DALLAS (Reuters) - Young George W. Bush once had a blind date with the daughter of President Richard Nixon. It didn’t go so well.
Bush recalls the incident in an anecdote-filled book being released this week about his father, former President George H. W. Bush, called “41 - A Portrait of My Father.”
The elder Bush was a member of the House of Representatives from Texas in the late 1960s when he arranged a blind date for young George W. with Tricia Nixon. The son made his first-ever trip to the White House to pick her up.
“During dinner, I reached for some butter, knocked over a glass, and watched in horror as the stain of red wine crept across the table. Then I fired up a cigarette, prompting a polite suggestion from Tricia that I not smoke,” he wrote. “The date came to an end when she asked me to take her back to the White House immediately after dinner.”
Bush calls the book a “love story” about his father.
In it, he writes of the family’s concern when the elder Bush declared his intention to go on a parachute jump to mark his 90th birthday earlier this year. Asked what his birthday wish was as he prepared to jump, George H.W. Bush said: “Make sure the parachute opens.”
While the book is heartfelt in its praise, Bush writes that his father and White House staff should have been more active in explaining to Americans why he broke his “no new taxes” pledge as part of a 1990 budget agreement, an issue that hurt the Republican president among conservatives and was a factor when he lost his 1992 re-election bid to Democrat Bill Clinton.
“By taking the issue to the people, a president can build up public support and change minds in Washington. Unfortunately, George Bush did not do that for the budget agreement of 1990, and the bitterness that resulted from his broken pledge damaged his standing within the party,” Bush writes.
The elder Bush had a serious illness two years ago.
In December 2012, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. The family feared the worst and gathered at his bedside. The elder Bush put his hand on granddaughter Jenna’s pregnant belly and said, “There’s death and there’s new life.”
“We all left the room sobbing,” Bush writes.
Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller