- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

DALLAS — Four Texas universities made their official pitches this week to sponsor and build President Bush’s presidential library after he leaves the White House.

The president is expected to announce his choice in two to six months.

The finalists, two in the Dallas area and three of which are private schools, have been submitting voluminous written proposals for months.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, delegations appeared at Washington’s Renaissance Mayflower Hotel to formally submit their proposals and answer dozens of questions from a committee headed by Mr. Bush’s brother Marvin and the man described as the president’s best friend, former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans.

The library complex likely will be the finest and most expensive ever built for a chief executive’s private materials and memorabilia. Participants estimate the cost at $200 million to $350 million, all paid with private donations.

The finalists are Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Baylor University in Waco, the University of Dallas in Irving and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, which is affiliated in its bid with nine other west Texas cities.

Some press accounts suggest SMU has the edge because first lady Laura Bush is a graduate and trustee of the school and has participated in SMU activities. Those who favor Baylor note that Waco is near the president’s ranch in Crawford.

The west Texas presentation leans heavily on the first family “coming home.” The Bushes spent much of their early years in Midland. An incentive is a proposal for a literacy center bearing Mrs. Bush’s name.

Those closest to the projects reject comparisons of imagined advantages or disadvantages, saying only that they have presented the president’s committee with their best ideas.

David Miller, a Lubbock businessman who headed the West Texas Coalition for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and Texas Tech Chancellor David Smith emphasized the university’s global reach and Vietnam Project, which houses the biggest private collection of the history of the war.

“The whole idea was to make them feel that they wanted to go back home,” Mr. Miller said.

The director of Baylor’s presentation, Tommye Lou Davis, said the Waco proposal “fits the personality of the president. This area is the best-kept secret in Texas.”

Mrs. Davis said it would be a mistake to “erect a library in big-city Dallas,” where it would compete with several other tourist attractions, as the library of former President Jimmy Carter does in Atlanta. Waco, she said, has all the advantages of a big city “without the hassle.”

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