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Bush Returns To Texas

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Bush Returns To Texas

Politics

Bush Returns To Texas

Bush Returns To Texas

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For the first time, it's "former" President George W. Bush. After attending the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 43rd president flew by helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base, the first stop on his return to Texas.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Former president George W. Bush is back home in Texas tonight, in Midland, surrounded by well-wishers. In his eight years in office Mr. Bush posted some of the highest and lowest job approval ratings of any modern president. He spent much of this morning alongside his successor, now President Obama. The two men shared coffee at the White House and a limo ride to the Capitol, and then after the swearing in Mr. Bush headed back to the Lone Star state. NPR's David Greene spent years covering Mr. Bush's presidency, and he reports on his farewell.

DAVID GREENE: Eight years ago, when George W. Bush was on his way to Washington, he stopped in Midland. It's his childhood home.

(Soundbite of speech)

Mr. GEORGE W. BUSH: In a way, Laura and I will never quite settle in to Washington because while the honor is great, the work is temporary.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BUSH: I'm leaving Texas, but not forever.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. BUSH: This is my home.

GREENE: Eight years later, and Mr. Bush has returned home. He landed back in Midland tonight and spoke at a welcome home ceremony.

Mr. BUSH: Laura and I may have left Texas, but Texas never left us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

GREENE: From Midland, the former president and first lady were flying on to their ranch outside Crawford. Earlier, Mr. Bush began the day sticking to his old routine. He arrived in the Oval Office, just before 7 a.m. But this day was different. The walls of the White House were bare. All the photos of Mr. Bush had come down. Most the former president's staff had already moved out. In the late morning, Mr. Bush left the White House for the last time. He accompanied Barack Obama to the U.S. Capitol and Mr. Bush sat outside, listening to a speech that didn't exactly celebrate the last eight years.

(Soundbite of inaugural address)

President BARACK OBAMA: On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.

GREENE: After the speech, Mr. Bush smiled and greeted President Obama. The Bushes boarded a helicopter outside the Capitol and were on their way to Andrew's Air Force Base. They took off for Texas on that familiar 747, only it wasn't called Air Force One anymore because the nation's commander-in-chief was not aboard. David Greene, NPR News, the White House.

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