George Bush has gone one step further in stating his position on becoming Ronald Reagan's running mate: He told this reporter in a telephone interview May 27 that he not only was "unequivocally opposed" to taking the second spot on the Republican ticket -- but also that "if Reagan is making a list, he should take my name off."
Asked if he would be interested in seeking the presidency four years from now , Mr. Bush, reached in Houston, said: "You know, I've worked so hard. I've given it my very best shot. I can't even think about what lies ahead. But right now, I just don't think it will happen."
Mr. Bush's campaign manager, James Baker, had told the Monitor a few days ago that he thought Mr. Reagan would likely choose Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee as his running mate.
He said Senator Baker and Mr. Reagan were "social friends" and that Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan has no personal relationship.
However, Pete Teeley, Mr. Bush's press secretary, said he thought that if the vice-presidential spot were offered, "it would be hard for George to turn it down."
"Look at Bush's record," pointed out Mr. Teeley. "He has always accepted public responsibility when it has come his way."
Mr. Bush leaves the presidential race at a moment when, were it not for his decline in funds, he might be able to continue an upward surge. At least one new national poll shows him beating President Carter among all voters -- and running only eight percentage points behind Mr. Reagan among Republicans.
Analysis of Mr. Bush's performance in recent primaries shows that he has been pulling far more Democrats to vote for him in crossover states than Mr. Reagan has -- the big blue-collar crossover vote that has been going to the former California governor.