Presidents — Past, Present And Future — Meet

President Bush has hosted a luncheon for President-elect Barack Obama and all the former U.S. presidents who are still alive: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The last such gathering of U.S. presidents took place in 1981.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

There were three blue ties and two red ones.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Plenty of smiles.

BLOCK: And these remarks from President-elect Barack Obama shortly after he arrived at the White House for lunch with President Bush and every living former president: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

P, Host:

I just want to thank the president for hosting us. This is an extraordinary gathering. All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office. And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary. And I'm very grateful to all of them. But again, thank you, Mr. President, for hosting us.

NORRIS: President Bush has just two weeks left in the Oval Office, and he offered these thoughts to the next commander in chief.

P: One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're Democrat or Republican, we care deeply about this country. And to the extent we can, we look forward to sharing our experiences with you. All of us who have served in this office understand that the office itself transcends the individual. And we wish you all the very best, and so does the country.

P: Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. President.

P: Thank you all.

BLOCK: The meeting was the first gathering of U.S. presidents at the White House since 1981. Then-President Ronald Reagan was joined by former Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. The four came together after the murder of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

NORRIS: As for what was discussed at today's meeting, a spokesman for Mr. Obama reports that the conversation was constructive, and that President Bush and the former presidents offered, quote, advice on managing the office as well as thoughts on critical issues facing the country.

BLOCK: There were no surprises with four men in one Oval Office that they've all called their own, and one man about to move in. However, before leaving the photo op, Bill Clinton did pay this compliment.

F: I love this rug.

NORRIS: I love this rug, he said. That's the presidential rug. One of the perks of being president is getting to choose the carpet in the Oval Office. Laura Bush picked the one that's there now.

BLOCK: Reporters who've gotten Oval Office tours from President Bush say he always points out the rug and its yellow, sunbeam design. He told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas he wanted the rug's design to symbolize an optimistic person.

NORRIS: He also said when his term is up, the rug will head not to his new house but to a warehouse, since it is government property.

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