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. Steven

    Seeing Bush personally myself would make me nauseous and nervous. I don't know how you did it Wolf.

    January 28, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  2. j Williamson

    Go Bush! (And take Cheney with you!)

    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Gavin

    Wolf.... I'm still stunned that CNN switched (*switched*) the podiums to seats in the middle of the last Democratic Debate! I haven't slept!

    January 29, 2008 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  4. Neil

    "In 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 hope you enjoyed the lunch that tax-payers paid for. Bon appetite!

    January 29, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  5. Paul C

    Bush legacy is that he got millions of idiot Americans to vote for him...twice.

    January 29, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  6. gerd.vilardi

    Thank you Wolf, it was interesting as all your Reports are.
    President Bush will be judged by History and not by Ignorants, we will all be sorprised at that result. Lets remember that he preseided in a wery hard time and lets be all ashemed the way we treat our president in front of the world, and one more question? how will we the people of this time be remembered by History?
    Wolf there should be more of your type, THANK YOU

    January 29, 2008 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  7. veronica lynne

    I watched the State of the Union address tonight as I always do. I'm a true political junkie, and I have never have been a supporter of Bush. His speech was pathetic all the way around, and I couldn't believe that he said the same thing about Iran as he said about Iraq several years ago, that they are enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons.
    I can't wait until he is gone.
    Go Hillary, and if you don't get it, Go McCain.
    Anybody but Obama, Mitt or Rudy–all unqualified (like Bush was) to be POTUS.

    January 29, 2008 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  8. Paul C

    Talk about feed at the trough. They say they cannot afford health care for the poor but we can afford this nonsense
    The tragedy is that we are paying top dollar for this bunch of bums.

    We would be money ahead if we paid them $1 and all they can
    steal instead of top dollar and all they can steal.

    January 29, 2008 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  9. Joelle, Milwaukee, WI

    Monty January 28, 2008 4:53 pm ET

    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.

    Like most politicians who want to use the verb, "SERVED" to describe their time in politics, in reality, the proper term is "SERVED-SELF!" They served themselves with power, riches beyond all comprehension, and both current and future incomprehensible influence in the world....

    RESPECT even for parents, is EARNED!

    January 29, 2008 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  10. Sparklestheclown

    On both State of Union and the campaign – Making fun of the President will not change that there is true security risk in undermining the military forces attempting to keep stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. We have not even touched the killings in Congo, Kenya, Burma, Palistenians, and on – Yes, our economy needs real attention. But without a secure planet, we will not need economy. We need more control of the lenders for housing – why did we let the predatory lending even get so far???? We need to respect the education we have before we can increase it. Democrats seem to act in a niave manner about all of this. And whopping shocker – So what if Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson endorse Obama – So they don't exactly have clean histories or credentials unsmeared – There surely should be better endorsements out there! So this does not King Obama make! I am voting Republican, but I think the Clintons got a bum rap from the media and from the Obama camp. Clintons did not make it a race issue, Obama camp did. Shame on them.
    Too much is taken out of context.
    Sparkles aka Gammy aka Jeany

    January 29, 2008 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  11. Summat

    –for those interested...no one's interested...instead...we get hungry..

    January 29, 2008 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  12. Nick Howell

    i think president bushs ratings will rise and he is the best president.

    January 29, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. Attacks by the Establishment on Ron Paul Continue

    Enough of War Hawks in the government!

    January 29, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. EB Rideout, Georgia

    Beats paying admission to see a monkey in a zoo, eh Wolfie?

    January 29, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. checkthisout

    GWs Health Care Plan as outlined in the State of the Union sounds very much like that of Obama, don't you think?

    January 29, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. roger, conway sc

    Can you imagine President Blitzer & President Bush together...until this years primary elections I felt Blitzer & CNN were the best news media available but after seeing them show such support for Obama & stirring up the racial tension in SC they are all over paid & need to be replaced....

    January 29, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. ruth hatton

    Has anyone noticed that Hillary always goes to the black churches to launch her campaigns. She talks to Blacks as if they are children and she is the mother.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. David

    This report underscores the need for reporters to be less cozy with those they report on. This blurs the line of staying objective. If more reporters had asked tougher questions or questioned the lead up the Iraq war we would have higher regard for journalists in general.
    Less embedded reporters, less censorship by corporate media = speak truth to power

    January 29, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Moe, NY

    Wolf...don't you know by now that there is no such thing as a free lunch?

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. CJ

    As the network shows were interrupted and the stage was set for this last State of the Union address, I could be elated about ONLY ONE THING. If we can all survive just one more year of the most terrible administration in the history of this country, perhaps we can begin to dig ourselves out of the hole in which it has plunged us. May God be with us all as we travel through the next year and bless us with no Executive Orders that could catapult us into an infinite rule under "King George" and his entourage!!

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  21. CHERYL

    GOOD-BYE BUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HELLO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. Get real

    Bush's Legacy

    1) Worst President in U.S. History
    Why? Because you don't like the war. Didn't people hate us prior to Bush??

    2) Failed Foreign Policy
    If it was so good prior to Bush, we wouldn't be where we are today.

    3) Failed Domestic Policy
    In what ways?

    4) Struggling Economy
    Where have you been for 7 years

    5) U.S. Dollar Weaker than Euro
    This is cyclical too, and will change for the better. Check prices in Europe, then complain.

    6) Porous U.S. Borders
    Yes, they were sealed tighter than a drum before 2000.

    7) Disastrious and Irrelevant War In Iraq
    Not for long

    8) Every American Child Left Behind in Education
    My kids are doing pretty good these last 7 years.

    9) Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans..enough said.
    Shame on Bush for causing a hurricane. Even the mayor didn't do squat, so there is plenty of blame to go around. This disaster was unprecedented by the way.

    10) Failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. What ever happened to that guy?
    Okay, you got me on that one. All the other top leaders are unimportant............

    January 29, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. KK-OHIO

    Monty-I have a lot of respect for my parents and people I don't know. BUT-when you drop bombs on innocent people for the sole purpose of lining your pocket with money-NO I have no respect for you.

    January 29, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Chris, Jacksonville

    Bush has been wasteful and disingenous.

    He has little regard for the common man.....that is why his support level has been sitting around 30% for the past three years. You can't fool all of the people all the time. Too bad our children will be the ones paying for it (look at the annual deficit and national debt in 2000 compared to today. It's sickening.)

    Overall Bush did a poor job both in establishing policy and reacting to events both global and domestic.

    He did not live up to his promises and was certainly not a "uniter".

    Too bad the Democrats are so weak....they should be making mince-meat out of his record.

    BTW: I am an Independent

    January 29, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |

    The political coverage by Wolf Blitzer has been very disappointing to me. He has lost "reporting the news" and has changed to a skewed commentator and maker of news. His coverage of Hillary Clinton and push for Obama has been disgraceful. No longer trusted as a news reporter or even commentator, Wolf may have shown his colors with this visit. Please get back to a news organization that is fair and even in reporting.

    January 29, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
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