Ronald Kessler, former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter and bestselling author of “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents,” wrote a special piece for the Daily Mail in which he highlighted stories from Secret Service agents about their time with the late President George H.W. Bush.
According to Kessler, the Secret Service was relieved to hear that Bush 41 had been elected because unlike some of his predecessors, such as former presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, Bush was respectful and considerate to his protective detail.
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In fact, Bush was so considerate of his agents, that he would stay in town on Christmas Eve, just so as many agents as possible could spend that time with their families, and he would fly home to Texas on Christmas day, Kessler wrote.
“Bush is a great man, just an all-around nice person,” one agent said of the former president when he was alive.
“Both he and Mrs. Bush are very thoughtful, and they think outside their own little world. They think of other people.”
“Bush understands that politics is politics and friendship is friendship,” an agent who was on his detail said.
“He can be friends with a lot of people who may not agree with him. The only things that bothered him were things that were important to the country. Little things just kind of seemed to roll off of him.”
That was not always the case with presidents and vice presidents that the Secret Service is tasked with protecting, however.
Kessler also noted that Hillary Clinton, former first lady, and former presidential candidate, who is still protected by the Secret Service, is notably one of the worst details to be assigned to.
Kessler wrote that Clinton, “is so nasty to her agents that being assigned to her detail is considered by agents to be a form of punishment and the worst duty assignment in the Secret Service.”
Agents told Kessler that like Bush, President Donald Trump treats his agents with respect and consideration.
Agents told Kessler that there was a stack contrast between George H.W. Bush and Al Gore, one of Bush’s successors as vice president.
“Like Hillary Clinton, Gore – who also claimed to be a champion of the ‘little people’-treated agents with disdain and told them he did not want to be bothered greeting them or seeing them,” Kessler said.
“Gore told agents at his home in Carthage, Tennessee, that they should duck behind bushes when they rotated shifts because the Gores didn’t want to see them,” a former agent told Kessler.
“I was on the detail one Christmas when Gore was at his home in Carthage,” former agent Jeff Crane says. “Neighbors offered us food on Christmas Day, but the Gores never even bothered to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Thank you.’”
The last story that Kessler included in his Daily Mail exclusive was the memory of one agent of when Bush and his wife Barbara were staying at their Kennebunkport home in the winter when the president and his wife went on a walk in the cold.
“I had a hat on, and two of the other agents had a hat on, but the one agent assigned to the first lady didn’t bring a hat with him,” says former agent Patrick F. Sullivan, who was on the President’s Protective Detail from 1986 to 1990. “So the president came out with Mrs. Bush, and we started to walk.”
“Where’s your hat?” Mrs. Bush asked the hatless agent.
“Oh, Mrs. Bush, I didn’t bring one. I didn’t realize it was going to be so cold here,” he said.
“George, we need to get this agent a hat,” Barbara Bush—code-named Tranquillity—said.
“Okay, Bar,” he replied.
She walked back in the house, got one of President Bush’s furry hats, and gave it to the agent.
“No, Mrs. Bush, that’s fine,” the agent said.
“Hey, don’t argue with Mrs. Bush,” Bush said, and the agent put on the president’s hat.