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President George H.W. Bush Has Died at the Age of 94; A Closer Look at the Bush-Clinton Relationship. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 1, 2018 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:28] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to CNN's special live coverage of the life and death of President George H.W. Bush.

I'm John King in Washington.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Dana Bash in Houston.

Today we're honoring the life of the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. He died late last night at the age of 94 just months after his wife's death.

He is being remembered as a humble man with a young heart, a war hero turned oil man, an accomplished politician on many, many levels.

But to those close to him, his most important role was family man. He was a father to six and has 17 grandchildren. His love story with Barbara Bush is one for the ages. Even in his last years of life, the former president said he was never scared of death.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't scare me. Used to. When I was a little kid, thinking about dying, I was scared, terrible. But when you get older, Larry, you know, you don't think about it a lot. I've got too much to do, too much to live for, too much happiness.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: No regrets about anything.

BUSH: No regrets about one single thing in my life I can think of. I made mistakes, but they don't measure up to regrets now.


KING: You may remember JUST a few months ago the touching cartoon of Barbara Bush reuniting with her young daughter Robin in heaven. After Barbara Bush's death, cartoonist Marshall Ramsey now has a new drawing. George H.W. Bush joining both of them, his plane sitting atop the clouds, with the words "We waited for you".

Joining me now, someone who knows the Bush family very well. CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel. You spent so much time with his family over the years, one of the few who would understand how Robin stayed with the Bush family decades after her death. George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush always considered her part of the family long after she was gone. What are we learning on this sad day?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So obviously for the family, even though he has been sick for a long time, and had these health challenges from Parkinson's, been in and out of the hospital -- this is a very, very sad, sad day.

And I think that even though they knew that his health was failing, you know, we all have denial about these things and he had rallied so many times.

And also his spirit was extraordinary. His family and staff would play a game with him every day. How are you feeling today? One to ten. He was never less than a seven. He always had extraordinary spirit. You know, up until the last, he wanted to go on.

He said to me not too long ago, "Jamie, I'm going to live to be 102 or maybe 104." So it is a hard day, though not unexpected. He was surrounded by some of his family in Houston.

Last night, Neil Bush, his wife Maria, grandson Pierce and also the man -- a lot of people say they're George Bush's best friends and they are -- but James Baker and his wife were there last night as well.

KING: And without a doubt the closest of the close friends --

GANGEL: Absolutely.

KING: If you go back. And Jim Baker, part of something you've reported on extensively which the legacy of this president -- underestimated president in many ways.

GANGEL: Extraordinary. I think one of the things, you know, we have some tape. We have a whole documentary tonight with those who were closest to him and a lot of former presidents, former Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

But let's -- I think we have tape here to look at of his legacy.


GANGEL (voice over): George H.W. Bush may have sat in the Oval Office for just four years, but his legacy will last for generations.

In foreign policy --

BUSH: This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.

GANGEL: Bush's coalition building during Desert Storm was unprecedented, uniting nearly 40 countries and ending conflict in a matter of weeks. A playbook for all presidents that followed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to know how to fight a war, take a look at the way how George Bush fought the first Gulf War.

GANGEL: The Cold War ended on his watch without a shot taken or a bomb dropped.

COLIN POWELL, PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: He didn't gloat because it would not be in his nature to gloat at someone else's misfortune.

GANGEL: That same diplomatic restraint also shown when the Iron Curtain collapsed.

[11:04:58] CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: On the day that the Berlin Wall came down, we all went over to the Oval Office to tell President Bush that he had to go Berlin.

GANGEL (on camera): You wanted him to go to Berlin.

RICE: I wanted him to go to Berlin.

GANGEL: And he said?

RICE: And he said what would I do, dance on the wall? He said this is a German moment. I thought the President of the United States just stepped back. This is a German moment.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he deserves credit for getting the world off in the right direction at the end of the Cold War. The Cold War being over was not an excuse to pack up and go home. It was an excuse to build a new world of cooperation.

Time will prove that he was right in wanting an integrated, cooperative world of strong security but lots of freedom, lots of democracy, lots of interaction between people.

GANGEL (voice over): On the domestic front, Bush is credited for improvements to the Clean Air Act and signing the Americans with Disabilities Act, critical legislation that revolutionized access for millions, including Bush himself when he suffered from Parkinson's in his final years.

