Revived Bush plans major address, image repair in final weeks

December 06, 1992|By James Gerstenzang | James Gerstenzang,Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- With President-elect Bill Clinton's inauguration in sight, President Bush is preparing for the final weeks of his presidency and will deliver at least one major address presenting his view of the world as he leaves office.

Using President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous "military-industrial complex" address as a model, Mr. Bush is expected to give one such "farewell" speech -- and possibly as many as three -- in the coming weeks.

The themes will draw on his three decades in national office and turn a national spotlight on "the challenges we'll be looking at" in coming years and the "post-Cold War world missions for the United States," an aide said.

Supporters believe that the speeches could begin the process of repairing Mr. Bush's image, battered by the recession in his final year in office and the results at the polls a month ago.

"I would look at it as the first foray into the kinds of things he should do as someone who has served the country all these years and as someone who has served in the White House," said a White House aide, who asked to remain anonymous.

Mr. Bush's focus on the future and the renewed flurry of activity in the Oval Office as he assembled a military operation to Somalia reflect the renewed energy that he is devoting to his job in the final weeks.

"There was a natural ebb after the election," the official said.

But now, despite the weariness apparent in his face, the 68-year-old president is said to have regained the bounce in his step as he devotes his energy to opportunities remaining to him in December and January.

The demands of deploying as many as 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia, and gaining international support and contributions for the United Nations mission, were said by one presidential adviser to have reminded Mr. Bush that despite his lame-duck status, he has a job to do.

"It brought home to him that his moment in history is not yet over, and he has a lot of wisdom and experience to apply to the challenges we are still facing," he said.

A White House official said that Mr. Bush will deliver a foreign policy speech on Dec. 15 at Texas A&M University.

He also tentatively plans a second foreign policy address in January at one of the military service academies and a domestic policy speech on the state of the nation as he bids it farewell.

Texas A&M was chosen because the institution in College Station, Texas, will be home to his presidential library and was the site of one of the first major foreign policy addresses of his presidency. Besides, said a senior White House official, the White House felt that Mr. Bush could count on a friendly reception from the largely conservative student body.

In his speech there in 1989, Mr. Bush recognized that "a new breeze is blowing across the steppes and the cities of the Soviet Union."

He challenged then-Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to take concrete moves toward new openings with the West. And he summed up the four months of administration review of the U.S.-Soviet relationship that marked the beginning of his presidency.

Thirty-two years ago, at much the same generational watershed, President Eisenhower delivered a radio address to the nation three days before he turned over the White House to President John F. Kennedy.

He called on the nation to "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." It was his best-remembered address.

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