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tv   The Beat With Ari Melber  MSNBC  December 1, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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>> so, help me god. >> on his watch, the gulf war. >> the battle has been joined. >> and the collapse of the soviet union. >> america won the cold war. >> serving just one term but later seeing his son become president, always drawing strength from family. >> a father who gave unconditional love. a grandfather devoted to his grandchildren, and a beloved husband of the sweetheart he married a long time ago. >> i held my family very close, and my heart break and my joy. ♪ hello, everyone, i'm lester holt, thank you for joining us, as we take a look back at the
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remarkable life and journey of george herbert walker bush, and hear from him over the years in his own words. george bush was raised to serve. politics and public service were in his blood. inherited from his father and passed on to his children. here's brian williams. >> george herbert walker bush came from great wealth and privilege, he was also taught early on about obligation. >> yes, i was privileged, if i got sick, my dad could may a hospital bill, during a time when a lot of kids weren't getting a good education, i was. we were far more privileged, and the values we got from our parents, right and wrong, help others. kindness. >> he excelled at andover, an upper crust prep school. he joined the navy and became a fighter pilot in world war ii. >> the time i was in the service
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was critically important to me, because i came out of it, admittedly privileged background. and the next thing i know, i was thrown into combat or going to preflight school, i was 18, just turned 18. >> george bush barely escaped death after being shot down over the north pacific in 1944, he was rescued by a navy submarine. the whole scene captured on film. >> i think i matured during those days, i think i became a man from that experience. >> he returned home to proud parents, his father was a successful investment banker. and to his sweetheart barbara pierce, they married in 1945. he enrolled at yale, his father's alma matter, and in 1946 with the birth of george w. he became a father himself. bush was a standout at yale, captain of the baseball team, graduating in 1948, but he left his new england roots and with family help, got into the oil
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business in texas. >> hello, everybody i'm prescott bush, republican candidate for the united states senate. >> in 1950 prescott bush got into what would become the family business, politics. running for the senate from connecticut. in this early campaign ad, the emphasis was on family. >> i hope all of you have as much fun and happiness in your family life as we do. >> my father was totally honest, totally committed to service, per say. and that inspired me. not just there, but in his whole life. >> prescott bush lost in 1950, but won a senate seat two years later, as reported on election night by nbc's richard harkness. >> prescott bush, mr. bush is a new york investment banker, a partner of april harriman, bush will be in the senate as a
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republican. >> in texas, george bush prospered and built a family. george w. later recalled it as a happy childhood. >> i grew up in midland, texas. i have a lot of fond memories of midland. >> through the 1970, prescott bush became a republican establishment. in 1960, nixon campaigned in connecticut and press bush was on hand. nixon lost to john f. kennedy in 1960, two years later, citing poor health, senator prescott bush chose not to run for re-election. in 1964, george bush wanted in, and ran against george yarborough. >> george bush, the happy family man is now george bush republican candidate for the united states senate. >> i certainly hope and i'll bet
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you do too, that our children can grow up knowing what freedom really is. >> 18-year-old george w. bush, then a student at yale as his father had been, came home to help with the campaign, the beginning of his political education. his father was running as a conservative. >> i believe we must stop the onrush of big government. the united nations has been a disappointing failure. >> but the political land scape was transformed by the assassination of john f. kennedy. in 1964, lyndon johnson of texas
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won the white house in a landslide and ralph yarborough defeated george bush. >> i sat around for a few minutes trying desperately to think of someone i could blame for this. i regretfully concluded that there was no one else to blame but me. >> in fact, bush's political career was just beginning. in 1966, he ran for a house seat and won. in family photos at the capitol, the eldest son, 21-year-old george w. bush. at yale he felt out of step with the liberal atmosphere of the 1960s, he graduated in 1968, that same year, richard nixon was again running for president, and he sought out congressman george bush to help with the campaign. even briefly considered him as a running mate. two years later, bush again took aim at the senate, with president nixon campaigning for him. >> we've got to think of what man is best for america? and george bush, in my opinion, is the best man for america. >> as it turned out, nixon's support in that 1970 race was not enough.
