Local friends of George H.W. Bush root for him to rally
3:26 PM, Dec 28, 2012
George H.W. Bush's health condition has many in our community rooting for him to pull through.
For all the mementos Fran Hancock of North Palm Beach has collected in her decades as a behind-the-scenes player in Florida politics, it's memories of George Bush running for president in 1980 that stand out.
"He said 'I've never been in one of those RVs before. Can I ride up with you?' Send the guys on with the car. I said sure."
Hancock was chair of the northside Republican club and Bush was cozying up to power players in hopes of winning Florida's primary.
She eventually spent a vacation at the Bush compound in Maine and worked on his 1988 and 1992 campaigns.
She was taken by a public servant with a long resume who wasn't obnoxious about it.
"He was just so down to earth," she said.
"He was the role model I thought other people should emulate."
She developed particular affinity for Bush as his impact on south Florida grew.
He played in Chris Evert's charity tennis tournaments in Delray Beach into his 80s.
He also developed a statewide political network during his '80, '88 and '92 presidential campaigns that his sons, Jeb and George, would benefit from later on.
The former Palm Beach GOP chair Sid Dinerstein says Bush operated differently than other politicians.
"A true gentleman in the classic sense of the word. He was incapable of saying anything bad about anybody," said Dinerstein.
Dinerstein says it was a character trait that hurt him politically, the only incumbent since 1980 to lose reelection.
Former Republican Rep. Mark Foley says that as today's politicians bicker over the fiscal cliff, they need to learn the lessons of George H.W. Bush.
"He broke his ('no new taxes') pledge to his own peril.
He gave up a principle of his campaign but recognized to save the nation, he had to be a statesman."