August 23rd, 2007
08:55 AM ET
11 years ago

President Bush's forgotten state?

Watch CNN's John King report on Bush's forgotten state.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vermont is a picture perfect place - its rivers and mountains and covered bridges are a draw to some 10 million visitors a year.

Yet, the Green Mountain State is the forgotten place in the crowded travelogue of President Bush - the only state he has failed to visit in his presidency.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders - a self described socialist - is a fierce Bush critic whether the issue is the Iraq war, the economy, or climate change. Callers to his office, Sanders says, often demand that the president be impeached.

But Sanders all but dares Bush to visit, saying he would benefit from sitting down with his critics. His Senate Web site even displays a banner with the headline "Bush stays away from Vermont."

"If he comes up in the fall – he can see the changing of the leaves,” Sanders told CNN. “He'll have a good visit.”

"[He] might be able to learn something," he added. "This president will probably go down in history as the least popular president in history of this country - he should go forward and find out why that is so."

But University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson sees no upside in the president paying a visit to Vermonters.

"It is a photo opportunity he does not need," Nelson said. "I cannot imagine any assemblage in the state of Vermont that would give him an unalloyed positive reception."

Bush lost big there in 2000 and again in 2004. The war is enormously unpopular, and the state Senate even adopted a symbolic resolution last April calling for his impeachment.

But it's not all personal, Nelson says.

"When the Republican Party moved South and West, you know towards the sun belt and of course toward Christian conservatism, it lost Vermonters."

Vermont does have a Republican governor, Jim Douglas, but he is a throwback to the moderate breed of Republicanism that once thrived across New England. Douglas notes the first President Bush visited Vermont last among the 50 states, and predicts the son will do the same - despite his low popularity.

"He can take it," Douglas said of a potential Vermont visit. "He has certainly taken a lot of hostility and tough questions and I am sure he can do that here."

But some Vermonters do get to meet the president themselves.

Regina Gilbert traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to meet the president in 2005 –her only child, Kyle, was killed in Iraq on August 6, 2003. Vermont has lost two dozen soldiers in Iraq - the highest in per capita death tolls - more than reason enough Gilbert says for the president to visit.

"He asked me something that surprised me: does it ever get easier?" Gilbert said. "And I just looked at him and looked at my husband and said absolutely not. I said this is a hole in my heart and it is always going to be there."

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: President Bush • Vermont
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    I'm jealous!

    August 22, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Jackson, Pasadena, CA

    I like the repetition at the end of the post. The slight word changes are interesting. especially when apparently CNN believes "recently" is 2005.

    August 22, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Michael Neff Flower Mound, Texas

    What did Vermont ever do for the USA other than elect Communists and release child predators?

    August 22, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. RA Las Vegas, NV

    Let US repeat ourselves; calling for President Gorge W. Bush’s impeachment prior to his ending term as President will prevent his administration in starting some upset with countries like Pakistan/Iran and their governments leaving another mess for others to clean up. If there will be anything left to clean up!

    August 22, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Monroe, NorthCarolina

    I see the good people of Vermont are the only one with common sense. It is to bad the rest of the country is so disillusioned.

    A North Carolina voter. (that did not vote for Bush either time.

    August 22, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Ben Wolfe, Independence, MO

    This is nothing new. President Clinton only visited the state of Nebraska once during his entire two terms in office and that was in the last years (nothing big was made of this – why is it for Bush?) – I'd like to see your reporter do some research and point this out in the article. Clinton avoided Nebraska because it is only 5 electoral votes, mainly conservative rural and a low population state. Vermont has even less population and has made it quite clear that their politics for the entire state do not jive with Bush's. I don't blame him for staying away. I certainly don't want to go there!

    August 22, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. Grovin, Darnassus, IL

    What, you hadn't heard? Bush only appears for "friendly" audiences.

    August 22, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Anne, Virginia Beach, VA

    Vermont's values are so true to what this country was founded on, and so very distant from the values that the current administration reveals through its actions. Bush & Cheney, Inc. are far too arrogant, self-important and power-hungry to ever learn anything from Vermont. So why should they bother going somewhere where they are not welcome anyway. They're too busy destroying not only Iraq, but, especially, our once beautiful Nation as well.

