January 28th, 2008
04:05 PM ET
10 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. Jo R, Buena Park, CA

    8 years of bad history for the US, please don't vote for Romney unless you want another 4 years nothing and maybe even 8 years if you don't listen to some one who didn't vote for bush from the beginning. Romney has the same character bush had before he was voted in.

    January 28, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Conan

    Whys it gotta be WHITE asparagus??? What kinda racial crap is this!!!! NO BLACK olives I see. Do these people have no shame?!?

    January 28, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. Rick

    Did ya get in line again Wolf? You're just another shill for the Bushes. How great they can buy you off with a lunch. How can you stay objective when you're bought and paid for? Disgusting.....

    January 28, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. Jo R, Buena Park, CA

    Thank you CNN for posting my comments this time.

    January 28, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Ed Herdman

    I know about the pre-pardon donation. Ain't changing my vote – politicians aren't a pure species, not news to me 😉 Maybe other issues will; we'll see.

    Also, I'm always somewhat amused by the righteous tone of "OMG how dare [certain news outlet, because this happens all over professional news blog posts] report on NON-CRITICAL issues" posts these sorts of daily life blog-style posts generate. It's part of the history of our nation, and I'm glad Mr. Blitzer took the time to write it down. Some minds obsess about various pet issues and don't like to be reminded that reporting some of the trivia (which is not aired on the CNN channel, you'll note) is not taking away from the focus on important issues.

    Remember that you have to CONSCIOUSLY make an effort to browse to these sorts of articles. Yeah, it was on the sidebar, but the title should've been a dead giveaway about the content. Wolf Blitzer didn't give Mr. President what-for because he's a human being and reporters don't get scoops by going out of their way to piss people off. Remember that this administration in particular has been legendary as being tough to approach.

    January 28, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  6. Joy McNamara

    Wolf :

    I do believe you were around when Kennedy the annointed ran for President, not only did he not get Nominated .It wasn't even close. Just think we could have had another Kennedy but the dems didn't want him. Sooooo I think his endorsement will hurt Obama.

    You and Jack just need to calm down.


    January 28, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Don

    Want change? Here's a quarter, call someone who cares...

    January 28, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. Don

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - A roadside bomb struck a U.S. military patrol in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Monday, killing five U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military said.

    Enough said.

    January 28, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. D'na Calif via England


    January 28, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  10. Mitt Romney

    I agree with many on here about change.

    Mitt Romney 08.

    Pick the party that doesnt snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory by tearing its party in half.

    vote republican.

    January 28, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. ranndino

    I find it fascinating that while the recession that followed Clinton's time in office (when the economy was doing great) was due to his crappy economic policies while the upcoming recession is just part of the business cycle. It is also quite interesting that 9/11, which happened almost a year into Bush's term, was also Clinton's fault. Finally, the argument that people should respect the office of the president whether they agree with his policies or not is funny to hear from people who used every dirty trick in the book to sink Clinton's presidency. I guess that when the president is a Democrat it is OK to hate his guts and wash him in buckets of vitriolic dirt, but when the president is a Republican criticizing him should be cause for shame.

    January 28, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Alain James

    Blitzer just can't refuse the free meal.

    Accepting these little invitations further diminishes his already meager ability to present news objectively.

    January 28, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. Julia

    Agreeing with James up there, there is absolutely no need to be rude to Wolf. If you don't like what he's writing, then don't read it. Simple solution.

    On the other hand, Wolf, I always enjoy reading your blogs. I imagine it must be fascinating to see these people up close, to hold a conversation with them as if they were your neighbor. This is one of the reasons I'm studying journalism, to one day have the chance to be in the same position as you were today.
    One more thing Wolf, a little off topic this time: kudos for not drinking the wine. No one looks good stumbling into work toasted, especially not if you're going on live television. Although I'd love you even if you did show up drunk.
    Best wishes for the days ahead, and here's hoping that you get plenty of sleep after this week! It's about to be a busy one!

    January 28, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. thomas a rogers

    cool wolf, does george look at all guilty about what he has done to our country? did he say anything about jail or condi resigning. happy digestion tommy rogers, berlin, 1933

    January 28, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Corinne, Stockton CA

    Thanks Wolf, I know it can't be easy to eat in Bush's presents, I don't even know that I could do it. You must have a very strong stomach.

    January 28, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. hillabeans

    His Legacy will be that 9/11 Happened on HIS watch.

