Presidents help George W. Bush dedicate library - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Presidents help George W. Bush dedicate library

Posted: Updated:
A quote from the 2000 Republican National Convention by George W. Bush greets visitors to the museum exhibit section of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.  (AP Photo/Benny Snyder) A quote from the 2000 Republican National Convention by George W. Bush greets visitors to the museum exhibit section of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. (AP Photo/Benny Snyder)
DALLAS -

President Barack Obama on Thursday praised George W. Bush at the dedication of the former president's library for showing strength and resolve in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks and said if Congress passes immigration reform "it will be in large part thanks to the hard work" of his predecessor.

Obama spoke along with all four living former presidents in a rare reunion honoring one of their own at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Bush, the country's 43rd president, gave a closing speech with tears welling in his eyes.

"My deepest conviction, the guiding principle of the administration, is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom," Bush said. "I believe that freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart."

The presidents — Obama, Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — were cheered by a crowd of former White House officials and world leaders as they took the stage together to open the dedication.

The leaders put aside the profound ideological differences that have divided them for years. "To know President George W. Bush is to like him," Obama said.

He said Bush started an important conversation by speaking about the United States as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants and he hopes Congress will act this year to pass reform, which Bush wasn't able to achieve.

For Bush, 66, the ceremony marked his unofficial return to the public eye four years after the end of his deeply polarizing presidency. "Oh happy day," Bush said as he took the stage.

His father, former President George H.W. Bush, who has been hospitalized recently for bronchitis, spoke haltingly for just about 30 seconds while seated in his wheelchair, thanking guests for coming out to support his son. A standing ovation lasted nearly as long as his comments.

President Jimmy Carter praised Bush for his role in helping secure peace between North and South Sudan in 2005 and his approval of expanded aid to the nations of Africa.

"Mr. President let me say that I am filled with admiration for you and deep gratitude for you about the great contributions you've made to the most needy people on earth," Carter said.

From El Salvador to Ghana, Bush contemporaries and former heads of state made their way to Texas for the ceremony. Among the foreign leaders set to attend were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Presidential politics hung over the event. Ahead of the ceremony, former first lady Barbara Bush made waves by brushing aside talk of her son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, running for the White House in 2016.

"We've had enough Bushes," said Mrs. Bush, the wife of George H.W. Bush and mother of George W. Bush. She spoke in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.

Yet George W. Bush talked up the presidential prospects of his brother in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC.

"He doesn't need my counsel, because he knows what it is, which is, 'Run,'" Bush said.

At the library, interactive exhibits at the library invite scrutiny of Bush's major choices as president, such as the financial bailout, the Iraq War and the international focus on HIV and AIDS.

On display is the bullhorn that Bush, near the start of his presidency, used to punctuate the chaos at ground zero three days after 9/11. Addressing a crowd of rescue workers amid the ruins of the World Trade Center, Bush said: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

"Memories are fading rapidly, and the profound impact of that attack is becoming dim with time," Bush told The Associated Press earlier this month. "We want to make sure people remember not only the lives lost and the courage shown, but the lesson that the human condition overseas matters to the national security of our country."

More than 70 million pages of paper records. Two hundred million emails. Four million digital photos. About 43,000 artifacts. The library, situated in an urban park at Southern Methodist University, will feature the largest digital holdings of any of the 13 presidential libraries under the auspices of the National Archives and Records Administration, officials said.

The public look back on his tenure comes as Bush is undergoing a coming-out of sorts after years spent in relative seclusion.

An erroneous conclusion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a bungling of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina and a national debt that grew much larger under his watch stain the memory of his presidency for many.

There's at least some evidence that Americans are warming to Bush four years after he left office with an approval rating of 33 percent. That figure has climbed to 47 percent — about equal to Obama's own approval rating, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released ahead of the library opening.

Bush pushed forcefully but unsuccessfully for the type of sweeping immigration overhaul that Congress, with Obama's blessing, is now pursuing. And his aggressive approach to counterterrorism may be viewed with different eyes as the U.S. continues to be touched by acts of terrorism.


Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report.

 

  • U.S.More>>

  • House approves VA health care overhaul

    House approves VA health care overhaul

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:09 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:09:13 GMT
    With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care.
    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans' health care.
  • Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov rollout

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:38 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:38:05 GMT
    Officials tell The Associated Press that a nonpartisan investigative report concludes that management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer problems that paralyzed the HealthCare.gov...
    Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall, nonpartisan investigators said in testimony released Wednesday.
  • UPDATE

    Passenger dies on flight from Hawaii to Phoenix

    Passenger dies on flight from Hawaii to Phoenix

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:30 PM EDT2014-07-30 16:30:01 GMT
    The woman, who was in her 50s, was unconscious and had no pulse when the plane landed in Phoenix on Wednesday morning.
    The woman, who was in her 50s, was unconscious and had no pulse when the plane landed in Phoenix on Wednesday morning.
  • Franklin County accident causes lane closures on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    State Trooper injured in accident on Brooks Mill Road

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:31 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:31:25 GMT
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
    State Police confirm that a trooper was involved in a crash Tuesday night.
  • Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Fugitive sex offender captured in Roanoke

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 12:41 AM EDT2014-07-30 04:41:44 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - A man wanted for sex crimes against a minor was captured in Roanoke during a traffic stop.
  • Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Roanoke Police investigate shots fired incident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:37:03 GMT
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
    On July 29, 2014 at 6:08 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1200 block of Orange Avenue NE to investigate a shots fired call. Immediately upon arrival officers detained several subjects believed to have been involved in the incident. The preliminary investigation suggests the individuals involved were traveling in two different vehicles on Hollins Road when at least one of the occupants in one of the vehicles starting shooting at the other vehicle. The vehicles separated briefly and t...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.