PIERCE BUSH, GRANDSON: That community I think holds my grandfather up as a hero. He wasn't their likely hero. You know, they have all these big kind of liberal advocates that advocated for their movement, but my grandfather's the guy who got it done.

It is not just through things like wheelchair access but it's changing the culture of how people with disabilities, you know, can shine and let their abilities shine, and have jobs in places where they might not have jobs. So I think that's an awesome legacy.

GANGEL: Another legacy -- many will remember Bush for this.

H.W. BUSH: Just because you're an older guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner. Get out and do something. Get out and enjoy life. GANGEL: Bush did just that, jumping over and over and over again,

even for his 90th birthday.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the reason he did it is because he's got a young heart and that it's the thrill of the jump. And once he did it the first time, it became a natural for the next four, five times.

GANGEL: And while Bush 41 disliked the word "dynasty", no question he was thrilled --

GEORGE W. BUSH: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear --

GANGEL: -- when his oldest son became the 43rd president of the United States.

W. BUSH: He felt a sense of pride and I was grateful for that. I was happy that he was happy.

GANGEL (on camera): Did he give you any advice?

W. BUSH: No. No. And he was very guarded about giving me advice, unless I ask for it.

GANGEL (voice over): But for many, Bush 41 will long be remembered for what he did after the White House.

NEIL BUSH, SON: The family legacy isn't about who is president or first lady or governor. The family legacy is the legacy of service.

GANGEL: He turned a campaign vision into a post presidential mission statement.

H.W. BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler nation. Like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

GANGEL: That call prompted millions to volunteer. And Bush and wife Barbara did their part too, helping to raise an estimated $1 billion for charity.

JEB BUSH, SON: It does fit my dad's philosophy that the definition of a successful person is not just about how much money you make or the Ws in your column. It is about helping others, it's about acting on your heart.

GANGEL (on camera): Is there a phrase that you think embodies him?

N. BUSH: I would say it is service above self.

GANGEL (voice over): A legacy that led him to receive the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His life is a testament that public service is a noble calling. We honor George Herbert Walker Bush for service to America that spanned nearly 70 years.


KING: A lot of the kindness, Jamie, of the former president played out behind the scenes. You have inside information on a phone call. His son wins the presidency. The Supreme Court decides his son wins the presidency and George H.W. Bush calls Al Gore.

GANGEL: He was the first person to reach out to Al Gore and he called -- after Al Gore conceded in the recount -- not to gloat, but because he himself knew how painful it was to lose. And he said that to Al Gore.

And I'm told it was -- it's never really been discussed publicly -- a very emotional moment. Classic George H.W. Bush.

KING: Classic without a doubt.

Fantastic reporting. Jamie will be here through the day.

We have some new statements just in from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush appointee. The Chief Justice saying, "I'm saddened to learn of the passing of President George H.W. Bush. He was an extraordinary American patriot and fundamentally decent man. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the Bush family."

[11:10:00] And from Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush appointee to the court. "It is with deep and profound sadness that Virginia and I learned of the passing of President Bush. I was honored to be nominated by him to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States. Both he and Mrs. Bush were the essence of decency and kindness throughout the years. Virginia and I extend our thoughts and our prayers to the Bush family."


BASH: And President Bush leaves behind not only a rich political legacy but he was a war hero, devoted husband, patriarch to an American family dynasty, a man born into wealth who spent his life in public service.

And I want to bring in right now Jeffrey Engel who is founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, and author of several books on the life and legacy and career of George H.W. Bush, including his latest book, "When the World Seemed New".

Jeffrey -- thank you so much for coming here and joining me here in Houston.

You talked a lot in the last hour about the incredible amount of history that he helped guide in just the first half of his only term. But you had an important and unique insight into the man as somebody who was a co-author, and you interviewed him for your own books about him. Take us behind the scenes on what that was like. JEFFREY ENGEL, AUTHOR: You know, everybody who worked with President

Bush would say fundamentally the same thing which was he was fundamentally a gentleman. He thought about other people. He thought about what other people might need.

He was not necessarily a prima donna as you might expect a president to be. I'll tell one story. One time there was an event at Kennebunkport for some of the professors from the Bush School. And we were in the pool, suddenly realized we didn't have towels.

And who should walk up behind and say hey you guys need towels?. The former President of the United States carrying them.

BASH: Carrying --

ENGEL: You wouldn't think that a president would do.

BASH: -- a stack of towels?

