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President George H. W. Bush Has Died at the Age of 94; Remembering the Life and Legacy of President George H. W. Bush; Stock Market Will Close Wednesday to Honor Bush; Trump Meeting with World Leaders in Argentina. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired December 1, 2018 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST, WASHINGTON: 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.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR, HOUSTON: And President Trump just spoke about the passing of George H. W. Bush at the G20 Summit in Argentina going on right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, have you spoken to President George W. Bush?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Yes. I have and to Jeb also. And I expressed deepest sympathies.

Engel (ph) and I, we're just talking about it; he's a wonderful man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And President Trump went on to say, "He led a full life and a very exemplary life."

Now former presidents are also reacting, President Barack Obama says, "America has lost a patriot and a humble servant."

And former President, Bill Clinton, who defeated George H. W. Bush said, "A few Americans have been or ever will be able to match President Bush's record of service to the United States."

But to those close to him, his most important role, was a husband and a father, and a grandfather.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Give me some words to describe your father?

JEB BUSH, SECOND SON FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH & FORMER 43RD GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: My dad is just the kindest person.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, GRANDSON OF DECEASED, FORMER, PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH: He's been an extraordinary role model. I mean I can't -- it's hard for me to be objective. I honestly believe he's as close to perfection as any person I've ever met.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL BUSH, THIRD SON FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH: If everybody was like George Herbert Walker Bush, in trying to find the best in others, and trying to lift other people up, just in personal relationships, the world would be a way better place than it is today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You've said, "he inspired you," how so?

JEB BUSH, GRANDSON OF DECEASED, FORMER, PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Well throughout my life, an amazing man who is absolutely selfless and it inspired me to teach in inner-city high school after college. He inspired me to think about public service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We had gone to the inaugural parades. I decide I was going to see what it's like to be in the Oval Office as president and I was in there taking in the moment and dad walks in. I said, "Welcome, Mr. President." He said, "Thank you, Mr. President."

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: What would you like people to remember and know about him as a person?

GEORGE W. BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That this gentle soul could enter in one of the toughest arenas in life and remain a gentle person.

He's a war-time president who conducted himself with great honor; earned the respect of the troops; he could get along with people from the other party; that he never put his own self-interest ahead of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That quiet dignity.

Jamie Gangel, our Special Correspondent joins us; you see Jamie's interview there with members of the Bush family. You've spent so much time with his family over the years and that is what they say about their dad, just this quiet, leadership, dignity, grace, kindness, on this sad day. What do we know the Bush families going through? GANGEL: So he -- a true role model. You know, to have three sons speak about you...

KING: (inaudible).

GANGEL: ... that way, tells you everything you need to know...

KING: Amen (ph).

GANGEL: ... about the man, in addition to what we saw in public.

Obviously, this is a very hard day for them. They knew it was coming because of his health but it's -- it's always a shock when you finally get there and I think we have some more tapes. You know, there's endless fascination about father and son; each of them used to say to me, "Don't ask me about the relationship; we don't do psychobabble in this family."

But we had an opportunity to talk to President George W. Bush, 43, about his father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: Give me some words to describe your father?

GEORGE W. BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Humble; driven; competitive; under -- willing to listen to the other person, he's a great listener; thoughtful; and a person who cared deeply about others who hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One of the more very dramatic moments for me came on September the 14th, at the National Cathedral that I was very fearful of bursting out in tears and the country didn't need to see a weeping president, get -- he finished his speech and went back to the pew and sat down. And I felt his hand reached across Laura and grabbed my arm. This was a small gesture but it meant a lot to me. It was a very sweet moment of fatherly love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: You know, they were very sensitive people...

KING: (inaudible).

GANGEL: ... would say to 43, "Did your father give you advice?" He said, "Only when I asked for it," but we talked about that because I asked him, "what his favorite moment was, was there a picture?" And that moment after 9/11, in the National Cathedral, where he just touched his...

KING: Wow. GANGEL: ... hand tells you everything you need to know...

KING: I remember...

GANGEL: ... about that...

KING: ... that moment...

GANGEL: ... relationship.

KING: ... in those horrible, horrible, trying days of the country, the quiet competitiveness is what jumps out.

