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. Beth

    Sounds like a lame lunch! If that wine really does cost $300 a bottle like one of the commenters said, then my 14 year-old sister could have afforded it!

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  2. JB

    The White House sommelier seems to have a penchant for Peter Michael wines.

    At about $80 a bottle (retail) for the current release Ma Belle-Fille, the taxpayers are getting stuffed again.

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  3. Glen, Boston, MA

    Politics and intelligence aside, if you study the psychology of Bush based on what comes out of his own mouth when he is not scripted, he is a very simple minded man incapable of having the necessary big picture foresight to be deemed a brilliant strategist that will be redeemed over the long term.

    His decisions are very rooted in fear – his spirituality, his worldview. It cannot possibly be the best way forward. The best he has done for us is awoken many conservatives to the complex nuances of political discourse they had so blindly ignored at the turn of the century.

    We are a better people for this failed presidency. Thank you, president Bush.

    January 28, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. Isabel

    As a Canadian, I, like many Americans, am counting down the days of this administration. As a news/political junkie, I would have loved to have been in your shoes at lunch!

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Ian

    The word of the day is "change". That's right. Get in line sheep. Maybe next election they won't even need to talk. They'll just lead you to the voting booth with nice shiny things.

    January 28, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  6. Russell Myers, Jr.

    CNN rates # 3 for news on my list of truthful sources, sorry about that
    #1 The Christian Science Monitor
    #2 BBC and DW-TV, Brits and Germans give it straight W/O the frosting
    #3 CNN News

    I watched the Iraqui War on BBC and DW-TV, and it covered events completely different than CNN! I was in the Indian Ocean on the Norwegian Lines" "Crown Prince" and our coverage was by satellite.

    January 28, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. HILLIN' 08


    Can you say "Ex-President Bush?" I like the way you say that"

    January 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. Cristina Kevia

    I think that President Bush had a lot on his plate. I believe that he had so many enormous tasks and cannot bear the weight of the entire U.S. Government after having only been in office for two years.

    As for Wolf Blitzer – I am interested. I like your persona very much and I enjoy your objectivity.

    Very professional. Very respectful. Thank you.

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. Cristina

    I believe that while Bush had his weaknesses, he did a job that is worth our respect. I can only imagine the details he knows that we do not know and I have faith that he is a very, very good person.

    January 28, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  10. Earl Shumaker

    Mr. Blitzer found it fascinating to get to see President Bush up close? Maybe Mr. Blitzer has become too close to the Washington scene? I find nothing interesting at all about this guy now serving as President of our country. Why should I? everything thing this President has done on either the domestic scene or the international scene
    has been a disaster. Hopefully this next election I will not waste my vote.

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  11. A Rare American

    Historically, Wolf's posting here is quite interesting. 50 years from now, perhaps, historians will look back at these small details and think: There was Wolf – enjoying a fine meal with Dick and George (before the last GWB state of the Union address). Also, perhaps in time Wolf will expand on the details of meetings such as these with Dick and George.

    The question is: Why should we care?

    Well, the underlining issue here, I believe, is that the Bush years are now coming to a close. Just as he symbolically stands for this decade – so too will the next president symbolically stand for the next era (all politics aside).

    Personally, I've lost a great deal of faith in our country's political system over the last 10 years or so. It seems that we have all become "wackos" of some type or another. Either liberal "wacko", or conservative "wacko". So much so, that we all find it difficult to read the simple story of Wolf Blitzer sitting down to eat with the President and Vice President of the United States.

    We are a nation divided.

    With that said -- I challenge anyone who reads this posting to investigate and read up on all of our leading candidates for the next President of the United States. This means reading about the ones you DO NOT LIKE as well the ones you like. You will probably learn a lot.

    January 28, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  12. Richard, San Francisco, CA

    Let's see for starters he could:

    1. Immediatedly pull all troops out of Iraq.

    2. Acknowledge that the entire Iraq conflict was a miscalculation

    3. Extend unemployment benefits to those left unemployed by the looming recession and to senior citizens on fixed incomes as well.

    (By the way why do two terms of virtually any GOP president inevitably lead to a recession; do a little calculation)

    4/ Begin to offer some inspirational leadership, not neo-con follow the Cheney leader.

    January 28, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  13. GiveMeABreakInTexas

    Dear God...I pray that CNN keeps Wolf Blitzer with George Bush and doesn't let him moderate any more democratic debates. Dear God...please make Hillary shut up and Bill go away.


    January 28, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  14. Mrs. America

    I was interested in the menu. I also wondered if they provided alternative dishes–like vegetarian.

    January 28, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. Whose had Enough

    Boy, Washington really is out of touch with Americans......These politicians are applauding everything this idiot says. HELLO!! Rememeber 2000 he didn't even win the popular vote.....VP Al Gore won.

    January 28, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. Jack


    I must admit -your hero worship of George Bush is quite sickening! You have given up your professional independence with your softball questions of the current president. Too bad, we need a strong media presence to keep America strong!

    January 28, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  17. Cristina Kevia

    I just listened to the State of the Union address. How eloquent! How beautiful!

    "We the People..."

    You are right President Bush in that regard. Let us do our business. It is the power of a democracy and a free market.

    January 28, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  18. Jack

    What a joke -Bush should be eating Crow for 7 years of total failure! Our country is in worst security, absolutely damming economic condition (except for the rich) and deeply in depth for our children! Where is the independent reporting about that state of the "Nation"

    Come on Wolf, stop with the hero worship and get on with your job!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  19. Jack

    This seems to be a totally GOP website – every comment I make about the GOP is subject to Moderation and edited OUT!

    What a joke for a supposedly major "news outlet" Come on let the people be heard!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  20. Jack


    Just remember that when Adolph got his start – it was the media that failed – and your failing!

    January 28, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  21. Kelly

    you know Bush yoiu have done some pretty amazing things i applaude you for everything that you have done, i hope to see you run again you are by far the best. whos cares what these people think there useless, unreliable and basically just wasting space.. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.. REPUBLICANS ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  22. Jack

    WOW – The media is in professional self defense – don't mess with your corporate masters!!!!!!!!! Wolf – you are a corporate smile! And , thats putting it gently!~

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  23. Jack

    Your comment is waiting moderation – what crap!

    January 28, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  24. Chuck

    Cool report Wolf, I wonder though, did they provide bananas for the monkey? He needs his daily fix you know "tha job of pertectin the amercan people is whut ah does best after pellin them naners, thet is."

    Yeah I respect my dog, I guess I should respect your monkey, S Wright.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  25. Michiel

    I've just listened to Curious George give his final (thank heaven) state of the union address. After listening to this drivel, I am putting all of my hope with the Democratic party. I am totally convinced we need a candidate that not only has a plan to repair the damage done to the country and we the people over the last 7 years, but someone with the intestinal fortitude to see that these things get done. While Senator Obama talks of hope, I have no confidence that he can deliver on his message. He has the backing of some very powerful senators, yes, but does that backing come with strings attached? Ted Kennedy is nothing if not old politics. (And as a side note, Ted Kennedy opposed a wind farm in the vicinity of the family compound because it would ruin the view, even though it would have been 5 miles away!). Hillary also has senatorial support, again without strings? I don't think so. Both of these candidates represent the same old Washington. If people in this country are really interested in change, then I would recommend you take a look at John Edwards and his plan for America. He has been out of Washington for the last 4 years, does not accept funds from lobbyists or PACs, and is not beholden to anyone, except his commitment to the American people. I believe he is the only candidate that can repair the damage done to this country and our people. Please do the research and vote for John Edwards.

    January 28, 2008 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
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