George H.W. Bush Inscribes a Photograph to Lee Atwater, the Man Who Made Him President

It shows him accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, and is signed that very day

Purchase $8,000

Lee Atwater engineered Bush’s come-from-behind victory in the 1988 election. After a short tutelage as a Republican election consultant in his native South Carolina, where he got a reputation as an take-no-prisoners campaigner, he went to Washington and became an aide in the Reagan administration, working under political director Ed Rollins. In...

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George H.W. Bush Inscribes a Photograph to Lee Atwater, the Man Who Made Him President

It shows him accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, and is signed that very day

Lee Atwater engineered Bush’s come-from-behind victory in the 1988 election. After a short tutelage as a Republican election consultant in his native South Carolina, where he got a reputation as an take-no-prisoners campaigner, he went to Washington and became an aide in the Reagan administration, working under political director Ed Rollins. In 1984, Rollins managed Reagan’s re-election campaign, and Atwater became the campaign’s deputy director and political director. Rollins later described Atwater as “ruthless”. During those years in Washington, Atwater became aligned with Vice President George H.W. Bush, who chose him as his campaign manager for his 1988 presidential bid. Atwater developed a particularly aggressive media program featuring television advertisements designed to implement the Republican “Southern strategy” by playing on racial fears – the Willie Horton ads – and the idea that Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was a lightweight unqualified to lead the military – the tank ads. The Horton ad campaign created a public opinion that Dukakis might be too liberal, and the ad that ridiculed Dukakis for riding in a tank by implying he was trying to seem military when he was not, were instrumental in Bush overcoming Dukakis’ 17-percent lead in early public opinion polls, and win both the electoral and popular vote by landslide margins.

Atwater was only 37 years old when Mr. Bush named him chairman of the Republican National Committee as a reward for managing the 1988 campaign. There Atwater focused on undermining Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley and organizing a public relations campaign against Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, who he viewed as a serious potential threat to Bush in the 1992 election. However, Atwater soon developed brain cancer, and he died March 29, 1991, at the age of 40.

An 8 by 10 inch presentation color signed photograph showing Bush standing triumphantly before the Republican Nation Convention accepting its presidential nomination, inscribed “To Lee Atwater, August 18, 1988. A real ‘pro’, with many thanks on this special day.” It is still in its original George Bush frame. We obtained this directly from the Atwater heirs, and it has never before been offered for sale.

Purchase Now $8,000

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