1988 Republican National Convention - Vice President Bush Acceptance Speech
"Read my lips: no new taxes" is a now-famous phrase spoken by then American presidential candidate George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention as he accepted the nomination on August 18. Written by speechwriter Peggy Noonan, the line was the most prominent sound bite from the speech. The pledge not to tax the American people further had been a consistent part of Bush's 1988 election platform, but its prominent inclusion in his speech cemented it in the public consciousness. The impact of the election promise was considerable, and many supporters of Bush believe it helped Bush win the 1988 presidential election.
Once he became president, however, Bush raised taxes as a way to reduce the national budget deficit. Bush refused many times but was making no progress with a Senate and House that was controlled by Democrats. Bush eventually agreed to a compromise with Congressional Democrats to raise several taxes as part of a 1990 budget agreement. Although technically there were no new taxes in this agreement, Bush in the same speech also ruled out raising existing taxes. In the 1992 presidential election campaign, Pat Buchanan made extensive use of the phrase in his strong challenge to Bush in the Republican primaries. In the election itself, Democratic nominee Bill Clinton, running as a moderate, also pointed to the quotation as evidence of Bush's untrustworthiness, which contributed to Bush's losing his bid for re-election.