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

Former United States Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton during the opening ceremony of The Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Virginia on September 22, 2005.Former United States Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton during the opening ceremony of The Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Virginia on September 22, 2005.
Former United States Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton during the opening ceremony of The Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, Virginia on September 22, 2005. Photograph by Hunter Martin—Getty Images

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.”