The holidays and the primaries have given us a backlog of pool reports, but there are some gems in here, including holiday plans, the royal treatment of the presidential pups, and the “biggest bling” the Secret Service has ever seen.
“President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lighted candles and stood silently in the grotto, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, down steep stone steps beneath the altar of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. A guide named below explained the setting but neither Bush nor Rice said anything there audible to your pool.” — Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune
Peres made some highly complimentary comments to POTUS, saying that POTUS has ‘introduced character into politics,’ and then discussed the peace process. Transcript coming. POTUS joked back to Mr. Peres that he was ‘following your example,’ prompting Mr. Peres to remark, ‘Be careful.’ POTUS then said, ‘I come as an optimistic person and as a realistic person. I come with high hopes.'” — Jon Ward, Washington Times
“No news, except this bipartisan shocker: Rahm Emanuel will be with POTUS all day today. (No, he didn’t fly in on the plane.) Your pool will refrain from smart aleck remarks.” — Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times
“Your bleary eyed pool reported at 7:15 a.m. for a Saturday morning of vicarious exercise. We loaded into the 13-vehicle motorcade at 7:25 for some quality van time. POTUS, wearing a bright blue biking jacket, climbed into his SUV at 8:23. Two bicycles, emblazoned with ‘United States of America,’ were mounted on a backup vehicle. The trip to the Secret Service training facility in Beltsville was uneventful. The exerciser in chief and his entourage entered the Beltsville complex at 8:48 while his journalistic camp followers trooped into the visitor’s center and sampled its culinary delights.” — Dave Cook, The Christian Science Monitor
“At Camp David with the president and first lady, according to the White House, are their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna; the first lady’s mother, Jenna Welch; the president’s sister, Doro Bush Koch, and her family; and the
president’s brother, Marvin, and his family. ‘Like most Americans,’ Perino said, the president was ‘enjoying time with his family.'” — Bob Hillman, Politico
“Earlier, your pool arrived on the plane to find the presidential pooches, Barney and Miss Beazley, scampering about the press cabin. The door to the guest cabin was open and, in a new spirit for the new year, White House staff accomodated your pool’s request for a tour. The president’s housekeeper sat the dogs in the comfy cabin chairs: Beazley
scampered onto the table to sniff the array of candies and M and Ms.
Those dogs ride in style.” — Stolberg
“Ed spent the weekend at the ranch and was initiated in the protocol of presidential brush-clearing to make a path for the biker-in-chief. ‘I did not get to use the chain saw,’ says the counselor. ‘I was relegated to the raking. New guy.’ The Bushes spent New Year’s eve with two other couples, friends from Texas. The girls and Jenna Welch had already gone. They did not stay up to watch the motorcycle dude fly across the football field, as did your pooler (and as did Gillespie himself, in the staff trailer on the ranch, after grilling some steaks with other staffers.)” — Stolberg
“Some color now on the enormous bling given to POTUS at the palace, after the receiving line and before the meeting. It is a large encrusted necklace with a medallion at the bottom — the medallion was handcrafted by skilled artisans with 18K gold, and it has a handpainted enamel American flag. The necklace is set with hundreds of natural, precious rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Secret Service called it the biggest bling they’ve ever seen–photogs came up with official bling of the highest order.” — Ward
“At 7:33 POTUS came through a door across the room from us, and an officer said, ‘Attention on deck.’ All the sailors stood, and the officer said, ‘At ease.’ The sailors broke into loud and enthusiastic applause as POTUS walked into the room and waved to them. POTUS then walked to the chow line and joined in with a few sailors — he grabbed a plate and deposited pancakes and bacon on the plate, adding a generous dose of syrup to the flapjacks. He stood in chow line next to Seaman Kevin Key, an intel specialist from Wisconsin, and said, ‘Smile, your mother may be watching,’ prompting laughter from press and some sailors who heard. POTUS also joked with photographer Pablo Monsivais of the AP, seeing him and saying, ‘Pablooo.’ He also spoke to Matt Spetalnick of Reuters, saying ‘thank you for all the suggestions, I can figure out what to eat,’ after Matt and another reporter suggested he scoop up some eggs or fruit.
POTUS then sat down at a table in the middle of the room, and the pool was ushered out.” — Ward
“Having just experienced the joys myself of a dry state in Kuwait, I was also interested to learn that in Bahrain, Wednesday night is when things go wild. That’s because many Saudis drive across the causeway connecting the two countries to escape their countries’ alcohol ban.” — Ward
“After touching down at the Al Asyl Landing Zone, our caravan wends down a straight but hilly road thru desert, a few camels on the right, another incomg helo about to land. Tufts of grass among the sand. A group of four horses further along on the other side. Vast areas of nothing and noone except three riders on horseback along other side of fence-fences lining parts of roadway. The road changes from paved and becomes all wet sand. Rain is now dripping all over the van windshield, yet there is a hazy backlight illuminating the clouds.” — Jane Aaron, Chicago Jewish News
“The Crown Prince shows POTUS aprx six falcons which are perched on stands about a foot off the ground in the left center area. The Crown Prince picks one up and pets it and POTUS also admires and strokes the bird. The men spend time enjoying the creatures and then turn to a small tent perpindicular to the first one.” — Aaron