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>> and i have only one regret, and that is that i lost. >> george bush was out of a job. but not for long. >> the fact that one door has been closed for him opens another door. coming up, rising through the ranks, to claim the ultimate prize. >> the office of president of the united states.nth af ter mon, the clock is ticking on irreversible joint damage. ongoing pain and stiffness are signs of joint erosion. humira can help stop the clock. prescribed for 15 years, humira targets and blocks a source of inflammation that contributes to joint pain and irreversible damage. humira can lower your ability to fight infections. serious and sometimes fatal infections including tuberculosis, and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores.
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saving you hundreds of dollars a year. and ask how you get xfinity mobile included with your internet. plus, get $200 back when you when you buy a new smartphone. xfinity mobile. it's simple. easy. awesome. click, call or visit a store today. george bush became president, in part, by being useful to the presidents that proceeded him, men that he served, in ronald reagan, gerald ford and richard nixon, who saw something in bush and gave him a place on the national stage. >> so help me god. >> george bush, the texas congressman who ran for the senate this year and lost was president nixon's choice to be the next american ambassador to the united nations. bush is an oil millionaire and
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political conservative. >> in 1971, the political resume of george herbert walker bush consisted of two terms in congress, and two failed senate campaigns. but richard nixon saw promise. >> the world will be a better place in which to live because of what dedicated men like george bush do at the united nations. >> thank you, mr. president, for this great honor. >> bush was a controversial choice for the job of u.n. ambassador. he was inexperienced but enthusiastic. >> you have to dream a little, we have to figure out how we can get more support for this organization. >> he immersed himself in the big issues of the day, the middle east, china versus taiwan, india versus pakistan. he served the president faithfully, although nixon thought bush should be tougher, as he indicated in this phone call to bush in 1971. >> i want you to hit it frontily, strongly, is that clear? i mean, don't -- just take the gloves off and crack it, because you know exactly what we've done. okay? fine, all right.
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>> ambassador george bush. >> george bush at the 1972 gop national compassion, with 26-year-old george w. and nixon aide don rumsfeld. followed by the death of prescott bush. he died october 8th, 1972, never knowing the heights his son and grandson would reach. in the political world, a re-elected president nixon had another new job for george bush. >> mr. nixon named george bush to be the new chairman of the republican national committee. he'll replace senator robert dole of kansas. >> i think it's important work and i look forward to getting involved in it. >> it was a job that bush did not seek and did not want. nevertheless, he shared his father's sense of duty.
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>> when the president wants you to do something, under my kind of system of civics, you ought to do it. >> bush's loyalty to nixon was soon tested by the biggest scandal in american political history. >> watergate, republican national chairman george bush said that president nixon understands the watergate problem fully and will clear it up totally. he did not elaborate. >> i'm concerned about it, deeply. mainly for the system, i don't want to go home at night and see my young kids turned off of this political process by some illegal or alleged illegal or close to illegal acts. >> you try being chairman of the republican party during the watergate days, you're talking about a ghastly assignment. a horrible time. >> hasn't all this made your job much more difficult? >> it complicated the heck out of my job. but the loser is not the republican party, the loser is the system. >> i retain a basic confidence that the president is indeed telling the truth about his lack of involvement, about his
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involvement in this whole mess. >> in the end, of course, it became clear that nixon was not telling the truth about watergate, not to george bush or anyone else. george and barbara bush were on hand for nixon's farewell, and gerald ford's swearing-in. >> so help me god. >> ford had to pick a vice president, and george bush was a leading contender. >> how are you all? >> it was nelson rockefeller who got the job instead. >> all in all, it's a first class choice. i was honored to be in that league. george bush picked china for a diplomatic assignment. they enjoyed the assignment in china, but it lasted nearly a year. >> it is my intention to nominate ambassador bush to be director of the cia. >> bush himself was stunned by the news. after being on hand for president ford's visit to china, and on hand for mao zedong -- >> i have been in politics, i
