By Manny Gluck

For those of you too young to remember, Penn State coach Joe Paterno had time between his 409 victories to dip his toe into politics from time to time.

“I’m here because, like President Ford, I’ll be damned if I’ll sit still while people who can’t carry George Bush’s shoes ridicule him!” Paterno said at the crescendo of a three-minute speech in support of George H.W. Bush’s nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

Paterno had been friends with Bush for many years before he won the presidency and had campaigned for him in the primaries in 1980 and again in 1988.

But the convention speech in New Orleans, which noted that his previous visit to the Superdome had been to win the 1982 national championship, wasn’t received well by everyone.

According to an Associated Press account at the time, Gov. Robert Casey said it was “probably not a good thing for the university” to go to the convention and the student government president Seth Williams said it was “wrong for an academic institution to actually involve itself in partisan politics.”

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