The early political life of President Bush in Congress

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - The first time a young George H.W. Bush ran for Congress, he lost.

It was 1964, and he campaigned as a conservative Republican against an aging liberal Democratic senator. In fact, in a typical Texas stance, Bush campaigned against upcoming civil rights legislation, saying it gave too much power to the federal government.

Though 1964 wasn't Bush's ticket to the capitol, 1966 was. He was elected to the House of Representatives as the first Republican to represent Houston. Over the next four years, Bush was mostly the conservative he promised to be. He supported President Nixon's Vietnam policies and was appointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

However, Bush broke with his party on a few key issues. While other Republicans were against birth control, Bush supported it.

Furthermore, he had been to Vietnam and seen the troops, including minorities. So, despite having campaigned against civil right legislation in his first campaign, and even though it was unpopular in his district, Bush voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Bush said he wanted all of those soldiers, regardless of race, to have access to fair housing when they got home from the war. Still, Bush won his re-election that same year.

Two years later, President Richard Nixon convinced him to give up his seat in the House of Representatives to run instead for the upper chamber.
Bush lost that 1970 Senate race to a conservative Democrat.

Down but not out, George H.W. Bush refocused and turned an eye to bigger and better things.