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served four years in congress. i served two years as the chairman of my party, and i have no apology whatsoever for either service. >> some thought ford would make bush his running mate the following year. bush dismissed the idea. >> a while back, i think one would have to be hallucinating if he thought this was a stepping stone to becoming vice president. >> but he didn't want to rule it out either. >> i cannot in all honesty tell you that i would not accept. and i don't think, gentlemen, that any american should be asked to say he would not accept. >> the senate approved bush for the cia, but not before president ford promised in
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writing not to put him on the ticket in 1976. right then his career in politics seemed to be all but over. >> i can't confess to being clairvoyant. but i foresaw the minute the telegram came that has altered my life, that this undoubtedly spelled the end of a near term political future, except maybe some kind of longshot lightning striking kind of an opportunity to capture some higher office. >> welcome, george. >> welcome to the cia. thank you for coming. >> george bush was sworn in today as the new director of central intelligence. >> so help me god. >> the politically sensitive job as head of the cia in 1976, took george herbert walker bush out of the running as gerald ford's running mate, a job that went to bob dole.
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if it was a disappointment to mr. bush, it was also an opportunity. >> my goal is to run this agency in the future, learning from the past, but not dwelling on it. >> it was his fifth new job in nine years, bush proved many of his doubters wrong. becoming one of the most popular and effective directors of the modern day cia. a building which today bears his name. >> cia, i love one year only. i loved defending the culture at a time when everyone was down on it. >> during the 1976 campaign, it fell to cia director bush, to provide intelligence briefing to the democratic candidate, jimmy carter. when carter beat president ford, bush was again out of a job. >> george bush told jimmy carter, he will quit as director of the cia on january 20th. we're told that bush was willing to stay on, but that carter gave him no encouragement.
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what he will do next, he didn't say. >> george bush today declared himself a candidate for the republican nomination for president. >> bush wanted jimmy carter's job, but first he'd have to fight ronald reagan for the gop nomination. he was asked his opinion of reagan. >> i think he'd be a good president, much better than carter. i'll throw that in there. but i would be a better president. that's the point i got to get across. >> the bush resume proved no match for the reagan revolution. reagan won the nomination and appeared ready to make history by picking a former president, gerald ford as his running mate. once again george bush's political career seemed to be over, until this electrifying moment. >> i have asked and i am recommendation to this convention that tomorrow when the session reconvenes, that george bush be nominated for vice president. [ cheers and applause ] >> we're not sure where george bush is, but lightning certainly struck him today.
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>> in an instant the future had changed for the entire bush family. reagan had salvaged george bush's political future. and that very likely kept the door open for a political future for george w. bush. >> we're overwhelmed and grateful for your expression of confidence. i accept. >> bush pledged his loyalty to ronald reagan and in this moment, captured by nbc news cameras, he introduced him to his son. in one frame, three future presidents. george bush had aimed for the presidency. by gladly settling for number two, he made himself ronald reagan's loyal heir apparent. >> george bush ran against ronald reagan and lost. but he remade himself, becoming a model vice president, loyal, dedicated and gladly subservient. biding his time, hoping his chance would come again. it did. that part of the story when we continue. ♪
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bush, do solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> after spending much of his life in the service of presidents, george bush became one himself. in january, 1989 at the age of 64, he began his inaugural address by paying tribute to the man he served for eight years. >> president reagan, on behalf of our nation, i thank you for the wonderful things that you have done for america. i've spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation doing good. for a new breeze is blowing. and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn. for in man's heart, if not in
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fact the day of the dictator is over. >> a world refreshed by freedom, perhaps some wishful thinking on bush's part. just months into his presidency, a growing democracy movement in china was brutally crushed by authorities. the tiananmen square massacre targeting students gathered in beijing by the thousands, challenging china's communist government and demanding democracy, human rights and political freedom. hundreds, perhaps thousands were killed. >> it's been widespread and continuing violence. many casualties and many deaths, we deplore the decision to use force. and i now call on the chinese leadership publicly as i have in private channels, to avoid
