George, Some Day You'll Thank Me For This: White House chief of staff James A. Baker III says George Bush would not be vice president if Baker had not forced him to withdraw from the presidential race in May, 1980, according to an article in the current Texas Monthly magazine.
"If he'd gone into the California primary, he wouldn't have that office in there," Baker is quoted as saying of Bush's White House office. "He wouldn't be vice president. At that point, we'd done everything we could do. We'd established political strength . . . . He was not particularly popular with Gov. Reagan. If George had further alienated him back then by entering a primary in Gov. Reagan's home state as a pure spoiler, there is no way he'd be where he is."
Bush had rejected Baker's advice to withdraw in late May on grounds that he didn't want to be seen as a quitter so, while Bush was campaigning in the New Jersey primary, Baker held a news conference to announce that Bush was withdrawing from the California primary because of lack of funds.
Aides say Bush was shocked and his family angered but that he was effectively knocked out of the campaign. "He Baker knew that the only way to do it was to hit George across the forehead with a 2-by-4," another Bush campaign aide is quoted as saying.