Former Republican Chairman Remembers President Bush

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Family members and others watch as the flag-draped of former President George H.W. Bush is carried by a joint services military honor guard to lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

The country is honoring the life and legacy of Former President George Herbert Walker Bush. President Bush will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday. Then a motorcade will transport the casket through Washington to the National Cathedral for a state funeral.

The 41st President visited KELOLAND several times and made plenty of friends.

President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush made several stops in South Dakota in the 1980s and early 1990s, including one in Humboldt. 

“Mine is to look forward to prepare our workforce to compete to keep the social fabric of this country strong and to save and invest in those things that’ll help us win,” Bush said.

Former chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, Joel Rosenthal, got to know Bush. In the best way possible, he says it didn’t feel like he was spending time with a president. 

“You felt like you do, I think, like you do with an old shoe. There was just a real good comfort there. You couldn’t help but like him,” Rosenthal said. 

Rosenthal says his interactions with number 41 were brief, but says the Bushes seemed to like the Rushmore State.

“He was really here a lot. So, we got to know him,” Rosenthal said. “He asked me how the farm economy was, how the bird hunting was.”

When it came to politics, Rosenthal says Bush’s approach was much different than what the country sees now. 

“People should look up to him because he was a patriot. He put country above self,” Rosenthal said. 

That memory of President George H.W. Bush is what Rosenthal says made the man presidential. 

“He was so honorable. He was so honorable. He stepped up and he loved America,” Rosenthal said.

And now Americans are showing their love for him. 

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