Bush told a White House news conference that the country's economic situation has changed and he has had to reassess his stand on taxes.
"I'm presented with new facts. I'm doing what Lincoln did--thinking anew," Bush said.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), the 1988 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was asked what he thought of Bush's comparing his decision to abandon his "no new taxes" pledge to Lincoln's need to "think anew."
Bentsen, standing with other Democrats waiting for Administration negotiators to arrive, did not respond immediately. But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), sitting in front of Bentsen, did.
"Why don't you tell him (Bush) that you knew Abe Lincoln and that he's no Abe Lincoln," Rostenkowski quipped.
"I didn't say that--he said that," a laughing Bentsen said, pointing at Rostenkowski.
Bentsen, in the most memorable and dramatic exchange of his 1988 vice presidential campaign debate with Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, the Republican candidate, told Quayle: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."