The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (2015)
Bush's confirmation hearing in the Senate as DCI hit a snag: some in the Senate committee wanted Bush to say, for the record, that he wouldn't be a candidate for Vice-President in 1976, and Bush refused to do so. A deal was struck when President Ford wrote Senator John Stennis (D; Mississippi) that Bush would not be considered for Vice-President in 1976. The Senate committee voted 12 - 4 in favor of confirming Bush, and the floor vote of 64 - 27 in the Senate confirmed Bush as DCI. One benefit for Bush as DCI was that he discovered that Brent Scowcroft was a kindred spirit (Scowcroft had admired Bush for years).
Bush actually enjoyed running the CIA, calling it the job he had liked the most up to that point in his life. Bush liked the people, and he liked the power of the position as well. Carter accepted Bush's resignation mostly because he thought Bush was too closely associated with the D.C. power structure, and he wanted to have one of his own people running the CIA. Bush greatly improved morale at the CIA in just one year at the helm. Bush also learned an incredible amount about national security, which would have been impossible to obtain at any other posting in the government.
By 1979 - 1980, Reagan was the candidate that was supported by foreign policy conservatives that wanted "rollback" with the USSR, not detente. Religious conservatives supported Reagan's effort to reverse the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. And economic conservatives loved Reagan's desire to cut taxes and reduce the size of the federal government, and its spending. Bush agreed with Reagan in terms of a smaller federal government and less spending, stronger markets, and a strong foreign policy dealing with the USSR. But Bush sharply disagreed on limiting a woman's rights in the area of abortion, as well as the impact of tax cuts (Bush saw inflation as the #1 economic concern).
Bush and the moderate Republicans saw politics in terms of consensus, whereas Reagan and the conservative Republicans saw politics in terms of uncompromising ideology. Bush favored careful stewardship instead of radical reforms. Simply put, the "Reagan Crowd" didn't think Bush was part of their crusade; Reagan could do no wrong, where in their eyes, Bush could do no right.
James Reston of the New York Times wrote that Bush needed Reagan and John Connally to be eliminated from contention, at which point the G.O.P. would turn to Bush as their standard-bearer. Baker made sure Bush was organized leading in to the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary, as well as packaging Bush as "acceptable" to Reagan Conservatives. On 1 May 1979, George Bush formally announced that he was a candidate for President. During his speech, Bush referred to himself as a life-long Republican, a political shot across the bow to both Reagan and Connally, who were former Democrats. Bush kept mentioning Eisenhower, and how he liked-and-appreciated the former moderate Republican President's approach/ideals. As a result, Reagan's campaign was forced on the defensive, instead of the broad-picture ideologically-based offensive that they preferred.
In Iowa, the first of a series of "straw polls" (non-scientific polling) was conducted before the caucuses, and Bush polled at 39.6%, with Reagan at 25.9%, and Connally at 10.7%. But then the Des Moines Register published their straw poll, and Bush placed 6th out of 7 Republicans, with President Ford finishing second. It was then that Bush knew Ford was seriously considering ("off the record") running again for President in 1980, which left Bush in a tough spot politically, in that Ford was also a moderate Republican.
Bush spent 27 days in Iowa campaigning before the caucuses, while Reagan spent a total of 45 hours in the state. On 21 January 1980, Republicans in Iowa turned out in numbers five times greater than in 1976, and the results of the Iowa Caucuses were: Bush, 31.6%; Reagan, 29.5%, with Connally a non-factor. For Bush, he now had a tremendous amount of momentum heading into the New Hampshire primary in February 1980.