NEW ORLEANS — Vice President George Bush, in an angry and emotional retort, said Wednesday that his controversial description of his half-Mexican grandchildren as "the little brown ones" was a "comment of pride" and that any other interpretation was "personally offensive."
Bush caused a stir Tuesday when, at Belle Chasse Naval Air Station near here, he introduced to First Lady Nancy Reagan the three children of Bush's son Jeb and his Mexico-born wife, Columba.
"That's Jebby's kids from Florida," Bush said, "the little brown ones."
Asked About Remark
In a press conference Wednesday with newly announced running mate, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, Bush was asked whether the remark would hurt him politically among Latinos.
"Those grandchildren are my pride and joy--and when I say pride, I mean it," Bush said. "Anybody who has ever traveled with me or knows the heartbeat of the Bush family knows not only my sensitivity but my love for those children.
"And for anyone to suggest that that comment of pride is anything other than what it was--I find it personally offensive," Bush said.
Bush, his voice trembling once, also implied that questions sparked by his remark hurt the grandchildren--George, Noelle and Jebby Bush. Bush, whose campaign anecdotes frequently center on the grandchildren, spoke with more force and emotion than he has on any subject in months.
"I don't want to see these kids hurt and they weren't hurt by what I said," Bush said. "And if they're hurt by misinterpretation, that isn't fair and I don't like it. This is my family and I'm going to protect them. . . . This heart knows nothing but pride and love for those three children and you're going to see them with me every inch of the way."