WASHINGTON (CNN) - "Read my lips: No new taxes."
That famous phrase from George H.W. Bush came as he accepted his party's presidential nomination at the Republican National Committee convention in 1988.
At the time, it was exactly the red meat Republicans were looking for. But campaigning and governing are two very different things.
Bush was elected as the nation was slipping into a recession. When confronted with a growing national deficit, he had to find a source of revenue.
That revenue came in the way of raising taxes, a move that especially rankled members of the GOP and became an issue for Democrats to run on in 1992. Democrat Bill Clinton was swept into the White House.
Pushing forward to 2009, another president may have trekked onto the same territory.
On Monday, the White House sought to shoot down concerns that middle-class families may face a tax increase in order to combat rising deficits and a struggling economy after its two top money men floated the idea that tax increases to fund the nation's economic recovery could extend beyond the wealthiest Americans.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after former President George W. Bush seemed to criticize the Obama administration for departing from a number of his anti-terrorism policies, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back.
Asked about Bush's remarks during Thursday's press briefing Gibbs had a simple response. "We won," Gibbs told reporters.
In a vigorous defense of his own national security policies during a speech in Pennsylvania Wednesday, Bush appeared to take issue with the new administration's early decision to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.
"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," Bush said, according to a report by the Washington Times. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."
Gibbs said Thursday that the American people had made their own decision about battling terror.
"I think we've had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular – we kept score last November and we won," Gibbs said.
(CNN) – In his most critical comments to date of the Obama administration's policies, former President George Bush Wednesday warned against the nationalization of healthcare, government overreach in the country's financial system, and the potential effects of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said during a speech to business leaders in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the Washington Times. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he also said in the closed-door speech, according to the paper.
During the remarks — one of Bush’s first in the United States since leaving the White House - the former president commented on a wide-range of issues currently confronting the Obama administration, including the new president's push for universal healthcare.
"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."
Asked directly if he thought his successor was embracing "socialist" polices, Bush stopped short of weighing in one way or the other, instead saying: "We'll see."
(CNN) - It appears President Obama has to step up his reading pace if he wants to beat his predecessor in one particular measure: how many books a president can polish off a year.
In an interview with the BBC Tuesday, Obama said he is currently reading Joseph O'Neill's 270-page novel "Netherland," a book Obama first said he began back in April.
If Obama is close to finishing the novel, that puts him on less than a 10 book-a-year pace, far less than the close to 100 books President Bush was reportedly able to finish in the same amount of time.
According to former top Bush aide Karl Rove, he and the former president engaged in a friendly wager every year to see who could read more books.
In 2006, Bush read 95 books to Roves 110: a Herculean pace of nearly two books a week - in an election year to boot - for the ex-president. But, according to Rove, Bush's reading slowed a bit in the final years of his presidency, finishing a not-too-shabby 51 books in 2007 and at least 40 in 2008.
And if that's not impressive enough, Rove also said Bush found time to read the Bible "from cover to cover" every year.
While Obama may have had to put aside “Netherland” last month in favor of pages of court briefs with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, it nevertheless appears the president has some summer reading to do.
BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (CNN) – Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney's assertion that their enhanced interrogation program was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented future terrorist attacks.
In his largest domestic speech since leaving the White House in January, Bush told an audience in southwestern Michigan that after the September 11 attacks, "I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you."
Although he did not specifically allude to the high-profile debate over President Obama's decision to halt the use harsh interrogation techniques, and without referencing Cheney by name, Bush spoke in broad strokes about how he proceeded after the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in March 2003.
"The first thing you do is ask, what's legal?" he said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.' I can tell you that the information we got saved lives."
But Bush avoided the sharp tone favored by his former vice president in recent weeks, and went out of his way to stress that he does not want to disparage the new president.
"Nothing I am saying is meant to criticize my successor," Bush said. "There are plenty of people who have weighed in. Trust me, having seen it firsthand. I didn't like it when a former president criticized me, so therefore I am not going to criticize my successor. I wish him all the best."
The former president was speaking to nearly 2,500 members the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan. The format of the speech was changed at the last minute when Bush decided to answer questions directly from the audience members, instead of responding to pre-submitted questions provided to a moderator.
He didn't watch them.
A source close to Bush said the former president was traveling at the time, enroute to New Mexico where he is the keynote speaker Thursday night at a fund raising dinner for a scholarship program for students at Artesia High School.
(CNN) – Former President George W. Bush will throw out the ceremonial first pitch next week at the Texas Rangers' home opener against the Cleveland Indians.
The event marks the fourth time a president has thrown the first pitch of the Rangers' season, and marks Bush's second time on a Major League pitching mound. Former President Gerald Ford threw out the first pitch in 1976, George H. W. Bush did the honors in 1991, and George W. Bush followed his father's lead in 2000.
The Rangers hold a special place in the former president's heart: he was managing general partner of the Texas baseball team from 1989-1994, prior to his election as state governor.
(CNN) – Former President George W. Bush is writing a book focusing on defining decisions he's made in his personal and political life, a publishing house announced Thursday.
The book, tentatively titled "Decision Points," is to be published in fall 2010, according to the Crown Publishing Group. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
The book will focus on about 12 important decisions made by the former president. Topics will include his decision to run for president, his choice of his closest advisers, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina, the forming of his stem cell research policy, his decision to quit drinking, how he found faith and his relationships with his father, mother, siblings and wife.
(CNN) - Their public positions seemed largely in harmony for eight years, but George Bush and Dick Cheney are striking markedly different tones in their initial months away from the White House.
While the former vice president has been highly critical of the new administration - most recently in an interview with CNN's John King - the president has refrained from disparaging his successor, and is mostly ducking the national spotlight altogether.
Tuesday night, in his first appearance of any kind in more than eight weeks, Bush told a friendly audience in Calgary, Alberta it would not be productive to criticize President Obama right now, saying the new commander-in-chief "deserves my silence."
"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president told the audience, according to the Associated Press.
The president also told the invitation-only crowd a policy of isolationism and anti-free trade is not the path out of the current economic turmoil.
"It's the risk-takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession," the former president said, according to the Calgary Herald. "My message to policy-makrs is don't substitute government for the marketplace. Don't become protectionist. I'm a free-trader to the core."
But overall, the president's demeanor in front of a friendly crowd was described as jovial.
"This is my maiden voyage," he said in his debut address on the speaking circuit. "I can't think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada."
(CNN) - Former first lady Barbara Bush underwent heart surgery Wednesday at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, a hospital spokeswoman told CNN.
Jean Becker, chief of staff for former President George H.W. Bush, said that Barbara Bush, 83, was "fine" following the surgery.
"In fact, she is awake," Becker said.
"We, of course, naively wanted to keep it quiet - Mrs. Bush did," Becker said Wednesday night. "She thought there was too much fuss the last time."
Wednesday's surgery was not related to surgery she had in November for a perforated ulcer.
Her husband is with her in the hospital, where she is expected to remain for seven to 10 days.
"I am very impressed with and grateful to the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at The Methodist Hospital who have helped Barbara," the former president said. "We have every confidence she is in the best hands."