President George W. Bush: Our Forty-third President

Overview

President George W. Bush once said, "I never dreamed about becoming president. When I was growing up, I wanted to be Willie Mays."
George W. was born in 1946 and attended Yale University. As a young man he trained as a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard before beginning a career in business. He then turned to Texas politics and served as the state's governor from 1994 to 2000.
In 2001 George W. Bush won one of the closest and most ...

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President George W. Bush: Our Forty-Third President

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Overview

President George W. Bush once said, "I never dreamed about becoming president. When I was growing up, I wanted to be Willie Mays."
George W. was born in 1946 and attended Yale University. As a young man he trained as a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard before beginning a career in business. He then turned to Texas politics and served as the state's governor from 1994 to 2000.
In 2001 George W. Bush won one of the closest and most disputed presidential elections in United States history. During his first term Bush launched a war against terrorism after the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001.
This biography of the forty-third president of the United States includes information about his early life, his first term as president, and coverage of his 2004 reelection campaign and subsequent election for a second term.
This biography is essential reading for every young student of American history.

Profiles the life of the forty-third president, including his childhood, education, early career, role as governor of Texas, and the 2000 campaign and election.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This first children's biography of President George W. Bush covers the new president's life from his childhood through the hotly contested 2000 election. The story is presented with clarity, and the author takes a matter-of-fact approach to describe a life that has alternated between circumstances of extreme privilege and those more typical of small-town middle America. He was a boy who knew how to use finger bowls and play pickup ball. The focus is about George W. Bush the person (conservative, personable, extremely loyal to family) rather than about the political conflicts of the times. For instance, young George Bush is painted as someone who chose loyalty to his family's establishment views rather than questioning established policy during the fight for civil rights. 2001, Aladdin Paperbacks, $4.99. Ages 9 to 14. Reviewer: Sally Heldrich
KLIATT
This well-written biography provides younger readers with an appropriate introduction to the 43rd president of the United States. It begins in 1946 with George W.'s christening and ends with Al Gore's concession speech in 2000. The author portrays the Bush clan as a tight, hardworking and loving family. She strives to present a picture of an "average" family and points out that while George was growing up, his parents were active in the community and the church. She calls the young George W. "a rascal" and mentions some of his childhood mischief. The family wealth is played down and advantages such as two maids, private schools, and investing in a baseball team are handled in a matter-of-fact manner. The author compares father and son and the reader will find that the younger Bush is quite different from his father. George W. followed in his father's footsteps to an exclusive private boarding school and then to Yale University, but he did not excel in the classroom or on the athletic field whereas the elder Bush was an outstanding student and very good athlete. George W.'s father had been a fighter pilot in WW II and was shot down and rescued while George W. joined the Texas Air National Guard and never flew in combat. The story then moves to politics and follows George W.'s career in Texas as governor and on to the presidential campaign and eventual election. The photographs are assets but the sparse list of sources adds little. This is certainly appropriate for the intended audience. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, 160p, illus, bibliog, 20cm, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Professor John E. Boyd; Jenkintown,PA, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-A brisk and informative biography. Gormley delves into Bush's childhood, his famous family, his bumpy road as a student, and his equally bumpy road to the White House. She discusses his lifelong adulation for his father, who, as both a congressman and president, gave George W. a front-and-center view of high-level politics. Drawing frequently from the letters and memoirs of Bush's parents, peers, and business partners, the author reveals fascinating dichotomies in the man: a seemingly carefree child who was devastated by the death of his younger sister; a mere dabbler in academics who named education his first priority when he ran for public office; a problem drinker and carouser who became a sober figure espousing family values; a descendant of wealth who had virtually no success in creating it for himself. True, much of the book is a rehashing of campaign factoids, but the author deserves credit for creating a cohesive and digestible biography from so many different vignettes. Bush's story is inspirational if nothing else.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689878343
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 12/24/2004
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 609,313
  • Age range: 9 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 7.46 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Beatrice Gormley has written a number of books for young readers, including several titles in the History’s All-Stars series, as well as biographies of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Laura Bush. She lives in Westport, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: The Firstborn Son

In July 1946 George W. Bush went to his first party. It was the lawn party after his christening in New Haven, Connecticut. He had been born only a few days before, on July 6. That made him a member of the "baby boom" generation, born after World War II.

