Iowa reacts to the death of 41st president, George H.W. Bush

Iowa politicians remember George H.W. Bush, a World War II veteran, as a patriot and leader in public service.


Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

Saturday morning, Iowa politicians took to Twitter after the death of George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States.

The 94-year-old died Friday night, less than eight months after the death of his wife Barbara.

To top a political career spanning three decades, he served as president from 1989 to 1993, guiding the country through the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe’s transition to Democracy.

He lost a bid for re-election to Bill Clinton, but lived to see his son, George W. Bush, become the 43rd U.S. president.

He visited the University of Iowa Dec. 11, 1987 as a presidential candidate and vice president to his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. At the Clapp Recital Hall, which was closed in 2008 due to flooding, he discussed a recently-unveiled INF Treaty and described his relationship with the Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev like taking to the mat against a famed Iowa wrestler.

“He is a formidable and determined competitor for world power,” The Daily Iowan reported Bush said at the speech. “This guy is tough. It’s like wrestling Dan Gable.”

That year in the Iowa caucuses Bush trailed two of his competitors, but he went on to clinch his party’s nomination and eventually the oval office in the November 1988 election. It was the second time Bush had campaigned for president in Iowa.

Eight years prior, in the 1980 Iowa caucuses, Bush edged out Reagan by 2 percent after campaigning in all 99 counties. Bush eventually lost the nomination to Reagan, but was selected as the former California governor’s running mate.

Gov. Kim Reynolds offered condolences in a prepared statement Saturday morning.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, who’s been part of Iowa’s elected delegation for the past 11 years, also said he was saddened to hear of the former president’s death.

Sen. Joni Ernst said Bush was “committed to furthering the ideals that this country was built upon.”

Rep. David Young, who was defeated by Cindy Axne in November, and current Rep. Steve King of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District weighed in.