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A ‘fine letter to be remembered by’: Read George H.W. Bush’s gracious letter to Bill Clinton

A ‘fine letter to be remembered by’: Read George H.W. Bush’s gracious letter to Bill Clinton

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Even though baby boomer Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush for re-election in 1992, they ended up being friends in the end.
USA TODAY

A letter penned by George Herbert Walker Bush for political rival Bill Clinton is being widely shared as a tribute to the late president

Bush left the letter for Clinton in the Oval Office on the day of Clinton’s inauguration in January 1993. While other presidents have left similar letters, Bush’s has been lauded for its graciousness and civility.

The 1992 campaign was hard-fought. Clinton made the economy his weapon, tapping into many Americans’ economic anxieties. Bush also faced challenges from fellow Texan, H. Ross Perot’s  independent campaign.

“We have fought the good fight,” Bush told his supporters on Election Night, “and we’ve kept the faith.”

When it came time for the transition of power, Bush’s words were simple and kind: “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.”

In a Saturday column published by the Washington Post, Clinton said Bush’s letter revealed “the heart of who he was …  He was an honorable, gracious and decent man who believed in the United States, our Constitution, our institutions and our shared future.”

More: Touching cartoon reunites George H.W. Bush with wife Barbara and daughter Robin

More: George H.W. Bush’s unlikely friendship with Bill Clinton

During 2016’s historically divisive campaign, then presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton shared the letter as a call for unity. Rereading the letter “moved me to tears, just like it did all those years ago,” she wrote.

The letter is again being widely shared on social media as a tribute to Bush. “A fine letter to be remembered by,” mused author Stig Abell.

George HW Bush to Bill Clinton. A fine letter to be remembered by. pic.twitter.com/H5GzLQp4O4

— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) December 1, 2018

Written on White House stationary, the note reads:

Jan 20, 1993

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck — George

Contributing: Susan Page and Judy Keen

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