Tributes poured in overnight to President George H.W. Bush.
The Republican leader boasted a strong connection to Florida, and leaders in the Sunshine State paid their respects along with the nation.
Most notably, former Gov. Jeb Bush, who released kind words about his father:
“I already miss the greatest human being that I will ever know. Love you Dad!”
Erin Gaetz, founder of Southpaw Content, also shared with Florida Politics video of Jeb Bush talking about his father. The clip was filmed while the younger Bush he ran for president in 2018. In it, he reiterates his deep respect for his father, including as a veteran.
“My dad would never consider himself a war hero,” Jeb Bush said.
“At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Navy. He was the youngest Navy pilot in World War II. His mission was to hit the towers on Chichi Jima Island. And he completed the mission. He got shot down and he crashed into the Pacific and was unconscious in a raft and was almost taken as a prisoner of war. Thankfully, a reconnaissance flight saw him there and there was a submarine in the vicinity and they got to him first. Thank God for our family that my Dad survived that. This guy is the real deal.”
Other Florida leaders chimed in on news of the elder Bush’s death as well:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:
“When any public figure passes away, it causes us to pause and reflect on the life they lived. I came of age during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. He was our President when I graduated from high school in 1989. He was the first presidential candidate I ever voted for in 1992. I even dressed as him for Halloween in 1991! It is difficult to fully appreciate a great man in the middle of their time of service, but both then and in hindsight, President Bush was an example of true public service. As a young student and later as an elected official starting out in public life, President Bush’s intellect, leadership, and moral courage influenced me greatly.
“He was an American hero of a kind we may never see again.
“His record of service to our nation has no contemporary parallel. He volunteered for service in World War II, becoming the youngest aviator in the Navy at the time of his enlistment. Then, he went on to serve our nation as a Congressman from Texas, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief diplomat in China, Director of the CIA, Vice President of the United States, and President of the United States.
“But beyond his extraordinary record of service, George H.W. Bush deserves to be remembered for the profound personal example he set for all Americans. He was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He instilled in his family a drive for serving others and giving back to the American people. He continued to show his quality in the latter years of his life, when he devoted himself to charity, befriended his once adversary in President Clinton, and even shaved his head in solidarity with a young cancer patient whose father served in his Secret Service detail. From beginning to end, George Bush’s life was a life well lived.
“George H.W. Bush once pledged that he would, ‘keep America moving forward, always forward — for a better America, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light.’ President Bush wasn’t just one of those points of light himself, he was among the brightest of them. He has already heard his creator say to him ‘Well done my good and faithful servant.’ May he rest in eternal peace.”
Gov. and U.S. Sen.-elect Rick Scott:
“Today, the world lost a statesman who was the symbol of the highest level of civil commitment and who helped weave the fabric of an America that represents freedom and prosperity. The contributions of George H.W. Bush to our country were beyond that of his presidency. As a Naval aviator and fighter pilot, Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of the CIA, Vice President and President, George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to service to our nation and vowed to use his presidency and the power of our nation as “a force for good.” I have had the privilege of knowing the Bush family for years and am incredibly grateful to have met such a genuine, gracious and kind man. The United States of America is stronger today because of the selfless service of 41. Ann and I send our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Bush family as they mourn the loss and celebrate the amazing life of George H.W. Bush.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:
“George H.W. Bush modeled the best of public service. He was a servant leader. And that’s why the nation unanimously mourns for him.”
Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis:
“Few Americans have served our country in as many different and important capacities as George H.W. Bush. As a naval aviator, as a legislator, as an intelligence chief, as a diplomat and, of course, as Vice President and President of the United States, President Bush amassed prodigious accomplishments and he did it all with uncommon grace, class and honor.
“Appreciation of his achievements will only continue to grow as the years go by. President Bush was an American hero, a faithful servant and the greatest Yalie of them all.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz:
“George H.W. Bush was a man of strong conviction who led our nation with dignity and grace. He was a steady hand in tumultuous times and a powerful advocate for freedom on the world stage.
“I am grieved to learn of his passing. My prayers are with the entire Bush family.”
