“He will be remembered as a good and faithful servant to his country, whose great legacy of leadership and love of homeland became a family tradition, earned him the admiration of countless Americans, and secured him a special place in the memory of every Texan,” Sen. Cruz said. “Over his storied career, President Bush was a war hero, and a businessman, a legislator, and an ambassador. His eight years as Vice President prepared him well for the heavy burdens of the nation’s highest office. Steering our nation with a steady and strong hand at the helm through the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the First Gulf War. Indeed, of his legacy as president, that calm, steady, strong leadership as America won the Cold War will no doubt be his enduring legacy.”
Watch Sen. Cruz’s floor speech in its entirety here. The full text of his remarks is below:
“Mr. President, I rise today to honor the life and legacy of the late George Herbert Walker Bush.
“This week, American hearts are heavy as we bid farewell to our 41st president.
“Since we heard the news of his passing just a few days ago, there has been a ceaseless stream of communications, and commemorations, and testimonies to President Bush’s character from every corner of our nation. From the worlds of politics, philanthropy, entertainment, business, the armed forces, and from our living ex-presidents.
“Even those who were his rivals and critics during his public life have returned to praise that life, so well and honorably lived.
“He will be remembered as a good and faithful servant to his country, whose great legacy of leadership and love of homeland became a family tradition, earned him the admiration of countless Americans, and secured him a special place in the memory of every Texan.
“Over his storied career, President Bush was a war hero, and a businessman, a legislator, and an ambassador. His eight years as vice president prepared him well for the heavy burdens of the nation’s highest office. Steering our nation with a steady and strong hand at the helm through the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the First Gulf War.
“Indeed, of his legacy as president, that calm, steady, strong leadership as America won the Cold War will no doubt be his enduring legacy.
“A great many of us in this body were blessed to know President Bush personally and to have experiences where he and Barbara touched our lives. For me, my favorite experience with President George Herbert Walker Bush occurred in 2009.
“In 2009, I was beginning a campaign for Attorney General in the state of Texas. It appeared that that job would be vacant, and I was campaigning to fill it. I had never run for office before and President Bush invited me to come up to the family home up in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“And so I got in a plane and I flew up to Maine. I remember sitting on that plane wondering what to say to him and what to ask of him. I didn’t know President Bush. I didn’t know Barbara. And I remember at the end of the day resolving that I wasn’t going to ask for anything other than simply his advice. To say, ‘Mr. President, you are an elder statesman who has spent decades in public service. What advice would you give to someone running their very first campaign for public office? What advice, what path should I endeavor to follow?’
“Well I assumed that the meeting would be a 10 to 20 minute meeting, a perfunctory meeting. It was very kind of him to take it. But I didn’t expect much from the meeting. When I sat down, I was amazed. First of all that he knew everything about the race, all the potential players who might be running for that position, and he knew a great deal about my background, which had me utterly flabbergasted because we didn’t know each other. It was obvious that he had been briefed and prepared before the meeting. He had put in that time.
“After about 20 minutes, he asked me, he said, ‘Ted when’s your flight back?’
“And I said, ‘Well, it’s in a couple of hours. I’m flying out of Boston.’
“And he said, ‘Well can you maybe stay and go out on the boat with Barbara and me?’
“I laughed and I said, ‘Mr. President, plane reservations can be easily changed. I’ll stay here as long as you would like me, Mr. President.’
“So he looked at me — I was wearing a suit — and he said, ‘Well that’s clearly not going to do.’ He brought me to a golf cart — we were meeting in an office which was a separate building — he took me to a golf cart and drove on the golf cart to the residence. And he took me back to his and Barbara’s bedroom, opened his closet and he pulled out a pair of jeans. He pulled out a shirt. He pulled out a belt with a buckle that said, ‘President of the United States.’ It was his belt.
“And he said, ‘Here Ted, put this on.’
“So I dressed in the president’s clothes and we went out in the boat. Now it’s worth remembering, President Bush was a former Naval Aviator. He drove the boat and drove it full speed with the throttle pushed as far as it would go.
“It was a beautiful, cool summer day. Along the Maine shore with waves splashing in the air, there was a light rain in the midst. Barbara sat at the front of the boat with rain pelting her face, and she was smiling and glowing. And at the time, we were in the midst of the so-called green revolution in Iran. And so I remember asking him, ‘Mr. President what do you think about what’s happening in Iran? What do you think about the changes?’ And just marveling — what on earth am I doing in this boat, crashing through the waves, listening to President George Herbert Walker Bush give me his thoughts on national security and the interests of the United States?
“We had, by the way, Secret Service agents in zodiac boats following as fast as they could, and having trouble keeping up with the president.
“So I ended up having lunch with President Bush and Barbara. We went to a little restaurant where we had some Maine lobster. Ended up spending four and a half hours with them.
“When I was getting ready to leave, I was walking to the door; I was thanking him for spending so much time. And he reached in his pocket and he pulled out a check. A check for $1000 for my Attorney General campaign.
“You could have knocked me over with a stick. I am not someone known for being at a loss for words. And I simply stared at him and stammered. I think I barely got out the words ‘thank you.’ But I was so astonished and the check simply said from George and Barbara Bush.
“I went and got in the rental car, began driving back to the airport, and I called Heidi. And I said, ‘Heidi, I just had the most magical, unbelievable day.’
“Now Mr. President, he didn’t have to do any of that. He didn’t have to give me the time of day. But he poured his heart into the people around him, into his family, into his public service, and into his nation. That was just one small illustration of the graciousness, the generosity, the humility of spirit that characterized his entire 94 years on this planet.
“President Bush was the last of the Greatest Generation to sit in the Oval Office, but his resolve will not be lost to the past; it will triumph onward.
“In his words: ‘the old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.’
“The 91st Psalm is sometimes called the soldier’s or the warrior’s psalm, because it asks the Lord for protection against a litany of foes, and promises a refuge and a fortress in Him.
“But it ends with the two most important gifts that can be bestowed on the faithful warrior: ‘I shall satisfy him with a long life, and grant him to see my salvation.’
“Having enjoyed that first gift, an incredible life of 94 years of making a difference, may President Bush now enjoy the second, bestowed upon a good and faithful servant.
“Now, George and his beloved Barbara are together at last with their daughter Robin, and they’re enjoying a well-deserved rest from their labors.
“Now, his spirit has joined a thousand points of light with his Creator, by whose brilliance may all our works be illuminated and inspired.
“President George Herbert Walker Bush leaves behind six children, 17 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. He and Barbara were married for 73 years, the longest presidential marriage in the history of the United States.
“God bless the memory of President George Herbert Walker Bush. God bless the legacy of service that he and Barbara instilled in generation after generation of the Bush family.
“Texas and America are far better for having known and loved him.”