. remember that this has been kind of complicated relationship between president trump and the bush family when barbara bush passed away, first lady melania trump attended on behalf of the first family but president trump did not go to the funeral and there were moments we saw of the past living presidents who were there attending the former first lady's funeral but not donald trump. donald trump has gone after taking a couple jabs at the light campaign important to former president bush and that put him under scrutiny and put him under fire from some of those bush allies. i imagine that shortly when we do hear from the president, because again, i expect we will in the form of a written statement, we'll hear about the legacy former president bush leaves behind and what he meant for this country and for his state, of course. the next time we expect to see
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president trump is not for several hours. his morning is fairly light before he went off to that meeting with german chancellor angela merkel, however, there may be an opportunity to see him on camera prior and the press conference later on and i guess, today in the afternoon here in argentina where the president will undoubtedly speak more about the death of this former president, steve. >> hallie jackson, thank you for that. more reaction continuing to come in on the death of former president george h.w. bush. this from donna brazil, president george h.w. bush was the real deal. we fought but he was gracious enough to accept my apology and through my friends, i got to know him. rest in peace. that again from a democrat done -- donna brazil. steve, it's forgotten now i think how popular in the middle of his presidency george h.w. bush was after prosecuting the gulf war in the winter of 1991,
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his approval rating hit 91%. no president reached higher and 18 months later, he was voted out of office of course, and eight years after that he got to watch his son george w. bush succeed the man that beat him. bill clinton, you worked on that campaign in 2000, that successful campaign in 2000. what did that mean to george h.w. bush eight years after being drummed out of office he got to watch his son succeed the man who beat him? >> president bush talked often about the incredible experience of living to see his son be inaugurated as president of the united states. it's a remarkable life lived and tonight we mark the passing of an american giant. i think he'll go down in history
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as the greatest one-time president and be remembered as a ko consequential president. the man that was an architect of the cold war and showed qualities of restraint we see hi missing. you saw restraint in the gulf war. you saw restraint when the berlin wall came down. a person who talked often about how he hated bragging and how as a child he was told not to brag. we reflect back on his life tonight, i think he had a solid claim to be called justly the greatest living american. i think that's what we lost tonight, a remarkable american life has come to its conclusion from the youngest naval aviator flying in combat in the second world war shot down, rescued by
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submarine and congress maman, president, president of the united states, the father of a president. one of the great figures of the latter half of the 20th century has left the stage tonight. he was a titanic figure, not just in this country but on the world stage and i think you're going to see an outpouring of admiration and respect and remembrance and love from the american people at this hour of division as we look back and remember the life of this great man. >> i'm joined by michael steele on the television. the former chairman of the republican national committee. michael, we've played the clip already at least once so far, one of the defining moments in george h.w. bush's political career and presidency was that decision in 1990 to go back on his read my lips no new taxes pledge and it caused at the
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moment a civil war, the number two republican in the house at the time leading a volt against grg h.w. bush on the floor of the house and cutting a deal with democrats and raising taxes. a generation, how does that look? >> a lot of people look back and say you was kind of right to do that. the reason was the president put the country above the politics. he understood what the pledge meant. he made the pledge in the political moment but, you know, he also recognized hey, i got to look out for everyone in this country and do what i have to do as president to make sure that we're physically sound and secure and his judgment led him to reverse his decision. you remember he was flying high
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and the success in iraq and here at home domestically and then leary here we are. his reality is staying true to leadership and making a difficult choice and that's something i think is well noted throughout the legacy of george h.w. bush whether doing service in wartime or as president during peacetime. >> john still with us. it's ironic one of the decisions george h.w. bush made was praised today was one of the first things that people would point to as criticism and that's the end of the gulf war in 1991
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and not to topple saddam huss n hussein. there was this refrain throughout the 1990s that george h.w. bush had not finished the job and in many ways, there is the possibility there that when you look at 2003 and the ultimate decision of the united states george w. bush, his son to go into iraq it was informed in part by that consensus that took hold after the 1991 gulf war. >> it's true. the president bush would always say 41 that two different wars, two different eras and missions. it was interesting, there was never a real decision not to go to baghdad in 1991 in part because the mission was so well defined. it was very bush, if you will. he wanted to expel saddam from kuwait and him and james baker, secretary of state got something like 12 u.n. resolutions, more than 40 countries, as i recall
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in the gulf war projected force around the world and 500,000 american troops went into the middle east. with a very clearly defined mission. to make saddam leave kuwait and establish a new world order at the time which is as he said on a speech september 11th, 1990 was an attempt to create a law of nations as opposed to the law of the jungle. he wanted to in the post cold war world draw a new, create a new doctrine beyond containment that respected the sovereignty of law-abiding nations. the decision not to go to baghdad was something that was quite natural for him and he was always very clear about what that mission was in that era.
