When George H.W. Bush appeared on 60 Minutes
George H.W. Bush was many things: Navy pilot, director of the CIA, Vice President, President, husband, father. Over the years, he spoke about his numerous roles in various interviews with 60 Minutes. On the occasion of his death Friday, 60 Minutes is looking back at some of his appearances on the broadcast.
1976: Bush as CIA Director
In 1976, the CIA was in trouble.
“At no time in the 29 years of its existence has the Central Intelligence Agency come under such close public scrutiny as right now,” correspondent Mike Wallace reported.
The man tasked with refurbishing the agency’s image was George Bush, a former Texas Congressman, chairman of the RNC, U.N. ambassador, and envoy to China. But in terms of future political endeavors, Mr. Bush didn’t see his new role as CIA boss as a springboard.
At least that’s what he told Wallace in the clip above.
“There’s no politics in this thing for me,” Mr. Bush said. “Good heavens, you’d have to be hallucinating to think there is any political mileage in this kind of a job.”
1980: “Some people say he’s just ‘too nice’ to be president”
By the beginning of 1980, Dan Rather reported that it would take a “minor miracle” for anyone to take the Republican nomination away from Ronald Reagan. However, he said, if anyone could do it, George H.W. Bush could.
Still, as the 60 Minutes piece showed, Mr. Bush faced two problems. The first was, simply, that Americans didn’t recognize him. The second was that he didn’t seem tough enough to take the job as commander-in-chief.
“Niceness, sure,” Mr. Bush responded when confronted with the question of his fortitude. “Decency — what’s wrong with that? Toughness, fiber, strength, perception of the strength of this country — I’ve got it. I understand it. But I just a not a person who feels you have to be ugly.”
That full 60 Minutes piece is in the video player at the top of the page.
1987: Bush runs again
When Mr. Bush hit the campaign trail for president a second time in 1987, he did it as the sitting vice president. In a 1987 interview with Diane Sawyer, which occurred shortly after the Iran-Contra affair, he tried to balance speaking out for himself and standing firmly by his president.
When Sawyer asked him about an insult lobbed at him from conservative columnist George Will, he pushed back strongly.
“I’ll put my record out there with anybody,” he said in the clip above. “You know that I was shot down two months after my 20th birthday fighting for my country? I didn’t detect any wimp factor there. Did you know that we had to sit, my wife and I, and watch a child wrenched from our hearts in six months of cancer, knowing she was going to die? A little strength comes from that. Do you know that I’ve run agencies like the CIA and restored the morale out there by making tough decisions, moving people around, not jumping out to get credit? But if his complaint is that I’m loyal to [Reagan,] guilty as charged.”
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