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violence and to return to their previous policy of restraint. this is not the time for an emotional response. but for a reasoned, careful action. i believe the forces of democracy are so powerful, and when you see them as recently as this morning a single student standing in front of a tank, and then i might add, seeing the tank driver exercise restraint. i'm convinced that the forces of democracy are going to overcome these unfortunate events in tiananmen square. >> the forces of democracy did not prevail in china and have not until this day. five months after the tiananmen square massacre, freedom took center stage thousands of miles away in berlin. >> good evening, live from the berlin wall on the most historic night in this wall's history. what you see behind me is a celebration of this new policy announced today by the east german government that now for the first time since the wall was erected in 1961, people will be able to move through freely. >> let me say a word about the momentous events in east
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germany. i was moved as you all were by the pictures of berliners from east and west standing atop the wall with chisels and hammers celebrating the opening of the most vivid symbol of the iron curtain. and to be honest with you, i doubted that this would happen in the very first year of this administration. 28 years after the desperate days of 1961, when tanks faced off at checkpoint charlie, and that terrible barrier was built, now the east german government has responded to the wishes of its people. >> less than a year later came george bush's biggest challenge as president, iraq's invasion of kuwait in august 1990. bush seemed to hesitate, but he
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soon drew a line in the sand. >> this will not stand. this will not stand, this aggression against kuwait. i've got to go. i have to go to work. >> this will not stand, bush said, committing himself to reversing saddam hussein's invasion and rallying an international coalition to help him do it. u.s. and allied forces gathered in the desert and when diplomacy failed, the commander in chief launched "operation desert storm." >> just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in iraq and kuwait. these attacks continue as i speak. ground forces are not engaged. this conflict started august 2nd, when the dictator of iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. kuwait, a member of the arab league and a member of the united nations was crushed.
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its people brutalized. five months ago, saddam hussein started this cruel war against kuwait. tonight the battle has been joined. >> it started as an air war, followed less than six weeks later by a ground war. "operation desert storm" was short, brutally efficient and successful. >> kuwait is liberated. iraq's army is defeated. our military objectives are met. kuwait is once more in the hands of kuwaitis in control of their own destiny. tonight the flag once again flies above the capitol of a free and sovereign nation, and the american flag flies above our embassy. seven months ago, america and the world drew a line in the sand. we declared that the aggression against kuwait would not stand.
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and tonight america and the world have kept their word. this is not a time of euphoria. certainly not a time to gloat, but it is a time of pride. pride in our troops, pride in the friends who stood with us in the crisis. pride in our nation. and the people whose strength and resolve made victory quick, decisive and just. >> a week later, before a joint session of congress, president bush declared victory. >> as commander in chief, i can report to you, our armed forces fought with honor and valor. and as president, i can report to the nation aggression is defeated. the war is over. >> iraqi forces were pushed out of kuwait, but in iraq itself, saddam hussein was still in power and would remain so until he was toppled 12 years later by
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bush's son. >> i thought that saddam hussein would leave under his own power or under being knocked off by somebody else. but had i not thought that, would we then have gone to try to find him? no, we wouldn't have done it. that was not our mission. and then for those who say, you should have gone in and killed saddam. i'm commander in chief. i want his son to go or his daughter to go into baghdad to find the most fortified brutal dictator in history? >> 1991 began with operation desert storm, it ended with the collapse of the soviet union. the cold war had been the world's defining struggle for decades, fought benign american presidents. it ended with george bush. >> we gather tonight at a dramatic and deeply promising time in our history. and in the history of man on
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earth. for the past 12 months, the world has known changes of almost biblical proportions. even now, months after the failed coupe that failed a doomed system, i'm not sure we have absorbed the full impact, the full import of what happened. that communism died this year. and even as president with the most fascinating possible vantage point, there were times when i was so busy managing progress and helping to lead change that i didn't always show the joy that was in my heart. but the biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives is this. by the grace of god, america won the cold war.
