either avoided a run at all or bowed out as then-Governor Bush
entered the presidential field in 1999. He quickly built a potent
fundraising machine and his campaign's bank account soon towered
over those of his GOP primary opponents.
before he could move to take on Vice President Al Gore, the likely
Democratic nominee, he had to fight off a surprisingly strong
run by Republican Party maverick Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Following a win in more party-faithful Iowa, the Texas governor
lost the New Hampshire primary to McCain.
Mr. Bush battled
back and captured the next contest in South Carolina, but then
suffered two more losses in Michigan and McCain's home state of
appeared headed for a long fight until the multi-state Super Tuesday
contests. There, better financed and with more institutional party
support, Governor Bush was able to chalk up wins in larger, critical
states like Ohio, New York, Missouri and California. Within days
McCain ceded the contest, but not after providing the defeat and
the shock that Mr. Bush, observers have said, needs to excel.
were questions as to whether [George W. Bush] was tough enough,
whether he was a heavyweight. Well, he took some pretty good hits.
He got knocked down. He dusted himself off. He got up and fought
back," Republican Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, an early
backer of Mr. Bush, told the NewsHour after Super Tuesday. "I
think his stature as a candidate has improved dramatically. I
think he's a much stronger candidate for our party because of
the strong challenge that Senator McCain presented."
election campaign between Al Gore and George Bush turned out to
be the closest in modern political history. For months the two
fired back at one another, but in the end the rivals ended up
statistically tied. Mr. Gore garnered nearly half a million more
votes, but the Electoral College tally, after a month-long legal
fight over recounting ballots in Florida, went to Mr. Bush.
It was not
an electoral victory, but a legal one that clinched the Florida
vote -- and the presidency, for George Bush. In a narrow 5-4 decision,
the U.S. Supreme Court ended the on-again, off-again recount in
Florida. The final tally, reached 36 days after the election,
gave Mr. Bush a 537-vote win in the state and a four-vote win
in the Electoral College.
In the wake
of the political and legal controversy, Mr. Bush struck a conciliatory
tone, seeking to unify a nation deeply divided over the results.
a difficult election we must put politics behind us and work together
to make the promise of America available for every one of our
citizens. I'm optimistic that we can change the tone in Washington,
D.C.," George Bush said in Texas the night Gore conceded.
"I believe things happen for a reason and I hope the long
wait of the last five weeks will heighten the desire to move beyond
the bitterness and partisanship of the recent past. Our nation
must rise above a house divided."
-- By Lee Banville, Online NewsHour