Ne­vada, na­tion bid farewell to pres­i­dent

Bush de­vel­oped ties here

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Martin

Rogich, Reid were among col­leagues

WASH­ING­TON — Ne­vada joined the na­tion in mourn­ing the loss of Ge­orge H.W. Bush on Satur­day, a pres­i­dent who de­vel­oped deep friend­ships and ties in the state and gave an emo­tional boost to a Las Ve­gas char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps adults with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

Bush, 94, died late Fri­day. Las Ve­gas busi­ness­man Sig Rogich, a Bush con­fi­dant and for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador

to Ice­land, de­vel­oped a strong bond with the pres­i­dent over a life­time of Air Force One travel, mar­ti­nis and golf that helped ben­e­fit Ne­vada.

“We de­vel­oped a friend­ship, and we never lost it,” Rogich told the Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Rogich was part of the “Tues­day Team,” a group of ad­ver­tis­ing con­sul­tants for the Rea­gan-Bush pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and later the Bush-Quayle cam­paign that de­vel­oped TV ads at­tack­ing Demo­cratic ri­val Michael Dukakis’ record on crime and pun­ish­ment and one show­ing Dukakis rid­ing in a tank.

Rogich re­called first see­ing a news seg­ment show­ing Dukakis in the tank on TV while he was host­ing a party at his Wash­ing­ton, D.C., apart­ment. Late that night, he said, he wrote a com­mer­cial and took it to the cam­paign’s creative di­rec­tor, Jim Weller, the next day.

Later, Rogich said, he looked at the polling num­bers and ex­pressed that maybe the cam­paign shouldn’t run the ad.

“I thought we could win on our own with­out it,” he said. “I wanted the pres­i­dent to take of­fice on a high note.”

Fan of the state

Af­ter the elec­tion, Rogich brought Bush to Ne­vada.

“He loved the state,” Rogich said. “He came sev­eral times as pres­i­dent.”

On one oc­ca­sion, Rogich took him to Op­por­tu­nity Vil­lage, a not­for-profit char­ity in Las Ve­gas that as­sists adults with men­tal dis­abil­i­ties through vo­ca­tional train­ing, em­ploy­ment and other pro­grams.

Op­por­tu­nity Vil­lage made the cam­paign but­tons for the Rea­gan-Bush cam­paign and the BushQuayle cam­paign.

He was met by en­ter­tainer Wayne New­ton, said Linda Smith, Op­por­tu­nity Vil­lage vice pres­i­dent of phi­lan­thropy and as­so­ciate ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Bush tied up Las Ve­gas traf­fic for hours, stay­ing longer at the fa­cil­ity than planned and meet­ing with ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing those who were in­tel­lec­tu­ally in­ca­pable of know­ing who the pres­i­dent was or the im­por­tance of his position.

“He was ab­so­lutely won­der­ful,” Smith said.

That visit in the early 1990s, Rogich said, gave the char­ity an­other sig­nif­i­cant boost. Bush was so taken by the mis­sion and the op­er­a­tion that he helped se­cure sup­port from a sig­nif­i­cant donor.

“He helped us that day,” Rogich said.

And he was help­ful on other mat­ters in Ne­vada.

“The pres­i­dent took a lot of pride in the fact that he was help­ful here in our state,” Rogich said.

Dur­ing his term in of­fice, Bush signed into law the Truc­kee-Car­son-Pyra­mid Lake Set­tle­ment Act, a bill by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that set­tled a long-stand­ing dis­pute over wa­ter ap­por­tion­ment from the Truc­kee and Car­son rivers.

The law ended a cen­tury of con­flict­ing de­mands, pro­vided cer­tainty of wa­ter sup­ply for mu­nic­i­pal and agri­cul­tural users, en­hanced con­ser­va­tion ef­forts for threat­ened and en­dan­gered species in Pyra­mid Lake and im­proved wet­lands in the La­hon­tan Val­ley.

