Reporter shares story of covering George H.W. Bush campaign in Wisconsin

After learning of George H.W. Bush’s death over the weekend, many shared fond stories and memories of the former president. Steve Kraske, now a reporter for the Kansas City Star, wrote about meeting Bush at a campaign event in Wisconsin in 1979.

George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush speaks to Marquette University High School during his 1988 presidential campaign (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel file photo)

Kraske, then in his early twenties, reported on the event for United Press International. Between Bush’s news conference and his speech was a cafeteria-style dinner.

“I got in line and was spooning up steaming vegetables and chicken when a man behind me said hello. He knew my name, and I was astonished to look up and see that it was Bush himself,” Kraske recalled.

“He asked how UPI was doing, what my parents did, about Wisconsin politics — and soon I was jabbering away as we slid our trays down the line. A few minutes later it was over. He went off to dine with important people, and I found a seat in the back.”

Kraske realized later that Bush likely had been trying to leave a favorable impression on him and build rapport “in case we crossed paths down the road.”

“That speaks volumes about why Bush went on to become the 41st president,” Kraske wrote. “And it screamed loudly to me that journalism was important enough work that someone like George Bush would pay attention to a kid just coming on the scene.”

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