U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn:
“Our nation grieves today for the entire Bush family with the loss of President George H.W. Bush.
“From Naval aviator, to congressman, ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President, and President of the United States, George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to humbly serving our country. In every aspect of his life, he worked to create a kind and greater nation. We should all strive to live like George H.W. Bush.
“He put it best in saying, ‘be bold in your caring, be bold in your dreaming and above all else, always do your best.’ Fair winds and following seas — may he rest in peace.”
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, Florida Delegation co-chair:
“George H.W. Bush was an American patriot, a man of tremendous character and a devoted husband and father. He was the very definition of a public servant.
“My condolences go out to the Bush family.”
U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster:
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of President George H W Bush. An American hero, he loved his family and country and dedicated his entire life to serving both. His legacy of integrity, patriotism, kindness, and servant leadership is an example for us all. My heart goes out to my friend Jeb and the entire Bush family.
“Thank you for sharing your dad with us. Sandy and I are praying for you all.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
“With the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush, America has lost a veteran, patriot and true public servant. The 41st President made life better for the disabled and immigrants, and he nobly urged each of us to be part of a ‘thousand points of light’ for others.
“This Cold Warrior, who aspired to ‘peaceful skies,’ was the epitome of humility and respect for the high office he held, and was a model for every president to follow. His dedication to family, country and a greater cause are the true legacies that he and the love of his life Barbara leave behind for future generations. My thoughts and condolences are with the entire Bush family as the nation mourns his loss.”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:
“President George H.W. Bush was an inspiration to all of us. A president, father, husband, friend & American hero. He was a compassionate & determined leader.
“Although he has passed, his memory will continue to inspire our cmnty for decades to come. My condolences to the Bush family.”
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson:
“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. His life was defined by an inspiring commitment to public service.
“I admired his steadfast to the causes he believed in. I am grateful to his family for having shared him with all of us.”
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy:
“George H.W. Bush was the epitome of a statesman — WW2 pilot, ambassador, CIA director, VP, and the 41st President. He was beloved by his family, exuded grace and integrity, and will be deeply missed by the nation he served so well.
“RIP, Mr. President.”
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto:
“Rest In Peace President George H.W. Bush. Thank you for your service to our country and for signing these key initiatives into law: Americans w Disabilities Act of 1990; Civil Rights Act of 1991; Clean Air Act (Reauthorization); Immigration Act of 1990.”
U.S. Rep. Val Demings:
“Pilot, veteran, congressman, ambassador, president, statesman. George H.W. Bush always put the American people first. His duty, loyalty, honor, and integrity were unquestionable.
“Thank you for your service, President Bush. Rest In peace.”
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist:
“‘When the word moderation becomes a dirty word, we have some soul searching to do.’ — President George H.W. Bush. Remembering a true public servant’s words of wisdom as we mourn the loss of an American patriot, leader, and statesman. Praying for the Bush family during this difficult time.”
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor:
“Sending condolences from Tampa Bay area to Bush family and friends during this sad time. President George H.W. Bush was an honorable man who loved America and devoted his life to service.”
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of President George H.W. Bush. He was a patriot and statesmen in every sense. Cindy and I convey our sincerest condolences to the Bush family. During this difficult time, we find solace that President Bush is reunited with his beloved wife, Barbara, for eternity.
“May God continue to bless the Bush family and this great nation.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel:
“Sending my deepest condolences to the Bush family as the nation mourns with them the loss of George H.W. Bush. May he Rest In Peace.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch:
“I join in mourning President George HW Bush & remember his fierce commitment to service & boldly optimistic view of our nation & world. From his Inaugural: ‘America today is a proud, free nation, decent and civil — a place we cannot help but love.’ RIP.”
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson:
“Condolences to the Bush family on the loss of their beloved patriarch. President George H.W. Bush gave a lifetime of service to our nation and is an American treasure. May he Rest In Peace.”
U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart:
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of President George H.W. Bush. President Bush was an American patriot who dedicated himself to our country through decades of public service.
