That time when his father fixed him up with a Nixon daughter and more from George W. Bush's 41

By Allison Adato
Updated November 11, 2014 01:15 PM
Bob Levey/Getty

A warm and respectful look at the life of George H.W. Bush, 41: A Portrait of My Father by George W. Bush, doesn’t contain major surprises.

But there are some revelations in this rare presidential biography by another former president, out Tuesday.

When the elder Bush was a Congressman, he set up George W. on a date with President Nixon’s daughter Tricia. The younger Bush arrived at the White House to meet her, he writes, in “my parents’ purple Gremlin, which was outfitted with Levi’s jean seat covers.” (He also admits to smoking and spilling wine during dinner, and that there wasn’t a second date.)

While Bush sparred with Geraldine Ferraro during the 1984 vice presidential debates – and wife Barbara Bush memorably called her a “rhymes with rich” (and quickly apologized) – the two Veep candidates developed a fondness, his son writes. Before her death in 2011, Bush sent Ferraro an email saying, “I hope you know that I consider you a real friend. In fact, I hope it’s okay if I say I love you.”

The first President Bush liked a good joke (see his comments about naked ice swimming during a V.P. trip to Finland), but Barbara, whom W. calls the “poet laureate” of the family, gets a lot of the best lines. When Bush decides he will skydive again at age 90 and land near the Maine church where they were married, his wife jokes that if the jump did not succeed “at least we wouldn’t have to travel far for the burial.”

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

Thank you for signing up!