August 23rd, 2007
08:55 AM ET
7 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. Brattleboro, VT

    I went to high school with Kyle Gilbert who died in Iraq. It was his mother that traveled to visit President Bush. I'd hate to believe that Bush is saying that his death meant nothing.

    August 22, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Filbert, San Francisco CA

    Bob from SF is obviously over generalizing a bit far, but to me his sentiment seems to have a lot of truth to it. All he's saying is that red states, by voting republican and therefore supporting the republican agenda, are: intolerant (true based on all the anti-gay stuff), hate and fear mongering (true based on their foreign policy and propaganda about the war), patriotism used as cover for right wing nationalism and racism (true based on all the anti immigration stuff), Christians-only religious ideology (true based on the push for Christian based religious teaching in public schools and support for Christian symbols in public buildings), regression in public education and science, (true based on support of intelligent design and against stem cell research and global warming) etc. So really I think he's kind of got a point. It goes without saying that not everyone in those states supports all of those agenda items – but the majority apparently does since "red states" consistently vote republican time and time again. Is it really all that surprising, or newsworthy, that Bush, someone who many republicans have even grown to despise, doesn't want to visit one of the most liberal states in the country?

    August 22, 2007 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  3. Mick

    "Vermont was named the nation's smartest state in 2005 and 2006." and in 2006, the state's testing score surpassed national standards by 30% (see "Vermont" Wikipedia for citations ) The rest of rural America should take note and see that just b/c you're live dairy farmer and own a gun (like many VTers do) doesn't mean need be a Kool-aid drinking, Fox News watching simpleton.

    August 22, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. David, Salinas, CA

    As a resident of conservative rural California, I get tired of people who’ve never been to my state making assumptions about it based on a few media stereotypes.

    I’ve never been to Vermont, but I hope to visit someday. One valid generalization about California is that the seasons don’t really change here much.

    August 22, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. Lance, Monrovia, CA

    The title of this should be "President Bush's Forgotten Country."

    The picture would be him playing the guitar at that state fair with that second rate country star as Katrina was devastating the South.

    He forgot to pay attention then too.

    August 22, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  6. Jer, Buffalo, NY

    I think Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson were more unpopular than Bush. Who cares at all about current popularity. The American people are generally fickle. If the next president has 3 or more large terrorists attacks on their watch (9/11 size attacks), people will look back on these days and say, "Remember the Bush days? Those were our peaceful times."

    August 22, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. Ian, Burlington, VT

    I've got some mistakes to point out:

    1. Jim Douglas is the governor of Vermont, not Jim Jeffords like someone said.

    2. Patrick Leahy was born in Vermont (Montpelier to be exact), and he's not a "liberal flatlander".

    Anyway, I'm disgusted by all the hateful conservatives responding to this article. So what if most of us happen to be liberal? Get over it. Shouldn't your "Christian family values" tell you that you should respect others' opinions? Stop the hate and smear campaign already, and especially stop calling us unpatriotic.

    August 22, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  8. Andres, Johnstown PA

    ""Red States – intolerance, hate and fear mongering, patriotism used as cover for right wing nationalism and racism, Christians-only religious ideology, regression in public education and science, etc" ~ Bob, San Francisco

    Gee Bob, you labeled and bashed more than half the country (red states) that hold a different view than you.

    Are YOU the bright & shining example of the tolerant and educated in our country?"

    ~Jon, Sac CA

    Sorry Jonboy. The truth hurts, I know.

    August 23, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  9. Anonymous

    our preisdent has made mistakes name one who hasnt, i would like to see our troups home , i also would like those terrorists completely eliminated. they started this war we need to finish it.

    August 23, 2007 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  10. Chris, Santa Cruz, CA

    RE:
    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."

    I logged on to Senator Bernie Sanders Web page and was totally disappointed that there is no such comment!

    I'm not a Bush fan but I am also not a fan of false reports! Come on CNN do your research and give us the impartial, unbiased news we deserve. We are all smart enough to decide whether or not we agree with our Public Representatives views and actions!

    August 23, 2007 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  11. Ethan, Brooklyn, NY

    I don't know what is more depressing, the Texans on here who don't seem to care that Vermont exists or the "true" Vermonters who feel a need to validate their worth by some unproven measure of their generational stature.