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i'm dara brown with the hour's top stories. funeral plans have been set for george h.w. bush. the body of the president will lie in state at the u.s. capitol before being laid to rest in texas. president trump and chinese leader ping agreed to a 90-day cease-fire during talks at the g g20 summit in argentina. now, back to "george herbert walker bush: a life of service." for more than 40 years now, part of every president's job description has been to put up with being laughed at on saturday night live. george bush was no exception, he did more than just tolerate dana carvey making fun at him. >> dana, george bush here, i'm
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watching you do your impression of me and i got to say, it's nothing like me. bears no resemblance, it's bad, it's bad. >> well, i'm sorry, mr. president, i think it's a fair impression. >> it's totally exaggerated, it's not me. those crazy hand gestures. the pointing thing, i don't do them. also, na-da-da, never said it. in all my years of government service i never once said na-da-da. >> president bush was so taken by dana carvey's act he invited him to the white house to cheer everyone up after mr. bush lost the election in 1992. >> the way to the president is to start out with mr. rogers, then you add a little john wayne. here we go, let's go over -- you get george herbert walker bush. >> that's good.
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>> don't dare move my hands, i want to. i'm very grateful to dana and to paula for being here, and dana's given me a lot of laughs. he said to me on the phone, are you sure you really want me to come there? i said, yeah. he said, i hope i've never crossed the line. and i knew exactly what he meant. as far as i'm concerned, he never has. the fact that we can laugh at each other is a very fundamental thing. i'm not sure on november 4th, the invitation would have gone out and had the same enthusiasm. >> george bush did not expect to lose to bill clinton in 1992, he resided over the end of the cold war, enjoyed sky high popularity after the gulf war, but a weak economy and an electorate ready for change did limb in, and he didn't like it one bit. in an interview several years
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later, he read a letter he wrote the day after the election. >> the election is over, it's come and gone, it's hard to describe the emotions of something like this, but it's hurt, hurt, hurt. and i guess the pride too. i don't like to see the pollsters and pundits right at the end. i don't like to see all those who have written me off right. i was absolutely convinced we would prove them wrong. i was wrong, and they were right, and that hurts a lot. i gave it my all, i gave it my best and i got whipped, i went home. and boy have we been happy. >> with barbara at his side, george bush had one of the longest post presidencies in american history.
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he saw his eldest son run for president. >> i want to thank my dad, the most decent man i have ever known. dad, i am proud to be your son. >> and win two terms. he stayed active, golfing, fishing, boating, even jumping out of airplanes to celebrate his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays. george bush overcame his political differences with bill clinton, joining forces to help victims of the disastrous 2004 tsunami in asia.
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>> the nice thing about it, it sends a signal around the world, you can be political opponents and still work together for something more important than your own political future. >> clinton was practically a member of the family. >> everyone is talking about the odd couple. george and bill. or as i now call him, son. >> the presidency is among other things a small club. and in 2009 a new member was welcomed, president-elect barack obama. later that year, president obama paid tribute to george bush on the 20th anniversary of his points of light volunteerism initiative, and for his lifetime of service. >> george bush isn't just a president who promoted the ethic of service long before it was fashionable. he's a citizen whose life has embodied in that ethic. from his daring service as a navy pilot during world war ii. enlisting the day he turned 18, to his time in congress, at the cia and as u.n. ambassador, vice president and president. he easily could have chosen a life of comfort and privilege, and instead, time and again, when offered a chance to serve, he seized it. it was second nature to him. the continuation of a proud
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family tradition that he and mrs. bush clearly passed on to their children and grandchildren. and one which he's carried on throughout his quote/unquote retirement. how is that working out mrs. bush? >> barbara bush in on the joke in 2009. we'll hear from her when we continue in a moment. i like chillaxin'. the united explorer card makes things easy. traveling lighter. taking a shortcut. woooo! taking a breather. rewarded!
