For former president George H.W. Bush, it is not an understatement to say the road to the White House officially began in New Orleans. It was here, at the Louisiana Superdome in August 1988, that Bush was officially nominated to the Republican ticket at the GOP convention.
Bush, who died Friday at age 94, accepted the nomination with a speech containing one of the phrases he is best known for.
“My opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. The Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I'll say no, and they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’”
The same speech contained references to Bush’s famous “thousand points of light.”
Bush announced his pick for vice president here in New Orleans as well, introducing Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle at a speech at Spanish Plaza, hoping to bring youth and excitement to the GOP ticket.
“He is a leader in matters of national security,” Bush said of Quayle in his speech. “He is an innovator who is leading the effort to retrain our workers in our country so that they will be able to better lead the workforce of tomorrow.”
The Bush-Quayle ticket would go on to win that year, defeating Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen, though four years later, a southern Democratic governor – Bill Clinton – would oust Bush from the White House.
Still, the former president’s lasting impact on Louisiana may have come more than a decade after he left office. While his son was widely criticized for his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the elder President Bush was hailed for his work in restoring the region.
The Bush-Clinton Katrina fund, which he formed with Former President Clinton, donated millions of dollars to local schools, libraries and non-profits, including the University of New Orleans, where the two presidents spoke in 2005. There, they handed out $90 million to local colleges and universities and even more money to faith-based non-profits.
"Their goal is to get your places of worship rebuilt, help your spiritual leaders back living amongst you, and I can assure you they are doing everything they can to get this done as quickly as possible,” Bush said at the UNO speech.
Presidents Bush and Clinton returned to New Orleans in 2006, visiting Kingsley House, celebrating the news of even more donations and speaking at Tulane University's graduation.
“It is each of you assembled here that has inspired me, our nation and indeed our world,” Bush told the Tulane graduates. “For it is the determination like that shown by (university) President (Scott) Cowen and the board to carry forward with the school year and the determination of the faculty and each of you to return to Tulane under extraordinary circumstances.