Bush Lunches with Returned Iraq Vets

President Bush is in Colorado for a fundraiser and a brief lunch with military veterans just returned from duty Iraq. Thanking them for their service, the president said the United States would prevail.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

President Bush flew to Colorado today, where he spoke with a small group of service men and women recently returned from Iraq at a restaurant near Buckley Air Force Base. The president told them he appreciated their sacrifice and their contribution to the global war on terror.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: We're doing some hard things, it's hard work to defeat terrorists who killing innocent life to achieve their objective. But we'll succeed, we'll prevail.

SIEGEL: Reporters with the president tried to ask him about Secretary of State Rice's plans to go the Middle East, but the president said he is meeting with her on Sunday.

One of the reporters on Air Force One today was NPR's David Greene. And David this event that the president had today with the service people, how many people was he meeting with actually.

DAVID GREENE reporting:

Well, it was about ten or so, Robert. It was actually right off an airbase in Aurora, Colorado, at a roadside restaurant that advertises its karaoke Tuesdays and two for one margaritas. He sat down for lunch, and it appeared at least in the time that we were inside the room, which was brief, that it was a quiet somber conversation and the president, while reporters were still in there, was telling the military personnel that he appreciates their service and wanted to thank their families.

SIEGEL: Do we know anything of what any of them said to the president?

Mr. GREENE: We don't. It was a typical visit where we were brought in for just the opening and then the lunch itself was private. We weren't admitted to see it.

SIEGEL: Now the rest of the president's agenda in Colorado, I gather, consists of a fundraiser.

Mr. GREENE: It does, yes, we're actually holding right now at a country club in Englewood, Colorado, and the president is doing a private fundraiser for Rick O'Donnell. He is a Republican who is running for an open congressional seat in the state.

SIEGEL: Obviously, you and the other journalist there are interested in Secretary Rice's itinerary later this weekend and beyond. What are we hearing from the White House about this?

Mr. GREENE: Not a whole lot and the administration has been pretty quiet about offering any details about when and where Secretary Rice would be going. The president is going to be at his ranch in Texas this weekend, then he's going back to the White House a little earlier than he expected to sit down with Secretary Rice and also the Saudi Foreign Minister. They're coming here to have a conversation that probably will be complicated, because I think the Saudi's and other Arabs partners want more from the United States right now to try and solve this problem.

SIEGEL: Back to today's event at the restaurant near Buckley Air Force Base, how often has the president done this, has he gone to meet with people who served in Iraq and come back?

Mr. GREENE: He does these pretty routinely, Robert. I wouldn't say every day of every week, but whenever he comes to military base to give a big speech on a holiday or at a another event, he'll spend some time in a mess hall or in another setting meeting with military personnel. Sometimes its families of personnel who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan and other times it's members of the military who are about to go or just back like the ones he saw today.

SIEGEL: David, thank you.

Mr. GREENE: Thank you Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's David Greene, traveling with President Bush today in Colorado.

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