    August 22, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Nicholas, Dallas, Tx

    Maybe the president isn't aware Vermont is actually in the USA!?

    August 22, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Bill Johnson, VT

    Bernie Sanders is a dope from Brooklyn and Vermont would be better off if he just disappeared. He bought his way through the political system with outside "Hollywood" money. He's a Socialist bum who never had a real job in his life. Real Vermonters, native Vermonters like myself have seen his kind continue to ruin the state from the once proud hard working Yankee tradition to a bunch of misfits and liberal beggers. If there's ever another revolution it may just start here. I've gone from being a supporter of Bush to disgusted with the way he's handled the mideast but if we had more decent people in Congress instead of losers like Sanders we'd have less of a problem.

    August 22, 2007 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Mark, Killington, Vermont

    Hopefully he won't visit. I already have to make excuses for the laughing stock of a natioal delegation that is supposed to be representing us. Making any more excuses would cause me physical anguish and promote a mental breakdown.

    August 22, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Jim

    This is nothing new. I don't believe Pres. Clinton visited Nebraska until winter 2000, months before he was out of office.

    August 22, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Keith - Long Island, New York

    President Bush has also not visited Puerto Rico. No sitting U.S. President has in a generation. I believe there are many more Puerto Ricans - about 20 TIMES the number of people - living in the United States and Puerto Rico than there are living in Vermont. It's a president's OBLIGATION to personally visit with people from everyplace that makes up the UNITED States of America.

    August 22, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. joanne, atlanta GA

    another great reason to move to vermont!

    August 22, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Mark, Killington, Vermont

    When I travel out of state, I already have to explain the laughing stock we sent to Washington to represent the state. Having to make additional excuses for G.W. visiting would be painful indeed..

    August 22, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Rick, St. Petersburg FL

    Not even Ben and Jerry's can entice him to visit?

    August 22, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Nick, Bethesda MD

    At the same time the Republican party was moving "south and west" I can tell you Vermont was moving dramatically left, inundated by radical liberals and aging hippies from the urban areas to our south. Have a look at the sources of campaign funds for Vermont elections and ask yourself why so much of the money electing (buying?) our political leaders comes from New York City.

    August 22, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Dan, Suitland, MD

    It's obvious that the good people of Vermont know what freedom and liberty is about. Bush would simply not fit in over there.

    August 22, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Tom, Philadelphia

    Perhaps Bush is sensitive to the fact that Vermont was a Republic from 1777 to 1791 – much longer than much ballyhooed Texas Republic.

    August 22, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Steve, Burlington, VT

    I wish he would come to Burlington to give a speech or something so we could boo the hell out of him!

    August 22, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Jeff, Schaumburg, IL

    Could it be because Vermont is big on a certain document Bush has no respect for? Vermont is known for being strongly Constitutionalist and freedom-loving. Both are virtues which run contrary to our freedom and Constitution-erasing president.

    August 22, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Fingerbo, New York, NY

    Bush wouldn't benefit from sitting down with his critics. He'd sit like a petulant child, utter some platitudes (badly), then leave Vermont trying to figure out a legal way to declare it an enemy combatant. Bush is a 100% lost cause. We need to just survive his remianing time in office and hope for a better tomorrow.

    August 22, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Clement - St.. Albans VT

    Vermont? What state is that in?

    August 22, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Billy Harkins; Valdosta, GA

    Was there ever any other President in U.S. history beside Bill Clinton who became a Convicted Felon while still in office? Remember he Pleaded Guilty and Paid a Fine.

    August 22, 2007 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. -John, VT

    Quite Franly, I can't see why Vermont is so against Bush. As a Vermonter myself, I think that while he hasn't done a bang-up job, he has gotten stuck with a lot of crap that should be laid at the feet of congress; people hate Bush for starting a war. Fact is, Congress voted to start it. Anyhow, I believe that Sanders should get over himself; If he visit's Vermont, people will see him as a private citizen- they will see the man, not the office.

    August 22, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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