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George Herbert Walker Bush

Son of an investment banker and U.S. senator from Connecticut, George Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts, grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and attended the exclusive Philips Andover Academy. During World War II, he served as a naval pilot, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he attended Yale, graduating in 1948 with a degree in economics. Bush next moved to Texas and, helped financially by his family, went into the oil field supply business to make his own fortune. He succeeded and next turned his attention to politics. He ran a losing campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1964, but two years later gained election to the House of Representatives. During his second term, he again ran for the Senate, again losing.

In 1971 President Nixon nominated Bush to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In 1973, as the Watergate scandal began to dominate the headlines, Bush left the United Nations to become chairman of the Republican National Committee. Nixon's successor, President Gerald Ford, named Bush the head of the U.S. liaison office in China in September 1974. The following year he returned to Washington to lead the CIA. Bush announced his candidacy for the White House in 1979 and during the campaign of 1980 was the closest competitor to eventual Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Bush accepted Reagan's offer of the vice presidency. In 1988 he easily beat Democrat Michael Dukakis for the presidency.

A cautious pragmatist, Bush responded with restraint to the turbulent international situation in 1989. Cold War structures in Europe were unraveling at a dazzling speed, and particularly the collapse of East Germany and the subsequent trend toward German unification worried a great many people. Bush, however, was supportive and played a big part in guiding Germany toward unity and NATO membership, all with the consent of the Soviet Union. His other major foreign policy triumph was his response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1991. The Bush administration assembled a broad international coalition and secured a U.N. mandate to reverse the occupation. After a six-week air offensive, a ground attack in late February evicted the Iraqi troops within four days. Domestically, Bush struggled to convey a clear sense of purpose. When the country's economy stagnated during the election year of 1992, voters deserted him in favor of the Democratic nominee, Bill Clinton. Since leaving office, Bush has kept a low public profile.

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