Pray­ing for Rea­gan

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan had in­deed been shot out­side the Wash­ing­ton Hil­ton Ho­tel, and far more se­ri­ously hurt than the pub­lic was told at the time. Wounded in the chest, Rea­gan was in shock and would lose more than half his blood. The would-be assassin’s bul­let was lodged just an inch from his heart.

Re­ports from Wash­ing­ton were sketchy, and Air Force Two did not have se­cure voice com­mu­ni­ca­tion. When Sec­re­tary of State Alexan­der Haig called Vice Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush to alert him to the sit­u­a­tion on March 30, 1981, they could barely hear each other over thick static.

As the plane made a quick stop in Austin to re­fuel, Bush prayed for Pres­i­dent Rea­gan and the na­tion. He scrib­bled some notes on a flight in­for­ma­tion card, re­flect­ing that it had taken about 20 min­utes for the “enor­mity” of the sit­u­a­tion to hit him.

He also granted an in­ter­view to one of his aides, Chase Un­ter­meyer, to cap­ture his thoughts.

The 56-year-old for­mer oil­man, mem­ber of Con­gress and CIA di­rec­tor had been bit­ter po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries with Rea­gan. But since join­ing Rea­gan’s ticket in the 1980 cam­paign, they had formed a per­sonal bond.

Bush now con­sid­ered the pres­i­dent a true friend. It pained him to watch re­plays on TV of the shoot­ing. “You see a guy get into a car, wav­ing,” Bush told Un­ter­meyer, “and you think, ‘How could any­body shoot that nice guy?’”

Los An­ge­les Times

J. Scott Applewhite The As­so­ci­ated Press

For­mer pres­i­dents re­act to the pass­ing of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, left: “His ad­min­is­tra­tion was marked by grace, ci­vil­ity, and so­cial con­science.” — Jimmy Carter, right. “I just loved him.” — Bill Clin­ton, sec­ond from right.

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