Obama, Bush, and Hillary Traveled Together to South Africa

Image: Obama, Bush, and Hillary Traveled Together to South Africa

Tuesday, 10 Dec 2013 09:57 AM

By Courtney Coren

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President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all boarded Air Force One together and traveled 16 hours to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

Representing the political past, present and, possibly, future, the three took part in a tradition of American leaders and ex-presidents bonding together in flight, The New York Times reports.

White House aides on board said that Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Bush and former first lady Laura Bush and Clinton met together in the conference room at times early on in the flight.

"There have been very good conversations in that room," said Jay Carney, White House press secretary.

Former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, were traveling separately from a conference they were attending in Rio de Janeiro, and former President Jimmy Carter made his own travel arrangements to South Africa. Former President George H.W. Bush did not attend.

If bonds were made between the nation's leaders and political foes, it wouldn't be the first time a long flight has served such a purpose. The first President Bush and President Clinton reportedly became friends when the two former presidents traveled together to Asia following the 2005 tsunami.

Former President Gerald Ford and Carter created a similar bond in 1981 when they endured a long flight to attend the funeral of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

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