ENGEL: Carrying a stack of towels and wanted to make sure we had what we needed. Just really friendly and nice as you can possibly hope --

BASH: You know, we talked a lot about his humility. But you know, you were really working with him to extract stories and information that probably contradicted that DNA that he has which is not to be braggadocious. We've heard that word so many times this morning. Was it hard to get him to talk about something?

ENGEL: It was hard, and it was actually hard also for another interesting reason, which was that George Bush lived his life through friends. He used to talk about when somebody became a friend, they were always a friend.

In fact the Bush Christmas card list was famously 25,000 people long.

BASH: Wow.

ENGEL: I believe they started working on it in January to make sure it was ready to go by December. And therefore, when you talk to the President about people who he had political rivals with or even foreign adversaries in many cases, once they had become a friend, once they had moved into a different category -- Mikhail Gorbachev being a great example -- he found it very difficult to talk about the times when they weren't friends because he kept coming back to the idea that well, you know, we're friends now.

BASH: Yes.

ENGEL: We're friends now. And it really just demonstrated that --


BASH: So getting him to talk about how his dog Milly had more foreign policy experience than Bill Clinton was probably difficult by the time you got to him --

ENGEL: Exactly.

BASH: -- due to the fact that the two of them were good friends.


BASH: Talk about his resume. Because -- so we're here in Houston. He represented this area in the House several decades ago --


BASH: -- for three terms.

ENGEL: Three terms.

BASH: Tried to get a seat in the Senate a couple of times and was defeated. But then did so many things. And his resume, modern day, of course, we think of this president, maybe vice president, maybe the father of a president but it is so rich.

ENGEL: You know, I really think you can argue that he has the single best pre-presidential resume of anybody who's been in the Oval Office.

We just start ticking it off. I mean not only was he a Congressman, he was director of the CIA. He was ambassador to the United Nations. He was director of Republican National Committee. And then, of course, as you mentioned vice president for eight years before coming into office. He really had an incredible wealth of experience.

In fact he ran for the Senate in the late 60s, really trying to turn Texas red in a sense. You know, this was still a blue state.

BASH: How quaint.

ENGEL: Yes. Still a blue state.

He was trying to be on the vanguard there, didn't quite make it. And that really set up the rest of his life because he went to the United Nations after that and really learned at that moment that he loved diplomacy.

And if he had not lost that election, we wouldn't have the diplomat George Bush. We might have had the Senator George Bush for many years perhaps. But not the man who really learned to think about the entire international system.

BASH: And when he lost, it was Richard Nixon that sent him to the United Nations, right.

ENGEL: Yes. In fact Nixon and -- and Nixon and he were actually quite close. Nixon and he were correspondents throughout the 1960s, even when some people didn't want to deal with Richard Nixon after his loss for the governor's race in California.

And Nixon came to Bush who, of course, was a congressman at that time and said if you run for the Senate, I will make sure if you don't get it, you'll be fine. We'll get you something. [11:15:03] He actually asked at that point to be, once Bush lost, he asked to be treasury secretary.

BASH: That's interesting.

ENGEL: Nixon said you're not qualified. But instead why not think about the United Nations and he's -- actually what's interesting is that Bush's best qualification for the United Nations in 1970 was that he didn't know anything about diplomacy. And therefore he would be willing to do whatever Henry Kissinger wanted him to do.

And that moment that Bush really was willing to make that deal, do exactly what I need to do, because it was a chance to learn.

BASH: It is so amazing to hear these stories about how single decisions for whatever reason things change. That he wasn't treasury secretary, he was ambassador to the U.N. and it opened up the world -- literally the world to him and changed the way the world worked.

Thank you so much. I'm going to get back to you later today.

And join CNN tonight as we honor the life and legacy of George H.W. Bush. We begin at 8:00 eastern with a special report "REMEMBERING 41".

KING: And coming up, from his life in the navy to the White House and beyond, President George H.W. Bush left an indelible mark on the many, many lives he touched.

Up next, we'll talk with one of his former speech writers about their time and their work together.


BASH: Welcome back. We are remembering the life and legacy of George H.W. Bush. The 41st president of the United States has died at the age of 94. He passed away overnight here in Houston after several months of declining health and a little more than seven months after his wife Barbara's passing at age 92.

During his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, he delivered a touchstone phrase that would become his volunteer foundation.


H.W. BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler nation. Like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.


BASH: Joining me now Is Mary Kate Cary, former speech writer for Bush 41 as we're calling him today and his family called him for sure. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Let's talk about that "thousand points of light" convention speech because he got some pressure to take it out. Tell us about that.

MARY KATE CARY, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Yes. I wish I could take credit for that speech because I think that was one of his best, certainly one of his best delivered speeches. The great Peggy Noonan worked with him on that speech.

And he had put that line in about a thousand points of light. And there was a fair amount of pressure on him from some of the campaign leadership to take it out. And they thought it was a nice thought but not something that was really a hardcore campaign sort of sentiment.

And he kept it in and then he used it again in his inaugural address. And then as time went on, he said more and more times inviting young people to join him in a life of meaning and adventure through service to others.

And one of the things I was instructed to put in just about every domestic speech that I wrote for him was from now on in America, no definition of a successful life -- excuse me -- any definition of a successful life must include service to others. And that has certainly come true across America -- Dana.

You look at the most successful people in our country and they all give back to their communities and are volunteers in some ways, whether they're wealth or not. It's all about giving back to others to make any difference in life as others.

And that phrase about, you know, any definition of a successful life must include service to others is written in marble now on the outside of his presidential library.

BASH: Right.

CARY: That's how important it was to him.

BASH: That's right -- not too far from here in Houston.

So as the speech writer for this man, what was it like given the fact he was very open about the fact that being an orator was not necessarily his greatest strengths particularly coming after the Great Communicator, literally coming after the Great Communicator Ronald Reagan.

CARY: Yes. I don't think I'm speaking out of school (ph) or anything, I think he'd be the first to say that he was not the great orator himself.

When we first got into office, he had a meeting with all the speech writers and researchers in the Roosevelt Room. And he told us this story that when he was vice president he got into a limo with President Reagan to go across town to an event.

And on the way, in the limo, one of his President Reagan's aides handed President Reagan the speech cards for the event. And the President sort of flipped through them, made a few notes, said thank you very much. And Vice President Bush turned around to him and said is that the first time you're seeing those? And President Reagan said yes, no problem. And his mind, Vice President Bush thought, this is not going to go well.

DN They got to the event, and of course, President Reagan hit it out of the ballpark. And now President Bush sits with us and says guys, never think that you can do that with me. Please do not do that with me. I want all speeches 48 hours in advance so I can sink my teeth into them and practice. And we abided by that.

There were many times where he would tell us to tone down some of the speeches that were a little more emotional. For example, if he had to go meet, you know, the remains of soldiers coming in to Dover, Delaware he would often take the speeches down a bit because he knew he would get very emotional and start crying.

President Reagan was able to do it, you know, because of the nature of his background where he could get through very emotional stuff much more easily. But part of that was because President Bush served his country as a soldier. And I think that, you know, as an airman and it think that affected his emotions when he was dealing with people that have given their lives for the country.

[11:25:00] BASH: And let's be honest, it's because the Bush men cry and there's nothing wrong with that.

CARY: Yes. That's exactly right.

BASH: Thank you so much. Yes.

CARY: My pleasure.

BASH: Mary Kate Cary -- thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CARY: Sure.

BASH: And President Bush's legacy is marked not just by the many lives he touched but also how he shaped the Republican Party.

Still ahead, how that legacy is still being felt today and how different it is today.

And outgoing Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted about President Bush. "President H.W. Bush was a man for all seasons, a war hero, statesman and affectionate family man. In our sadness today, we express our deepest condolences to the Bush family. We give thanks to God for the life of this patriot."



H.W. BUSH: Read my lips. No new taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Famous, even infamous words, from then Vice President George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Republican convention where he accepted the party's nomination. Those words would later come back to haunt him. Some may even say and he believed it, it cost him the bid for re- election when he broke that promise.

Joining me now CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. David was an adviser to President Bush in his 1980 presidential campaign. David, of course, also served under four presidential administrations.

David -- help us on this sad day. Put this president into context. Our last one term president, the first vice president since Martin Van Buren to be elected to the presidency. No easy task there.

His old congressional seat just flipped to the Democrats in Texas and yet, would George H.W. Bush have a place in today's Republican Party?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a very interesting question. I don't think he would be nominated in today's Republican Party. And it's even questionable whether Ronald Reagan would have been nominated in today's Republican Party. The party taken a pretty extreme turn to the right.

But as you know, John, so well, there was a split in the Republican Party that developed way back at the beginning of the 20th century when Teddy Roosevelt went off with a progressive more moderate wing and Taft stayed over on the conservative side.

