Senator Portman joined Fox News’ Dana Perino yesterday afternoon to discuss the legacy of his dear friend and mentor, President George H.W. Bush. In a statement after his passing, Portman said: “An early boss and mentor, President Bush was one of the most decent and honorable men I’ve ever known, and a model that I have tried to follow in my years in public service.” 

Portman attended the funeral services for President Bush at the National Cathedral yesterday. 

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and a video can be found here:

PORTMAN ON STARTING OUT IN POLITICS WITH PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: 

“I wouldn't be in this crazy business of politics and public service but for him. He did give me a chance early on in his White House. I worked as a lawyer for him and then as director of the legislative affairs office. Not only did he give me a chance, but he showed me how it can be done with dignity and modesty. He showed, in his case, good guys can finish first. I think he was a great model for me and so many others. 

“I volunteered for him, like so many other people. I was an advance person. I'd go out in front of him when he did trips when he was vice president. When he ran for president, I ran the campaign locally in my hometown of Cincinnati in Southwest Ohio. I was a lawyer doing it as a volunteer. He asked me to be one of the associate counsels to the president when he got elected. I was not terribly qualified for the job. I think every one of my colleagues was either a Supreme Court clerk, which was most of them, or a judge him or herself. It was a distinguished crowd. Then I shifted over to legislative affairs when there was an opening there. He gave a lot of people chances. He was a person who inspired young people, at that time I was young,  to think about if we'd like to have a career in public service because of the way he conducted himself.” 

PORTMAN ON HOW THE LESSONS OF PRESIDENT BUSH’S LIFE STILL APPLY TODAY:

“Well, it's been a really interesting few days for me, Dana. You and I both worked for his son as well. My hope is that the kind of character traits that have been talked about in relation to George H.W. Bush will have an impact around here. Basically what he stood for was a man of principle, a man who had strong beliefs, but realized that to get something done, you've got to respect the other person and respect their point of view and that your political opponents are not enemies, but rather they're people to work with for the good of the country. My hope is in all of the reflections over the last few days that we remember that and that glow continues not just through the lame duck session where we've got some things we've got to get done to keep the government from shutting down, but also into the next year. We're going to have divided government for the first time in a long time. He managed as president with strong, democratic majorities in the House and Senate, to get things done. That's a good lesson for all of us.” 

PORTMAN ON PRESIDENT BUSH’S SUCCESSES AS PRESIDENT: 

“I was involved in the re-election, trying to help him. I returned home. I was a volunteer on his campaign back in Ohio. When you look at the county by county analysis, there's no question that if Ross Perot hadn’t been in the race, he would have won Ohio. He still had to win a couple of other states, but I tend to agree with you. He likely would have been re-elected. Even so, as a one-term president, his influence spread both before and after that. As vice president, he really took an unprecedented role that later, frankly, others like Al Gore and Dick Cheney were able to take advantage of in that he was hands on. Ronald Reagan trusted him. They worked very closely together. After his presidency, the economic success that came, you recall that fourth quarter of 1992, when he was defeated as president, 4.2 percent economic growth. So he started that, which ended up being a balanced budget by 1999. So I think his influence was greater than a typical one for a lot of reasons. One big one being on the foreign policy side as well, where what he did in terms of managing the end of the Cold War when the wall came down, reunifying Germany, ensuring that respect was shown, not just to Gorbachev, but to these eastern and central European countries that were finding their footing as free countries, that was incredibly important that goes well beyond that one term.” 

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