George H.W. Bush recounts harrowing plane crash

Before entering public service, President George H.W. Bush was a World War II fighter pilot whose plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. In 2002, CNN went back to the site of the crash to recount Bush's emotional journey.

Posted: Dec 2, 2018 10:50 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2018 11:04 PM

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died late Friday at age 94, believed that politics doesn't ever need to be "nasty," according to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Powell told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Bush, whom he served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during his presidency, "lived" by his belief that "because you run against each other, that doesn't mean you're enemies. Politics doesn't have to be uncivil and nasty."

"I wish we could get some of that back in our system now," Powell said, adding, "he was a great president, and he was a perfect American."

Powell told CNN about his interactions with Bush during the Gulf War and the end of the Cold War.

"He cared about every single soldier, sailor, airman and Marine we sent over there," he said.

Powell said Bush, who served in World War II, would listen closely to him and his advisers before making a decision about any actions that could result in American casualties.

"I think he was a great commander in chief," Powell said. "And his military experience, of course, had a lot to do with that as well. He knew what combat was all about. He knew that this was not a game. It was a war, and we had to do it well, we had to do it right."

Powell also spoke about a moment he said he'll never forget, soon after Bush lost his bid for presidency to Bill Clinton in 1992. After Powell and his family were invited to Camp David after the election, he and Bush took a walk where the former president confessed to Powell that it "hurt" to be defeated.

"He hated losing," Powell said.

But Powell reiterated that Bush never wavered in his commitment to his country.

"The service he gave to America will not be matched anytime soon. And the experience he brought to the office will never be matched anytime soon," Powell said.

"America mourns for an American who gave it his very, very all."

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