WASHINGTON -- “Certainly no ego,” says Frank Donatelli, remembering George H.W. Bush on Monday.
His memories of the 41st president come from his time working closely with the late president on his 1980s campaign and in the Reagan White House.
“A lot more hair than I have now,” joked Donatelli as he showed a photo he still holds onto at his K St. Northwest office.
The colors may have faded a bit, but you can clearly see both Donatelli and Bush smiling with the Washington Monument emerging between them. The photo is dated April 17, 1985.
The message from Bush to Donatelli reads, “With appreciation for all you’ve done. Good luck! Friendship and respect too.”
It certainly goes both ways.
“He managed the end of the Cold War brilliantly, without firing a shot. Didn’t do a lap dance didn’t anger the hard liners in the Soviet Union,” said Donatelli. The long-time political advisor is one of the most important things Bush did for the country.
The other, he says, was creating the international coalition that would launch Operation Desert Storm and defeat Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.
On politics, Donatelli says, “What I think about when I think about President Bush is: Service to country and also his kindness and decency to friend and foe alike – and his willingness to reach across the aisle to find solutions to America’s problems.”
“It seems to be in short supply today in politics. Kind-of an all or nothing approach. When in point-a-fact, there are solutions where everybody could win a little...and the country could win a lot,” Donatelli added.
Donatelli is still working in politics. He’s an Executive VP with McGuire-Woods Consulting. He’s worked with numerous high-profile politicians and cherishes the more personable moments.
When asked about a fond memory of George H.W. Bush, he recalled a conversation on the campaign advice. Donatelli says he told Vice President at the time, “I know you’re from Houston, but make sure to say something nice about the Steelers” while you’re in Pennsylvania.
Donatelli says he always remembered the laugh they shared after his comment.