TIME White House

George H.W. Bush’s 1993 Letter to Bill Clinton Shows How to Lose Gracefully

The letter went viral after the third presidential debate

In a starkly partisan presidential election marked by harsh rhetoric, a 1993 letter from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton has resurfaced as an example of a more civil time.

The letter, from Bush’s presidential library, shows the outgoing president respectfully welcoming Clinton to the White House. Hillary Clinton posted the letter on her Instagram back in June, and it went viral once again on Twitter after Wednesday night’s presidential debate.

The sentiments expressed in the letter took on additional weight after the debate, where Donald Trump was asked whether he would accept the results of the election in November. Trump told the moderator Chris Wallace that he would wait to see the outcome. “I will look at it at the time,” Trump said, adding, “I will keep you in suspense.”

In contrast, Bush, who lost to Clinton in the 1992 election, told his successor: “I wish you great happiness here.”

“You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well,” the note says. “Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting for you.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team