August 23rd, 2007
08:55 AM ET
13 years ago

President Bush's forgotten state?

Watch CNN's John King report on Bush's forgotten state.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vermont is a picture perfect place - its rivers and mountains and covered bridges are a draw to some 10 million visitors a year.

Yet, the Green Mountain State is the forgotten place in the crowded travelogue of President Bush - the only state he has failed to visit in his presidency.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders - a self described socialist - is a fierce Bush critic whether the issue is the Iraq war, the economy, or climate change. Callers to his office, Sanders says, often demand that the president be impeached.

But Sanders all but dares Bush to visit, saying he would benefit from sitting down with his critics. His Senate Web site even displays a banner with the headline "Bush stays away from Vermont."

"If he comes up in the fall – he can see the changing of the leaves,” Sanders told CNN. β€œHe'll have a good visit.”

"[He] might be able to learn something," he added. "This president will probably go down in history as the least popular president in history of this country - he should go forward and find out why that is so."

But University of Vermont political science professor Garrison Nelson sees no upside in the president paying a visit to Vermonters.

"It is a photo opportunity he does not need," Nelson said. "I cannot imagine any assemblage in the state of Vermont that would give him an unalloyed positive reception."

Bush lost big there in 2000 and again in 2004. The war is enormously unpopular, and the state Senate even adopted a symbolic resolution last April calling for his impeachment.

But it's not all personal, Nelson says.

"When the Republican Party moved South and West, you know towards the sun belt and of course toward Christian conservatism, it lost Vermonters."

Vermont does have a Republican governor, Jim Douglas, but he is a throwback to the moderate breed of Republicanism that once thrived across New England. Douglas notes the first President Bush visited Vermont last among the 50 states, and predicts the son will do the same - despite his low popularity.

"He can take it," Douglas said of a potential Vermont visit. "He has certainly taken a lot of hostility and tough questions and I am sure he can do that here."

But some Vermonters do get to meet the president themselves.

Regina Gilbert traveled to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to meet the president in 2005 –her only child, Kyle, was killed in Iraq on August 6, 2003. Vermont has lost two dozen soldiers in Iraq - the highest in per capita death tolls - more than reason enough Gilbert says for the president to visit.

"He asked me something that surprised me: does it ever get easier?" Gilbert said. "And I just looked at him and looked at my husband and said absolutely not. I said this is a hole in my heart and it is always going to be there."

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: President Bush • Vermont
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Jimi, Burlington, VT

    Maybe he's afraid that he'll be called out publicly as exactly what he is – an arrogant, silver spoon-fed, war-mongering imperialist produced by America's own twisted brand of political oligarchy.

    August 22, 2007 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Vermont serves as the wonderful opposite to red-states.
    Vermont – tolerance, compassion, enlightenment, intelligence, education, environmentalism, etc.

    Red States – intolerance, hate and fear mongering, patriotism used as cover for right wing nationalism and racism, Christians-only religious ideology, regression in public education and science, etc.

    Which America will prevail?

    August 22, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Ohio

    Being originally from Upstate New York and having all of my relatives in Vermont, I'm so glad that my parents moved out of there to Upstate when I was little. Every time I hear something from their politicians, it's a SOCIALIST ideology. I'd HATE it there! People there should be relating to President Bush (farming, animals, etc.) instead of what most liberals stand for! How bizarre! And the guy who is trying to get him to come to Vermont is just plain stupid.

    August 22, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Dan Barre VT

    Sure, come on up, yer' sure to have a great time here W. Promise. Really.

    August 22, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Dale Johnson South Woodstock Vermont

    The people who like Sanders and Leahy are not Vermonters, they are "flatlanders" "Johnny come Lately" Recent imports. Not natives. They all had previous addresses in the Liberal states of Mass. CT, NJ, NY and Maryland. Real Vermonters have more back bone than our elected officials.

    August 22, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. Dan, Columbia MD

    Sanders is a socialist.

    Nuff said.

    August 22, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. James Claremont, CA

    Bush is extremely unpopular in Vermont, Vermont has a high rate of gun ownership, Vermonters can carry guns anywhere.

    Perhaps he's afraid a rebellion will start?

    August 22, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. M Willett, Indianapolis, IN

    Is Vermont part of the U.S.? I thought it was some sort of communist/socialist backwater

    August 22, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "Red States – intolerance, hate and fear mongering, patriotism used as cover for right wing nationalism and racism, Christians-only religious ideology, regression in public education and science, etc" ~ Bob, San Francisco

    Gee Bob, you labeled and bashed more than half the country (red states) that hold a different view than you.

    Are YOU the bright & shining example of the tolerant and educated in our country?

    August 22, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Steve, Phoenix, Arizona

    President Bush,
    Please, go to Vermont. Please. I hear it is wonderful, filled with fine people and beautiful scenery.