    Fact of the matter is that Vermont is the epicenter of a positive modern world view that is defined by freedom and independence, and casually wrapped in a blanket of reverence for the natural world. Because of that combination of ideals and an exquisite appreciation for American History, I strongly feel that Vermont is the most uniquely American of all 50 states in the union.

    All you cranky wanky people who complain about Vermont or choose to avoid it (like our lame Faux Noise President) are vastly vastly out-weighed by the great people and great things happening in the Green Mtn State.

    August 23, 2007 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  12. Tim Long Island, NY

    I have to say some of the comments about blaming the 'flat landers' for Vermont being so liberal is quite funny. A quick look at some poll results ( including the 04 election) shows that native Vermonters were actually more liberal than those who recently moved to Vermont.

    Also the comment from Texas complaining about Vermont's liberal policies especially regarding economic policies. You do realize that those in Vermont as well as the northeast as a whole get other region of the country? Who gets back the most from the federal govt despite paying the least?? Well outside of Alaska its the south including your beloved Texas. Oh and vermont also has the highest per capita death rate of U.S soldiers in Iraq

    August 23, 2007 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  13. Brian, Knoxville, TN

    Do you like to rip off everything Michael Savage says or do you have your own thoughts on this matter? I guess when OReilly brought this subject up on his program, it's okay then. Have your own thoughts on the matter and don't let the right wing hacks tell you what to think.

    August 23, 2007 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  14. Rob and Shell, Somerville NJ

    This administration has done a good job of spinning information, belittling or ignoring those that disagree, and dividing our beautiful County into the simple factions of 'Those that Support' and 'The Rest of Us'.

    But I bet that President Obama will be a regular visitor to the Newfane Inn!

    August 23, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  15. Davis Bradley, Paris Texas

    I've never been to Vermont either and never will. It is a "state" which is un-American, un-Christian, and should be a seperate country (like they always have wanted). They have never supported the U.S.

    August 23, 2007 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Mac, Detroit MI

    So much ignorance and hate.

    Sigh.

    When will we all put this bipartisan bullcrap aside and just be Americans? So many of these comments are coming from one-track, narrow-minded individuals that refuse to see/acknowledge anything that doesn't fit into the mold of their own ideology. The President did not start this war. Congress did. Not all conservatives are intolerant, hate- and fear-mongering, uneducated bigots. Liberals are not always right (if you'll excuse the pun, hehe). The Democratic party is not perfect, it is just as corrupt at the Republican party.

    Shame, shame, shame.

    August 23, 2007 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. guy

    I don't think he knows Vermont is a State.

    August 23, 2007 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Bush? He'd go there and tell them all with withering scorn that Rush Limbaugh says they're all a buncha commies. He'd learn nothing from sitting down with people he doesn't listen to, and he'd see the changing leaves as a good place to build a stadium. Worst President Ever.

    August 23, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Ryan R. Parsippany, New Jersey

    Dear Vermonters,
    I have lived in upstate N.Y. most of my life and now live in (ugh) New Jersey. I always liked taking trips to new england and always liked the people there, until now.
    However, after reading the prior comments and hearing how Vermonters have made there views known. I have but one thing to say to all you Bush bashers.
    I love you guys, thank GOD for VERMONT!
    In one of the last polls that was taking concerning whether or not people feel the war in Iraq is going well. 27% believed its was. Who are these people? I don't know, but it doesn't look like they live in Vermont. Its time for me to move.

    August 23, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Martin, Tolono IL

    Just tell him that the Green Mountains are large sums of cash...

    August 23, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Kudos for Vermont!! I have friends in Newbury and visit the state regularly. It's a beautiful place, as is all of New England, keep it that way. Why invite Bush???

    On the other hand, Texas has a lot of "esplainin" to do (as Ricky would say to Lucy), for having sent us their village idiot!!

    August 23, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Don Lennon, No. Walpole, NH

    Congressman Sanders might consider that the reason for the President's seeming lack of interest is that Vermont just doesn't count.

    August 23, 2007 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Filbert from (again) California,

    So Red staters are anti-gay? Wht not use the term pro-marriage instead?

