Thursday, July 08, 2004

Did Bush walk out on a press conference
Some blogs and news sources are suggesting that Bush walked out on a press conference when questioned about his relationship with indicted felon Ken Lay. Kos has a picture of Bush walking away from a lectern with the following caption:
US President George W. Bush walks away from a briefing with the media, refusing to answer questions after he was asked about Enron and the reported indictment of former CEO Kenneth Lay, who was a close adviser and fund-raiser for Bush and his father, earning him the presidential nickname of 'Kenny Boy.'(AFP/Paul J. Richards)

Capitol Hill Blue adds some more colorful adjectives to the story, but doesn't add any substantial details.
A clearly-rattled President George W. Bush walked out of a media briefing Thursday, refusing to answer questions about his close relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth Lay, a campaign benefactor Bush nicknamed "Kenny Boy" when the two were up-and-comers in Texas.

The President, visibly upset, stomped off the stage when reporters pressed him about his relationship with Lay and left White House press secretary Scott McClellan to deal with the questions.

Reuters reports the episode in more neutral terms, but adds the location:
Lay, once a leading U.S. industrialist and close friend of President George W. Bush -- who called him "Kenny Boy" -- now faces felony charges stemming from the Enron debacle.

Bush, at an appearance in Waterford, Michigan, was asked by reporters about the indictment but walked away without answering.

So far my Googling efforts have not produced any additional details, but with the location I was able to look up the transcript of the event on the White House web site. The transcript is called "Remarks by the President After Meeting with Michigan Judicial Nominees" and the pictures clearly show the same set as the Yahoo picture Kos is displaying. Bush spends seven minutes complaining about the Senate holding up his nominees. No press questions are indicated in the transcript. The video cuts off right on his thank you.

On the video, you can hear the murmur of the press trying to interject questions at the end of his prepared comments. Bush leans to his right—the same direction he is seen exiting in the still photo—and the video cuts off.

It's interesting to compare that transcript with "Remarks by the President After Meeting with North Carolina Judicial Nominees" made four hours earlier. In North Carolina he made the same comments about the Senate blocking his excellent candidates for the bench and then he took questions from the press. All of the questions were about Edwards and his snippy answers made the evening news.

What happened in Michigan? It appears that Bush was planning a major offensive on his judicial appointments, but Edwards and Lay took the news cycle away from him. After the reporters in North Carolina ignored the topic he was ready to talk about and pressed him on Edwards did he get mad and decide not to allow questions in Michigan? Or did he stomp off the stage in Michigan in offense at the questions that were being asked?

One last note, and this seems to argue that Capitol Hill Blue is exaggerating. None of the Michigan news media that I looked at mention anything untoward about Bush’s remarks in Waterford including those outlets that did mention his testiness in North Carolina. Is there really a story here? We can only watch.

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