George H.W. Bush’s campaign train tour in WI was his last: ‘His consultants told him he was going to lose’

MILWAUKEE -- Former President George H.W. Bush's political ties to Wisconsin run deep. He made many campaign stops in the Badger State over the years, including a very memorable train trip.

While facing off against Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, a Wisconsin campaign train tour would be his last as the 41st president of the United States.

"He said in a debate 'I want to do in America what I did in Arkansas.' No way! We're not going to let him do that," said President George H.W. Bush of Clinton in Wisconsin.

Mordecai Lee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor, said it was in Wisconsin where, in many ways, George H.W. Bush's White House career ended and began.

"It was sort of an evocative, visual form of running for re-election, but it was on the train, going from city to city in Wisconsin, that his consultants and advisers told him, based on all the polling, he was going to lose the race for re-election," said Lee.

A 1980 Wisconsin primary race against Ronald Reagan would also end in defeat for Bush, but something else was gained.

"It was in Wisconsin that Ronald Reagan got to know George Bush -- even though he was his opponent," said Lee.

Reagan would make Bush his vice president, eventually propelling him to his own victory.

"One could almost say Wisconsin made George Bush vice president, which led to his presidency, and it was in Wisconsin George Bush found out it was the end of his political career," said Lee.

George H.W. Bush died late Friday, Nov. 30 at his home in Houston at the age of 94, seven months after the death of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.

In his last hours, Bush was asked whether he wanted to go to the hospital, according to a source familiar. He had been hospitalized multiple times this year since his wife's death on April 17, and he had been dealing with a number of health issues over the years, including having a form of Parkinson's disease.

The former president answered no.

Instead, Bush said that he was ready to go and be with Barbara, and their late daughter Robin, who died of leukemia as a child.

The former president was surrounded by his family, including his son Neil Bush and wife Maria, his best friend and former Secretary of State James Baker, and his grandson Pierce Bush.

The official schedule of memorial services for the former president was released Saturday evening.

An arrival ceremony involving both the House and Senate will be held at 3:45 p.m. CT on Monday at the US Capitol, where Bush will lie in state in the rotunda until Wednesday morning. The public can pay their respects to the 41st president from 6:30 p.m. CT Monday to 7:45 a.m. CT Wednesday.

On Wednesday, family and friends will gather at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, for an 10 a.m. CT memorial service.

President Donald Trump designated Wednesday as a national day of mourning, the White House said.

The former president will also lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where Bush lived, from 6:45 p.m. CT Wednesday until 6 a.m. CT Thursday. A second memorial service for Bush will be held at St. Martin's Episcopal Church at 10 a.m. CT Thursday.

Bush will then be taken by a motorcade procession to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, where he will be laid to rest.

The arrival ceremony at Texas A&M University will be at 3:45 p.m. CT and will be followed by another ceremony and the interment at 4:15 p.m. CT at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

Both Bush's wife Barbara and their daughter Robin are laid to rest on the library's grounds.

A tribute website for Bush has been set up on which funeral details will be posted.

In lieu of flowers, the Bush family has requested that donations be made to the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

To honor the former president, the international nonprofit Points of Light, founded by Bush, invited the public to celebrate Bush by giving a day of service in his memory.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.