From 1968 to 1972, President Bush served in the National Guard, where he trained as an F-102 pilot and achieved the rank of first lieutenant. 

43rd President, 2001–2009 Party Affiliation: Republican

Chief 2000 Opponent: Al Gore (Democrat) Chief 2004 Opponent: John Kerry (Democrat)

Where and when was he born?
George W. Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to George H. W. and Barbara Bush on July 6, 1946.

What did his father do for a living?
His father, George H. W. Bush, was a success in both private and public life. He is most famous for serving as the forty-first president of the United States—from 1989 to 1993, before losing a reelection bid to Bill Clinton. The Bushes join John Adams and John Quincy Adams as the only fathers and sons to hold the title of chief executive.

Did he have any siblings?
Yes, George W. Bush had five siblings, four of whom are still living. A sister died from leukemia at age three in 1953. His four living siblings are Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. John E. “Jeb” became governor of Florida, Neil became an oil executive, Marvin became an investment consultant, and Dorothy became a successful businesswoman.

What was Bush’s early education?
He attended public schools in Midland, Texas. Then, he attended a private school in Houston, The Kinkaid School. After this, he attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball.

Did he marry?
Bush married Laura Lane Welch on November 5, 1977, in Midland, Texas. Laura Bush became a popular first lady; during her tenure, she encouraged education and reading for children and adults.

Does he have any children?
George and Laura Bush have twin daughters: Barbara Pierce and Jenna Welch. Barbara Pierce Bush graduated from Yale and Jenna Welch Bush Hager graduated from the University of Texas.

Where did he go to college?
Like his father and grandfather, Bush attended Yale University, graduating in 1968. He earned a bachelor’s degree, majoring in history. He was president of his fraternity.

What did he do after college?
He joined the Texas Air National Guard in May 1968. He served in that capacity for several years before transferring to the Air Force Reserves on inactive duty. He received an honorable discharge in 1974.

What was his career in the oil business?
Beginning in the late 1970s, Bush created an oil company called Arbusto Energy. He later changed the name to Bush Exploration. He then expanded his company by merging with the larger Spectrum 7.
When did Bush become intimately involved with major league baseball?
In 1989, Bush became part-owner of the Texas Rangers, a major league baseball team. He served as managing general partner of the team for several years. He attended games regularly but sat with the regular fans, not far removed in boxes like some owners. He sold his shares of the team in 1998 for $15 million, a nice profit from his initial investment of less than $1 million.

When did Bush first run for political office?
In 1978 George W. Bush ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas against Kent Hance, who was able to gain traction by pointing out that Bush had not been a Texas resident for very long. Hance, a lawyer who also had taught law at Texas Tech, said that Bush was “not a real Texan.” This argument worked especially well in rural Texas, and Bush lost the election. It was this loss that propelled Bush into the private sector for some time. But this was the only election that George W. Bush ever lost.

What political work did Bush do in 1988 and 1991?
Bush moved from Texas to Washington, D.C., to work as a key advisor on his father’s initial presidential campaign and reelection campaign. While doing this, George W. made important contacts that proved to be beneficial to his own political future.

When did Bush become governor of Texas?
Bush won election as Texas governor in 1994 over Democratic incumbent Ann Richards. Bush emphasized during his campaign several major themes, including education, tort reform, and crime. Richards had given a speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in which she attacked Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, as having been born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth. This gave George W. Bush even more incentive to win the election, which he did by a percentage of 53 to 46.

What made the 2000 presidential election so controversial?

The election was controversial because Bush was awarded the twenty-five electoral votes from Florida by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Gore was initially predicted the winner due to exit polling by the media but that was retracted, as poll results showed Bush pulling ahead. The networks then declared Bush the winner, but vote results were still coming from three counties—Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach ñand these counties were expected to vote for Gore. The gap shrunk to just two thousand votes statewide—enough to force a recount. Gore asked for manual hand recounts in four counties—the three mentioned earlier and Volusia county.

Florida’s secretary of state Katherine Harris—a Republican—certified the results on November 14, declaring Bush the winner. Lawsuits erupted over the recounting. Gore wanted the recounting process to continue and the deadline extended; Bush wanted the result declared official. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gore, saying that the recount process deadline should be extended. However, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively decided the election in Bush v. Gore (2000), ruling that the Florida system of counting votes differently in different counties violated the Equal Protection Clause. The result was deemed largely political, as it was decided by a vote of five to four with the five more conservative justices—Chief Justice William Rehn- quist, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Justice Clarence Thomas—voting for Bush. The four more liberal judges—Justice John Paul Stevens, and Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter—voted for Gore.


