President Donald Trump took a dig at the Bush political family’s legacy at his Thursday night Rally in Great Falls, Montana, calling into question the famous Peggy Noonan-penned aphorism then-Vice President George H.W. Bush used in his 1988 acceptance of the Republican nomination for president.
“I will keep America moving forward, always forward — for a better America, for an endless, enduring dream, and a thousand points of light,” the elder President Bush told delegates at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans in 1988.
The phrase became a signature florish of Bush’s in the years to follow, being used again in his first inaugural address and lending its name to the charity President Bush founded and with which his family has been involved, the Points of Light Foundation.
But president Trump saw it as a poor comparison to his own turns of phrase like “Make America Great Again.”
“All the rhetoric you see here, the ‘thousand points of light,’ what the hell was that by the way?,” Trump joked with the rally crowd, who came to see Trump as he stumped for Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale.
“‘Thousand points of light.’ What does that mean? Does anyone know?” Trump joked. “I know one thing. ‘Make America Great Again’ we understand. ‘Putting America first,’ we understand. ‘Thousand points of light,’ I never quite got that one.”
“And it was put out by a Republican,” Trump added, as if to make clear the target of his barbs, whom he never mentioned by name in his speech.
Whatever he made of George H.W. Bush’s campaign rhetoric, Trump supported him in the 1988 election. On hand at the Republican National Convention where Bush delivered his “Thousand Points of Light” speech, Trump told CNN’s Larry King that “I listened to George Bush, I listened to what he said, and I believe very strongly in what he said. I think he is going to be a great president.”
The elder former president Bush did not return the favor. “I don’t like him,” George H.W. Bush told a biographer last year. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.”