    January 28, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. steve strem

    President Bushes legacy will be that he was undoubtedly the worst president this country ever had. Due to his lack of interest and comprehension of the role and duty of a president, and due to his complete lack of understanding of economics and foreign affairs among other things, he surrounded himself with people whose advice he accepted without any questioning. These advisors were all beholding to special interests and had a field day for 8 years.
    Unfortun\ately we are heading once again in the same direction. Obama is a neophyte, whose only claim to fame are his oratory skills. Once again, if he gets the Presidency we will have someone who knows nothing and will be swayed by advisors and special interests. We have many major problems facing this country and besides those that we know of,the person who will win the oval office will find many other things which have been hidden by President Bush and company. It will take a well seasoned person, with strong will and knowledge, who can once again say : The buck Stops Here.
    Unfortunately Americans vote for charisma instead of knowledge and qualifications.

    January 28, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  18. Matthew

    I appreciate that there can be at least some conversation about this great President that isnt negative. Clearly the peple reading this are liberal, (you can tell because nothing intelligant was raised, with a number of unnecessary comments) and dont realize that if International issues with violent terrorist states (whether that violence be obvious or behind the scenes) are handled properly than he will go down (potentially) as one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the USA; people will forget about the tension this Presidency has caused and will remeber the results – Democracy wins, Islamic extremism loses – WAY TO GO BUSH

    January 28, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  19. Roxanne

    It must be nice to sit down and eat a real meal? For the past yr I have had to work 2 jobs so I can pay my bills and still afford food. I hope you enjoyed that meal that so many americans would love to have I don't remeber the last time that I was able to cook a great meal on the wages that I earn? And now for the Pres I am tired of fighting his war? Why should we sacerfice our soldiers in a war that has been forgotten of what we started the war in first place for? Who are we suppose to be searching for again? Oh bin laden remeber? Mr. Bush? no I guess you don't that is what my cousin went to war for to find the man responsible for 911? And instead he DIED! Yes Bill Clinton made a mistake or two but he was a president for the people, Obama could make a great president along with Mrs. Clinton. Just bring our country back to where it was before when families could be families,children could go outside and play and neighbors were neighbor. Those days are long gone I pray that my grandaughter will have a future but that is looking so grim. Mr. Bush you should be ashamed of yourself, you want to give 115 million americans a tax break what about the rest of us?

    January 28, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Marilyn

    Bush's Legacy

    1) Worst President in U.S. History

    2) Failed Foreign Policy

    3) Failed Domestic Policy

    4) Struggling Economy

    5) U.S. Dollar Weaker than Euro

    6) Porous U.S. Borders

    7) Disastrious and Irrelevant War In Iraq

    8) Every American Child Left Behind in Education

    9) Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans..enough said.

    10) Failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. What ever happened to that guy?

    January 28, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  21. Shawn

    Let's hope for our country's sake that Obama polls strong on Feb. 5th.
    To put an end to the last 8 years of disgrace. Let us be proud to be American again

    January 28, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  22. Kimberly Ruffin

    I dont even like mushrooms and you had my mouth watering!!!

    January 28, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    I hope he hits hard at the democrats on the issue of earmarks. That was one of the things that had me most excited about the democratic victory in 2006. But the democratic congress hasn't done much but pay lip service to addressing the issue of earmarks. I want a refund. I want my vote back. Why can't you recall legislators?

    January 28, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  24. Marie

    How much money has the Obama campaign invested (paid) CNN and its corporate conglomerate headquarters for commercials? Wolf, When you and your fellow "journalist" are not touting Obama praises, then you are running a commercial touting his praises. So how much? They are PUBLIC airwaves and I want to know how much profit CNN has made.
    p.s. – I hope you place this on your blog.

    January 28, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. rbg

    Wolf, why is CNN burying the Rezko headline today, when you have several headlines about political endorsements from the Kennedy family? This is just another example of why I've stopped watching your TV coverage of the election. In case you have not gotten the message loudly enough from your viewers: YOU ARE BIASED, AND JOURNALISTS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE UNBIASED. I read recently that CNN kicked James Carville off the team of commentators due to complaints from Obama. But what about Carl Bernstein? Everytime he opens his mouth you know it's gonna be more Hillary bashing. I used to go to CNN for straight news. You had a reputation for having a different standard than FOX. Not any more. Actually FOX's coverage of this election has been more balanced. (If this gets posted I will be shocked.)

    January 28, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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