Former Bush counselor addresses childhood home supporters
Midland Reporter Telegram
October 27, 2009
"It's a reminder that sometimes we don't know what we're a part of until you look in your rearview mirror," said Karen Hughes, describing the great leadership both she and Midlanders were a part of whether through working for the president or watching him as he grew in the Tall City.
Speaking at a fundraiser for the George W. Bush Childhood home Monday evening, Hughes said great leaders have clarity, lead by example and demonstrate optimism in their actions just as Bush did and continues to do.
"He knew exactly what we should do and what we should not try to do," she said.
In his campaign for governor of Texas, she said, everyone - regardless of whether they were a supporter - knew his goals were to push for education reform, welfare reform, juvenile justice reform and tort reform because he repeated his aims over and over.
When he ran for president, she said, they were sure to make his slogan representative of who he is and what he wanted to accomplish so they incorporated the phrase "compassionate conservative" to communicate his core political stances but also his values.
"Clarity of convictions does the most to power a team," she said.
In leading by example, Hughes said, Bush started with little things like always being on time because he wanted to demonstrate respect to those around him and set a tone for how his office would run.
On a broader scale, she said, Bush continued to lead with humility throughout his presidency, asking "Hail to the Chief" rarely ever be played and making it clear to his staff they should approach him if they disagreed with him or thought he'd made mistakes.
Hughes said she was forced to do so on one such occasion when she listened to Bush deliver what she described as a great speech save the fact that he said "misunderestimate" three times.
Earlier that day, she said, as those in the audience laughed along with her comments, he'd been quoted calling terrorists "folks," which Hughes said she also advised him was bad practice.
After giving her a hard time for pointing out the errors, she said Bush told her to always tell him when he "screwed up."
Lastly, she said, Bush was optimistic even in the dark days at the White House, like those that followed 9/11.
When asked by a reporter how the events were affecting him personally, Hughes said Bush replied he was deeply saddened for the families who lost someone, but also made sure to point out that he saw a future coming from those tragic events.
Hughes, who went to work for the former president when everyone still called him George and the motorcade was just one car that he sometimes drove, said she entered politics after falling in love with it as a reporter, but she never dreamed she'd work in the capacity she did.
After serving as a counselor to Bush in the White House she also served as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005 to 2007.
"Fifteen months ago I went to work for George Bush for six months," she said.
Ellen K. Ramsey, event chairwoman and Bush Childhood Home board member, said with 37 tables sponsored Monday night the event was sold out.
Funds raised from the $1,500 to $7,500 table sponsorships go toward the general operating budget of the Bush Childhood Home, said its Executive Director Paul St. Hilaire. This is the second of two fundraisers the organization holds throughout the year, Ramsey said.
This is the third year of this fundraiser. Jenna Bush appeared at the 2008 dinner.
"We're very pleased with the support we have from the community," Ramsey said.
Read more: http://www.mywesttexas.com/articles/2009/10/27/news/top_stories/doc4ae67aac7fce4301724678.txt#ixzz0V92Q7wni
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