George W. Bush you know, owned a baseball team, showed his competitiveness, he was outward (ph) everyday, it was -- it was a visceral reflective thing for W, for George [12:05:05] H. W. Bush, you didn't see it but it was just as fierce, the competitiveness.

GANGEL: Absolutely. Was he humble? Was he a gentleman? Was he classy? Yes. But you don't get to be president without...

KING: Right.

GANGEL: ... being competitive and without being ambitious but he didn't wear it on his sleeve. As his mother would say, "Don't be a braggadocio," those were the words that he lived by but no question, you know, where you saw it outwardly? In sports.

KING: Right.

GANGEL: Don't play Tanner, don't beat him at tennis, don't you know, play golf, he was absolutely...

KING: Right.

GANGEL: ... driven and competitive.

KING: To that point I was checking in like you did constantly on his health, but just a couple of months ago and his longtime spokesman Jim McGrath told me that he's looking forward to his Houston Astros beating my Boston Red Sox.

GANGEL: There you go.

KING: It turned out that way but that's what George H. W. Bush was, he was always competitive about...

GANGEL: Right.

KING: ... his sports teams.

Thank you so much...

GANGEL: Sure.

KING: ... for your great reporting. We'll see you throughout the day.

George H. W. Bush's political career spanned four decades. He preferred to keep his message civil but his campaigns often turned ugly. How did he change politics? Here's a look back, George H. W. Bush, the politician.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the defining promise of his presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Read my lips...

REPUBLICAN CONVENTION: NO NEW TAXES.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: ... "No New Taxes."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was his 1988 Republican Convention Speech.

Just two years later during the buildup to the Gulf War, he broke it, knowing it would infuriate conservatives and perhaps cost him his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As we speak, our nation is standing together against Saddam Hussein's aggression. But here at home there's another threat, a cancer, gnawing away at our nation's health, that cancer is the budget deficit.

The only thing wrong...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All his political people said, "don't raise taxes" but President Bush was convinced he had to. He put the country ahead of his own political standing, agreeing in the end to a compromise that included about three dollars in cuts for every new dollar in taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There comes a time when you have to simply make tough decisions, give a little to get what is best for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you do the math, you don't get the Clinton-era balanced budgets without the Bush-era tax compromise. Conservatives revolted and the Bush team believes that broken promise was a big reason he lost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: (inaudible) America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Bush had many stops on his path to the presidency, he was the last World War II veteran to win the White House.

He served a couple terms in Congress, lost a couple of U. S. Senate races, and was Republican Party chairman during the wilderness years of Watergate.

He decided to challenge Jimmy Carter in 1980 but an incumbent president wasn't his biggest problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, DECEASED, FORMER, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am paying for this microphone Mr. Green.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite winning the Iowa caucuses, Bush couldn't sustain what he called, "The Big Mo," as in momentum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, DECEASED, FORMER, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he lost the nomination to Ronald Reagan.

When Reagan couldn't convince former President Gerald Ford to join the ticket, he turned to Bush who accepted.

Despite eight loyal years as vice president, a third-place finish behind Bob Dole and Pat Roberts, and in Iowa, nearly derailed Bush's 1988 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have many friends to thank tonight...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time he locked up the nomination, Bush was 17 points behind the democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Three months ago, I remember some of the great publications in this country had written me off...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush and his allies made up the ground by attacking "Dukakis' too liberal, soft on defense," they said, "and soft on crime."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His revolving-door prison policy gave weekend furloughs to first-degree murderers not eligible for parole.His

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One was Willie Horton who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strategy worked. In Dukakis lost 40 states and Bush was president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Good to see you fellas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how you're doing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush was immensely popular after the 1991 Gulf War but the glow faded fast, by 1992 voters were frustrated with the sour economy and impatient with the president who at times seemed out of touch with their concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives?

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If the question -- if you're -- maybe -- I won't get it wrong. Are you're suggesting that if somebody has -- means that the national debt doesn't affect them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm saying...

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm -- I'm not sure that I get it. Help me with the question and I'll try...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... Well...