Whom did Bush defeat to win the 2000 Republican primary for president?

Bush defeated a large array of contenders to capture the 2000 Republican nomination, including John McCain, U.S. senator from Arizona; Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes magazine; Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council; Orrin Hatch, U.S. senator from Utah; and Allan Keyes, former United Nations diplomat. The most serious challenge came from McCain, who prevailed in the initial New Hampshire primary. But Bush ended up dominating the race.

Whom did he defeat to win the 2000 presidential election?

Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore. Gore had served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for Tennessee before serving two terms as Clinton’s vice president. The 2000 presidential election turned out to be arguably the most controversial election in American history. Gore won the popular vote and some networks actually named Gore the winner. However, Bush ended up capturing the electoral vote—and the presidency—by a vote of 271 to 266.

What state could Gore have won— aside from Florida—that would have avoided the ultimate controversy?
While political pundits and much of the country obsessed about the controversy in Florida, the sad reality for Gore was that he failed to carry his home state of Tennessee. He is the only presidential candidate from a major party to lose his home state in a presidential election. If Gore had won Tennessee’s eight electoral votes, he would have won the presidency.

What revelation nearly led to Bush’s defeat in the presidential election?
Close to the 2000 presidential election, it was revealed that Bush had been arrested for driving under the influence charge on September 4, 1976, near his family’s vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge, paid a fine, and had his drivers’ license in Maine suspended for two years. A radio station in Maine reported the news of the arrest only one week before the presidential election. In response, Bush admit- ted that he drank too much earlier in his life. He said that he gave up drinking on his fortieth birthday after waking up with a hangover.

Whom did Bush defeat to win the 2004 presidential election?
Bush defeated U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts to win a second term in office. The election was close: Bush won 286 electoral votes to 251 for Kerry. Bush carried thirty-one states, while Kerry took nineteen states and the District of Columbia. The key state was Ohio with twenty electoral votes. Some charged that there were some voting irregularities in Ohio, but Kerry did not make it a protracted legal matter as Gore had in 2000.

Who was Bush’s vice president?
Richard “Dick” Cheney served as Bush’s vice president for his two terms in office. Cheney previously had served as secretary of state for Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush. Cheney was known for his strong defense of conservative positions and his unwillingness to back down from political opponents. One example occurred when cameras caught Cheney using some choice words in an argument with Democratic senator Patrick Leahy.

Who were Bush’s choices for secretaries of state?
For the first time in history, an African American was chosen as secretary of state when President Bush appointed Colin Powell to his cabinet. Powell, a respected four-star general, had been national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush. He served as Bush’s secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. After Powell left office, President Bush chose another African American, Condoleezza Rice, to fill the post. Rice had been Bush’s national security advisor from 2001 to 2005. Previously, she had been provost at Stanford University, her alma mater, and a key member of President George H. W. Bush’s national security team.

Who was Bush’s key advisor for many years and later his deputy chief of staff?
Karl Rove served as Bush’s key advisor for several of his political campaigns. Some critics referred to him as “Bush’s Brain,” referring to Rove’s craftiness and intelligence. Bush himself referred to Rove as “The Architect.” Without a doubt, Rove was one of the persons most responsible for Bush’s two election victories for Texas governor in 1994 and 1998 and for president in 2000 and 2004. Rove is now a political pundit for Fox News.

What awful terrorist strikes occurred that defined the early years of the Bush administration?
On September 11, 2001, nineteen Islamic radicals conducted the worst terrorist strike on American soil. They hijacked four commercial airliner jets and crashed two airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing more than three thousand people. They crashed another plane into the Pentagon, killing nearly two hundred people. A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania due to the heroic efforts of the passengers who lost their lives when they stormed the attackers, diverted the plane from its probable destination of Washington, D.C., and saved an untold number of lives in the process. The hijackers were all members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden. The United States and others responded with a global War on Terror and sought to cripple al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was finally located hiding in a fortified Pakistan hideout in May 2011. U.S. Navy Seals shot him to death.
What did Bush say in his speech to the country after the terrorist attacks?
Bush gave an inspiring speech to the American public following the attack. He said things such as:
Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

What country and regime did Bush's order invade after the 9/11 terrorist attack?
Bush, with Congressional approval, authorized the attack on Afghanistan, which began on October 7, 2001. “Operation Enduring Freedom” sought to crush the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had given a safe haven to the al-Qaeda regime. Initially, the war in Afghanistan was successful in the sense that the Taliban regime was toppled and some members of al-Qaeda were captured. However, the war has dragged on and its popularity has waned, as U.S. casualties have risen.