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the most important person in george bush's life, was undoubtedly his wife barbara, they met as teenagers, married during world war ii, and were inseparable during their remarkable life together. speaking to nbc in 1999, bush read a letter he had written to his wife five years earlier. >> january 6th, 1994, for barbara pierce from g.h.w.b.
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will you marry me? oops i forgot you did that 49 years ago today. i was very happy on that day in 1945 but i'm even happier today. i climbed the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being barbara's husband. mom used to tell me, now, george, don't walk ahead. little did she know -- >> no, no, don't do that. little did she know -- >> i was only trying to keep up. >> and another letter about a first kiss. >> i kissed barbara and i'm glad of it. i don't believe she'll ever regret it or resent it. i've never kissed another girl. >> when we tell our children that you were the first person i ever kissed. >> i was the second, darling. haven abbott.
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>> oh, he was not. >> he was in there. you know haven, that's not true. but having said that, they all -- >> can i -- no, you may not. he has children too. anyway, they sort of look like, yuck, carry on. but that's the truth. >> you both married the first person you ever kissed? >> strange, i admit. >> still staying with your story? >> yes, i am. >> barbara pierce bush died on april 17th, 2018. as always, george bush was at her side. and when mourners came to pay their respects he returned the favor, greeting them from his wheelchair, thanking them as they filed past her casket. surrounded by family, he
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attended her funeral, holding up and staying strong despite his failing health. george and barbara bush were together for 73 years. the longest marriage in american presidential history, she was indispensable to her husband's success. >> i've always felt i was the world's luckiest woman. nobody ever had a greater, more precious family. nobody ever had a better husband. >> i think george bush and i are as good friends as close as any two people i know. you know, we were married at 19 and 20, and we really see the world through the same eyes. >> she was the mother that went to the little league games, raised the kids, bawled them out. >> i chose to bring up my children. i mean, i had that choice. and i know it was a luxury.
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>> both george and barbara bush campaign hard during the week. >> i was gone a lot. she was the one that comforted our daughter when she was dying. she was the one that's kind of been there. >> after she died, it was a terrible time in our life. i really sort of fell apart. it's sort of hard for me to talk about. but he just put his arms around me, and did not let me step away. and i loved him even more after that. >> you know, i'm wired for sound, bush. >> don't do anything. >> i've shared george all of my married life with lots of people. >> when george bush is in the room, people knock me down to get to him. and i understand that. but i must say, it is not ego building. but bush has shared, so i don't feel left out, and i don't feel like, you've lived your husband's life. >> i'm glad he looks young, and i wish to heck i did too. >> come on, barbara, get in here.
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>> i love him, and he's made my life so happy and he's shared with me, and i don't feel i'm just a political wife. >> soon she'll be the first lady of all the united states. ♪ >> when you're the president's wife, you don't have to make any decisions. i mean, look at me, i don't threaten anyone. i have nice white hair and a nice fat face, i like people and it's easy. i don't agree with him on everything. and he and i know what those things are. >> i want you to care what he thinks. he's the president, i'm not. i hadn't been elected to public office. i'm not courageous enough to do that. i want to welcome you all to the white house. >> i may say with some husbandly pride, the silver fox is doing one heck of a job for education. >> for barbara bush, i campaigned my way. and since i'm so old and so mean, and so tough, nobody dares tell me not to.
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>> i too agree that character and integrity are very important. >> i want to thank my entire family, with this special emphasis on a woman named barbara. >> the love of my father's life has been barbara bush. >> she was a great first lady, and she earned and won the respect of a lot of american people, because they saw her for what she is, down to earth, loving mother, caring individual, trying her hardest to do something about literacy. and sending an example with no bull about it. >> i've built my life around the world's greatest man and the world's greatest children. at the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. you will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. you've got two choices in life. you can like what you do, or you can dislike what you do.
