Neil Bush was reached for comment on Monday, March 30, and was asked if, in addition to Scott Hinckley, he also knew John W. Hinckley Jr., the would-be
killer. "I have no idea," said Neil Bush. "I don't recognize any pictures of
him. I just wish I could see a better picture of him."
Sharon Bush, Neil's wife, was also asked about her acquaintance with the
Hinckley family. "I don't even know the brother," she replied, suggesting
that Scott Hinckley was coming to dinner as the date of a woman whom Sharon did know. "From what I know and have heard, they [the Hinckleys] are a very nice family...and have given a lot of money to the Bush campaign. I
understand he [John W. Hinckley Jr.] was just the renegade brother in the
family. They must feel awful."
It also proved necessary for Bush's office to deny that the vice-president
was familiar with the "Hinckley-Bush connection." Bush's press secretary,
the British-born Peter Teeley, said when asked to comment: "I don't know a
damn thing about it. I was talking to someone earlier tonight, and I
couldn't even remember his [Hinckley's] name. All I know is what you're
telling me." Teeley denied that Bush had revealed that he knew Hinckley or
the Hinckley family when he first heard the assassin's name; the vice
president "made no mention of it whatsoever." Bush, repeated Teeley,
"certainly didn't indicate anything like that."
Chase Untermeyer of Bush's staff, who had been with him throughout the day,
put in that in his recollection Bush had not been told the assailant's name
through the time that Bush reached the Naval Observatory in Washington on
his way to the White House.
On April 1, 1981, the Rocky Mountain News of Denver carried an account of a
press conference given the previous day in Denver by Neil Bush. During most
of the day on March 31, Neil Bush had refused to answer phone calls from the
media, referring them to the vice presidential press office in Washington.
But then he appeared in front of the Amoco Building at East 17th Avenue and
Braodway in Denver, saying that he was willing to meet the media once, but
then wanted to "leave it at that." As it turned out, his wishes were to be
scrupulously respected, at least until the Silverado Savings and Loan
scandal got out of hand some years later.
The Rocky Mountain News article signed by Charles Roos carried Neil Bush's
confirmation that if the assassination had not happened, Scott Hinckley
would have been present at a dinner party at Neil Bush's home that very same
night. According to Neil, Scott Hinckley had come to the home of Neil and
Sharon Bush on January 23, 1981 to be present along with about 30 other
guests at a surprise birthday party for Neil, who had turned 26 one day
earlier. Scott Hinckley had come "through a close friend who brought him,"
according to this version, and this same close female friend was scheduled
to come to dinner along with Scott Hinckley on that last night of March,
"My wife set up a surprise party for me, and it truly was a surprise, and it
was an honor for me at that time to meet Scott Hinckley," said Neil Bush to
reporters. "He is a good and decent man. I have no regrets whatsoever in
saying Scott Hinckley can be considered a friend of mine. To have had one
meeting doesn't make the best of friends, but I have no regrets in saying I
do know him."
Neil Bush told the reporters that he had never met John W. Hinckley, Jr.,
the gunman, nor his father, John W. Hinckley, president and chairman of the
board of Vanderbilt Energy Corporation of Denver. But Neil Bush also added
that he would be interested in meeting the elder Hinckley: "I would like [to
meet him]. I'm trying to learn the oil business, and he's in the oil
business. I probably could learn something from Mr. Hinckley.
Neil Bush then announced that he wanted to "set straight" certain
inaccuracies that had appeared the previous day in the Houston Post about
the relations betyween the Bush and Hinbckley families. The first was his
own wife Sharon's reference to the large contributions from the Hinckleys to
the Bush campaign. Neil asserted that the 1980 Bush campaign records showed no money whatever coming in from any of the Hinckleys. All that could be found, he argued, was a contribution to that "great Republican," John Connally.
The other issue the Houston Post had raised regarded the 1978 period, when
George W. Bush of Midland, Texas, Neil's oldest brother, had run for
Congress in Texas' 19th Congressional district. At that time Neil Bush had
worked for George W. Bush as his campaign manager, and in this connection
Neil had lived in Lubbock, Texas during most of the year. This raised the
question of whether Neil might have been in touch with gunman John W.
Hinckley during that year of 1978, since gunman Hinckley had lived in
Lubbock from 1974 through 1980, when he was an intermittent student at Texas Tech University there. Neil Bush ruled out any contact between the Bush family and gunman John W. Hinckley in Lubbock during that time.
The previous day, elder son George W. Bush had been far less categorical
about never having met gunman Hinckley.
He had stated to the press: "It's certainly conceivable that I met him or might have been introduced to him."
"I don't recognize his face from the brief, kind of distorted thing they had
on TV, and the name doesn't ring any bells. I know he wasn't on our staff. I
could check our volunteer rolls." But now Neil was adamant: there had been
”Vigilance is the price of freedom.”
-- Thomas Jefferson
"Enslavement is the price of indifference."
“Flatulence is the price of free speech.”