What federal law did Congress pass and President Bush sign shortly after the September 11 attacks?
In October 2001, Congress passed a law known as Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, better known by its acronym the PATRIOT Act. President Bush signed the measure into law on October 26, 2001. The law served as a lightning rod for controversy and for the debate over what is the prop- er balance between national security and civil liberties. Supporters contend that the Patriot Act was necessary to protect the country from future terrorist attacks to help prevent another 9/11 attack. Critics charged that the Patriot Act violated constitutional- al rights and gave the government too much power. Part of the problem when discussing the Patriot Act is confusion over the vast number of provisions in the law. It consisted of more than three hundred pages and amended more than fifteen different federal laws. The law approved of roving wiretaps, sneak-and-peak warrants, and national security letters, and it sought to bridge the gap between foreign and domestic intelligence in the U.S. Some provisions of the law arguably were necessary to bring surveillance laws up to speed in the newer technological age. Other provisions seemed to unnecessarily encroach upon the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. President Bush adamantly believed that the Patriot Act was necessary to fight the War on Terror and to prevent future terrorist attacks on American soil. Supporters contend that the act helped American law enforcement to break up terror cells and to prevent another 9/11 for the rest of the Bush presidency.

What treaty did President Bush and Russian leader Vladimir Putin sign that limited nuclear weapons?
President Bush and Russian leader Vladimir Putin signed the Moscow Treaty, or the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), on May 24, 2002, in Moscow. Under the measure, each country agreed to keep its level of operational nuclear warheads at a number between 1700 and 2200. SORT is an extension of earlier treaties between the two countries, such as SALT I and II and START I, II, and III.

What major federal law did Bush sign with regard to education?
On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind law, often known by its acronym NCLB. Bush had sought to improve education mightily as Texas governor and called for national educational reform during his presidential campaign. NCLB requires school districts to meet specific state standards and testing to ensure that children are learning. The federal law does not set national standards but allows states to set their own level of standards to measure student competency. The law also has led to increased funding for education in the country. But NCLB is not without its critics. They charge that the law has distorted education by focusing too much on standardized tests and not teaching enough about civic education and other subjects. It is a controversial law with many educators.

What dictator met the end of his reign during the Bush presidency?
President Bush called for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he called a necessary extension of the War on Terror. Bush believed that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring and creating “weapons of mass destruction” and not adhering to United Nations sanctions with regard to weapons and testing of facilities. The invasion, which included a multinational force of troops from the U.S. and other countries, began in March 2003 and led to the fall of Baghdad and Hussein’s regime. The U.S. military-led a military campaign of bombing called “Shock and Awe.” The attack ended Hussein’s twenty-four-year-old stranglehold of control in Iraq.

Who were Bush’s U.S. Supreme Court appointees?
President George W. Bush made two appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. When Justice San- dra Day O’Connor announced her intention to retire, President Bush nominated Roberts—who was then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit— as an associate justice to take her place. However, shortly after that, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died and Bush renominated Roberts as chief justice. Congress confirmed Roberts by a vote of seventy-eight to twenty-two. Bush had asked Justice O’Connor to stay on the Court until another justice would be confirmed. Bush originally submitted the name of Harriet Miers, White House counsel, as his nominee for associate justice. Miers received widespread criticism on her qualifications, so she decided to withdraw her name. Bush then nominated Justice Alito, who had been serving for many years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Senate confirmed Roberts by a vote of fifty-eight to forty-two.

Has Bush criticized his successor, President Barack Obama?
No, President George W. Bush has not criticized his successor, saying that President Obama “deserves my silence.” Many view that as a classy move, as Obama has been vocal about criticizing President Bush for past decisions.

What fund has Bush worked on with former President Clinton?
President Barack Obama asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to jointly work on promoting a fund for relief to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The former presidents formed the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund in early 2010.

What memoir did Bush publish in his post-presidential years?
Bush published a memoir titled Decision Points (2010), which examines key personal and political decisions he had to make in his life.
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