Scottsdale, Arizona (CNN) - Former President George W. Bush made a rare political appearance Thursday.
Bush, who once served as governor of Texas, slipped into a closed-door, governors-only luncheon at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Bush gave brief remarks and engaged in a nearly two-hour Q&A session with the governors, according to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
"It was absolutely wonderful to have him here. He was very upbeat and charismatic, and we (are) very thrilled and delighted," Brewer said. She also said Bush made a stop here on his way to Oklahoma.
"He encouraged all of us and said the best breeding ground for presidents are the governors."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie invited Bush to the conference during his recent trip to Dallas.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said that Bush "is enjoying retirement."
Rick Perry, the former President's successor as Texas governor, gave a briefer description of the lunch: "It was tasty. It was a tasty piece of steak."
The Democratic Governors Association, aware that Bush remains an unpopular figure in public opinion polls, quickly seized on the surprise appearance.
"Republican governors are implementing the very same Bush-era economic policies that crushed the middle class for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans and major corporations," said DGA Communications Director Danny Kanner in a statement.
"For the sake of the working families in their states, we're hoping they kept the discussion to the weather."