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Bush Praises Nixon, 16 Years After Urging Resignation With AM-Nixon Library, Bjt

July 20, 1990 GMT

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) _ Sixteen years after urging President Nixon to resign, President Bush praised the nation’s 37th chief executive Thursday and urged fellow Americans to ″look at Richard Nixon, the man.″

Bush, standing with Nixon and former presidents Reagan and Ford, made only passing reference to the Watergate scandal that wrecked Nixon’s presidency, noting only that it was Nixon’s ″seventh crisis.″

Nixon, who wrote a book called Six Crises, served in ″tumultuous times,″ he said.

Bush, speaking at the dedication of the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace, focused on Nixon’s foreign policy achievements and other successes. He said, ″Richard Nixon helped change the course not only of America but of the entire world.″

He cited Nixon’s trip to China and his peace efforts in the Middle East, and he said, ″Who can forget how in Moscow, Richard Nixon signed the first agreement to limit strategic nuclear arms - giving new hope to the world for a lasting peace?″

Bush credited Nixon with working for ″returning power to the people″ with revenue sharing and other programs to shift powers to state and local governments. He also hailed Nixon’s environmental initiatives and his decision to end the military draft.

At the outdoor ceremony in 90-degree heat, Bush said that he would say to visitors to the nation’s 10th presidential library, due to open on Friday, ″Look at Richard Nixon the man.″

A beaming Nixon said, ″This is the first time I’ve ever been introduced by the president of the United States.″

After the dedication, the four presidents had lunch together, the first time that has happened. Former President Carter was invited but declined.

Bush, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote a letter to Nixon on Aug. 7, 1974, saying his resignation would be ″best for the country.″

Nixon resigned two days later.

Before the library ceremony, Bush attended a private fund-raising reception in Anaheim, Calif., that was expected to raise $300,000 for the California Republican Party.

After the dedication ceremony and lunch at the presidential museum, Bush flew to Boise, Idaho, to bolster the Senate campaign of Rep. Larry Craig.

In Boise Bush called on the Democratic-led Congress to break the impasse over budget negotiations.

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Noting that ″I did my part″ by reversing his 1988 ″no new taxes″ pledge, Bush told a GOP fundraiser for Republican Senate candidate Larry Craig: ″Now it’s their turn.″

″I have said I’ll negotiate without preconditions,″ Bush said in prepared remarks. ″And I will.″

He called the congressional budget process ″clumsy and illogical - and at worst, cynical and chaotic. In short, a metaphor for what’s wrong with Washington today.″

Bush’s ties with Nixon go back to the early 1960s. Nixon stumped in Texas for Bush in his unsuccessful race for Senate in 1964 and also appeared at the kickoff of Bush’s successful 1966 run for a House seat from Houston.

Nixon passed over Bush in picking Spiro Agnew as his running mate in 1968, but in 1970 he tapped the Texan as U.N. ambassador and three years later recruiting him as Republican national chairman.

In that office, Bush finally wrote to the then-president: ″It is my considered judgment that you should now resign. ... I now feel that resignation is best for the country, best for this president.″

Bush, as president, has consulted several times with Nixon.

At one point Thursday, he joked that Nixon’s dog while he was vice president, Checkers, was ″Millie’s role model.″ Millie is the Bush family’s pet spaniel.

Bush praised Nixon as the author of eight books, ″each composed on his famous yellow legal pads,″ and as a man who, ″like his favorite author, Tolstoy, admired the dignity of manual labor.″

He also praised Nixon’s wife Pat as ″a mirror of America’s heart and love.″