And it went all the way through the century with the moderates represented by Wendell Wilkie, for example, in 1940 or Tom Dewey and then President Eisenhower was basically an East Coast lead establishment kind of group to George Bush's father, Prescott Bush who had such an enormous influence on George H.W. was a senator from Connecticut, moderate Republican, very close to the White House. General Eisenhower almost put him on the ticket in 1956. Again, almost got rid of Nixon for Prescott Bush.

But when -- in the Reagan White House, it was the conservatives who really took control of the party, and George H.W. Bush was in a wing of the party that was beginning to decline. So when he ran in 1988, he had some conservative opposition but he -- and to keep the conservatives on his side he made that pledge. You know, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

It was basically, you know, it was a bow to the conservatives. But it was a terrible mistake in retrospect because he locked himself in and when the deficits, you know, started growing so much, he felt obliged for the sake of the country to break that promise. And breaking that promise did cost him the election in 1992 -- reelection.

KING: It did. And yet -- and yet, and you don't see this often in the years since I would argue, a someone that was willing, knowing that he might be costing himself his career to do something he thought was best for the country.


KING: A life of contradictions. He got an economics degree from Yale and yet in 1992, the knock on George H.W. Bush was he didn't understand the country was in the middle of a recession.

Talk about the timing as a transitional figure in the sense, in part was he not in some ways unfamiliar with the changes in our culture, the TV age, if you will. That infamous moment in the Clinton-Perot debate where he looked at his watch. Put George H.W. Bush into context there.

GERGEN: George H.W. Bush belonged to a different generation, it didn't boast, it didn't hold itself forward. You know, his mom always told him you can't do that.

And he came out of this more patrician tradition and that shaped everything he did so that he was not who wanted to have a fight. I think when we talk about restoring civility today, he is the perfect example of the kind of model we ought to have about that.

But increasingly, you know, he belonged to an older generation. And the older generation -- I'm part of an older generation now -- you know, we don't click as well as we did 25 years ago with the younger generations coming up. We don't understand the references, the musical references and all of that.

I admire that in George H.W. Bush. I think he was true to himself. He was authentic throughout his life.

KING: David Gergen -- appreciate your thoughts. You'll be with us throughout the day, of course --

GERGEN: Thanks -- John.

KING: -- for more of the life and legacy of this great American hero. From political rivals to long-time friends, President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, yes they have a special bond, even though they ran against each other. More on that unlikely friendship just ahead.



H.W. BUSH: President Clinton beat me like a drum back in 1992 and then we became friends. And some of his friends look at him and they say have you lost it with this crazy guy? And some of mine look at it and they say just the same thing, what are you doing with Clinton?

[11:39:55] And just because you run against someone does not mean you have to be enemies. Politics does not have to be mean and ugly.


BASH: This morning we honor the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush. That, what you just heard, is case in point. One of the most complex and remarkable relationships in President Bush's life was with President Bill Clinton. On Clinton's inauguration day in 1993, he came across this handwritten letter from Bush at the White House.

It reads "Dear Bill: When I walked into this office just now, I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know that you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some presidents have described. There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair.

I'm not a very good one to give advice, but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well, I wish your family well. Your success now is our country's success. I'm rooting hard for you. Good luck, George."

Now remember this is a man writing to the person who's just defeated him and kept him from a second term in the White House. And that man, President Clinton wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post", calling his relationship with George H.W. Bush one of the greatest gifts of his life.

Here is Anderson Cooper with more on the two men who went from political adversaries to close friends.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In the 1992 presidential election, they were bitter political rivals.

The incumbent President --

H.W. BUSH: Character counts. You cannot make the White House into the waffle house. You cannot -- you cannot flip flop on all these issues.

COOPER: And the upstart governor.

CLINTON: When there is no national vision, no national leadership, no national direction -- a thousand points of light leaves a lot of darkness.

COOPER: The hard feelings from the election of 1992 already had begun fading for several years when an international disaster brought the two former presidents together.

The day after Christmas of 2004, a catastrophic earthquake struck near Indonesia, setting off tsunamis that killed nearly a quarter of a million people. Nearly two million more in 14 Southeast Asian countries were displaced.

W. BUSH: I asked two of America's most distinguished private citizens to head a nationwide charitable fundraising effort.

COOPER: When President George W. Bush asked his father and Bill Clinton to reach across party lines to lead a non-government relief effort, little did he know he was creating one of the unlikeliest friendships in politics.

