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President Barack Obama welcomed George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura Bush, back to the White House today for the unveiling of their official White House portraits.
President Barack Obama welcomed his predecessor, George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura Bush, back to the White House today for the unveiling of their official White House portraits, the Associated Press reported. It’s been two years since president No. 43 last visited the White House.
Obama said, "We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences."
Speaking in front of the former president and Bush administration officials, Obama said, "In this job, no decision that reaches your desk is easy, no choice you make is without cost, no matter how hard you try, you're not going to make everybody happy," according to the AP. "I think that's something that President Bush and I both learned pretty quickly."
Setting aside their political differences, Obama said, "President Bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a Democratic or Republican issue, it was an American priority. I’ll always be grateful for that," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Bush thanked Obama "for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging," according to CBS News. He also noted that the new portrait brought "an interesting symmetry to the White House collection," which now "starts and ends with a George W."
The Los Angeles Times reported that Bush also noted that Obama can now wander the halls to stand in front of his portrait and ask "What would George do?"
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Hosting the unveiling ceremony for the painting of the previous president is a tradition for sitting presidents, CBS News reported.
According to CBS News:
It's often an exercise in political restraint especially when the current president publicly laments about the problems he attributes to the previous occupant of the Oval Office.
Just a week ago, Obama dissed Bush while talking to campaign donors, the AP reported. He accused GOP candidate Mitt Romney of wanting to help the rich at the expense of the middle class, then added, "That was tried, remember? The last guy did all this."
George W. Bush managed to say nice things about Bill Clinton when he hosted his portrait-unveiling event in 2004, CBS News reported.
"Over eight years, it was clear that Bill Clinton loved the job of the presidency,” Bush said, according to CBS News. “He filled this house with energy and joy. He's a man of enthusiasm and warmth, who could make a compelling case and effectively advance the causes that drew him to public service."
Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney told CBS News he expected the former presidents to keep it cordial.
"I think there is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences," Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney told CBS News. Only five men alive have served as US president, according to the AP.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, hosted a lunch for the Bushes and their relatives, including former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, who then attended the ceremony in the East Room, the AP reported. Friends and officials from Bush's two terms in office watched the unveiling.
The Bush portrait will hang in the formal entrance hall to the White House, the Grand Foyer, the AP reported.
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Watch part of Obama's speech, courtesy of CBS News: