George H.W. Bush was too moderate for the GOP base

The iconic moment was when Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge, of course, but that was far from the only trouble between Bush ’41 and the GOP base. Many conservatives were put off by his call for a “kinder, gentler nation,” the implication being that America during the Reagan years was somehow unkind or mean-spirited…

The Bush ’41 administration also undid a great deal of the deregulation of the free-market Reagan years, adding so many new rules that President Bush himself felt the need to issue a 90-day moratorium on new regulations in 1992.

And then there was Bush’s call for a “new world order” after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sure, it might have been the right geopolitical move, but it was a notion that never sat well with the “America First” wing of the GOP.

Add it all together, and President Bush all but invited a primary challenge—which he got from an unlikely source. Pat Buchanan, a newspaper columnist and TV talking head, threw is hat in the ring, representing (he claimed) the real Reagan legacy. Running on the tax issue and concerns about job losses from unfair foreign trade (sound familiar?), Buchanan got nearly 40 percent of the vote in the 1992 New Hampshire primary.