The former presidents toured the disaster area and got to know one another.

H.W. BUSH: I've enjoyed working with President Clinton. We were political adversaries. The current president and he don't always see eye to eye on issues.

But that is not what's important. What's important and what's wonderful for us is really we're trying to help people.

COOPER: Their mutual admiration was clear for all to see.

H.W. BUSH: You should have seen him going town to town, country to country -- Energizer Bunny here would kill me.

COOPER: Later in 2005, another national disaster, Hurricane Katrina brought the former presidents back together, this time raising money to help their fellow Americans.

Former President Bush's book of published letters "All the Best" gives a deeper insight into the Bush-Clinton friendship.

CLINTON: May all of the Democrats forgive me this close to the election -- I love George Bush. I do.

COOPER: After that 2006 remark at an awards ceremony, Bush wrote to Clinton, "I so appreciated your words about our relationship, about our friendship. It was from your heart. I hope you know I feel the same way."

ANDREW CARD, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: They have become really great friends. In fact, almost like family.

COOPER: Clinton joked about it at the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library.

CLINTON: Starting with my work with President George H.W. Bush on the tsunami and the aftermath of Katrina, people began to joke that I was getting so close to the Bush family, I had become the black sheep son.

COOPER: American politics at its best -- one time rivals, working and laughing together and helping others.

Anderson Cooper, CNN.


KING: It was a remarkable relationship.

I want to take you now to Buenos Aires, Argentina. President Trump is at the G-20. He's meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel just moments ago, discussing his grief at the passing of George H.W. Bush, and a conversation with his son, George W. Bush.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President -- have you spoken to President George W. Bush?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I have and Jeb also. And I expressed deepest sympathies. Angela and I were just talking about it.

He was a wonderful man. You may want to just explain your little meeting with him. I found it very interesting.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: I was in the White House, visiting George Bush, and he is the father or one of the fathers of the German unification and we will never forget that.

[11:45:05] TRUMP: I found that very interesting. So we extended our best wishes. And he was -- he was a very fine man. I met him on numerous occasions. He was just a high-quality man who truly loved his family. One thing that came through loud and clear, very proud of his family and very much loved his family.

He was a terrific guy. And he will be missed. And he led a full life, and very exemplary life too, I will say.

We have decided, as you know, we're going to have a big press conference which I actually look forward to because we've made tremendous progress at the G-20 with many nations.

And we were going to have a very big press conference. And out of respect for President Bush, we have cancelled it here and we'll have it back in Washington at some time in the near future, sometime after the funeral service. Ok.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret any of your comments about the Bush family in the past?

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.



KING: President Trump there and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel paying tribute to former president, George H.W. Bush who died last night at the age of 94.

President Trump saying he spoke with both President George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, you'll remember a rival of President Trump in the 2016 campaign.

You heard Chancellor Merkel talk about President H.W. Bush's role in the reunification of Germany.

When we come back, President Bush left a lasting legacy in the United States and around the world. A closer look at how he shaped the new world order. That's next.


H.W. BUSH: I am pleased to announce that at midnight tonight, Eastern Standard Time, exactly 100 hours since ground operations commenced and six weeks since the start of Operation Desert Storm, all United States and coalition forces will suspend offensive combat operations.



BASH: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the incredible life of America's 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who passed away here in Houston at the age of 94.

KING: President Bush led the nation through a sweeping period of global change from the end of the Cold War through the war in the Persian Gulf. He was known as a steady hand and for a practical approach to foreign policy.

Joining us to discuss this now, CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, including George H.W. Bush's administration; CNN contributor Jill Dougherty who covered the White House for CNN before moving on run our Moscow bureau; and CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser who in the moment is writing a biography of President Bush's Secretary of State James Baker.

Aaron -- I want to start with you. You have an op-ed coming out where you called President Bush a president of a different age, even maybe from a different galaxy. What do you mean by that?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And I think it's true. In the end, John, it comes down to character. Let me just tell you a quick story I feel that (INAUDIBLE).

I'm a young intelligence analyst at State and are covering Lebanon and the Palestinians. One day sitting at my desk, the phone ring, White House sit room, hold. Next voice I hear the following.

Aaron, I know you're busy. This is Vice President George H.W. Bush here. I read one of your memos on Lebanon. I'm really sorry to bother you but I've got a lot of questions. Can we talk?

