When I was in college, I sold two chocolate crunch bars to President George H. W. Bush when he was running in the Republican primary against Ronald Reagan. My class was having a candy sale to raise money and one of the young Republicans who lived in the dorm had arranged a field trip to a campaign event in his home state of New Hampshire. I figured here was a mark who couldn’t say no.
My young Republican friend was proud of the fact that he had been with Bush since the beginning. In fact, he had a pin that indicated that he was part of the three percent club. He had been with Bush since he was at three percent in the polls. This didn’t impress me. It just indicated that his father worked for the Company.
As Bush entered the hall I approached him. He was surrounded by six men in black. I said, “Mr. Bush, my class is having a candy sale to raise money. Would you like to buy a chocolate crunch bar?”
He said, “Get me on the way out, Kid.”
This was not a Frank Capra movie from the 1930s and yet he called me “Kid.” This did not bode well for his campaign.
I’m sure he made some speech that I wasn’t very interested in and then he made the mistake of leaving the way he came in and I was waiting for him. No doubt after this day a new security protocol was implemented to anticipate the need for at least one alternative exit, but on this day the old 1930s brush off just didn’t work. As Mr. Bush approached I called out to him again: “Hey Mr. Bush, remember me? I’m the Kid whose class is having a candy sale. Would you like to buy a chocolate crunch bar?”
And he said, “How much is the chocolate crunch bar?”
I said, “Fifty cents.”
And he said, “I’ll take two.”
Six Secret Service guys whipped out one dollar bills from I’m not sure where. There were six one dollar bills outstretched to me. I made a note to only sell to people with Secret Service details in the future.
I should have snatched the six dollars, but before I could, Bush said, “No, I’ll buy it.” The Secret Service put away their money. It disappeared just as mysteriously as it had appeared. I lost six other sales.
When Bush opened his wallet he had three one dollar bills. He gave me one. I gave him two chocolate crunch bars. He said, “That’s the first vote I ever had to buy.”
And the beauty is, I never voted for him.
It’s like one of my other friends said to a guy from Harvard when we were at the bar who asked us, “Do you support Bush?”
My friend said, “We support whatever’s in the cooler.”