Public Papers

Remarks at the Bush-Quayle Campaign Reunion


Well, I'm delighted to see you all. And first, let me pay my respects to our chairman of the Republican National Committee and to Jeanie Austin, the cochairman. What a job they are doing for the party, and what a job they're going to do for winning in 1990.

I want to salute the ``G - 7'' -- two members of our Cabinet, and the others lined up here -- great friends. I value their counsel still, and I know very well that if I hadn't had their counsel back then I probably would not be standing here as the 41st President of the United States. So, my heartfelt thanks to all of you.

Let me just say a word of thanks to our outstanding Vice President, Dan Quayle. He is doing a great job for our country, and I am delighted to see him. And of course, the Silver Fox. [Laughter] I think she's doing pretty well for the country, too. Forty-five years -- some things never change. [Laughter]

I'm sorry if I'm late. The 18-wheeler got a flat. Then I got tangled up in the flag. Then the metal detector got set off by the silver foot. [Laughter] Does it all come back to you now? [Applause]

It's too bad a lot of our campaign staff couldn't be with us tonight. I understand that some of them are still waiting in the elevator in the Woodward Building over there. [Laughter] You remember those ritzy, patrician, Ivy League, elitist campaign headquarters -- [laughter] -- famous for its plush carpets, quiet telephones, priceless antiques -- [laughter] -- and that fine food you all ate? [Laughter] This is the truth. They did an informal survey over at Domino's. True story -- they said we ordered twice as much pizza as the Democrats. [Laughter] And true to our reputation, we tipped better, too. [Laughter] And now that we're in office, you might sum it up this way: We deliver. [Laughter]

It was a long, hard campaign. We all have our memories, but I remember riding in planes and kissing babies and hugging pigs and marching in parades and driving stagecoaches and tractor trailers and playing shuffleboard in Florida and standing under confetti cannons in California and waiting for yet one more balloon drop. But tonight, I really came over to thank you for one thing you did not ask me to do: You never asked me to make a video riding in a tank. [Laughter]

Some of the members of the press corps who had the good fortune -- or ill fortune, depending on how they looked at it -- of being assigned to our campaign would know that this is a true one, but I'll never forget it. Barbara and I were traveling in the car when they told us to look out the window to wave because these photo dogs were coming alongside for a photo opportunity. And so, we're both sitting there, smiling and waving and looking enthusiastic -- you know how you do in campaigns. [Laughter] And the truck full of photo dogs pulls up next to us, and they all look over and say in unison, ``Pardon me, sir. Do you have any Grey Poupon?'' [Laughter] Don't say these guys don't have a sense of humor.

The Secret Service really never got into the act too well. They had one comedian, though. I'd been singing to myself in the car -- this is also a true story -- and as Barbara and I were getting out, she heard a quiet voice from behind the wheel in the front say, ``If I were you, sir, I wouldn't give up your daytime job.'' [Laughter]

Barbara tells a story about staying in a hotel and not having her bathrobe with her. In the morning, the room service knocked on the door with coffee, and she looked all over for a robe -- no luck. So, when the room service guy opened the door, the future First Lady was standing there, looking quite elegant, wrapped in a bedsheet. [Laughter] First Ladies do have a fashion effect, if you will, so start planning the toga parties; we're coming into an election year. [Laughter]

But we know -- she knows and I know and Dan knows and Marilyn knows -- we know well where the real heavy lifting happened out there in the campaign -- out in the field. And I'm talking about what you all know so well: the phone work, the signmaking, the all-nighters, the creative chaos, and the just plain making do with what you've got. I heard about the Orlando office scrambling to rent a forklift to unload 60,000 posters, only to find out that the forklift wouldn't come through the door. And so, for 2 hours -- truth -- in spite of blisters, sunburns, sore biceps -- the crew carried and stacked every one of those posters, all 60,000, by hand. And I can never forget my gratitude to those people.