    Marriage is one man and one women, period. Pro-marriage.

    Over 45 states have voted on this and using your logic all were red states and people just filled with intolerant hate.

    Not true, as many of the same "haters" champion civil unions with all attached rights (it is about rights?) and that includes most of your beloved Democratic candidates for President.

    Strike 1.

    Propaganda about the war, lets see, again most Democrats when it was popular, authorized it, paid for it and ONLY when it became bad politically, are now against it.

    Strike 2.

    Nationalism and racism on immigration, again ALL across the country regular folks from BOTH PARTIES, are not for granting amnesty to criminals and strengthening our borders so we know who is here and why.

    Also part of that is easing the methods one would use to become my neighbor and friend, the legal, right, American way.

    Strike 3.

    I believe that ANYONE who is against stem cell research is wrong, BUT it should be monitored closely.

    Inntelligent design, nah, not buying that either.

    When we all did sing Christmas carols in school and holy bleep, had a Christmas tree in town square (not a freakin' Holiday tree)life was a lot better back then, but politically correct morons took all that away.

    Jon from Sacremento is one of the better posters on this site and his brilliance is only exceeded by his facts and knowledge. So there is hope for CA.

    Generalizing is a tough sell to begin with, but generalization with only half truths, nobody buys, except the ones blinded by ignorance.

    August 23, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. John Noel (US citizen) Paris, France

    So many nasty comments, so many angry people. If the citizens of Vermont happen to be liberals, so be it. They are entitled to their beliefs. If they don't wish for the president to come to their state, so be it. The venom evident in so many of the comments is a shame – why must you label, insult and lash out at each other? Get along – grow up.

    August 23, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    I think that regardless of approval ratings in Vermont, the President should make at least a token visit before he leaves office. While Bush's presidency hasn't been much of a unifying force in the last few years, he is the President of the United States of America, not merely the United Red States of America.

    That said, I can also see many reasons why it would make sense to only visit near the end of his last term.

    This isn't really what I wanted to comment on, however. My degrees are in political science/international relations, and it is really sickening to me to see how people throw about the 'respect for the Constitution' card. The TRUTH is that only a SUPER-MINORITY of voters have ANY idea what the Constitution says to begin with! Even if they know a bit of what it says, they don't understand what it really means. And even if they understand what a part of it means... they don't understand it as a whole. People quote the Constitution just like they quote the Bible: to suit their purposes.

    We love to blame politicians, corporations, people of other political parties, the media for our problems, but in THIS country, with THIS system, WE are to blame. That's right, it's ALL our fault. Neither Republicans NOR Democrats have any right to self-righteously blame the other. We're all at fault. Since we are all fat and happy, and have everything we need to lead oblivious cattle lives, we are going to sit around, complain a bit from time to time, and wait for a truly enormous disaster before we wake up and take control of our country again.

    What's it going to take? I shudder to think.

    I do have one suggestion, though. It will never be enacted because educated voters are much more difficult to manipulate, but a free class on the Constitution, other founding documents, and our current political system should be offered to all Americans of voting age. ONLY Americans who have taken the class and passed a comprehension test should be allowed to vote. Please note that nothing will be required in the way of agreeing with certain positions on current issues. Perhaps passing the test would grant 10 years of voting ability.

    Regardless, we need to realize it is our own lack of awareness and education, it is our own apathy and bovine contentedness that has allowed the government to get so corrupt and out-of-touch with the people.

    Last note: There are certainly a few aspects of Vermont that would make a Jefferson smile (lots of guns and farmers), but nothing in the Constitution calls for an entitlement state. The founding fathers envisioned a system where independent people came together to form independent states, and independent states came together to form the United States of America. Instead we find ourselves moving in the direction where people routinely (by right in their minds) depend on the state, and the states necessarily depend on the federal government.

    This country was meant to be about independence, personal responsibility, and respect for the individual. It has instead become a country of dependence, profound self-interest, and complete disregard for how one's actions affect others.

    As negative as all that sounds, I hold great hope for our country and the American people. We have certainly been stuck in a rut for decades now... but I think we are tiring of it. As we ultimately, thanks to the Constitution, have the power to change things... they will change when we've finally had enough.

    August 23, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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