Republican George H. W. Bush lost his reelection bid to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992

By Maria Pasquini
November 08, 2020 12:46 PM
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As President Donald Trump has maintained his refusal to concede the election to President-Elect Joe Biden, Jenna Bush Hager reflected on how her late grandfather, George H. W. Bush, gracefully handled losing his reelection bid to Bill Clinton.

Bush, who delivered his concession speech one day after his Democratic challenger was projected to win the election, wrote a heartfelt letter to Clinton, which he delivered on Inauguration Day 1993.

“Dear Bill, when I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too. I wish you great happiness here,” he wrote in the letter.

“There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course,” Bush continued. “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country's success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck - George.”

Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush
| Credit: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Alongside a photo of the letter, the Today co-anchor reflected on the significance of her grandfather’s support, even in defeat. “How I miss my gramps,” she wrote alongside the note on Instagram. “A man who started a beautiful tradition of leaving a letter of support for the next president.”

In a subsequent post, she went on to highlight perhaps the most important lines in the message: “YOU WILL BE OUR PRESIDENT NOW. Your success now is our country's success. I'm rooting hard for you.”

Credit: Jenna Hager/Instagram

After the former president’s death in 2018, Clinton reflected on how much the warm message meant to him.

"I love that letter," he told ABC News at the time. "I thought it was vintage George Bush. I thought he meant it, but I also thought he was trying to be a citizen in the highest sense of the word. It was profoundly moving to me, personally."

Since Biden was first projected to defeat Trump in the presidential election, the president — who is the first incumbent to be ousted from office in nearly three decades — has continued to argue, without offering evidence, that the votes against him were fraudulent.

Even as the transition between the two administrations is legally underway, Trump has said he will fight on — including bringing various legal challenges. (He faces dim odds, however, given the scope of Biden’s victory.)

Credit: Gioncarlo Valentine (2)

As Biden addressed the country for the first time as president-elect, he spoke about his plan to unite the country.

"For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I've lost a couple of times myself, but now let's give each other a chance,” he said. “It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans.”

"I've long talked about the battle for the soul of America. We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses,” he continued. “And what presidents say in this battle matters. It's time for our better angels to prevail.”