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George H. W. Bush visits Wofford, 1980

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct• 26•11

Spartanburg has often been a stop on the presidential campaign trail, and Wofford has seen candidates drop by over the years.  Former President Gerald R. Ford dropped in to meet classes and hold a press conference in April 1980, as I’ve noted in a previous blog.  Future president George H. W. Bush, who in 1980 was running for vice president on the ticket with Ronald Reagan, made an appearance at Wofford on October 14 of that year.

Bush’s visit lasted just over an hour, but it was the only place that he gave a public address during his trip to South Carolina.  He also spoke with reporters on his arrival at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport.  Two South Carolina political leaders who probably had a great deal of influence over the trip, Senator Strom Thurmond and Congressman Carroll Campbell, accompanied the future vice president.  They both spoke before Bush, Campbell to criticize the Carter administration for failing to control inflation.  Thurmond assailed the administration for not spending more on defense.  The senior senator also encouraged the audience to examine Bush closely, for “When you look at him, you may not only be looking at the next vice president of the United States, but also at a future president.

The future vice president and president was introduced by Kevin Childs, the Wofford student body president.  Bush, who was the former director of central intelligence and a former ambassador to China and to the United Nations, spoke in Leonard Auditorium.  His remarks, not surprisingly given his background, were largely about foreign policy.  He talked about arms limitations talks, the pending SALT II treaty, and relations with China and Taiwan.  He also promised to protect the area’s textile jobs.  Bush took questions from the audience, promising to take or dodge them, whichever best helped the campaign.  Some of the questions were about China, trade, his potential role as vice president, and arms control.  He received considerable applause and a standing ovation from the audience of well over 1,000 in attendance.

Wofford students noted that watching the activities of the national press corps that arrived with candidate Bush was almost as exciting as seeing the future vice president himself.

As president, George H. W. Bush came close to campus in his 1992 re-election campaign.  He spoke at the nearby train station to an audience of some 15,000.

Photos include, top-bottom, Sen. Thurmond, President Lesesne, and future Vice President George Bush; Thurmond, Lesesne, Bush, Campus Union President Kevin Childs, and Campus Union Vice President Carol Brasington Wilson; and George Bush speaking to the campus community.

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