Governor of Texas and U.S. presidential candidate. Born July 6, 1946, in New Haven, Connecticut. Bush—often referred to as simply W.—is the eldest son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush. He grew up in Midland, Texas, where his father worked in the oil business. His siblings include Jeb (now governor of Florida), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died tragically of leukemia in 1953, at the age of three. Like his father, Bush attended the prestigious Philips Andover Academy in Massachusetts before matriculating at Yale University. He graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in 1968, then returned to Texas and joined the Texas Air National Guard, where he learned to fly fighter jets. He eventually became a lieutenant, but was never called on to fight in Vietnam.
The early 1970s marked a distinctly unfocused period in Bush’s life, as he moved back to East Texas and worked intermittently as a management trainee at an agricultural firm and on U.S. Senate campaigns in Florida and Alabama. (In response to questions from reporters about possible drug use and heavy drinking during his bachelor days in Midland, Bush has called the early 1970s his “nomadic” period and has somewhat evasively stated that he would pass a background check going back as far as 1974.) In 1972, Bush entered Harvard Business School, earning his M.B.A. in 1975.
Still following in the footsteps of his father, Bush decided to try his hand in the oil business. He returned to Midland and formed an independent oil and gas exploration company that he called Arbusto (the Spanish word for “bush”). He married Laura Welch, a former teacher and librarian, in 1977. In 1981, she gave birth to their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
In the midst of his business ventures, Bush joined the 1978 race for the U.S. House of Representatives. After a tough victory in the primaries, Bush ran in the general election against Democratic State Senator Kent Hance. He displayed prodigious fundraising capabilities, setting a new Texas record for a House candidate. In the end, however, he lost to Hance by six percentage points.
As the declining oil prices of the early 1980s took their toll on his company (by now renamed Bush Exploration), Bush accepted an offer to merge with an oil-investing fund called Spectrum 7, and became a chairman of the resulting corporation.
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George W. Bush biography
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