‘An Amer­i­can pa­triot’

Reid was one of the mul­ti­ple pub­lic of­fi­cials from both sides of the aisle who spoke with fond mem­o­ries of the late pres­i­dent.

Al­though from dif­fer­ent par­ties and with dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal philoso­phies, Reid said Bush “was one of the most qual­i­fied peo­ple ever elected pres­i­dent, and above all, he was among the most de­cent.”

“He was kind, gen­er­ous and de­ter­mined to do the right thing for his coun­try,” Reid said in a state­ment.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., called Bush an “Amer­i­can pa­triot.” Sen. Cather­ine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said the late pres­i­dent was prag­matic but also a “man of prin­ci­ple.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump des­ig­nated Wed­nes­day a na­tional day of mourn­ing for Bush.

A memo­rial ser­vice at the Na­tional Cathe­dral will be held be­fore the body is sent to a fu­neral in Texas.

Prior to the ser­vices, the pres­i­dent’s body will lie in state un­der the Capi­tol ro­tunda.

Trump said he would send Air Force One to Texas to bring the pres­i­dent’s body to Wash­ing­ton. Trump said it is “a spe­cial trib­ute that he de­serves very much.”

Pres­i­den­tial com­port­ment

Rogich said he trav­eled “five, six, seven thou­sand miles on Air Force One” with Pres­i­dent Bush to for­eign coun­tries and ev­ery U.S. state. Rogich said Bush had a sense of


“I never saw him less than pres­i­den­tial,” he said.

He also liked jokes and gags. “We shared a good martini on oc­ca­sion,” Rogich re­called. “And we al­ways shared a lot of laughs.”

Bush would also come to Ve­gas, while he was in the White House and af­ter, to visit friends and to re­lax.

“We did see some shows and we

did play some golf,” Rogich re­called.

They played Shadow Creek Golf Course, Span­ish Trail Coun­try Club and oth­ers.

When the en­ergy sec­re­tary came to an ad­min­is­tra­tion meet­ing to com­plain about Rogich’s ad­vo­cacy against the Yucca Moun­tain Nu­clear Waste Repos­i­tory, the tiff be­tween the two was re­layed to Bush.

“He just told me to stick to my guns, or some­thing like that,” Rogich re­called.

“I love him,” Rogich said. “He had a great sense of hu­mor and a deep pas­sion.”

The Cold War ended dur­ing Bush’s pres­i­dency. The Berlin Wall came down. Bush, a World War II bomber pi­lot, was com­man­der in chief dur­ing the Gulf War, lead­ing an in­ter­na­tional coali­tion with great sup­port by the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Bush’s pop­u­lar­ity topped 91 per­cent af­ter the war, be­fore a de­clin­ing econ­omy and third-party can­di­date H. Ross Perot helped Demo­crat Bill Clin­ton de­feat the Repub­li­can in­cum­bent in the 1992 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Per­sonal touch

As he left the White House, Bush left a hand­writ­ten note to Clin­ton in the Oval Of­fice, hum­ble and heart­en­ing words of sup­port for the new pres­i­dent.

“I will never for­get the hand­writ­ten letters he wrote me when I did some­thing he deemed wor­thy of a few gen­er­ous words,” Reid re­called. “He was known through­out his ca­reer for send­ing th­ese types of per­son­al­ized notes to peo­ple, and I will al­ways cher­ish the ones he sent to me.”

David J. Phillip The As­so­ci­ated Press

Thu Ton places flow­ers Satur­day out­side the Ge­orge H.W. Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum in Col­lege Sta­tion, Texas.

Barry Thumma The As­so­ci­ated Press file

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush shakes hands with a pa­tient at Op­por­tu­nity Vil­lage in 1992. His stop in Las Ve­gas fea­tured a visit to the cen­ter for peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

Wayne New­ton and Ge­orge H.W. Bush are pic­tured to­gether in Las Ve­gas in a file photo from 1982.

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