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: ... to answer it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS PEROT, THE FOUNDER OF THE ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORPORATION; INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CANDIDATE 1992; THIRD PARTY CAMPAIGN CANDIDATE 1996, ESTABLISHING THE REFORM PARTY: How are you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Businessman Ross Perot was rich enough to mount a third-party challenge, and a young Democrat with the best political skills of his generation...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Wherever the seeds of freedom are sprouting, we can (ph)...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... could look members of the debate audience in the eye and feel their pain.

But as time moves on, George Herbert Walker Bush, who will be remembered more kindly than the voters treated him, in 1992.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And the tributes continued to pour in for former President George H. W. Bush. The late 41st President died last night, here in Houston, at the age of 94 and he passed away after several [12:10:03] months of declining health.

Bush and his family had deep connections to the state of Maine, he was a life-long, seasonal resident of the famous Kennebunkport where he would spend time boating and golfing, and a lot of quality time with his family.

And joining me now is the Republican Senator from the great state of Maine, Susan Collins.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me now. Let's just talk about you -- his relationship to Maine and how you experienced that, I think we have some photos of the two of you on that iconic, Walker's Point, with all the rocks behind you, there you go, with the -- with the compound behind them as well. Talk to us...

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: (inaudible)...

BASH: ... about what Maine meant to him?

COLLINS: Maine meant so much to President Bush. I firmly believe that he was determined to get to Maine this summer after Barbara Bush had passed away, a few months earlier and I know that his doctors were not real keen on his traveling but he had to get back to his beloved state of Maine.

I believe that he spent every summer, of his life in Maine, except when he was serving our country in World War II, that is indicative of how much the state and its people meant to him.

BASH: And Senator as I hear you talk, thinking about the fact that you now are a rare breed; you are a New England Republican, moderate Republican. You are a George H. W. Bush-Republican. He -- I am here in Houston, he you know, served here in Houston, he lived here in Houston but his heart and his DNA was a New England moderate.

What is it like marking his passing and perhaps the passing of that part of the party with the exception of you?

COLLINS: Well, there are more of us left than it may seem; I think of Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts but there's no doubt that President Bush was a real role model to me and to many others who went into public service.

First of all, he always did what he thought was right regardless of the political consequences. He worked across the aisle. He became friends with President Clinton despite having been beaten by President Clinton. He was always one who reached out whether it was to other countries or to Democrats, in -- when it was in the interest of good public policy, and in America's interest for him to do so.

He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people, I have ever met in my life. Every single year he invited me to visit with him and Mrs. Bush at Walker's Point in Kennebunkport and indeed I saw him this year just a little over two months ago, in September, from what I had a feeling it would sadly be our last visit but even with is declining health he had this zest for life, and this passionate interest in what was going on.

And he was always so kind and loved having visitors and I was just so honored that I had that opportunity to spend that hour with him as he would occasionally, despite his decreased mobility, looked out over the beloved ocean and the waves crashing on the rocks at Walker's Point.

BASH: And he liked the gossip. He's not alone in politicians you know, wanting to learn the inside scoop on what's really going on in Washington particularly those who have been in the bubble like the presidency. Did he like to get the -- get the real scoop from you?

COLLINS: He did like to get the inside scoop. I think that's a quality that's probably almost everyone who's in public life shares and -- but he did relish knowing what was going on; he would ask after specific people, and he just enjoyed the stories of Washington. He lived such an interesting life. I think a lot of times, and I love the retrospective that you're doing but a lot of us need to be reminded that his career included not just eight years as vice president and a term as president [12:15:08] of our great country but also that he was a special envoy to China; he was the director of the CIA; he was a member of the House of Representative; he truly dedicated his life to public service and he's a great role model to those of us serving today and those who'll serve in the future.

BASH: In the couple of seconds, we have left before our break, Senator, tell us something that he said to you with regard to advice that you have taken with you?

COLLINS: To do what in your heart you know, is right.

I first met President and Mrs. Bush back in 1994, when I was running for governor of Maine and they invited me for lunch at their home at Kennebunkport and you could imagine how excited and thrilled I was about that. And that evolved into a friendship over the next decade and I would almost always make an annual trip down to Kennebunkport to see them, and was so honored that they considered me a friend.

He really leaves such a legacy of service and it's one that inspires all of us.

BASH: Senator Susan Collins of Maine, thank you so much for your thoughts this morning.

