He's Outta There
BUCHAREST, Romania -- Enough is enough, it seems. With the NATO summit meetings consistently running two hours over schedule most of the day, President Bush abruptly got up and left the last formal session of the day, not bothering to wait for an official summit photograph of all the leaders.
Bush is no fan of windy meetings and evidently had had his fill. He left behind Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to represent him for the rest of the session, which concerned NATO operations in Afghanistan, but his departure was so sudden and unexpected that he left some of his motorcade behind, inculding his press pool, when he got into his car and headed back to his hotel.
"The president sat through the entire first part of the meeting, unlike some of the other world leaders who went and came as they pleased," explained a White House official, who asked not to be named. "The bulk of the discussion he felt had ended at that point. However, Secretary Gates stayed back and represented the U.S. for the duration of the meeting."
Bush was not the first leader to leave while the conversation dragged on. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were seen leaving before Bush did. "He wanted to get back here in order to pick up Mrs. Bush and get ready for the evening events," the White House official said. The evening events, including a cultural presentation and a dinner among the leaders, were then delayed to give everyone enough time to rest and get ready. The official photograph Bush was supposed to pose for was canceled.
-- Peter Baker
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