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. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Lunch in the House with theives and liars. Wolf you should have turned the table over.

    January 28, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. Frank

    He and his adminstration ruined our country, our economy, and our international image. They devastated another country and its people, caused the killing of thousands and thousands of people on two continents, and emptied the pockets of once strong America to do it. May he see his name go down history as the worse leader any country ever saw, a criminal with blood on his hands, and someone that tarnished the honor of America for ever! It is unbelievable that he is still sitting in his office as the Commander in Chief of the USA. Shame on all of us for not demanding justice!

    January 28, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. LQ Rochester MN

    I would have barfed having lunch with Bush & Cheney. These reporters just let those 2 off way too easy

    January 28, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. John G.

    How does the President of the USA look at himself in the mirror – knowing the failure that his administration has been? He should be hanging his head in shame...

    January 28, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. S. Wright

    Of course, President Bush has unfinished business; every President in his last years in office does. That is nature. He will leave with a sound economy, entrusting free market enterprise instead of regulated governmental interference.

    The challenges this man faced when he came into the office were unprecedented. Indeed, it was like the adult parent coming home to find the house ransacked by the kiddies. He entered office in the midst of a terrible recession, left over by bad economic policy decisions by the previous administration; a foreign policy that was tested by China and the Middle East; the 9/11 debacle left by the previous administrations childlike insistence that just talking to our enemies would protect us; and other image problems that the the office had endured under the Clintons.

    Yes, he has made bad decisions, particularly with matters of spending and illegal immigration, but he did lay it out for the American people what he stood for, and we voted him in.

    Bush will definitely be judged by history; and he will be judged more accurately than the current crop of citizens that are judging him now.

    I wouldn't worry about his legacy if I were him, either. Contrasted against William Jefferson Clinton, he will do honor to himself as he did honor to the office he held.

    January 28, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. michael

    the lamest part of the piece are the comments from other readers. how come no one is screaming about Bush 's use of "signing statements" to nullify his view of bills he has just signed. He is the president, the one who is accountable, but hardly the man with any ideas to leave as a legacy. Cheney is the man to fear. Vp yes, but with a bad agenda AND the president's ear.

    January 28, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Monty

    I am fascinated with all of the comments from so many people who simply show no respect for a man who gave 8 years of his life for his country. Many of you probably had no respect for your parents either and you should be ashamed.

    January 28, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. jimbo

    January 20th 2009 – thats all that we care about. No one wants to hear Bush on t.v delivering another synopsis of his Failed Presidency. I will watch when he exits the White House and then he should be sent directly to New Orleans so he can see first hand what his failed policies have given the residents of that city. Next stop should be Iraq and Iran. Maybe he can set up a tent in the desert and wheel and deal with his oil buddies. He doesnt care about Americans and Kanye West was right on the mark when he stated that "George Bush doesn't care about black people. " or white people or American people or any other minorities in America. Wolf Blitzer – dont waste your time on this LOSER.

    January 28, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Tim, Atlanta GA

    *Yawn.*

    January 28, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. A

    You're right, Wolf. I bet it was pretty fascinating – definitely not something the average person gets to do, no matter what his or her opinion is of the current President.
    I enjoyed reading it.

    January 28, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Worst President in all of history; biggest liar; most vain; most secretive;; most insecure; stupidest. We need no more of Bush, now or ever.

    January 28, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Rex in Portland

    Blitz:

    I had lunch last month with my buddy Richard. We had Costco hot-dogs and diet Pepsi.

    January 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. ed LeFeber

    Finally found your blog Blitzer

    January 28, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Carole freom WPB

    It sounds like there's one person in this adminstration who does a great job-The Chef!

    January 28, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. Brian Brady

    5% unemployment; increasing productivity; increasing average hourly wages; no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11; getting the economy through 9/11, the tech bubble bursting, corporate scandals (enron), hurricane katrina and now the housing bubble.

    Only Americans would describe this as a "hell hole" when 95% of the labor force has a job, wages are rising and the only big problem outside of an improving Iraq is a "recession" which no one understands is part of the business cycle......so sad.

    January 28, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Cboz

    Everyone's counting down the final days of Bush. I wonder if the Democratic base will go apoplectic when McCain takes the middle and right in the election? Hmmm...

    January 28, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Jim

    Hey C of Texas, What "hell hole" are you in? The market is down from record highs and the economy seems to be slowing down but unemployment is still at historic lows, interest rates at historic lows, home ownership at historic highs even though many bought beyond their reach and are getting burned. No terror attacks here in over 6 years. No riots, everyone has a cellphone it seems and a CD player. If you lived over 50 years you can think of a lot worse times in America.

    January 28, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Patty

    Why are you being so one sided for Omaba

    January 28, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Ron, TX

    That's a $300 bottle of wine...

    I wonder why the government is in debt?

    January 28, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. Bar

    Bushs' legacy is this: IDIOT

    January 28, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. W B in Las Vegas

    they should have served Bush and Cheney a large portion of CROW!!!

    January 28, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. lalverson

    Well, I guess it is time for the large lady to warm up. "W"'s time is nearly up and looking back on it I would have to say for all of it, he has been a slightly better than average president.

    Sadly that office in washington is addictive. History shows for every president that had a second term or more had a terrible second term. They all seem to lose the luster and drive of being a leader and all attempt to create a legendary figure that will outlast the ages and be forever lover like a precious few american presidents.

    Yes there is a great deal left unfinnished. but he was in charge at the time and it will come to him as the president that was not able to close the deal if you will. Largly I think his intentions were good but his implenetaion was not. Unable to look at how things were actually going and change them as needed. you know, things a president is supposed to do, not worry about how history will see them.

    W was not a bad president, he had his high water mark during 911 were we needed a man like W. But he failed to see and change with the way things unfolded. I have to credit him for sticking to his plan, but a plan only holds until it's first challenge, that is when it has to change to meet the new information. something he never learned, like all presidents of multiple terms failed to learn.

    Hopefully you eve become the president remember history as well as they quote it. It would be nice to have a president that worked for us for 8 years.

    January 28, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. JohnNY

    6 years, 4 months, 2 weeks and no further terror attacks. Congratulations and thank you Mr. President.

    January 28, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. elvis

    i am more interesting than W, and I have been dead 30 years. White asparagus?

    January 28, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Mitt Romney

    The president is going to give a good speech.

    The war in Iraq has turned around. Enthusiasm for success hasnt been this high in a long time.

    The economic package is very good. Great Job by the president. I look forward to his speech.

    Romney 08

    January 28, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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