Political News

#TBT: George H.W. Bush declares himself elected

Posted January 3, 2018 12:12 p.m. EST

— Many politicians -- and people in general, if we're being honest -- probably wish that their declaring something would make it true. On this day in 1989, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush got to live the dream and declare himself officially elected president.

The 1988 election had come and gone, and Bush had earned 315 more electoral votes than Michael Dukakis.

In a twist, one faithless elector in West Virginia voted for Dukakis' running mate, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. But Bentsen's infamous "you're no Jack Kennedy" burn toward Dan Quayle had to earn him some sort of consolation prize, right? Actually, The New York Times did an amazing interview with the defector at the time -- there was a lot more to it than that.

As the sitting vice president, Bush presided over the electoral vote count. With the certification of those votes, he became the first sitting vice president since Martin Van Buren to be elected President. That happened after the election of 1836, more than 150 years earlier. Note to Mike Pence: It's pretty rare.

Yes, other veeps had served in the Oval Office in the intervening time, but most of them had made it there after the President had died or been assassinated. Then there was Gerald Ford, and that was a completely different scenario.

"George Bush of the state of Texas," said George Bush of the state of Texas, probably thinking, Who? Me?

Obviously he has to stick to the script, but he gets through the whole thing with an amazing poker face.

"This announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States," he sufficiently declared, electing his own person president of the United States.

Bush was inaugurated later that month, becoming the 41st President.