SOTU, Take Two
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - State of the union, take two. In a speech meant to help rally his House Republican troops, President Bush rehashed much of his address from earlier this week for a about 160 members of the GOP conference as they are wrapping up a 48-hour retreat with an aim of learning how to be an aggressive minority party that is focused on trying to take back the majority in 2008.
On several occasions, Bush told the lawmakers about what he had already told them about 63 hours earlier in the week.
Four times in his public remarks, Bush uttered the phrase "I talked about" when referring to various programs or initiatives he had hyped on Tuesday.
"I talked about the fact that we will never forget the importance of freedom," he said near the close of his remarks, at which point reporters were ushered out of the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort's large conference room. Bush then engaged in a closed-door question-and-answer session with the House Republicans, his first such meet-and-greet at the GOP's annual retreat since his Republicans became the minority party.
Without the nationally televised audience on every major network, House Republicans warmly received Bush's public remarks in a reaction that could be considered polite applause. While the Washington Post's official standing ovation count for Tuesday night topped 20, there were no ovations for Bush today.
After his introduction from Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), the chairman of the Republican Conference who called the president a "transformational leader," Bush took note of this speech following so soon on the heels of his national address.
"Twice in one week, and I'm better off for it," he said. As has been his custom for more than six years now, Bush thanked his hosts -- "I value their friendship," he said of Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) -- and then doled out nicknames.
"You call him Adam," he said of the 32-year-old lawmaker. "I call him Red." With Bush currently taking questions in private, Capitol Briefing and the rest of the press corps is unable to report on how courteously the lawmakers are receiving Bush. Check back later in the day for an update on how the question-and-answer session went.
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