Heading into the 1992 presidential election, President George H. W. Bush was hurting in the polls because of a slumping economy and his action of turning his back on a pledge he made at an earlier Republican convention: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” That’s the reason our paths crossed.

The president was trying to bridge relationships with taxpayers and tax group leaders and I was asked if I would put together a meeting with state taxpayer leaders and invite the president to speak to a meeting of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. I agreed and the meeting was set in a hotel at Universal City outside Los Angeles.

The pre-meeting with the taxpayer group leaders from around the state amounted to no more than a series of handshakes because a heavy fog that descended on the L.A. area. The president could not take his helicopter ride from Orange County where he had spent the night directly to Universal City so had to land at an alternative site. The motorcade procession took a long time and eliminated time for the meeting.

We then proceeded to the hotel ballroom where Bush addressed about 1000 members of the Jarvis Association. I introduced Gov. Pete Wilson who introduced the president. In the speech, Bush talked of reforms in education, welfare, health insurance and more. But because of the audience he emphasized tax and spend issues. “Government is just too big, and it spends too much,” he said. “I’m committed as strongly as ever to win more tax relief and reform. We need to lift the dead weight that punishes homeowners and prevents more investment and job creation…”

Ironically, Bush spoke just two days after the United States Supreme Court had declared California’s Proposition 13 constitutional, handing down its decision from a case heard months before. Bush noted the decision in his speech, “This was another tremendous victory for the rights of the taxpayer…”

President Bush’s most noteworthy accomplishments were in the field of foreign affairs by helping to end the Cold War and leading the coalition that protected Kuwait from Iraq’s invasion. He touched on the accomplishment of ending the Cold War at the conclusion of his speech when he spoke of the recent Washington summit hosting Russian president Boris Yeltsin. “Thousands of visitors joined Barbara and me on the White House lawn to welcome the first democratically elected President of Russia. And I just wish, really, that each one of you could have been there with us to share in that very special moment. That’s because it is patriotic people like you who helped make that moment possible.”

But in the end, despite his foreign affairs successes, Bush’s opponent Bill Clinton and his advisors were right, the election was about the economy and Bush was defeated.

Bush was  a statesman of character and a man of decency  as he showed many times including leaving a letter to the man who defeated him, incoming president Bill Clinton.

George H. W. Bush will be missed.