George Bush photo

Address in Houston Accepting Election as the 41st President of the United States

November 08, 1988

I have just received a telephone call from Governor Dukakis. And I want you to know that he was most gracious. His call was personal, it was genuinely friendly and it was in the great tradition of American politics.

And we can now speak the most majestic words a democracy has to offer The people have spoken. And with a full heart and with great hopes, I thank all of the people throughout America who have given us this great victory.

And I thank Ronald Reagan. I thank him for turning our country around and for being my friend and for going the extra mile on the hustings. It was just like him. He is simply one of the most decent men I have ever met.

I want to thank my friend, my running mate Dan Quayle and his family. And they have shown great strength under fire, campaigned incessantly, and I am proud of him and proud of his family.

I want to thank my great friend, Houston's son, Jim Baker, and our campaign chairman, Lee Atwater, and the men and women of the campaign, the national staff, the RNC, all of our state chairmen and chairwomen, and all of the organizations and the political clubs, and I especially thank the young people who were always up at night putting up the signs, the people at those telephone banks and the ones who canvassed door to door.

And there's a large gathering of volunteers right now at the Washington Hilton and, folks, my heart is with you and many, many thanks for all you've done from our nation's capital.

And I want to talk to you about my family. Fact is, I'd be nothing without them, our four sons, our daughter Doro, and my own Barbara Bush and I guess—I guess I shouldn't say she's my own anymore, for soon she'll be the First Lady of all the United States.

And I—I thank God for the faith he's given me, and as I grow older, as I grow older, I'm more aware of the spiritual element in life and I ask for God's help.

And I thank—and I thank, the men and women of Texas, there are people, people right here I recognize and started out with me in politics with me in 1962, and you never lost faith, you never left me and you're a source of my strength.

And this is a moving night for all of us, and you can't help but be moved, when your country endorses your hopes, and your candidacy, and the feelings are so personal. But the decision is larger than that, and now we will move again, for an America that is strong, and resolute in the world, strong and at home. And when I said—when I said I want a kinder, gentler nation, I meant it. And I mean it.

A campaign—a campaign is a disagreement, and disagreements divide, but an election is a decision, and decisions clear the way for harmony and peace, and I mean to be a president of all the people, and I want to work for the hopes and interests, not only of my supporters, but of the governor's and of those who didn't vote at all. To those who supported me, I will try to be worthy of your trust, and to those that did not, I will try to earn it. And my hand is out to you, and I want to be your president, too.

But I, I think I know how Governor Dukakis feels—lost a few along the way myself, and it hurts. But we both went into the arena and we fought long and hard. The governor can take great satisfaction in the fact that his valiant family—Kitty and Kara and Andrea and John—did him proud. And now, and now I know that we'll come together as we always have, 200 years of harmony in the oldest, greatest democracy in man's time on Earth.

And I—and I've traveled many miles and reached for many hands. And it's occurred to me that what we were having, the people of America and I, was a conversation, a back and forth, a mutual dialogue, and it cannot go away. Not now, not when I need it most. And so I mean to keep the conversation going, to keep walking towards you, talking with you, and reaching for the hands. And another thing, I'll do my level best, to reach out and work constructively with the United States Congress.

And a final word—and a final word about what you mean to me, my friends in this room, every time Barbara and I come to Texas, it's a homecoming. We were young here, started out here 40 years ago, summer of '48, worked in the oil fields, and you know, started a business, and went into politics. Forty years. Forty years of work and caring and friendship and now I'm going to take that love and friendship.

It's all right here in this room, put it in my pocket, take it with me to Washington, D.C., where it's sometimes cold, but always gracious, and where God knows there's lots of work to do. So thank you, God bless you. And one other thing, once in days that were a little darker, I made a promise, and now I'll keep it.

Thank you New Hampshire, thanks for everything, and God Bless America.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you all.

George Bush, Address in Houston Accepting Election as the 41st President of the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project