So 15 minutes later, I'm off the phone, thinking to myself this guy knows what he doesn't know. And he's in a hurry to find out. It's curiosity, John, and humility. And those two things are MIA these days. And it's a sad time but it's a reminder of what character and leadership in the presidency is all about.

KING: That's a great point. And in the cable business, we often focus on what a president does, the loud noises. As you work on the Baker biography, I think one of the things many younger Americans don't understand about H.W. Bush is what didn't happen is a big part of his legacy.

The Berlin Wall falls. There are Soviet nuclear weapons, chemical weapons all across eastern Europe. Everyone's wondering what's going to happen in the world. And nothing happened. That's part of the legacy, isn't it?


KING: I mean the world changed completely. I don't mean nothing happened but nothing bad happened.

GLASSEWR: George H.W. Bush did not want to spike the football. That was his phrase at the end of the Cold War. He understood very much that the cost of the peaceful break-up of Soviet Union and having that happen was so much more important than American triumphalism at that moment.

And I think that was his great gift was both restraint but also, he was a huge believer in actual diplomacy, in working with allies and partners to bring that to a soft landing.

And I think in that sense I was looking at President Trump. You know, it's not just that, that Trump is very un-Bush in his approach which, of course, he is. But he's in many ways the anti-Bush when it comes to foreign policy and this unilateralism. This was not something that was the approach that guided America through the end of the Cold War.

KING: And Jill, to that point, President H.W. Bush did not dance -- spike the football, as Susan put it about the end of the Cold War. Also, he didn't try to embarrass Gorbachev as this was happening. As Gorbachev was essentially allowing the Soviet Union to splinter And then George H.W. Bush is the first American president to then had to deal with the, shall we say, rather unpredictable Boris Yeltsin.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. That's very true. And I do think that that magnanimity at the end of the Cold War, his understanding of how difficult it was for Gorbachev was crucial.

[11:54:59] And Susan used the word, you know, no triumphalism. That was very, very important.

And I think also John, you know, I was thinking back to those days, December 25th, 1991 -- Gorbachev sits -- steps down from the presidency, it's the end of the Soviet Union.

I was standing at the front lawn doing a live shot in fact on that very day, and thinking why was George Bush able to manage that? He had personally, extraordinarily great experience. And he also created an amazing national security team. He knew the structure of government.

And these people coming together were able to manage what was the biggest threat, the end of the Soviet Union, and the reunification of Germany. That I think is an enormous accomplishment.

KING: Dana -- join the conversation from Houston.

BASH: I'm just listening to Jill. And I'm just thinking about, Jill, I remember when I first came to CNN, you were a White House correspondent and you had covered the 41st president but also you had this unique perspective that you were just talking about.

And the fact that you were Moscow bureau chief after that, you were a Russian expert, you speak Russian. And so from that perspective, talk about how the 41st president managed this in a way that, you know, it didn't have to turn out this way. It could have turned out, as John was just alluding to, very, very different, perhaps very bloody end of the Cold War.

DOUGHERTY: Right. Well, I think, you know, Bush had the experience also as CIA director. And so he knew intimately what the Soviet Union had, the disposition of its weapons, what was dangerous, how it could fall apart, how it could implode. So again, structurally, he knew the facts.

And then also his deft diplomacy, you know, toward the end, he actually let Gorbachev know that some of the harder comments that he's made about Russia and the Soviet Union were not what he wanted to do. He wanted cooperation. He wanted to manage this.

I think that understanding that Gorbachev had and the respect that those two men had right at the end for each other was crucial.

I was looking at what Putin today said. He called -- he mentioned the political wisdom of George Bush, the balanced decisions and also the constructive dialogue. And I think what Putin's saying there is, you respected us.

And if there's one thing that motivates Putin right now to be very truculent, it's that sense of not being respected. That somebody really did kind of just one person put it, dance on top of the Berlin Wall and rub it in. So that diplomacy, the personal nature and then the knowledge was very important.

BASH: Fascinating. Jill Dougherty, Susan Glasser, Aaron David Miller -- thank you so much. We'll be right back.


KING: Thank you for being with us. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the life and death of President George H.W. Bush.

I'm John King in Washington.

BASH: And I'm Dana Bash in Houston.

KING: The 41st president died late last night at the age of 94, just months after his wife's passing. He's being remembered today as a humble man with a young heart, a war hero turned oil man, an accomplished politician on many levels, from congressman to vice president, to president.