The toughest part, for me, was the debates. Some time has passed, so I want to take a moment to recognize my opponent. He was strong, tough, tenacious, a real fighter. I gained a newfound respect for Dan Rather. What a team. [Laughter] What a team we had. [Laughter]

I referred to some of these guys standing back here -- Lee Atwater, the Republican master of R B. [Laughter] He couldn't teach me rhythm, but he did teach the Democrats to sing the blues. And I believe they're just starting. [Laughter]

You know Bob Teeter. He promised me he'd always give us an accurate view of things. So, he tried to balance the good news and the bad news -- you know, 1 month of good news, 18 months of bad news. [Laughter] But he served us with wonderful loyalty and dedication, and I valued his advice.

In biblical times, Noah heard a voice that told him to go build an ark. The hero, you remember, in ``Field of Dreams'' heard a voice that told him to go out and build a baseball field. Poor Rich Bond. He heard a voice that told him to go build momentum in Iowa. [Laughter] But again, what a job he's done, what loyalty, what dedication that he's given me and Barbara and our family -- and all of us working together in the party.

Then we heard we were down by over 20 points, and a man named John Sununu predicted that we'd win New Hampshire by 10 points. What a kidder, right? [Laughter] But he did, literally. And he's versatile. He can take on the Democratic Party, bring in New Hampshire and, yes -- you're not going to believe this -- but he can even fix Xerox machines in the White House. [Laughter]

And then, over the course of the campaign, some say that it was Roger Ailes who gave me a personality. [Laughter] He made me seem more decisive. Well, I'm not sure about that. Maybe I am, and maybe I'm not. [Laughter] But he worked hard and was very well compensated. We paid him in pints of Haagen-Dazs [ice cream]. [Laughter]

And as for Craig Fuller, there's no way I can ever really express my gratitude to him -- my former Chief of Staff, with me every inch of the way. We'd call in; they'd say, get us the plane. That meant get ahold of Fuller on the telephone wherever he was. But he did a magnificent job.

I don't need to tell you my respect for Nick Brady and Bob Mosbacher, both of them now serving with great distinction as members of, I think, the finest Cabinet a President has ever been blessed with.

We'll let this party get back to being a party, but before I leave, I want to thank each one of you. I hope you'll pass along my thanks to those who couldn't be here.

We set out to win an election in 1988 for a reason. America's work is unfinished, but her promise -- I still believe it -- is unlimited. We live, as Rick Klun, a bass fisherman from Montgomery, Texas, said one day to 7,000 bass fishing fans in Arkansas -- he said -- young kid, learned to bass fish, and following -- in his jockey shorts -- following his Dad in the creeks of Oklahoma -- and he said, ``Isn't it wonderful to live in a country without limits?'' And that's exactly the way I feel about the United States.

You've seen people flocking to our commitment to freedom and democracy all around the world -- wondrous changes, especially in Eastern Europe. And God bless those young kids that gave Panama's democracy a chance to be fulfilled now.

Here at home, in the '88 election, we sought power for its potential to help people. We wanted progress for a clean environment and the fight against drugs that savage our streets, and for the sake of the family, free institutions, free speech, and free markets, to make an America second to none in education, to ensure economic opportunity for all Americans. We knew what remained to be done.

So, we've introduced the first amendments to the Clean Air Act and a tough crime package and an innovative education bill. Carefully crafted for the S L industry -- we've worked that out, policies there, and trade, and conducted a foreign policy that we think our forebears would be proud of.

You and the many who aren't with us tonight pulled off incredible feats of endurance and faith during the campaign, day after day, for the sake of the party and the American people. And Dan Quayle, who put up with a lot during this campaign -- I might say, nobody took more heat and did a better job for our ticket and our election than he did.

So, Barbara and I came over here literally to try as best we can, from the bottom of our grateful hearts, to say thank you. Thank you for giving us this fantastic opportunity to serve the greatest country on the face of the Earth. God bless you all. Many, many thanks.

Note: The President spoke at 6:10 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to the ``G - 7,'' a group of his leading campaign advisers which included Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady and Secretary of Commerce Robert A. Mosbacher. The President also referred to Robert Teeter, campaign adviser and pollster; Richard N. Bond, deputy campaign manager and national political director; John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President; and Roger Ailes, senior campaign media adviser. The Woodward Building was the 1988 Republican campaign headquarters in Washington, DC.