With stories about President Bush’s new memoir dominating the headlines this week, Financial Times Westminster correspondent Alex Barker reports on his “favourite Bush anecdote,” which he writes, “for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it”:
The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.
Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.
Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”
Barker said that British officials looked “dumbfounded” and that Brown’s “poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.”