Stream In From 22 States, 3 Foreign Countries for Gala : 250 Bush Relatives Make Presence Felt
One of George Bush’s first acts as President was to pick up his 2-year-old granddaughter, Marshall, and give her a hug as he entered the inaugural parade reviewing stand Friday.
Marshall, shoeless in white tights, a dark blue dress with white lace collar and a white bow in her blond hair, promptly planted a kiss on the cheek of “Gampy,” which is what 10 grandchildren call the new leader of the Free World.
The scene was typical of the easy-going affection that marks the huge Bush family, whose presence has dominated inaugural activities this week. About 250 children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews and in-laws streamed in from 22 states and three foreign countries for the big celebration. They filled up both a local hotel and every guest room in the White House Friday night.
Comparisons to Reagans
Bush, like his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, has taken the political posture of a champion of family values, and he highlighted them in his inaugural address. But unlike the Reagans--who were estranged from their daughter, Patti Davis, and seldom saw Michael, or his children--the Bushes exuberantly surround themselves with their family. Michael is Reagan’s son from his first marriage.
And it is going to stay that way, Barbara Bush said in a CBS-TV interview on the eve of the inauguration of her husband.
“We will have our children and their friends over and our friends and their children over,” she said. “We’ve done that every Sunday of our married life and we’re not going to change on that.”
Mother on Hand
Bush’s 87-year-old mother, Dorothy, the widow of Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut, was on hand for the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, along with the new President’s four sons, daughter and other kin.
As he walked onto the inaugural platform, Bush leaned over and kissed his mother, who has been suffering from a bad back and calcium deterioration in her bones. She said after her son took the oath that she felt “very exhilarated.”
“I loved his remarks,” she said.
In his speech, Bush spoke of the need to care for homeless people who are “lost and roaming,” and for children “who have nothing, no love, no normalcy.” He also said that there are “young women to be helped who are about to become mothers of children they can’t care for and might not love.” He added that “they need our care, our guidance and education, though we bless them for choosing life.”
As a clan, the Bushes tend to express their emotions freely, and shortly before the inauguration, Bush’s son, George Jr., said in an NBC-TV interview that he expected it would “hit hard” when “I see my dad have his hand on the Bible and his right hand up, with mother holding it, looking out over the mall . . . . All of us will be restraining ourselves.”
Son Neil added, with a laugh, that “we’ve had a history of teary-eyed” experiences.
Before moving into the White House, about two dozen members of the immediate family stayed at Blair House, the presidential guest quarters across Pennsylvania Avenue.
President Bush said that the family had turned parts of Blair House into a playpen.
With grandchildren running around, “I wonder that some flying missile will clean out some plates over there,” he said, jokingly.
Amid toys strewn everywhere, Barbara Bush was observed by reporters Thursday playing “Simon Says” with the grandchildren.
Draws Parallel to Mrs. Truman
Meanwhile, Mrs. Bush said in the CBS interview that she has two goals as First Lady: “I’d like to make George happy, and I’d like to do my own thing.” In that respect, she said that she would follow the example of Bess Truman, President Harry S. Truman’s wife.
George Jr., Neil and Jeb all have expressed interest in running for office.
George Jr., 42, an oilman from Midland, Tex., ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1978 and said that he may run for governor in 1990.
Jeb, 35, resigned his position as secretary of commerce in Florida to work on his father’s presidential campaign. Now he is a real estate developer in Miami.
Neil, 33, is in the oil business in Denver, and Marvin, 32, is an investment counselor in Alexandria, Va.
The Bushes’ only daughter, Dorothy, 29, lives in Maine with her husband, William LeBlond, and their two children.