George H.W. Bush Inauguration

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NBC Nightly News
Tom Brokaw/John Cochran
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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At his 1989 inauguration, President George H.W. Bush pledges to bring down the national deficit and fight poverty and drug abuse. He also praises his predecessor, President Ronald Reagan.



"George H.W. Bush Inauguration." John Cochran, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 20 Jan. 1989. NBC Learn. Web. 2 April 2016.


Cochran, J. (Reporter), & Brokaw, T. (Anchor). (1989, January 20). George H.W. Bush Inauguration. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"George H.W. Bush Inauguration" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 01/20/1989. Accessed Sat Apr 2 2016 from NBC Learn:


George H.W. Bush Inauguration

TOM BROKAW: George Bush began his presidency shortly after noon today with an appeal to the American people to make his dream of a kinder, gentler nation come true. In a folksy, plain talk speech, the new president made it clear that the government can’t afford many new programs. His inaugural address followed his swearing in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Chief Justice WILLIAM REHNQUIST: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

President-Elect GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

REHNQUIST: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

BUSH: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

REHNQUIST: And will to the best of my ability.

BUSH: And will to the best of my ability.

REHNQUIST: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

BUSH: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

REHNQUIST: So help me God.

BUSH: So help me God.

REHNQUIST: Congratulations.

BUSH: Thank you.

TOM BROKAW: This was the day that George Bush has worked for much of his adult life, starting with his efforts to build up the Texas Republican Party more than 20 years ago, and NBC’s John Cochran reports tonight that the new president was determined to enjoy every moment of it.

JOHN COCHRAN: By the time George Bush left Blair House at nine, he’d been up more than three hours. His family said he was excited, but not nervous. At church, the Bushes heard a prayer for the kinder and gentler nation he has promised. Then, a final visit the White House as vice president. It was one of the friendliest transfers of power ever. And for George Bush, the drive to the Capitol completed a journey he began in his own mind 12 years ago, when he first thought seriously of running for president. But it was also Dan Quayle’s day.

Supreme Court Justice SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: So help me God.

Vice President-Elect DAN QUAYLE: So help me God.

O’CONNOR: Congratulations.

JOHN COCHRAN: The new president had warm words for the now former president, but Mr. Bush rejected some of the values often associated with Americans during the Reagan years, such as a preoccupation with wealth and personal success.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions, they are not the measure of our lives.

JOHN COCHRAN: President Bush promised to attack the problems of the homeless, of crime, of unwed mothers, but he said more government money is not the answer.

President GEORGE H.W. BUSH: We have a deficit to bring down. We have more will than wallet, but will is what we need.

JOHN COCHRAN: The solution, he said, is the voluntary help of ordinary Americans.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I’ve spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation doing good.

JOHN COCHRAN: Mr. Bush promised to continue the Reagan foreign policy, and said anyone helping to free American hostages will win his gratitude.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Assistance can be shown here, and will be long remembered. Good will begets good will.

JOHN COCHRAN: But the most clear cut promise from the new president was to win the war against drugs.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: And when that first cocaine was smuggled in on a ship, it may as well have been a deadly bacteria, so much has it hurt the body, the soul of our country, and there is much to be done and to be said, but take my word for it, this scourge will stop.

JOHN COCHRAN: And Mr. Bush offered hope of compromise with Congress.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: The American people await action. They didn’t send us here to bicker, they ask us to rise above the merely partisan.

JOHN COCHRAN: Repeatedly, Mr. Bush spoke of a new breeze of unity and bipartisanship, and that certainly described his lunch with congressional leaders. Mr. Bush borrowed a page from Jimmy Carter’s inauguration notebook, by walking along parts of the parade route. This is the sort of thing that gives secret service agents acid stomachs. But Mr. Bush did not totally ignore security. Whereas the Carter’s walked the entire route, the Bushes got in and out of their new $600,000 limo three times, making their movements unpredictable and safer. The Quayles also walked part of the way back to the White House. Only once did either of the Bushes move toward the crowd, and that was Barbara Bush giving NBC’s Willard Scott an unexpected kiss. The Bushes sat through the late afternoon cold until the last of the bands marched past, then time to go home, their new home. John Cochran, NBC News, the White House.