This baby was the first child of Barbara Pierce Bush and George Herbert Walker Bush. The baby's father — tall, lean, and good-looking — was a student at Yale University. The lively, auburn-haired mother had been a student at Smith College. They named their baby George Walker Bush — not exactly George Jr., but very close. They called him Georgie.

Georgie's father would become the forty-first president of the United States, but not for another forty-two years. However, even in those early days George Bush had already given his son a great deal to live up to. At Andover, a top-rate preparatory school in Massachusetts, he had been a baseball star. In World War II he had been a navy fighter pilot, a war hero.

Both of Georgie's parents came from families who had done well in business. One of his grandfathers was a Wall Street investor, and the other was the president of a large publishing company. For generations both sides of the family had been influential in politics.

For two years after Georgie's birth the Bush family lived in a little apartment in New Haven while George finished his degree at Yale. He was a baseball star in college, as he had been in prep school. Barbara, an enthusiastic sports fan, took her little son to the games to cheer on his first-baseman father.

After George Bush graduated from Yale in 1948, he could have stepped into a comfortable job in the financial world in New York, like his father and grandfather. But George was looking for a more adventurous career, away from his father's eye. Barbara, who had grown up in the wealthy suburb of Rye, New York, encouraged her husband. She, too, was eager to get away from their families and do something different.

One of the most exciting business opportunities in the country at that time was in the oil fields of Texas. With the new technology developed during World War II, drillers could reach deeper oil deposits. And as the economy boomed, the demand for fuel was skyrocketing.

So in the summer of 1948 George Bush accepted a job in Texas. He was hired by Neil Mallon, a close family friend who headed an oil corporation. Revving the engine of his red two-door Studebaker, a graduation present from his parents, George drove all the way from the East Coast to West Texas.

A week later Barbara and Georgie flew out to Texas to join George. They found a place quite different from green, woodsy New England. Around the working-class town of Odessa the land stretched flat, bleak, and dusty all the way to the horizon. Instead of pine-scented sea breezes, there were hot winds that blew sand and tumbleweeds down the street. And when the wind blew a certain way, there was also the strong smell of oil fumes from the nearby plants.

The Bushes' living quarters were not inviting either. Despite his wealthy background, George Bush was starting at the bottom in the oil business. The Bushes' home in Odessa was a two-room apartment, and they shared a bathroom with another family. They were thankful to have a bathroom at all, though, since most of their neighbors used outhouses. And the Bushes had a refrigerator — also unusual in that neighborhood.

But West Texas was a "fabulous place," as George wrote to a friend the next year. "Fortunes can be made in the land end of the oil business, and of course can be lost." He spent long hours out in the oil fields, learning the business from the ground up.

Meanwhile, Barbara took care of Georgie and got used to living where people were "Eastern-prejudiced," as she put it in a letter to her family. She missed her old friends and family. But Barbara was naturally cheerful and good at getting along with all kinds of people, and she had unshakable faith in George. She adored their two-year-old son.

So did George. "He is really cute," Georgie's father wrote to a friend in August 1948. "Whenever I come home he greets me and talks a blue streak, sentences disjointed of course but enthusiasm and spirit boundless. He is a real blond and pot-bellied. He tries to say everything and the results are often hilarious...He seems to be very happy wherever he is and he is very good about amusing himself in the small yard we have here."

George and Barbara hoped to have several children, and they were delighted when a daughter was born in December 1949. They named her Pauline Robinson Bush, after Barbara's mother, and they nicknamed her Robin. Barbara came home from the hospital with Georgie's new sister on Christmas Day. That was the same Christmas that Georgie's grandfather Pierce gave the Bushes one of those new inventions, a television set. It was a hulking thing, with a tiny yellow screen.

The following year, 1950, the Bushes bought a house in Midland, not as close to the oil fields as their first home in West Texas. The house was in a new development, nicknamed Easter Egg Row because each of the little two-bedroom houses plunked down on the dirt roads was painted a different color. Otherwise, they were all exactly the same. The Bushes' house, on East Maple (there were no actual maple trees, or any other trees), was light blue.

The Bushes' new neighborhood was full of young families from other parts of the country, all hoping to strike it rich in the oil business. George and Barbara quickly made friends, and so did Georgie. One of his first and best friends was the boy next door, Randy Roden.

Although George Bush was working as hard as ever, he had plenty of energy left over for community life. He and Barbara led the drive to build a community theater in Midland. George and the other fathers started a Little League team, clearing tumbleweeds from the yellow sand to make a baseball diamond. Both he and Barbara taught Sunday school at the First Presbyterian Church.

Barbara also helped organize charities, volunteered at the Midland hospital, and pitched in to start a local YMCA. Among many other activities, the YMCA offered electric-train races for boys and their fathers. A few years later Georgie would get his picture in the Midland Reporter-Telegram for winning first place in the eight-year-old division.

Every weekend backyard barbecues filled Midland's dry air with the scent of grilled hamburgers. Friends and neighbors milled around the Bushes' backyard, while little kids ran back and forth. Georgie often wore his beloved cowboy outfit, including hat, boots, bandanna, and lasso. His sister, Robin, was beginning to walk.

Less than a year after the Bushes moved to Midland, George decided to go into the oil business for himself. He and a neighbor across the street formed a company. Now George Bush was busier than ever. But he made a point of spending time with his son, often playing catch in the backyard.

Sometimes Mr. Bush took Georgie and his friend Randy out into the oil fields with him. The oil patch, with its towering derricks, was like a strange forest in that flat, treeless country. At night oil fumes blurred the bright stars of the desert sky, and machinery clanked as the pumps worked around the clock. The boys would sleep in the back of the station wagon while George Bush checked the wells.

During the hottest part of the broiling West Texas summers George, Barbara, Georgie, and Robin took off for the cool coast of Maine. All the relatives gathered at the family retreat on Walker's Point in Kennebunkport. Sometimes the Bushes stayed with George's uncle Herbie Walker, who was backing George's business. Grandfather Prescott Bush was always there, dignified and stern — "scary," the kids of the Bush-Walker clan called him. But Grandmother Dorothy Walker Bush was kind, and great fun for sports-loving children to be with.

Dorothy "Dotty" Bush and Georgie adored each other. She was just as competitive as he was — maybe more so. There was a Bush family legend about Dotty as a young married woman: When she was nine months pregnant with George's brother Prescott Jr., she played in a family baseball game. Not only that, but she hit a home run and ran all the way around the diamond — then hastily left for the hospital to give birth.

In 1952, when Georgie was six, the Bush family moved to a three-bedroom house on Ohio Street, not far from the Midland Country Club. Here the streets were paved, and there were even a few oak trees. Georgie and Mike Proctor, his friend across the street, walked or rode their bikes to Sam Houston Elementary School.

The Bushes were still in West Texas, where sometimes tumbleweeds rolled into the yard and stuck to the screen doors, and sometimes sandstorms blew so thick that Georgie couldn't see the back fence from the window. But to Georgie these were just minor annoyances. Life was mostly wonderful, full of bike races and sleepovers with friends like Randy Roden, and stunts like hanging by his knees from the struts beneath the high school football stadium.

Nineteen fifty-two was also the year that Grandfather Prescott Bush, back in Connecticut, ran for election to the U.S. Senate. He had been defeated in the 1950 race for senator, so the Bush family were especially eager for him to win this time. They were also rooting for General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower to win the presidential campaign for the Republicans.

George Bush organized a local Republican committee in Midland and campaigned enthusiastically for Ike. But he had to do so, he joked, "making no reference to the word Republican." Texas, like all Southern states, had been fiercely Democratic since the Civil War.

Dwight Eisenhower won the election, and so did Grandfather Bush. Just a few months later, in February 1953, the Bushes had a new baby, John Ellis Bush. Because of his initials, they called him Jeb or Jebby. Robin was three, growing bigger and more fun for Georgie to play with all the time — although she was still properly impressed with her big brother. George Bush's business, now named Zapata Petroleum Corporation, was going well. Everyone was happy, especially Georgie.

And then one day in March the happiness fell apart. It began with something strange, but not really frightening at first: Robin didn't bounce out of bed in the morning like her usual lively self. She told her mother her plans for the day: "I may go out and lie on the grass and watch the cars go by, or I might just stay in bed."

Her worried mother took her to the doctor, who ordered tests. The test results yielded grim news: Robin had advanced leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow. There was no cure, the doctor explained to Robin's shocked parents. She did not have long to live.

But George and Barbara were determined not to give up hope. At least they would get the best possible medical treatment for their daughter. While friends in Midland took care of Georgie and the baby, they flew Robin to a hospital in New York.

For the next six months, Georgie's mother lived in New York most of the time, spending her days with Robin. Georgie's father shuttled between New York and Midland, tending to business and keeping an eye on Georgie and Jebby. Every morning he went by the church to pray for Robin. Grandmother Dorothy Bush helped by sending the nurse who had taken care of her boys to stay with Georgie and Jeb.

All this time Georgie knew only that his sister was in New York seeing a doctor because she was sick. When his mother brought Robin home for a brief stay, she seemed like the same old Robin: curly blond hair, funny little smile. But there were bruises on her arms and legs, and Barbara wouldn't let Georgie wrestle with Robin the way he used to.

One day in October Georgie was at school as usual. He was carrying a record player back to the principal's office from his second-grade classroom. He happened to be outside in a covered walkway when he saw his parents' green Oldsmobile drive up in front of the school. He was sure he glimpsed the top of Robin's head above the backseat. Setting the record player down, he ran for the car.

But Robin wasn't in the car. And George and Barbara had to tell their son the bad news they had been holding back since March. Robin had been very, very sick, and now she had died. She was buried in Greenwich, Connecticut, where George had grown up.

"I was sad, I was stunned," George W. Bush later described his reaction. "Minutes before I had had a little sister, and now I did not." He cried; his father and mother cried. Georgie couldn't believe his parents had known for so long that Robin was dying and hadn't told him. As they drove to their friends' house to pick up Jebby, Georgie kept asking questions, although he could see how painful it was for them to explain.

The months to come were a strange period for the energetic, upbeat Bush family. "I remember being sad," said George W. Bush. Susie Evans, a friend at Sam Houston Elementary School, remembered the same thing, "a great sadness." Georgie missed Robin terribly, and it was hard to watch his parents suffering.

In his seven-year-old way, Georgie did his best to comfort his mother and father. Instead of playing with friends, he would spend afternoons with his mother. Once, at a football game with his father, he said he wished he were Robin. George, shocked at first, asked why. "I bet she can see the game better from up there than we can here," explained Georgie. To a sports-minded boy, a good view of football plays would be one of the major advantages of being in heaven.

Text copyright © 2000 by Beatrice Gormley

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First Chapter

Chapter 14: A Hair's-Breadth Victory

By Monday, November 6, the day before the election, the race was closer than ever. Governor Bush and his team remained upbeat, but George knew no one could say what would happen tomorrow %151; Reality Day 2000. He needed to make a last big effort in the "battleground" states where the election could be decided.

George had spent Sunday campaigning in Florida, which was in danger of going for Al Gore in spite of George's brother Jeb Bush being its governor. On Monday, George began a final sixteen-hour push with a rally in Tennessee. Even though Tennessee was Al Gore's home state, George had a good chance of winning there. Afterward, he flew to Wisconsin and Iowa %151; two important swing states %151; and finished the hard day's campaigning in Arkansas, President Clinton's home state. He returned to the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas late that night.

Early on November 7, election day, George went to the polls to cast his vote. That evening he and his family %151; including his mother and father and brother Jeb %151; were eating dinner at an Austin restaurant when they heard some bad news. The television networks had announced that the state of Florida had gone to Vice President Gore. The Bush family quickly left for the privacy of the governor's mansion and watched the election returns in the upstairs living room.

Jeb Bush was sure the networks were mistaken about Florida. In fact, a few hours later, the networks changed their minds and announced that Florida was too close to call. As it turned out, this news was extremely important because of the mechanics behind how America elects its presidents.

The president of the United States is not elected by the popular vote, which is the total of all votes cast throughout the country. Instead, our president is actually elected by the state-by-state electoral vote. The Constitution provides that each state has a certain number of electoral votes, which equals that state's number of U.S. Representatives (different for each state) plus the number of senators (always two). Alaska, a state with a small population, has only 3 electoral votes, but heavily populated Florida has 25. The winner of the most votes cast in each state wins that state's electoral votes.

Nationwide, the total number of electoral votes in the election of 2000 was 538. The candidate who won a majority %151; 270 electoral votes or more %151; would win the presidency. By the end of Reality Day 2000, with Florida still undecided, Governor Bush had won 246 electoral votes, and Vice President Gore had won 255. Interestingly, George had won both Al Gore's home state of Tennessee and Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas. Like Florida, New Mexico (5 electoral votes) and Oregon (7 electoral votes) were also too close to call, but at this point they didn't matter. Whoever won Florida's 25 electoral votes would win the election.

Finally, around one o'clock Wednesday morning, November 8, the networks made a new announcement: George had won Florida. George W. Bush now had enough electoral votes to become the next president of the United States. Vice President Gore called George to concede the election.

Less than two hours later, as George was about to leave the governor's mansion to give his victory speech, Al Gore called again. He wanted to take back his concession. Florida officials had just announced that Governor Bush led the vice president by only 1,200 votes. With an election so close, a statewide recount was necessary. Instead of celebrating with a victory party, George had to wait while Florida began to recount its votes.

On Tuesday evening, November 14 %151; a full week after election day %151; the official recount tally was announced. George had indeed won the state of Florida. His lead was now a mere 300 votes, but he still had won.

This was not the end of the election, though. Absentee ballots still needed to be counted, and the Democrats demanded another recount of the vote in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, this time by hand. The voting in these counties had been done on punch-card ballots, and the machines that counted the ballots sometimes made mistakes. If the voter had not completely punched out the "chad" %151; the little square of paper indicating a vote %151; the machine might fail to count that vote. In a hand count, the human election workers could see if the chad was hanging (partly punched out) and know what that vote was meant to be.

Because counting by hand would take much longer than by machine, Vice President Gore claimed that more time was needed beyond November 14. But Florida secretary of state Kathleen Harris refused to change the date. The Gore team appealed her decision to the Florida Supreme Court, and the court ruled to extend the deadline to November 26 and to include the hand recounts. Not wanting the recounts to drag on any longer, the Bush team then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Florida Supreme Court's ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court case over the deadline would not be heard until December 1. So on the evening of November 26, Florida secretary of state Harris, who was the person authorized in the state of Florida to declare the winner of Florida's presidential election, certified the votes. She did not include the results of the incomplete hand count in Palm Beach County, and election officials in Miami-Dade County had given up their hand count. Since George W. Bush was the winner %151; now by 537 votes %151; she announced that Florida's 25 electoral votes would therefore go to him.

This certification was important because it gave Governor Bush's victory some official status. It would be harder for the Gore team to get the courts to overturn the certification than it had been to prevent certification. Also, in the mind of the public, certification moved Governor Bush closer to the presidency.

Shortly afterward, George made a public announcement at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. His quiet words were far from the victory speech he had planned almost three weeks earlier. "Secretary Cheney and I are honored and humbled to have won the state of Florida, which gives us the needed electoral votes to win the election. We will therefore undertake the responsibility of preparing to serve as America's next president and vice president."

But still Vice President Gore did not concede. Only a few hundred votes separated him from the presidency. He believed he might well win if the hand counts were completed in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties and those results included in the total. Gore's lawyers appealed to a Florida circuit court (which is the court just below the Florida Supreme Court) to order the hand counts completed. They also fought hard before the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand the Florida Supreme Court's ruling to extend the deadline.

On December 4, four weeks after the election, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida circuit court both announced their decisions. The Supreme Court simply sent the case back to the Florida Supreme Court, asking it to clarify why it had extended the deadline and to reconsider that course of action. But the Florida circuit court refused outright to order the hand count requested by the Gore team.

Governor Bush and his team thought this was only right. They had believed all along that hand counts couldn't be completely fair. Vote-counting machines might make mistakes, but at least those mistakes were impartial. Also, in hand counts there were no clear rules for deciding what the voter had meant. If the chad in a punch-card ballot wasn't punched out but there was a "dimple" in it, did that mean that the voter had tried to punch it out? Or did it just mean that the voter had rested the stylus on the chad and then decided against that vote?

