Talkative Bush Takes a Break in Virginia

David Greene describes the scene in Sterling, Va., where President Bush tried to have some down-time this week. The president's informal talk with a crowd there lasted more than an hour, and took a variety of twists and turns.

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The president's downtime did not last long.

DAVID GREENE reporting:

When President Bush visited the JK Moving and Storage Company in Sterling, Virginia, he seemed eager to just chill for a while. The audience was friendly, mostly local business people; and the president stood in the middle of this warehouse gripping a handheld microphone for 74 minutes.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Laura always says I get too long-winded when I come to one of these deals. And so, I try to rein her in here. I got something to say, though.

GREENE: Indeed, he did. He was there to talk about the economy, but he also expanded on: energy, education and tax cuts; even the wisdom of marrying women from Texas. Then he took questions. One gentleman asked about how Mr. Bush handles the burden of leadership? The president said it starts with his faith, his family and friends.

Mr. BUSH: Well, I'm proud to that I knew before I became in public office are still my friends.

GREENE: As if anyone needed proof, the president explained that he brings his old boyhood pals from Midland, Texas to the White House to show them around.

Mr. BUSH: I remember having some of my friends that I went to first-grade with, a guy I grew up across the street with, Michael Procter; they came up to have dinner at the White House. You know, and they kind of walked in there and you can imagine what it's like. It's a great honor and a pretty awe-inspiring deal. And they walk in there, and kind of, what are you doing here Bush?

GREENE: It was a question and answer session but the opposite of a press conference. Mr. Bush just seemed to be enjoying himself.

Unidentified Woman: I was just wondering when will we see our lovely first lady run for Senate in the great state of Texas?

Mr. BUSH: Never.

Unidentified Woman: Oh, come on. Ask her, will you?

BUSH: No, I'm not going to ask her. She's a -- she's -- never.

GREENE: As the president went on bantering in the warehouse he didn't know that reports were swirling back in Washington about a new tape from Osama bin Laden; a tape threatening more attacks on the United States.

Back at the White House, a reporter asked spokesman Scott McClellan if aides should have interrupted the president to tell him about the tape. McClellan's answer was no.

Mr. SCOTT MCCLELLAN (White House Spokesman): If there's something that's of an urgent nature the president is informed.

GREENE: And he was, McClellan said, as soon as he put down the microphone.

David Greene, NPR News, the White House.

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