On the Plane

Surprise Interview

KIGALI, Rwanda -- With the presidential campaign in full swing and not much big news on this trip, most of the star television correspondents stayed home. But a new celebrity journalist showed up in the tiny room where the White House media were parked to wait for President Bush here today -- Sir Bob Geldof.

Irish rocker and anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof talks to reporters in Kigali, Rwanda, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. Geldof was invited by President Bush to join him on part of his tour through Africa. (The Associated Press -- Lawrence Jackson)

The rock star-activist flew with Bush aboard Air Force One here this morning from Dar es Salaam and then took a seat in the media section during the president's question-and-answer session with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. It turns out Geldof, who has made a career of promoting Africa, will interview the president for Time magazine aboard Air Force One this afternoon when he flies to his next stop in Ghana.

Sir Bob, as he is sometimes called, is not your typical Time correspondent. Tall and lanky with a graying mane of hair, the onetime Boomtown Rats lead singer held forth in the press holding room about how significant Bush's accomplishments in Africa have been and how important it will be for the next president to follow his example. "Very, very key things for the 21st century were started with this presidency," he said. "And the next must really take it on."

Geldof, like his friend and fellow rocker Bono, has been a vocal supporter of Bush's programs to fight AIDS, malaria and poverty in Africa. "Here's a guy who came to office believing that California is foreign policy and now understands that Kenya is domestic policy," he said. "It's a huge intellectual curve." Geldof said there were few votes to be gained in helping the poor and none for helping Africa. "So why did he do it? What's in it for him? Absolutely nothing."

The Irish singer is not the only celebrity addition to the president's traveling party as he makes his way across the continent. Jordin Sparks, last year's "American Idol" winner, will join Bush in Ghana to promote the president's malaria initiative. No word on whether the president will join her in a duet.

-- Peter Baker

By Washington Post Editor |  February 19, 2008; 9:25 AM ET  | Trip:  Bush in Africa, Feb. 2008
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Who writes this stuff, Karen Hughes?

Posted by: gkam | February 21, 2008 1:24 AM

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