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Bush Speaks at Portrait Unveiling

Aired January 4, 2002 - 10:59   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get started a little bit early on the hour, and start with the president refocusing his plan to rescue the economy from recession. With the new unemployment rate closing in on 6 percent today, the president plans a broad new push for his stimulus package.

You're looking at a live picture right now of Austin, Texas. The president due to walk into the Capitol. Sounds like he's walking in.

And there you see the president. Looks like Mrs. Bush -- yes, she's with him as well. They're there for the unveiling of his official portrait from the days when he was governor of Texas.

We also expect the president to make a few comments. He is coming in on the end of his vacation in Crawford, Texas -- came in from the ranch.

Our Kelly Wallace is in Crawford. We're working on getting her.

The president will make these comments. He's also getting ready to take a trip. He's headed to the West Coast tomorrow, and going to California and Oregon, once again, to be pushing that economic stimulus package.

We'll go back to the president when we see that portrait unveiled and when we hear his comments. Let's, meanwhile, get some other news in for you, starting with military news. And a B-52 -- actually, we do have Kelly Wallace.

Kelly, you're with us from Crawford. The president is...


KAGAN: The president is in Austin, Texas. Tell us -- give us a little preview of the kind of comments we might hear him make today, Kelly.

WALLACE: Well, Daryn, what we're going to hear -- you see, obviously, Governor Perry, the current governor of Texas is expected to speak...


WALLACE: ... over the summer by an artist based in Fort Worth, Texas who visited with the president a little bit and created this portrait. It will be to honor the president who, as we know, served for six years as governor of Texas.


KAGAN: Sounds like we're having a little bit of trouble with Kelly's audio coming from Crawford, Texas.

Let's just go ahead and listen in to Governor Perry of Texas, and we'll check back with Kelly in a moment.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Now more than ever the American people are seeing what kind of man George W. Bush is. He's a leader of firm resolve, strong conviction; a man of integrity, vision, heartfelt words. He loves America and the freedom upon which this nation was founded.

And as long as he leads our country, the American people can take great comfort that this nation will not tire in the pursuit of justice and in the preservation of liberty.

Of course -- but none of that's new to us. We already new that. Because those were the exact qualities that made him a tremendous governor for six years.

Mr. President, as we unveil your portrait today in this historic rotunda, it will become a permanent reminder to all who walked these halls of a man who governed with civility, with compassion, and with tremendous character. We're proud of what you accomplished as governor and how you have led this nation for the past year.

At this point, I'd like to invite the artist, Scott Gentling, a native or Fort Worth whose handiwork produced this great portrait, and the first lady of the United States, Mrs. Laura Bush, to come forward and unveil it.



I'm so thrilled to be here. George and I are so excited to be back here with so many friends, right here in our state's capital. And I say "our," because although we live in Washington, D.C., Texas is a part of who we are and the Lone Star State is always in our hearts.

When I see the white dome of our nation's Capitol, I'm often reminded of this beautiful pink granite building, and my thoughts turn to the wonderful experiences we had here, where we spent so much time. We have many happy memories, and I'll share one of them with you.

Down in the capital extension, where my office was, I hosted receptions to launch exhibits of the works of Texas artists. Our staff, legislators and their staffs, members of the media, and even a few of the people who are here today would take a break from the routine to come down for cookies and coffees, and of course to meet the artist.

The office is a small area that was often packed with people and art, and for one of our receptions we even managed to squeeze in a mariachi band. We showed everything, from charcoals to sculpture, from antique radios turned into fish tanks to a display of radiant water colors.

And, two of the artists we featured were Scott and Stewart Gentling, and in fact their very important collection of the prints of Texas birds are still found in the governor's offices in the old insurance building elevator lobbies on each floor.

When my husband first moved in to the governor's office, we worked with Bonnie Campbell and Ally Turley (ph) and the Preservation Board to set up his office. Later, we worked with the Preservation Board to acquire Texas historic art for the capitol building.

And I'm very grateful to the Preservation Board and to Jan Bullock and to Nelda Laney and to Alice Carrington for their help on this special project to collect historic works for our capitol. I'm proud to say we were able to acquire some very fine early Texas paintings.

And I'm thrilled today that we're adding another painting to this historic capitol collection, this portrait of my husband. Scott Gentling shows the president, in this wonderful portrait, with his warmth and his resolve. This is the way I've always seen him and as America and the world are coming to know him. These qualities of character are rooted here in this place and its people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to introduce my favorite Texan, the president of the United States, my husband, George Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you all. That you very much. Thank you all very much. OK. Thank you.

Thank you, Laura.

You need to know I listen to her every day.


G. BUSH: Whatever success we've had it's because she's constantly telling me what to do.


G. BUSH: I'm proud of Laura, and I can't tell you what a great job she has done for America. You know that yourself. But she brings such a steadiness and a calm resolve, and I'm really proud of her.

(APPLAUSE) G. BUSH: I want to thank the governor and the first lady. Thank you all very much for your hospitality. It's great to see the lieutenant governor and Sally, the speaker and Nelda. It's good to see you all.

And I can't help but notice that my friend Jan Bullock is here as well. Jan, thank you for coming.


G. BUSH: We've got all kinds of dignitaries here. And I want to thank you for taking time out of your day to come and witness my hanging.


G. BUSH: Fortunately, it's my portrait.

I am particularly pleased to be here with the artist. Now, I was somewhat concerned when Laura told me that Gentlings were famous painters of birds.


G. BUSH: But they would make time to paint my picture.


G. BUSH: Pretty tough old bird here to paint, wasn't I?


G. BUSH: But I appreciate, Scott, your taking time to try to figure me out. It's a real pleasure for me to work with you. I know it was a challenge on your part. But it looks like you did me justice, and I thank you.

And it's also good to see your brother Stewart.

The Gentlings are part of a really fantastic artistic community we have here in Texas. These guys may seem a little odd when you meet them upstairs, but they're really good at what they do.


G. BUSH: I got to tell you, I was talking with Bomer last night, and we started laughing about all the wonderful times we had in this building.

And as I look around the room, I see many who helped make that happen. This was a joyous six years for us here. It kind of reminds me of what Harry Truman said. He said, "I tried never to forget who I was or where I'd come from and where I was going back to." And that's what this capital says to us. And so does Crawford, by the way. It's our home. One of the things that happened here is that we made a lot of friends. You know, sometimes in politics friends are just a fleeting memory, but that's not the case for us. Our friends are permanent parts of our life. We don't view such things as political friends. You're either our friend or you're not our friend, no matter what your politics are like.

That's why we have got such fond memories of working with Pete and Nell Delaney (ph). Oh, I know he's got the Democrat label, but somehow our relationship transcended that. And the same with Bullock.

And I can't help but chuckle about our breakfasts that we used to have in this building, Pete, with Bullock. I'd like to share some of the stories with the people watching on C-SPAN.


G. BUSH: But, unfortunately, I can't repeat them in mixed company.


G. BUSH: But the truth of the matter is, whether it be the speaker or Bullock or Jenelle (ph) or others, from both parties, we came in this building with one desire: to do what's right for Texas. We've got political labels around our name, no question about it, but we made up our mind to try to figure out what was best for our state and to work together.

And so I went up to Washington with a wonderful sense of being able to get things done because of my relationships and my experience here in the state capital.

I still believe that can happen, but sometimes Washington needs to figure out that politics isn't what's most important, the people are what's most important.

And so I'm going to take that can-do Texas spirit to Washington for however long I'm there and remind people that results are matter -- results are what matters, not rhetoric; remind people that if you're willing to share credit, if you're willing to tell the other person that you're going to succeed as well, amazing things can happen; and remind people that our country, just like our state, is much bigger than the political process. Those are the lessons I learned here in this state capital.

I also learned you cannot succeed without a good team around you. There's no such thing, in my judgment, as a one-man band when it comes to politics or being the governor or being the president of the United States. You're only successful if you're able to convince a lot of good folks to join on the team and to empower them to achieve the common objectives. And that's exactly what we did here in Austin.

I think history will show that the staff of Governor George Bush was one of the greatest staffs ever assembled. You should be applauding because you're the ones who were on the staff in this room. (LAUGHTER)


G. BUSH: We had fun, we got some positive things done for Texas, we worked hard, and it was the memories that I'll never forget. And so I want to thank you all who worked on our team.

It should be noted that many of them who were on this team moved to Washington -- Pinkie (ph) Allbaugh...


G. BUSH: He's not here so I can say it.


G. BUSH: Karen, of course. Karl Rove. Gonzales. I see Al's here, the chief attorney. Margaret Spellings; she's got a new last name now. Those of us who know her husband are somewhat amazed.


G. BUSH: Albert Hawkins. Harriet Miers.

These are all the folks that I rely on. These are people who've got great judgment and care deeply about our country, and America is really better off by the fact that they decided to make a huge sacrifice, leave their beloved state, and go to Washington, D.C.

We also have got a lot of others up there that many of you knew. Ashley (ph). Izzy (ph). Logan (ph). Such an honor for Logan (ph) to know that we named one of our cows after him that was recently born.


G. BUSH: Margaret Wilson (ph) and Stuart Bowen and Vickers Meadows (ph). Pat Wood.

These are all folks we worked together here in Austin who are now serving our nation, and I truly believe America is better off as a result of the influx of Texans who showed up.

I always will remember -- and this painting helps remind me of the fact that all of us were a part of a larger story, a story much bigger than ourselves. Many have come before us, and many will follow.

Mine is just one of 46 portraits in this dome, and I'll always be in good company here. It is amazing for me to think, when I step back and think this will be hanging here forever, along with J. Pinckney Henderson.

I didn't know Henderson very well.

(LAUGHTER) G. BUSH: But I did read about Sam Houston or John Connolly and the first Texas governor I ever knew, Allan Shivers.

It's an honor to be hanging with these men. It's also amazing to think that it'll be here for a long, long time. And I just hope Governor Richards doesn't mind being my neighbor for eternity.



G. BUSH: I want to thank you all for coming. It's a day I've really been looking forward to for a long time. We look forward to seeing you upstairs for the little coffee we're having.

Again, I remember you. I won't forget Texas. It's a huge honor to by the president, by the way. But one of these days I'll be back, settled in, sitting on my porch in Crawford, looking for somebody to come and recount old war stories with.


G. BUSH: May God bless you all.


KAGAN: A bit of a chance there to go down home with President Bush. He's at the state Capitol, Austin, Texas. They unveiled his portrait today from back in the day when he was governor of that state. As you can tell, he still carries a place in his heart for a lot of the people he worked with and for when he was governor of Texas.

He heads back to the ranch in Crawford, and then tomorrow heads to the West Coast. He goes to California, Oregon, beginning to push his economic stimulus plan as the work goes on as president.




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