President Barack Obama isn’t the first commander in chief to have his birth certificate used as a political tool during a campaign. President George W. Bush recalls in his new memoir, “Decision Points,” that during his first Congressional bid, his opponent used Bush’s birth certificate against him.
It was 1978, and Bush was facing a runoff during the Republican primary against former sportscaster Jim Reese, whom Bush describes as having “a hard edge.”
“Their strategy was to paint me as a liberal, out-of-touch carpetbagger,” Bush writes. “They threw out all kinds of conspiracy theories. Dad was part of a trilateral commission campaign to establish a one-world government. I had been sent by the Rockefeller family to buy up farmland.”
Four days before the election, Bush recalls, Reese “produced a copy of my birth certificate to prove I had been born back east. How was I supposed to counter that?”
Bush responded with a line his father, President George H.W. Bush, once used: “‘No, I wasn’t born in Texas, because I wanted to be close to my mother that day.”
Bush ended up beating Reese for the nomination, but he lost the general election.
HOH’s favorite: Bush recalls the day when now son-in-law Henry Hager came to Camp David to ask permission to marry the president’s daughter, Jenna. Hager had asked to speak with Bush privately, and the president told him to come to the presidential cabin.
“Henry arrived at the appointed time, clearly well prepared. ‘Mr. President, I love your daughter,’ he said, and then began a touching speech. After a couple of minutes, I cut him off,” Bush writes. “‘Henry, the answer is yes, you’ve got my permission,’ I said. … The look on his face said, ‘Wait, I’m not done with my talking points!’”