Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

BUSH, GEORGE W. (b. 1946)

In 2000 George Walker Bush was elected the forty-third president of the United States. He and John Quincy Adams are the only U.S. presidents whose fathers also achieved that high office.

Bush was born on July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of George Herbert Walker and Barbara Pierce Bush. At the age of two, he moved with his family to Odessa, Texas, and shortly thereafter to Midland. Following in his father's footsteps, he attended Yale University, graduating in 1968. He later earned a master of business administration degree from Harvard University in 1975. He served as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard between 1968 and 1973, and married Laura Welch of Midland in 1977.

Bush spent much of his early career in the oil and gas industry in Texas, although he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1978. In the late 1980s he worked as an adviser and speechwriter in his father's presidential campaign. After his father won the election, the younger Bush purchased the Texas Rangers professional baseball team.

In 1994 Bush ran for governor of Texas. He won the Republican nomination and defeated a popular incumbent, Democrat Ann Richards, in the general election. Bush was a popular governor, emphasizing welfare and education reform along with strong anticrime measures. He was easily reelected in 1998.

In the spring of 2000 Bush began campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. Turning back a strong challenge by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Bush won his party's nomination. He selected Richard Cheney, former Wyoming representative and U.S. secretary of defense, as his running mate. In one of the closest and most hotly contested presidential elections in history, Bush and Cheney defeated their Democratic opponents, Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman. For five weeks after Election Day, the outcome hung in the balance while allegations of ballot irregularities and flawed voting procedures were investigated in Florida, whose twenty-five electoral votes would determine the outcome. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bush's favor, and the Bush-Cheney ticket was elected with a margin of 271 to 266 in the Electoral College, despite the fact that Gore won approximately half a million more popular votes than Bush.

Bush was inaugurated in January 2001. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon soon provided a test of Bush's leadership. The administration's response to global terrorism, including military action in 2001 against the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, proved highly popular, and Bush's approval rating remained very high into 2003.

Fred M. Shelley Southwest Texas State University

Bruni, Frank. Ambling into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

Hatfield, James. Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. New York: Times Books, 1999.

Toobin, Jeffrey. Too Close to Call: The Thirty-six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election. New York: Random House, 2001.

Previous: Bush, George H. W. | Contents | Next: Civil Divisions of Government

XML: egp.pg.009.xml