Elder Bush praises son during D.M. stop
By THOMAS BEAUMONT
DesMoines Register 10/21/2002 - Former President George Bush said Sunday in Des Moines that his son faces the toughest times in the White House since the Civil War.
"The fact is he is wrestling with problems probably as tough as any president has wrestled with since Lincoln," Bush said in headlining a fund-raising dinner for U.S. Rep. Greg Ganske's bid for the U.S. Senate.
"Roosevelt, of course, faced World War II, but there we knew who the enemy was," the senior Bush told 800 Republicans at the Polk County Convention Complex. "The enemies we face in this country today are very, very different. They are shadowy - cowardly, you might say. They can strike anywhere."
Bush said nothing in his 15-minute address about his son's effort to oust President Saddam Hussein in Iraq - a nation whose army U.S. and allied forces drove from Kuwait in 1991, when the elder Bush was president.
Bush also said nothing about the nation's wobbly economy, the very issue blamed for his re-election defeat in 1992.
He said he is proud of his son but doesn't judge him on how he handles issues.
"People ask what it's like to have your son be president of the United States of America, and it's very hard for me to describe that," he said. "I think more about the love of a father for his son than I do about the earned-income tax credit or all the things we used to wrestle with when I was president of the United States."
Bush said he believes his son has what it takes to handle the crises that the current administration has been dealt.
"I think our president has the inner strength, the courage, the faith to carry him through this ordeal we are now facing as a nation," the former president said.
Sunday's event in Des Moines was expected to bring in $250,000 for the Ganske campaign. The Republican congressman has raised $4.3 million for his Senate bid, and incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin has raised $8.1 million, according to the most recent campaign-finance reports.
Bush said he wasn't visiting to disparage Harkin, although "I very rarely got a vote out of the guy," he quipped. He referred to Harkin's vote against the Persian Gulf War resolution in 1991. "Tom Harkin was unable to join me in that quest for the Senate to vote for that approval," he said.
He later praised Iowa's Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, but he did not mention that Grassley also opposed the Gulf War resolution.
Harkin's campaign issued a statement Sunday welcoming Bush and thanking him for signing 17 bills Harkin either authored or co-sponsored.
Bush, now 78, joked about election night 1998 when then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term and his brother, Jeb, was elected governor of Florida.
He said he told his wife, Barbara, that "I believe this is the happiest day in my entire life."
Bush said his wife responded sharply: "What about the day we were married?"
"That was a very nice day, too," he said.