It was 2:27 p.m. on March 30, 1981, and the Soviet Union was poised to invade Poland to suppress a labor uprising.
Reagan merely turned toward the press line and waved.
Fantastic lunchtime read. History of the days after Reagan was shot and how 41’s temperament served the nation well. http://t.co/EO0Guxyz0n
— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) May 18, 2015
Next to Donaldson, a 25-year-old man in a trench coat flexed his knees and raised his hands in a marksman’s stance. With a revolver he had purchased at a Dallas pawnshop, John W. Hinckley Jr. fired six shots.
It was the 70th day of the Reagan presidency.
Accounts of the afternoon tend to be dominated by the sensational storyline of Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s declaration that “I’m in control here.” But Vice President George H.W. Bush’s pitch-perfect reaction to the crisis lies largely unexplored in the shadow of history. He had only recently been Reagan’s energetic opponent, a fact that was fresh in the memories of Reagan loyalists. The steady hand he showed after the assassination attempt would linger in the minds of his admirers as one of the defining moments of his public career.
Now 90, Bush consented to an email interview for this story. His comments, along with hours of tapes from inside the White House Situation Room, never seen photographs taken aboard Air Force Two and interviews with participants in the crisis shed new light on the day Reagan became the fifth sitting president to be shot and the only one who lived.
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