When George Bush endorsed Bob Dole for president in 1988, it made national headlines.
One of the many oddities of 1980’s New Jersey politics was during the twelve years George H.W. Bush served as vice president and president of the United States, George J. Bush was a Republican councilman and mayor in Old Bridge.
While President Bush was serving as a freshman congressman from Texas in 67, George J. Bush was elected Republican Municipal Chairman. Old Bridge was known as Madison Township back then; it didn’t get its new name until voters approved a 1975 referendum.
Elected to the Township Council in 1970, George J. Bush was elected mayor in 1982. He lost re-election in 1986 but regained his council seat in 1987. He was serving as a councilman when he died of a heart attack in 1995 at age 63.
The George J. Bush endorsement of Dole was orchestrated by then-Middlesex County Republican Chairman Sam Thompson. Thompson had Bush make his announcement at a press conference Dole was holding in Red Bank in August 1987.
Like Dole, George J. Bush was severely wounded while serving his country. He spent six years in the hospital after getting caught in a bombardment of machine gun fire while serving in Korea. He lost an eye, suffered severe facial, leg and shoulder injuries, and underwent nearly 150 operations.
“A lot of people may think it’s a gimmick,” Bush said at the time. “But my reasons for supporting Dole are much more substantive.”