January 28th, 2008
04:05 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: With Bush before the State of the Union

This is the final pre-State of the Union reporters' lunch in the Bush White House.
This is the final pre-State of the Union reporters' lunch in the Bush White House.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's an annual State of the Union Day tradition: the president invites the TV network anchors and Sunday talk show hosts for lunch at the White House. The ground rules are that we can say we went to the luncheon, but the session is for our background only - meaning largely off the record. Still, it's a good way for us to pierce - at least a little - President Bush's thinking.

He comes across as determined to squeeze in as much as he can during this final year in office. It reminded me of what I used to hear from President Clinton when he had a year left. (He used to have similar background sessions with reporters.) They love being president and want to savor every minute.

President Bush does not come across as overly nostalgic - though he no doubt has to feel that way. It would be only natural. There is way too much unfinished business, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; Iran; the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal which he believes is within reach; and the enormous domestic issues on his plate, including the economy. He is laying it all out in his State of the Union address. He professes not to be overly concerned about his legacy. That will be left to historians.

For those of you who are interested, we had lunch upstairs in the White House residence - in the Yellow Oval Office, as it is called. Vice President Cheney also attended. On the menu: mushroom and ricotta ravioli, seared salmon, white asparagus and mini tomato salad, and warm gingerbread cake with praline ice cream. It was delicious. The wine (which I didn't drink because I had to get right back to work) was a 2004 Peter Michael Chardonnay "Ma Belle-Fille."

I spent seven years covering Bill Clinton when he was President, as CNN's Senior White House correspondent. And I have attended several of these luncheons with President Bush. For a reporter, I must say, it is always fascinating getting a chance to see these leaders up close.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: President Bush • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Another Steve

    "For those of you interested". Wolf, No one is interested.

    January 28, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Krishna

    hmmm. slow news day? i dont see any comments...

    January 28, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Krishna

    i know Wolf, i wish i could see them up close too. to get a chance to spit at Bush's face.

    January 28, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Richard

    Bush legacy in one word = "FAILURE"

    January 28, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Robert SS.

    Bush was/is a lame duck President and will always be remembered as such.

    January 28, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Erik Madsen

    Yawn.

    January 28, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    Hooray! This is the last time I have to publicly hear that moron butcher the English language!

    January 28, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. McKinney

    No wine? Wolf, come on!

    January 28, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. California

    Why did you have a topic without mentioning Obama? Obama supporters don't care about Bush. They only want to hear the Obama endorser to come at the end.

    Since we're paying for it.... I want a piece of the gingerbread cake.

    January 28, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Turn Out the Lights...

    I'll be watching a rerun of, oh, anything tonight.

    January 28, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. James

    Wow, there's no need to be rude about Wolf's post. While I may not necessarily care about what they ate and where they ate, I am interested to know about the "human" side about our country's leaders - whether I agree with their politics is not the issue. Thanks Wolf for sharing your experience. I know I'd love to have been in your shoes to peek into life at the White House. You are an amazing and fair-minded journalist!

    January 28, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. ANDREA

    *****yippeee***** cOUNTIN DOWN THE DAYS LEFT IN OFFICE!

    January 28, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Daniel

    Like him or not ... Bush is still President and I think it's facinating that these anchors have the opportunity to have a meal with Commander-in-Chief!

    I'm just surprised "lame duck" wasn't served!

    January 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. TC Powers

    Wolf-don't you have more important stories to cover? Like who is going to be a "true" leader not cowboy-and get us out of this mess.....

    January 28, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. carol

    wonder how many of the millions of Americans out of work have ever tasted white asparagus

    January 28, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. David

    Hillary and Obama voters can be counted on to unite over one thing: their mutual (and justified) disgust for Bush. I love it.

    January 28, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Noans

    I wonder if lunch was on the taxpayers? I doubt if Bush will address the greatest earmark of all in his state of the union speech tonight, his illegal war in Iraq?

    January 28, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Kathleen

    Pretty pitiful piece pertaining to a pathetic president.

    January 28, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. MaryG

    Bush has been a lame president period. I'm ashamed of him and what he has initiated during his administration. He's a disgrace, and so are his cronies, and I don't care whether he's nostalgic, what he savors, and I am certain he knows what history will say about him. That's probably why he bought so much land in South America-you know, the one that doesn't allow extradition.

    January 28, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Dick Marti

    I wonder whether anybody besides the Congress, a captive audience, will watch Bush's State of the Union Address. What could Bush possibly have to say that might be of interest, unless it is an announcement of his resignation?

    January 28, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Marie

    What did I learn from this article? Be prepared for the yammering you're going to hear tonight. It will most likely be entirely inconclusive, much like this article.

    January 28, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Darth Vadik

    God another year of Bush,
    it is so hard to stay sane, it trully is.

    January 28, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Brian Brady

    I think one would have to wait to see how history views President Bush. One of the most beloved presidents at the time in office, Calvin Coolidge, is now largely forgotten or even remembered for missing the signs of a coming depression. Those who want to spit in the presidents face are just ignorant and probably only get their news from the daily show and cnn.

    Though President Bush has done many things I disagree with, I at least respect the office and would like to see the outcome of some of his policies.

    January 28, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. Darth Vadik

    Richard,

    Faliure does not even begin to describe Bush, it is a global tragedy.

    January 28, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. C, TX

    Why are you covering this story CNN. I guess the last 2 weeks you all got the ratings while bashing the Clinton's, how pathetic. And you all call yourselves journalist's! Real journalist's stay neutural and don't try to make a person look bad just for ratings. Shame on CNN and MSNBC. You are becoming just like FOX NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who cares what Bush has to say, he and the republican's are the reason why we're in this hell hole!

    January 28, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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