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George W. Bush to Visit White House for Portrait Hanging

Thursday, 31 May 2012 09:39 AM

 

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President Barack Obama is welcoming former President George W. Bush, back to the White House on Thursday for the official unveiling of Bush's portrait.

The political reunion is expected to put aside any campaign rhetoric, as other gatherings among past and current presidents have, to honor nostalgia and the service of the former president and his wife, Laura.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will host generations of Bushes for a private lunch, including former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, along with family members.

Then, in the ornate East Room, Obama and George W. Bush will speak as the portraits of the former president and Laura Bush are unveiled. The audience will be filled with friends and officials from Bush's two terms in office.

No one close to the current or former president expects the least sign of animus Thursday, particularly given that their transition in 2009 was handled with grace and that they have since shared moments of help and healing.

"President Bush has been around politics a long time. He's been around how presidents deal with each other for a long time," said Tony Fratto, one of his former spokesmen at the White House. "He has an understanding for separating the necessities of political rhetoric from the job itself."

Bush was last at the White House in January 2010 to help out with Haiti humanitarian relief.

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said the former president and first lady are grateful to the Obamas and looking forward to catching up with faces from their past, including staff at the Executive Mansion.

Jenna Bush Hager, one of the George W. Bush's daughters, told "Fox & Friends" the day will be a chance to "celebrate his work, `cause he worked pretty hard, so I think he deserves at least a painting.'"

As to where it will go, she said: "Probably in the very back somewhere. I'm just kidding."

The painting will actually hang prominently in the formal entrance hall to the White House, the Grand Foyer.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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