COLLINS: Thank you.

BASH: And -- thank you.

And we just learned that the U.S. stock market will be closed on Wednesday to honor President Bush.

We also have a statement from former Secretary of State, John Kerry who ran against Bush-41 son, W, in 2004. Kerry says, "He was competitive about politics and fiercely loyal to family but always a gentleman, always a patriot."

We'll be right back [12:17:06].

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, DECEASED, FORMER, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I haven't lost my zest or enthusiasm for this job and I don't feel embattled and I don't feel beat on, and I feel -- I feel very fortunate to be president of this fascinating country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: That was then-President George H. W. Bush speaking with CNN in 1990, the very first year of his presidency. Now Bush leaves behind not only a rich political legacy but he was also a war hero, devoted husband, patriarch of an American family dynasty; a man born into wealth but he spent his life in public service.

With me now is Jeffrey Engel, Founding Director of the Center for Presidential History of the Southern -- at Southern Methodist University -- rather and an Author of several books on the, "Life Legacy and Career of George H. W. Bush," including his latest book, "When the World Seemed New."

Jeff, we thank you so much for joining me again. Let's focus on his war service because we haven't been able to talk about that because he had such a rich...

JEFFREY ENGEL, AUTHOR, AWARD-WINNING AMERICAN HISTORY SCHOLAR AND DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY AT THE SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: Yes.

BASH: ... life -- he had such a rich life.

Enlisted in the Army at age 18, on his 18th birthday in order to serve during World War II.

ENGEL: Well in fact, that was actually something where he went against his parents' and his families' wishes. He was a graduate, he was in senior year when Pearl Harbor attack -- happened and he wanted to enlist immediately or at least immediately upon turning 18.

His family and even the people as influential as the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, who was a family friend suggested, "you should stay a few years, maybe go to college, get some seasoning before you going to the war; you'll be a better officer," he was having none of that. He enlisted immediately and actually became one of the youngest aviators in the Navy, in the Pacific theater.

BASH: And at the time I believe he was "the youngest" aviator...

ENGEL: OK. So...

BASH: ... maybe that's up for debate?

ENGEL: ... We used to say he was the youngest and then we found some guy who was four year -- days younger so now we have to say second youngest...

BASH: OK.

ENGEL: ... so.

BASH: Got it. But he was really, really young?

ENGEL: He -- youngest -- we can say young.

BASH: And with that youth like so many of his generation, the greatest generation, he had to deal with unbelievable, mind-bending pressure, tragedy, and just raw war; and he had loss?

ENGEL: He had -- he had terrible loss and a tremendous responsibility and I think it's important as we are talking about this, remember he's only 19-, 20-years-old during this period.

He was a pilot as I mentioned of a -- of a bomber, a three-person crew. On July -- September 2nd of 1944, he actually was shot down over the island of Chichi Jima. He was the only one of his crew than actually survived that attack. And that image really haunted him and the weight of that haunted him the rest of his life.

I have to say of all the questions I ever asked him in our interviews the only question he refused to answer was when I asked him about his flying days...

BASH: Wow.

ENGEL: ... and I think it was very -- he actually handed me a cookie instead and I think it was really because he just was not interested in opening up to somebody, a third of his age about that horrible experience. And he said, to the end, to other sources, "he thought about his co-pilot and he thought about his bomber -- bombardier (ph), every day; he thought about them and they were a presence in his life.

BASH: Because he was -- they were his wingmen and he felt the responsibility for them and they died?

ENGEL: Yes. And he -- and he talked about that a lot, actually during the Gulf War when he obviously was sending other people into combat and he paid particular attention, it was interesting, to how the pilots were flying over Baghdad at night, were faring, so in (ph) making sure all the planes were back. And he said in -- at one point, "I remember what that was like, the feeling of being in the air, in the cockpit, with darkness all around you; only thinking about your mission but really there for your country." And he paid particular attention to that when he was commander in chief.

BASH: I mean it's -- it's just goes to show you there are a lot of different experiences that people can and do bring into public service but when you're commander in chief, having [12:25:07] experience and that situational awareness is unparalleled.

ENGEL: It really is and it's -- and it's not necessarily the -- I think the experience of having been in the military that's important but it's the experience of having been a thoughtful, empathetic person; we've seen other presidents who really did not have a military background...