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>> let me go back to hallie jackson in argentina. i understand we've heard from the president? >> reporter: we are, steve. we are just getting a statement from president trump and first lady melania trump about the death of former president bush. i'll read it. it's several paragraphs long but i think it's worth talking about here. president trump is saying melania and i join with a grieving nation to mourn the loss of form ever president geo h.w. bush that passed away last night. through his disarming whit and unwaivvering commitment to fait family and country, he inspired again ralgenerations of fellow to be 1,000 points of light illuminating the greatness hope and opportunity of america to the world. this is president trump's statement on the death of former president bush. he says president bush always found a way to set the bar higher as a young man he capped into the yale baseball team and went on to serve as the youngest aviator in the united states
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navy during the second world war. later in life he rose to the pen kill of american politics as a congressman from texas, envoy to china, director of central intelligence and vice president to ronald reagan and finally, president of the united states. president trump continues with sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership, president bush guided our nation and the world to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the cold war. as president, he set the stage for the deck kaades of prosperi that followed and through that accomplished and remained humble following the call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction and president trump ends the statement on the death of president bush by saying along with the full life of service to country, we'll remember president bush for devotion to family, especially the 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 we with the american people send our prayers to the entire bush family as we honor the life
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and legacy of 41. that is the statement from president trump. first lady melania trump as it is just before 3:00 a.m. local time where the president travelled for the g 20 along with his life and steve, the president is also tweeting this statement, so he has obviously been notified and told and his staff has been and they are releasing this response now. the expectations is that sometime in the coming days, former president bush will lie in state at the u.s. capital and there will be a service for him at the national cathedral, expect this to be an event that draws together dig tanytimn dig the world. there is people that worked with the bush family in the past and as the sun comes up here in
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argenti argentina, we'll hear more from president trump and his family, ivanka trump and jared kushner but others. again, we're getting now in the middle of the night here in argentina that response from president trump, those words about the life and legacy of george h.w. bush from donald trump. steve? >> all right. hallie jackson in argentina with the president. also worth pointing out here, this from three days ago. jim mcgrath said george h.w. bush was pleased to receive president barack obama this afternoon during his visit to houston. the two had a private visit where they rekindled a very warm friendship. again, just three days ago, three days before his passing, former president george h.w. bush met in houston with barack obama. another former president.
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brian williams joins us and brian, george h.w. bush lived in extraordinary long time in his post presidency. it's not every president that goes 25 years past the presidency and got to see in that time a generations time he got to see the legacy redefined. >> that's a terrific point and great way to remember him. sorry i can't be there and thank you for the excellent and fitting coverage tonight. i bow in all of these matters to his biographer we have as part of our on air family. what a fortunate period that we've all just been through, especially lovers of history. we don't always have five former living presidents broken with this news tonight but what a wealth of talent and experience
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we've had just to see these five men together, such a picture of democracy and solidarity. i find it notable the people coming on tonight and they all have personal stories, those old enough to have been around to have known him and covered him, everybody has a personal story. i was fortunate enough to not know him well but interview him and become something of his pen pal and we wrote back and forth and after tonight, i'll go about finding the note he sent to me where he said his legs just stopped working. he wasn't complaining. he didn't do a lot of that. he just stated matter of factually that he was going to be spending time in a wheelchair now and that was the next chapter of his life. it was, as your other guests pointed out, it was a charmed life starting with growing up in
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incredible comfortable wealth in connecticut but at the same time, it bounced back and forth with these great challenges. he leaves the wealthy confines to do what most able bodied young men did and respond to the call of world war ii, more than one of your guests pointed out, he was the youngest naval aviator officer at the time blown out of the sky near the japanese island thinking he was a goner and that charm came back from the "u.s.s. fin back" and saved him and scooped him out of the pacific ocean. he comes home, builds a life and career and then he and the love of his life barbara have their daughter robin taken from them due to leukemia. an unmatched resume, however,
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and as steve said, i guess again, lovers of history will reach back to perhaps james knox polk for koa single-term presidt but in the modern era, no president given one go round was able to preside over so much and let's not forget americans with disabilities aboutct among his achievements was able to accomplish so much, all of it in that exterior of george h.w. bush. a man of staggering wealth and great schooling and breeding who was always kind of so normal, merging on awkward around other people. he came to public life honestly and so modestly. >> it's interesting, too, you
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mentioned, too, potentially awkward around people sometimes, he suffered in someways politically it's been said by the comparison to ronald reagan, the man he served as vice president and the great communique tore, the former actor, the man with that incredible stage presence and having to come along after eight years of ronald reagan with a very different style, a very different personality in someways the regan partnership obviously made his presidency possible, made his rise to the presidency possible, but in other ways may have created a comparison difficult for him to live up to. >> absolutely. who among even the cultured elites of connecticut, even with his resume who can keep up with the stage presence of the former host of g.e. theater and a former hollywood actor? it was impossible. so i think he just blazed his own trail. always guided by the stern
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advice of his mother who would put up with no arrogance, no pomposity in her household. even to his later years, he would quote his mother always lek curing the children about the great i am as she put it, never talk about yourself. never promote yourself. she never in her household wanted to hear the great i am, and no one did hear that from 41. >> brian williams, thank you for taking a few minutes to join us. appreciate that. >> thank you, steve. >> we still have andrea mitchell by phone. i'm seeing a statement come across the wire here from dan quail, the vice president under george h.w. bush. obviously, dan quail was the subject of a lot of criticism and scrutiny when he was vice president. there were certainly calls for george h.w. bush to replace him. he did not do that. there was ultimately a loyalty
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there not just with dan quail but with many people in his orbit, a loyalty. >> indeed. there were times when i think jim baker and others talked about replacing dan quail on the ticket in 1992. and i know conversations but there was loyalty there. i know when dan quail was being revealed as the running mate, i was involved in breaking that story and i know it was not, it did not please george bush that i broke that story and he didn't have a chance to announce it himself and we put it on nbc as they were getting ready in new orleans to announce it was dan quail but typically of president bush, despite the molts when he was not pleased with the coverage and there were tense moments during both of his presidential campaigns and the one in fact, where he didn't win the nomination and had to accept
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the vice presidency, which as you know surprised him, he always respected the role of the press. >> all right. andrea mitchell joining us by phone. andrea, appreciate that. and again, just continuing our coverage here. it is 1:00 in the east. we continue our coverage of the death of former president george herbert walker bush, america's 41st commander in chief. he has died at the age of 94. that word came to us now just over an hour ago, the word being passed from a statement from his son, george w. bush. we are joined by hallie jackson. let me start with you because we have heard from the


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