WASHINGTON – Continuing a White House ritual, President George W. Bush left a note in the Oval Office for President-elect Barack Obama, wishing him well as he takes the reins of the executive branch.
The White House on Tuesday declined to provide intimate details of the message the two-term Republican left for the incoming Democrat, saying only that Bush wrote it on Monday and left it in the top drawer of his desk.
“The theme is similar to what he’s said since election night about the fabulous new chapter President-elect Obama is about to start, and that he wishes him the very best,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday.
During his last moments in the Oval Office, former President Ronald Reagan scribbled a note for his successor on a notepad with a turkey insignia that said “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” He, too, slipped the note in the presidential desk for his successor, President George H.W. Bush.
Four years after that, the elder Bush left a note for President Bill Clinton. And eight years after that, Clinton wrote a note for Bush, and included a copy of the message he had received from Bush’s father.
Bush’s final half-day as president includes a goodbye to Washington and a hello from fellow Texans.
On Tuesday morning, the president and first lady Laura Bush will welcome Obama and his wife, Michelle, to the White House. The Bushes, the Obamas, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, his wife, Jill, and leaders of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will have coffee in the Blue Room.
After the swearing-in ceremony for Obama at the Capitol, Bush will take a helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base, where he’ll make private remarks inside a hangar.
The Bushes then will fly to Midland, Texas, on the familiar blue-and-white presidential aircraft, although it will be called Special Air Mission 28000 instead of Air Force One because Bush will no longer be president.
While the inauguration frenzy continues in Washington, thousands of well-wishers are expected to greet the Bushes at Centennial Plaza in Midland — the same place the president stopped on his way to the nation’s capital for his own inauguration in 2001. While Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., he spent his childhood in Midland. He returned there as an adult in the 1970s and met the future first lady.
After the rally, the Bushes are flying to Waco, Texas, on their way to their 1,600-acre ranch in nearby Crawford.