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i've chosen to like what i do. and i think i'm the luckiest woman in the world. of nowhere. you do, too, but not in time. hey, no big deal. you've got a good record and liberty mutual won't hold a grudge by raising your rates over one mistake. you hear that, karen? liberty mutual doesn't hold grudges. how mature of them! for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise their rates because of their first accident. liberty mutual insurance. liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ ♪ ♪ (volunteer) hey. (old man) come on in. (volunteer) you taught me the rules. (vo) you do more than feed seniors when you share the love. you feed souls. get a new subaru, like the all new forester, and charities like meals on wheels can receive two hundred and fifty dollars from subaru.
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george bush left no memoir, but as we've seen over the past hour, he was a prolific and gifted writer of letters. they often revealed a tender emotional side that he never shared publicly before he left office. we want to leave you with two of those letters, the first bush wrote to his mother several years after he and barbara lost their daughter robin to leukemia in 1953. robin was a beautiful child, just three years old, when she died. the subject was still so sensitive decades later, that bush could not read the letter himself. so he had barbara read it for him. >> there is about our house a need, the running, pulsating restlessness of the four boys as
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they struggle to learn and grow. the world embraces them, all this wonder needs a counterpart. we need some starched crisp frocks to go with our torn-kneed blue jeans and helmets. we need some soft, blonde hair to offset those crew cuts. we need a doll house to stand firm against our forts and racquets and baseball cards. we need a cut out star to play alone, while the others battled to see who's family champ. we even need someone who could sing aloette while outside they scramble to catch the ball thudding against the screens. we need a legitimate christmas angel, one who doesn't have cuffs beneath the dress. we need someone who's afraid of frogs.
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we need someone to cry when i get mad, not argue. we need a little one who can kiss without leaving egg or jam or gum. we need a girl. no good at that. >> we got a girl. >> and a good one. >> we got a good one. >> the reference is to daughter dorothy. the bush's youngest child, born in 1959, not long after that letter was written. in 1998 george bush wrote a letter to all his children. he was 74 then, reflecting on the twilight years of a full life. >> dear kids, this letter is about aging, talk about my getting older. i've loved my boat, i worry about falling off the bough, fishing on the rocks out there. some summer one or two of you, in an effort to be helpful said,
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get a hearing aide. or try listening, i heard you. i also heard a family member, i won't say of which generation, go the old fogey is deaf. i clearly heard what had gone on before, and i heard that old fogey thing too. come to think of it, i'm not sure the word was fogey. not sure at all. last year there was only a tiny sense of time left, this year i must confess, i'm more aware of that. no fear, no apprehension, just a feeling like let's go, there's so much to do and there may not be a lot of time left. except for an ache here, a pain here, i feel like there is so much left to do.
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if i shed tears easier now, try not to laugh at me. besides, it's okay to cry if you're a man, a happy man, a sad man. remember the old song, "i'll be there ready when you are." there's so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. if you need me, i'm here. >> george bush lived for many years after writing that letter. he saw his children grow up and grow old. he welcomed the arrival of grandchildren and great grandchildren. when he was 93, he saw his wife go before him. he also saw the party and the country he had served for so long change in ways he could not imagine, and did not welcome. george herbert walker bush was the last of the greatest generation to serve as president. and he embodied the best of that generation, decency, honor, integrity, aspiring to a patriotism that transcended party and ideology. in that, he remains an inspiration to so many. i'm lester holt, thank you for being with us.
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♪ ♪ this is a tragedy on top of a tragedy now. >> it happened so quickly. their parents in the backyard spa. their mom in trouble. >> my dad just panicked. >> a sudden slip. a fatal fall. >> you're losing your mother. you're watching her go right in front of you. >> someone else was watching her too. a curious neighbor just moments before witnessed something astonishing. >> it was scary. the look on his face was almost undescribable. >> what had she seen? was this drowning really an accident? >> she's got a huge gash on her head.


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