BASH: I know (ph).

ENGEL: ... who were still very, very good commanders in chief but what they all shared was a great sense of the responsibility, and a great sense that they had to put themselves in other people's boots as it were in order to be willing to send them into combat.

BASH: Jeffrey Engel, thank you for joining me all morning, coming here to Houston to have discussions about your unique insight and the time that you spent writing the history of George H....

ENGEL: Thank you.

BASH: ... W. Bush.

ENGEL: My pleasure, my pleasure.

BASH: I appreciate it.

And this just in from the Secret Service, "The Secret Service sends our heartfelt condolences," this is what they're saying in a statement, "on the passing of former President George H. W. Bush, 'Timberwolf'," that was his codename, "he defined patriotism and leadership throughout your life of service to this country and you will be sorely missed."

Again, that was a statement I was reading from the Secret Service.

We'll be right back [12:31:16].

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:30:0051] GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My view on legacy is let the historians figure out what I screwed up and figure out what I got right. And I'm confident that, you know, we had a good administration and good people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: President George H.W. Bush there talking to CNN's Robin Meade about his legacy. Of course he had a lifetime in public service.

Joining me now, a man who knows him well, Roger Porter, who's known former President Bush for more than 40 years. Served with him in the Reagan White House and during the Bush presidency.

Roger, one of the things about this president we know is personal relationships. After Barbara died, he told his family it was so important for him to get back to Maine for the summer. You had a chance to have lunch with H.W. Bush in Kennebunkport in August. Tell us about that.

ROGER PORTER, FORMER ASSISTANT FOR ECONOMIC AND DOMESTIC POLICY IN BUSH 41 ADMINISTRATION: It was one of those magical days in Maine where the weather was terrific and I went up expecting to spend maybe 15 or 30 minutes with him in his office. And it ended up being a two- hour visit which we had lunch and talked about all sorts of things that were happening in Washington as well as things that had occurred during the course of his presidency and lifetime. So he's a very easy person to be around.

KING: You say very easy person to be around from someone who had a relationship. I came -- I covered the '88 campaign, mostly Dukakis. Didn't spend that much time but then Vice President Bush. When I came to Washington, one of the early legislative issues I covered was raising the minimum wage in the early 1990s. You might remember this.

And I was with Senator Kennedy one day, he was the key player for the Democrats on Capitol Hill and in a private conversation he said, we're going to get a deal, trust me. President Bush is going to spend the next few months calling me a liberal SOB. I'm going to spend the next few months calling him a heartless SOB. But we've talked about this several times, in the end, we're going to get a deal. How did that work?

PORTER: Well, he entered office with larger opposition majorities to him than any elected president in U.S. history. So he recognized right at the outset that he was going to need to be a bridge builder. He adopted a veto strategy in which he would lay out what the administration's position was. And then, if necessary which he found he needed to do 44 times would veto the bill and then go back to the negotiating table.

And that's one of the -- we did this on the minimum wage. He vetoed the first one that came down that had been Senator Kennedy's original proposal. But then we worked out an agreement which was actually very closer to what the administration had originally proposed. And the Congress signed it -- or passed it and he signed it.

KING: Read my lips, the new taxes of course is the signature line by then Vice President George H.W. Bush. In the budget deficit negotiations, the Democrats essentially told him, you need to get out front and say you're open to tax increases. So the president had to go out and say he was open to violating, abandoning his central campaign promise. And he knew full well that, number one, might bring and did bring Pat Buchanan a primary challenge. And two, could end his political career yet he thought it was important, thought it was critical that he do it. Why?

PORTER: I have rarely seen anyone agonized over a decision as much as he did about that decision. We had rising budget deficits at the time. They were predicted to double over the next two years. And he felt like there was -- he had very few alternatives but to ahead and strike a deal. He wanted to get the best deal he could.

In fact, he got a very good deal from his standpoint with about $3 in budget restraint on the spending side for every dollar of revenue increases. But it was a very challenging decision for him and he made it knowing that it was going to cost him politically. But like many other things in his life, he was looking at the longer term. And he only agreed to do it if it included budget caps and what is called pay go which would ensure that this wouldn't be just a one-time event but that it would carry on for a lifetime.

