Ken McMillan  |   Published December 02, 2018

George Bush’s Monmouth Connection

Monmouth professor Ken McMillan fondly recalls time campaigning with George H.W. Bush.

Editor’s Note: Ken McMillan is the Pattee Professor of Political Economy and Commerce. Prior to teaching at Monmouth, McMillan served in the Illinois State Senate from 1977-83. For more about President Bush’s connection to Monmouth, read about his 2000 Commencement address by College Historian Jeff Rankin.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Vice President George H. W. Bush flew to western Illinois twice to campaign for me when I ran for Congress – in 1982 and again in 1984.

KEN McMILLAN: George Bush was totally unpretentious, fully engaged in the events and exceptionall... KEN McMILLAN: George Bush was totally unpretentious, fully engaged in the events and exceptionally curious about the race. His briefing on my career and the race resulted in a fascinating exchange – which I treasure.Both times, it was also a privilege to share private one-on-one time with him—an hour, in a holding room, before our 1982 breakfast campaign rally, where he spoke on my behalf. Two years later, I met Vice President Bush and his wife, Barbara, at the airport and enjoyed the delightful limo ride we shared going to the Milan Event Center, where our large campaign rally was held.

George Bush was totally unpretentious, fully engaged in the events and exceptionally curious about the race. His briefing on my career and the race resulted in a fascinating exchange – which I treasure.

When Barbara Bush was along, the banter between them was a joy to behold. The Vice President had just completed a “practice” debate preparing for his real debate against Geraldine Ferraro; Rockford Congresswoman Lynn Martin – a close friend of the Bushes – debated as the surrogate for Ferraro. I vividly recall Mrs. Bush describing that practice debate and exclaiming “Lynn Martin could be a MEAN debater!”

George Bush was NOT, like many, an official who, when the time came, could push an “on” button, perform, and then exit. George Bush was the “real deal.” It was a privilege to have his endorsements. It was a greater privilege to have enjoyed real and meaningful personal time with a sterling human being.

More on President Bush …

Hear Ken McMillan recall on WGIL-FM campaigning with then-Vice President Bush.
Watch a WHBF-4 story about President Bush’s 2000 commencement address at Monmouth.

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