Former presidents remember George H.W. Bush

To one man, he was Dad. To another, he was the political opponent in a hard-fought election. To the rest of America, he was President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Bush died Friday. He was 94.

Before his death, 60 Minutes spoke with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton about their memories of the elder Bush.

George W. Bush on what he learned about politics from his father

Only the second father-son pair in American history to ascend to the presidency, the Bushes created a political dynasty. In an interview with Norah O’Donnell, the younger Bush recalls what he learned about politics from his father.  

“I learned that politics is an exciting way of life, for starters,” Mr. Bush says in the clip above. The younger Bush was just 18 years old when his father first ran for Senate in Texas, and he says he discovered a love for politics while accompanying his father on the campaign trail.

Years later, as Mr. Bush watched his father govern, he understood that policy matters more than politics.

“I learned that sometimes to vote your conscience is not going to be politically acceptable, like his vote on open housing,” Mr. Bush said. “But if you defend your policy and stand strong for your policy, people ultimately respect leadership as opposed to followership.”

Bill Clinton’s friendship with his former political opponent

They may have campaigned as bitter opponents during the 1992 presidential election, but years later, Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton formed a strong friendship. Their bond developed in an unlikely place: on an Air Force One flight to tsunami-ravaged Indonesia in late 2004.

Since the plane was equipped with only one bed, President Bush suggested the two split their time in it. President Clinton declined the offer, reasoning that after years of sleep deprivation, he could rest on the floor. The conversation broke the ice between the two former presidents.

“We were like two people circling each other, wanting to reach out and shake hands,” Mr. Clinton says in the clip above, “and somehow, the darn bed was the handshake.”

The pair continued working together, later raising money for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck. They even gave a joint commencement address at Tulane University.

Mr. Clinton says he has relished the bond he shared with Mr. Bush.

“It’s been one of the great joys of my life, my friendship with him.”

The letter George H.W. Bush left for Bill Clinton

One of the many traditions of the presidency has been writing a letter to the incoming commander-in-chief. The outgoing president typically leaves the note to his successor in the Oval Office.

In the video above, Mr. Clinton reads the letter he received from Mr. Bush, the incumbent candidate Mr. Clinton had just beaten in the 1992 election. 

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