Vice President Clint Eastwood? George H.W. Bush Nearly Made His Day

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George H.W. Bush, then a Presidential nominee, reportedly nearly turned to Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood to revive his faltering 1988 campaign. 

Presumably Bush, as Clint’s Dirty Harry might have memorably put it, was feeling lucky enough to not go down the star-studded route, as he ultimately went with Dan Quayle and that ticket defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis. But that’s not to say that the Bush campaign wasn’t sufficiently intrigued by Eastwood to put him in play.

This backstory comes from over 350 hours of audio interviews with 50 senior officials from the George H.W. Bush administration released last week by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

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“When we were way behind,” former Bush campaign chairman and Secretary of State James Baker said, “honestly, [Eastwood] was suggested in not an altogether unserious – Well, he was a mayor. He was a Republican mayor.”  And it’s that interest in politics which doesn’t make the Eastwood revelation that surprising. In case you only know Clint as an action figure and now celebrated director, Eastwood did serve a term as mayor of conservative-leaning Carmel, California between 1986 and 1988.

Baker does go on to say, “Anyway, it was shot down pretty quick. But we were looking at an 18-point deficit,” which is quite possibly a subtle way of confessing that all bets were off if they thought the campaign was in real danger of being blown out. Then again, the winning President in 1988 was going to be taking over from a man who knew a thing or two about acting: Ronald Reagan. (via ABC)

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Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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