[12:35:04] And to President Clinton's credit when he came in, he didn't tear up the agreement. He essentially embraced the Bush fiscal policy and if we were able to dig ourselves out of the hole during the decades of the 1990s and ultimately come to a balanced budget.

KING: I've said many times, Bill Clinton doesn't get that gift of a balanced budget, the political bonus of that without the math with the George H.W. Bush budget reduction deal.

Roger Porter, appreciate your thoughts about your friend here today. Very much appreciate you coming in and sharing those thoughts with us.

Up next for us here, President Donald Trump's reaction to the news of President H.W. Bush's passing. A live report from the G20 summit, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:40:06] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Martin Savidge. We'll have more of our special coverage on the death of President H.W. Bush in just a moment.

But first, we to Buenos Aires, where President Donald Trump is meeting with world leaders at the G20 summit. The president canceled a press conference scheduled for later today out of respect for the late president. Trump tweeted, "President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful, and beautiful life. Whenever I was with him, I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was truly a wonderful man and will be missed by all."

President Trump will be in talks today with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A closely watched meeting given the recent trade sessions with China.

Joining us now from Argentina is CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip. And Abby, this is going to be one of the most crucial meetings of the summit.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Martin. This is the meeting that I think a lot of the summit has been hinging on. First, the meeting and then a dinner between these two world leaders to sort out issues on trade. But before President Trump goes into that meeting, he did have one other on his schedule in which the media was allowed into. That was the meeting with the leader of Germany, Angela Merkel.

And in that setting, he was asked about the death of President George H.W. Bush. This is someone who President Trump has over the last several years, not always had the easiest relationship with. President Trump was not someone that George H.W. Bush would have supported for president. He told an author he wrote a book. And President Trump though has responded to this death with quite a bit of graciousness, praising George H.W. Bush and praising his legacy.

Listen.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 (INAUDIBLE) very proud of his family. And very much loved his family. So, he's a terrific guy and he'll be missed. And he led a full life. And a very exemplary life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And at the end there, a reporter did ask President Trump whether he had any regrets about any of the things that he said about the Bush Family or about H.W. Bush. He didn't answer that question and ushered them out of the room.

Meantime, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will be appearing at the former president's funeral in Washington at the National Cathedral. Remember earlier this year when Barbara Bush passed away, Melania Trump represented the Trump administration at that event. This time, both the president and the first lady will be here.

Martin?

SAVIDGE: Abby, can I ask you about this meeting with President Putin? Supposedly as we went into the summit there wasn't going to be a meeting but now what, there has been a chance encounter?

PHILLIP: Well, this is an interesting development. The president canceled his scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin. That was supposed to be this morning for about two hours. Citing the situation in Ukraine. Russia seized ships and sailors in Ukraine.

The president said he won't meet with Putin until that situation is resolved. However, the Kremlin had always said that they expected perhaps a side lines meeting between the two leaders during the G20. The White House denied that there were any such plans but last night at a dinner for the G20 leaders, it turns out according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders that the two leaders did have an interaction at that dinner.

This could be either just pleasantries, shaking hands, saying hello. Or it could have been something more substantive. Remember, just last year at the last G20 in Germany at the last G20 in Germany, President Trump and President Putin had a pull-aside meeting. They sat next to each other and spoke for a length of time. And we didn't learn about it until after the fact.

So we may not know for some time, if at all, what happens between the two at that dinner. But according to the White House, they did have some interaction.

Martin?

SAVIDGE: Abby Phillip there over the roar of jets in Buenos Aires, thank you very much for that.

Ahead, more of our special coverage with John King and Dana Bash on the incredible life of President George H.W. Bush, including his love for sky diving. We'll hear from the man who helped him jump to mark his 90th birthday.

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[12:49:06] BUSH: Just because you're an old guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner. Get out and do something. Get out and enjoy life.

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DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That was classic President George H.W. Bush right after he jumped from an airplane to mark his 85th birthday. And believe it or not, he wasn't done with skydiving at age 85, mark his 90th just four years ago, he celebrated the only way he knows how, once again, jumping out of a plane. Here he is out of a helicopter in Kennebunkport, Maine. That was his eighth and final jump.