    Just stay out of Arizona.

    August 22, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Rich NYC, NY

    As a part time resident of VT it is good to know that Bush hasn't at least soiled one state in the Union with his presence. Although he has soiled the whole country with his policies. I just don't understand how 500 million voters could have been so stupid twice!

    August 22, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Nick Mann, Miami, FL

    Being hated by socialists is a feather in Bush's cap. Once socialists applaud our President, then we will have a serious problem in this country. Bush seems to infuriate his radical critics not by attacking them back, but simply by ignoring them.

    August 22, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  13. Sully, Lawrenceburg Ky

    Kuddos for this story. It is an important one which shows that once again President Bush is fleeing hard times. He has a hard road ahead of him in his last bit a President, and the fact he is unwilling to visit a state that bands so strongly against what he stands for shows exactly how much he will accomplish at this point in his term: namely nothing. Although, at this point in his less than stunning run as President it seems that a trip to Vermont would be nothing more than a harsh dose of reality for him. I stand beside Vermont.

    August 22, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Roger,Brattleboro Vermont

    Jim Jeffords, our governor, is the perfect example of a "true vermonter", that is, pragmatic and independent, as opposed to the dogmatic, partisan politician (and citizen) so sadly prevalent today...and yes, I am a native Vermonter (fifth generation)

    August 22, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. dan

    Gotta love the but but but what about Clinton posts....especially since they point out that Clinton DID finally visit Nebraska. The point of this article is that W HAS NOT (and apparently won't) visit Vermont.

    And Bill Clinton is a convicted felon?

    Good lord, W supporters are dumb.

    August 22, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. FMann, San Antonio

    I'm a Texan but need to move to Vermont.

    August 22, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Anne, Thetford, VT

    Don't you dare come to my beautiful and progressive state, President Bush. Don't sully our land with your evil ways. Oh and btw, I am not a flatlander and I support Bernie Sanders wholeheartedly.

    August 22, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Kris, Burlington, VT

    Another comment (from a San Franciso poster) says VT is the "wonderful opposite to the red states" and calls it "enlightened" and "tolerant."

    Well, I live here and as an open-minded, well-educated conservative, find it to be neither. The only ones who are "tolerated" are the super-liberals. My military family is in the super-minority. The only place in the country that will actually boo a soldier. I was raised in VT, but not in THIS Bernie Sanders' Vermont.

    It just makes me sad. I love the idea that VT is the rebellious, Constitutionally-minded upstart of a state...but it isn't. That was hijacked long ago by a bunch of hypocrites with white plates. I miss it. I am sure Bush does too.

    August 22, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Chris, Nashville, TN

    the communist news network covering such important issues as usual. you libs need to get a life. liberalism is a disease

    August 22, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. erika morgan black dimond wa

    I'm from Washington State, GWB is actually visiting our state today for a fundraiser, but no one will actually see him except the few Republican faithful, with their hands out and some rich computer tycoons, with very deep pockets. Georgie is well beyond being able to learn anything, and it is too dangerous to let him off his leash, out of earshot he may say something Chaney would find troublesome, so he will not meet any but a hand picked groupie with muzzle intact.

    August 22, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Jason Boyd, Montpelier VT

    Mr. Neff–You ought to try getting your news from additional sources rather than just FOX NEWS.

    Senator Bernie Sanders would do a helluva lot better job running this country than the current nut who hails from your state.

    August 22, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Joseph, Mendon, VT

    I find it amusing that a majority of the comments complimentary to Vermont, are from non-residents. Let me extend an invitation to move to our fine state. Yep, a grand place to try and make a living with the highest per capita tax rate in the country. The largest number of social programs designed to take care of you from cradle to grave. And, a government that will govern your every move. Please.. come .. enjoy.... relish in the pleasures of working 2 jobs to make ends meet..a vertiable wonderland we live in here.

    August 22, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Jeff, Houston, TX

    Vermont's values are so true to what this country was founded on?

    Wow, I knew Vermont was liberal, but you've got to be smoking the good stuff. This nation was built upon hard work and doing for yourself, not asking for hard working americans to pay the way for the lazy or inept.

    August 22, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. jason smith, Oneonta, NY

    People in Vermont have brains, and common sense, there would be nothing in common between the people of Vermont and Bush, so I agree it was very wise by his handlers to not go there...they still haven't destroyed Vermont's forests, so Cheney might be tempted to go hunting, watch out!!!
    Then again, Bush hasn't mastered English yet, so I can't believe he would be in the South working on his Spanglish...what a role model, I bet parents everywhere are so delighted, look son, you can't even spell nukuler but you can still be President....

    August 22, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    I would personally like to thank "Bob" from San Francisco for his putting his so enlightened two cents in.

    After reading the hate filled diatribe, two cents is all it is worth.

    August 22, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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