GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - President Bush’s 1992 campaign for re-election began in Gulfport. A huge crowd turned out to welcome the President to the Coast many years ago.
People who were there that day remembered how exciting it was to host a campaign event in South Mississippi, and they recall how gracious and sincere the President was.
It was a hot August day in 1992. President George H.W. Bush came to Jones Park in Gulfport, right after the Republican convention to kick off his campaign for re-election.
Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes was a young state senator and remembers how significant the campaign stop was for the Gulf Coast, and he’ll never forget the experience.
“For me it was the first time to be part of a receiving delegation for a president. We met him at the airport then followed the motorcade down to Jones Park. A lot of folks turned out for it,” Mayor Hewes recalled.
Gulfport's Tom Simmons worked with a crew to set up a fly over of military planes that day. President Bush, a World War II hero and pilot was very interested in that part of his campaign appearance in South Mississippi.
“He had more fun talking to the leader, who was going to come in with those planes towards the end of the speech. He was tickled to death over that. He was just a gentleman and as friendly as he could be. He was a delightful person and so was Mrs. Bush,” Simmons said.
Mayor Hewes thinks everyone who interacted with President Bush and the first lady during that campaign stop in 1992 walked away with a similar impression.
“He and Barbara were just so gracious. You got the feeling right off the bat that he was so sincere and enjoyed what he was doing and to be in our community. I suspect he was that way no matter where he went. I think he was just that kind of man,” said Hewes.
President Bush was a pilot during World War II. He was shot down in the Pacific in 1944.
Simmons say they found some World War II era planes for the flyover to honor Bush’s service.