The first of course was in 1944 after he was forced to parachute from his combat plane during World War II after being shot out of the sky by the Japanese. Bush was rescued by a passing submarine after floating for four hours on a raft in the ocean.

Joining me now is Sergeant Mike Elliott. He is a member of the Golden Knight Army parachute team.

[12:50:01] And in more recent times, he was a man who was strapped to President Bush during three of his birthday jumps, including the final jump at age 90. Thank you so much for joining me, Sergeant Elliott. Let's just start with when you have an 83-year-old former president of the United States coming to you and saying, hey, will you strap me onto you and jump out of a plane with me? Did you try to say, are you kidding me?

MIKE ELLIOTT, SERGEANT, GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARMY: Well, actually, when I jumped him during the rededication of his library in College Station, Texas, it was a part of the U.S. Army Golden Knights so it was an entire team taking its mission on, not just me by myself. I was selected by my chain of command to be the one to hold the hands of this former world leader. It's quite a task when they say, hey, you're going to take the president up to 14,000 feet and you guys are going to fall out of an airplane together. It's not something you hear every single day. It's just quite challenging and what a great mission and just an honor to be able to do it.

BASH: Any trepidation, particularly the most recent one for years ago, I'm guessing not from him but maybe people around him?

ELLIOTT: Well, absolutely. You know, Mrs. Bush has always been the anchor in the mission. The first time I met her, before we jumped him to the library, she came up, she said, if you hurt him, I will kill you. That was her exact words. And I think I was more nervous about her than anyone else.

BASH: I don't blame you.

ELLIOTT: And of course on his 90th birthday -- during his 90th, of course, you know, his body was aging. He was not as agile as, you know, the age of 90. So, there were some difficulties but his mind was made up. He wanted to jump on his 90th birthday and that's what he did.

BASH: Any moments, you know, private moments either when you're on the helicopter with him, about to jump, about things that he said, what was going through his mind, maybe even memories of, you know, a time when he was on a parachute not by design but because he was shot out of the sky by the Japanese in World War II?

ELLIOTT: You know, one moment that I distinctly remember is we actually, myself and my teammate, Dave Wherley had a private dinner with former President Bush and Mrs. Bush at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine. And as we sat there in the sunroom, having a vodka cocktail, he told a story about being shot down and why he wanted to jump again because he felt like he didn't do it right the first time he had to exit an aircraft. You know, 41 is a perfectionist and that's why he continued to jump and that's why fell in love with the sport of skydiving.

BASH: It's so interesting watching these pictures. It just never gets old. And I hope you had a vodka cocktail or two before jumping out of there with him as well as after. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about these incredible memories. Thank you. John?

ELLIOTT: Absolutely, thank you.

KING: It's just awesome to hear those stories and to hear that great recollection. We appreciate that. As you all know, George H.W. Bush spent his life in public service and he always encouraged others to work to make a difference as well by supporting volunteerism.

BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler nation, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

KING: That's the mission of our CNN Heroes Program. It honors people who volunteer their time to make a difference in people's lives. Florence Phillips is one of those people. As the daughter of immigrants who came to America not speaking English, Phillips knows firsthand the obstacles that newcomers face. One of the top ten CNN Heroes this year, Phillips created a vital tour to help immigrants overcome those language barriers and get closer, one step closer to achieving the American dream.

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FLORENCE PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, ESL IN-HOME PROGRAM: It's the immigrants that made the United States. It was the immigrants that came here to have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of doing whatever they wanted to do and they're the ones that made this country. We are giving them the key to unlock all doors. And I see the pride when they say, I am an American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As we remember the legacy of the points of light president, go to cnnheroes.com for the vote on Florence or any of your favorite top ten heroes. That wraps up this hour of our special coverage of the life, death, and legacy of President George H.W. Bush. I'm John King in Washington.

BASH: And I'm Dana Bash in Houston. Our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, has much more next on CNN. Stay with us.

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[12:59:48] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're watching our special live coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer live here in Buenos Aires where the G20 Summit of world leaders continues. We'll have more on that. That's coming up.

But today, we're also honoring the life of the 41st President of the United State, George Herbert Walker Bush. He died late last night at the age of 94 just months after his wife's death.