George H.W. Bush was decent even to rivals like me

On a Wednesday morning in the United States Senate in February 1984, I was voting against President Ronald Reagan’s plan to renew funding for the B-1 bomber, as I recall. The vice president was in the Presiding Officer’s chair to cast the tiebreaker if necessary.

George H. W. Bush beckoned to me as the clerk was calling the roll. The night before, my campaign for the Democratic nomination for president had scored a somewhat stunning upset in the New Hampshire primary.

“That was amazing what you did last night,” he whispered as reporters in the press gallery eagerly looked down on this scene. He wanted to know the next contest, and I told him the Maine caucuses were coming in a week or two.

“Barb and I have a house in Maine, and you’re welcome to use it while you’re campaigning there,” he said. Shocked, I politely reminded him that I was campaigning for his boss’s job and thus, indirectly, for his, and that it might cause him some awkwardness.