- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

AUSTIN — This time it was the father's turn to watch and worry.

Four times in past presidential elections — in 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1992 — George W. Bush watched and often agonized on election night as the nation decided his father's political fate. The elder Bush won the first two times as Ronald Reagan's running mate, won the presidency in 1988 and then lost it in 1992 to Bill Clinton.

The Texas governor has spoken about caring so much and feeling so helpless during his father's national campaigns that he could not even watch one of his dad's presidential debates. And he is known to have been pained deeply by his father's loss eight years ago.

But last night, former President George Bush was the one on pins and needles as he watched the election returns with his eldest son at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

"It's much harder to be the loved one than to be the candidate," the Texas governor said of his parents. "I experienced that in 1988 and 1992, so I can understand why they're nervous. They're nervous for me personally."

So one of the first things the younger Bush did after waking up yesterday was to call his parents and tell them not to worry.

About 10 blocks away from the family gathering, thousands of Texans braved cold, dreary weather last night to throw a distinctly Lone Star party for their governor and to watch the tantalizingly close election returns roll in across the nation.

The plaza in front of the state capitol was filled with supporters shivering from apprehension and temperatures in the windy 40s. As they waited for the electoral map to take shape on giant jumbo-tron screens, they were entertained by Texas guitar legend Jimmy Vaughan and the South Austin Gospel Choir.

"We're proud of our hometown boy," said Lisa Salem of Austin. "He says the same things we think, about family values, about faith, about integrity."

Also with the Republican nominee last night were his mother, Barbara; wife Laura; twin daughters Jenna and Barbara; and siblings Marvin, Neil, and sister Dorothy. His younger brother Jeb, the governor of Florida, was also present. Vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney and his wife, Lynn, joined the Bush family.

Mr. Bush said his parents were understandably anxious "because they haven't seen what I've seen." He cited the enthusiastic crowd of more than 6,000 late Monday night in Bentonville, Ark., in the Republican northwest section of President Clinton's home state.

"When I told them how many people showed up in northwest Arkansas, he thought I might have been exaggerating a little bit," Mr. Bush said of his father. He said he assured them he was telling the truth and if they checked for themselves, they would find the crowd had been "amazing."

America has had father-and-son presidents only once: John Adams (1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (1825-1829).

Mr. Bush appeared outwardly serene yesterday while America voted. After getting four or five hours of sleep the previous night at the governor's mansion, he read the Bible yesterday morning (aides did not know which passages.)

Also, as is his routine, he fed the family's two cats and dog and brought his wife coffee in bed.

Mr. Bush called three West Coast radio stations to rally voter turnout and spoke to three voters on the phone. One of them, Tina Garehart of Detroit, put her 14-year-old son Phillip on the phone with Mr. Bush. The boy was home from school with an illness.

"I hope you get well soon," Mr. Bush said. "I've got some advice for you — always listen to your mother. I'm able to give you that advice to listen to your mother because I'm still listening to mine."

Laura Bush and her husband voted at the Travis County Courthouse downtown in late morning. Mrs. Bush told reporters she was "nervous" and put her hand on her stomach as if to indicate it was in knots.

But then she said, "I feel good. We got a lot of sleep in our own bed, with our own animals."

The candidate sounded like a man who had no regrets.

"It was like a marathon in many ways," he said. "A marathon runner has to be conditioned and focused. And I feel our campaign was a disciplined campaign focused on a message of what's best for America."

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