In a news conference, Governor Bush was careful not to sound triumphant. "I'm grateful that the court made the decision that it made," he said. When asked if he didn't think it was high time for Vice President Gore to concede, George answered, "That's a very difficult decision for anybody to make. I do believe I have won this election. I believe that I won it on the first count and on the second count and on the third count. But the vice president's going to have to make the decisions that he thinks are necessary. And I know that the interests of the country will be important in his decision making, just like it would be in mine."

Vice President Gore's decision was to appeal the Florida circuit court's ruling to the Florida Supreme Court. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the hand counts of the votes must continue. Immediately the Bush team's lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Florida Supreme Court, and to stop the hand counts at least until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this case.

The back-and-forth of the legal cases was like a dizzying game of Ping-Pong, with the presidency depending on each stroke. But George W. Bush stayed calm. He believed that it was only a matter of time before his victory finally became official. He had already started working on his transition from president-elect to president. He sent his transition team, headed by Dick Cheney, to Washington, D.C., and he continued to choose the members of his cabinet.

All this time it seemed as if the whole country were holding its breath, waiting to know who the next president would be. Nothing like this had happened since 1876, when it appeared that Republican Rutherford B. Hayes had won the White House from Democrat Samuel J. Tilden by only one electoral vote. The Democrats contested the election, and the deadlock went on for months. The election was finally settled by Congress %151; with great difficulty %151; only three days before Hayes's inauguration in 1877.

Luckily, the election of 2000 didn't stretch out into January 2001. As the Bush lawyers had asked, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the hand counting halted while it considered the Florida Supreme Court's last decision. While this wasn't the final decision, the Bush team took it as a very good sign. And then on December 12, exactly five weeks after election day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the hand counting must stop permanently.

The majority of the Supreme Court justices agreed that the Florida Supreme Court, in ordering the hand counts, had not made sure that they would be done according to a fair, uniform standard in every county. It also decided that it was impossible to come up with a fair and quick way of counting the contested votes. Time was important, because all arguments about the outcome of the vote were supposed to be settled by December 12 %151; the same day as the Supreme Court's decision. In other words, there was no time left for any more recounts.

With the Supreme Court's decision, Vice President Gore's last hope to win the presidency was dashed. The following evening, he gave a televised speech conceding the election, this time for good. Al Gore would no longer contest the fact that Florida's 25 electoral votes belonged to George W. Bush.

George had won the presidency, but his victory was one of the narrowest in American history. And the drawn-out struggle after the election had underlined the divisions in the country. The U.S. Congress %151; both the Senate and the House of Representatives %151; was now almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. But George was confident he could handle this difficult presidency, because he had a record of working well with Democrats in Texas. Ever since he was a boy, he'd had a talent for getting along with other people %151; for persuading and leading. Throughout the recount in Florida, George had stressed the importance of bringing the nation together once the election finally ended.

An hour after Al Gore finished his speech, Governor Bush spoke from the Texas State Capitol. Enthusiastic applause greeted him as he was introduced by Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Pete Laney, a Democrat. George looked very happy but calm as he spoke: "I have a lot to be thankful for tonight. I'm thankful for America and thankful that we were able to resolve our electoral differences in a peaceful way."

In his speech on the night he finally became president-elect, George emphasized his intention to "move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of the recent past." He explained, "Tonight I chose to speak from the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives because it has been a home to bipartisan cooperation. Here in a place where Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to do what is right for the people we represent."

This was the spirit of cooperation that George wanted to bring to Washington, D.C. "Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes and goals and values far more important than any political disagreements....Our votes may differ, but not our hopes." He pointed out the "remarkable consensus about the important issues before us: excellent schools, retirement and health security, tax relief, a strong military, a more civil society."

In the conclusion of his speech, George W. Bush told the audience in the hall and all the Americans watching him on TV, "The presidency is more than an honor. It is more than an office. It is a charge to keep, and I will give it my all." On January 20, 2001, that charge would begin %151; George W. Bush would be inaugurated as the forty-third president of the United States.

Text copyright © 2000 by Beatrice Gormley

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