Search for...
Follow @ontheissuesorg
OnTheIssuesLogo

George Bush Sr. on Crime

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


Willie Horton Ads: don't release repeat offenders

"Willie Horton" becomes the leitmotif of the Democrats every presidential election year. NPR claimed] that George H. W. Bush "beat Michael Dukakis with the help of the racially charged Willie Horton ad that implied Governor Dukakis was soft on crime." [But in fact] it was that Dukakis was furloughing 1st-degree murderers, one of whom was Willie Horton.

Horton was in prison for [murder, when furloughed,] and had already been convicted--and released--for attempted murder in South Carolina. While on his Dukakis-granted furlough, Horton raped and tortured a Maryland couple in their home for 12 hours. The Maryland couple flew to Boston to sit down with Dukakis. Dukakis refused to meet with them. Instead, he issued a statement reaffirming his strong support for furloughing murderers. So Dukakis did not lose the 1988 election because "he did not adequately respond to Republican attacks," as NPR put it. He lost because of an idiotic furlough program he supported, protected and staunchly defended.

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 97-98 , Nov 10, 2009

Willie Horton was a crime issue, not a racism issue

Today, after many years of Democrats and the press repeating false information, people mistakenly think the campaign used the Willie Horton story to racially divide people, not to show Dukakis's weakness on crime. (Years later, during the debate over the Bush administration's civil rights bill, Dad sent my brothers and me a briefing paper reiterating the facts of the Horton case, because they had gotten so distorted over the years. His note read, "If anyone raises Will Horton in some context other than the furlough abuse, flash this true explanation at 'em.")

I asked Dad recently about the whole Will Horton episode: "I felt we did the right thing. It was definitely a crime issue. We got on Dukakis about having this lenient furlough program where he let people out of jail, and here was the best example--a man who was a convicted rapist who went out and raped again when he was on furlough." The crime issue was very powerful.

Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.247 , Oct 6, 2006

1988: "Willie Horton" TV ads attacked furlough program

The inflammatory ads produced by Americans for Bush, one of George's political action committees, showed Willie Horton, a convicted black murderer who raped a white woman after he was furloughed from prison by then-Gov. Dukakis. Another ad featured the fiance of Horton's rape victim; another the sister of Horton's murder victim. One particularly racist ad in North Dakota showed the dark visage of the 1st-degree murderer and told viewers: "Imagine life with Jesse Jackson as secretary of state." Gov. Dukakis had never mentioned the possibility.

Yet 3 years later Bush continued to deny that the issue was designed to be racially divisive: "The point of Willie Horton was not Willie Horton himself. The point was, do you believe in a furlough program that releases people from jail so they can go out and rape, pillage and plunder again? That's what the issue was." Even Lee Atwater was so ashamed of the ugliness he had helped perpetuate that he made a public apology before his death in 1991.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.463-464 , Sep 14, 2004

Willie Horton ads: "revolving door of justice" frees rapists

The most controversial Bush ad was a black-and-white "revolving door of justice that showed a silent procession of men in drab prison uniforms filing through a turning gate, in and out, and right back into society. A narrator's dramatic presentation noted that Gov. Dukakis had vetoed the death penalty and given prison furloughs to "first-degree murders not eligible for parole" while "many committed crimes like kidnapping and rape."

The ad made no mention of a certain Willie Horton, a black convicted murderer who was released from a MA jail on his 10th furlough and then absconded to Maryland, where he raped a white woman and stabbed her fiance. It wasn't necessary because a similar ad produced by "Americans for Bush" showed and named Horton.

The impact made by Horton's mug shot fused ideally with the revolving prison door of convicts, leading Bush's critics to complain that the ad was thoroughly racist without being nominally so.

Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfield, p. 83 , Aug 17, 1999

Habeas corpus reform, so you don't have endless appeals

CLINTON [to Bush]: We need more police on the street. There is a crime bill which would put more police on the street, which was killed for this session by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Thirty years ago there were 3 police officers on the street for every crime. Today, there are 3 crimes for every police officer.

BUSH: I was not for the bill that he was talking about because it was not tough enough on the criminal. I have been fighting for very strong anticrime legislation: habeas corpus reform, so you don't have these endless appeals; so when somebody gets sentenced, hey, this is for real. I've been fighting for changes in the exclusionary rule, so if an honest cop stops somebody and makes a technical mistake, the criminal doesn't go away. I happen to think that we need stronger death penalties for those that kill police officers.

Source: The Second Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 15, 1992

Renewed investment in fighting violent street crime

We must do something about crime and drugs. It is time for a major, renewed investment in fighting violent street crime. It saps our strength and hurts our faith in our society and in our future together. Surely a tired woman on her way to work at 6 in the morning on a subway deserves the right to get there safely. And surely it's true that everyone who changes his or her life because of crime, from those afraid to go out at night to those afraid to walk in the parks they pay for, surely these people have been denied a basic civil right. It is time to restore it. Congress, pass my comprehensive crime bill. It is tough on criminals and supportive of police, and it has been languishing in these hallowed halls for years now. Pass it. Help your country.
Source: Pres. Bush's 1992 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 28, 1992

Freedom from crime is a fundamental civil right

We're determined to protect a fundamental civil right: freedom from crime and the fear that stalks our cities. We will soon convene a crime summit of our nation's law enforcement officials. And to help us support them, we need tough crime control legislation, and we need it now.

And as we fight crime, we will fully implement our national strategy for combating drug abuse. We are making progress, but much remains to be done. We will not rest until the day of the dealer is over, forever.

Source: Pres. Bush's 1991 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 29, 1991

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Crime.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by George Bush Sr..
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by George Bush Sr..
Other past presidents on Crime: George Bush Sr. on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

Political Parties:
Democratic Party
Republican Party
Libertarian Party
Green Party
Reform Party
Natural Law Party
Tea Party
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty

Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014