“With grace and honor, he led the United States during a time of war, the collapsing of communism in much of Eastern Europe, and ultimately through a difficult transfer of power at home. Though we have lost this legendary man on earth, I am comforted knowing that he is reunited with his wife Barbara and daughter Robin.
“Tia and I send our condolences to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who shared their loving parents and grandparents with a grateful nation.”
U.S. Rep.-elect Donna Shalala:
“I would like to express my deepest condolences and sympathies to the Bush Family on the passing of their patriarch, George H.W. Bush. His was a life well lived — war hero, Ambassador to the UN, Director of National Intelligence, Vice President and President. He was a true patriot who cared deeply for this nation and served our country with dignity and humility.
“But as towering as his contributions to our Republic were, he will also be celebrated for the love and care he bestowed on his family and his beloved Barbara.
“I will always remember President Bush as a kind and decent man. Those are qualities that we can all revere and aspire to. He will be missed.”
U.S. Rep.-elect Michael Waltz:
“WWII Naval Aviator, Congressman, Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President, And President … But most of all, husband and dad. He was the brightest of his thousand points of light.
“And the world is a little darker today. A true Servant Leader.”
State Senate President Bill Galvano:
“From a young age, George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to serving our country, setting an example for all Americans. Our prayers are with our friends Jeb Bush and Columba Bush and the entire family.
“We join you in celebrating a tremendous life and legacy.”
State Speaker of the House Jose Oliva:
“Very few Americans leave such an indelible stamp on the story of freedom as President George HW Bush. From the battlefields of the South Pacific to the battlefields of Washington DC, President Bush was a man of principle, character, and honor and all Americans were blessed by his service.
“He now joins a pantheon of patriots whose selfless devotion to service made this nation the best hope of man on earth. Our loss as a nation is tempered by the fact that he is reunited with his beloved wife, Barbara.
“On behalf of the entire Florida House of Representatives, I offer our sincerest condolences to the Bush family — especially our former Governor Jeb Bush.”
State Rep. Kionne McGhee, House Democratic Leader:
“Late yesterday, we received news of the passing of a political giant and a tireless public servant. President H.W. Bush was a dedicated leader that devoted his life to the service of our great country.
“While I am deeply saddened by the passing of President H.W. Bush, I am grateful to be able to honor the accomplishments of this untiring patriot who brought compassion and a vision of opportunity and faith to this nation. My condolences are with the Bush family and all those mourning the lost life of this American hero.
“May God bless President George Herbert Walker Bush. My prayers are with you and your family.”
Republican National Committee chair (and sometimes Longboat Key resident) Ronna Romney McDaniel:
“We mourn the passing of an American patriot, former President George H.W. Bush. President Bush dedicated himself to serving his country in many roles: a naval aviator, a congressman, an ambassador, RNC chairman, CIA director, vice president, and commander in chief.
“He stood for American strength and cared deeply for the American people, alongside his late wife Barbara. President Bush’s legacy of bold leadership, patriotism, and humanitarianism will live on long after his passing.
“We at the RNC are praying for the entire Bush family.”
Republican Party of Florida chair Blaise Ingoglia:
“Today, we mourn the passing of a truly amazing American leader, an experienced statesman, and a man who always put our nation first. President George H.W. Bush displayed the utmost love for country since his time as a Navy pilot until his days as Commander in Chief.
“He will always be remembered as a man of integrity and patriotism, and it is with a heavy heart that we extend our condolences to the Bush Family, and keep them in our prayers during this difficult time.”
Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly:
“Such a decent man.”
Rick Wilson, Florida political consultant:
“George Herbert Walker Bush has passed. He is in heaven with his beloved Barbara tonight. We will not see his like again. A modest hero, he left a legacy of honorable service to the nation he loved.
“It was a deep honor to serve in his Administration. RIP, 41. Godspeed, sir.”
Trail Life USA chair John Stemberger:
“Man knows not his time.”
Chris King, former Lieutenant Governor candidate:
“Kristen and I were saddened to learn of President Bush’s passing last night. Whether it was in the cockpit of his TBM Avenger, the Oval Office, or across the world in his private philanthropy, George Bush served our country nobly. Rest In Peace.”