March 16, 2010

Bush to media: 'You've been thrown out of better places'

DIETER BRADBURY

— By

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/ Staff Photographer: Monday., July 21, 2008. The media is allowed access to the Bush Compound as Senator John McCain visits former Pres. George W. Bush at the Bush compound at Walkers Point in Kennebunkport today on a campaign swing through Maine.

Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — Former President George H.W. Bush pulled out all the stops Monday when it came to boosting the presidential campaign of a fellow Republican, John McCain.

He praised the Arizona senator's integrity and courage while hosting a fundraising reception for McCain contributors at the Bush home on Walker's Point, drawing dozens of guests at $2,300 a pop.

But during a news conference on the Walker's Point lawn, when a reporter asked Bush about the latest developments on the campaign trail, the former commander in chief lost interest.

''I don't follow this day to day anymore,'' he said. ''I live next to the ocean. I watch the tides go in and out.''

Natty in a linen sports jacket and white turtleneck, Bush seemed to enjoy the company of some two dozen reporters and videographers during the fundraising event.

After McCain's staff hustled the candidate off to a meeting with contributors at The Nonantum Resort, Bush lingered to chat.

At his direction, two staff members led a group of media members on a walking tour of the 6-acre compound, which the Bush family has owned for more than 100 years.

The impromptu tour wound past the tennis courts, docks, gardens and assorted outbuildings that house the Bush family, staff and assorted guests.

Bush's high-speed boat was nowhere to be seen. He said it was undergoing repairs for a damaged bow.

Tethered to an electrical outlet near the dock was a Segway emblazoned with the presidential seal. Bush himself uses the machine, but said he can't ride it now because he needs back surgery and has been having trouble keeping his balance.

He said he wants to be in good shape for his 85th birthday next June 12, when he plans to go skydiving again, as he did on his 80th birthday.

In a driveway near the main house, where Barbara Bush waved from the kitchen window, was a Smart Car. And around the corner, of course, there's a windmill that the family had installed several years ago.

''We didn't put it up to generate electricity,'' Bush quipped. ''We put it up to kill cormorants so they wouldn't eat the fish.''

Barbara Bush did not participate in the news conference or venture outside during the tour. Bush said his wife recently had surgery to replace both knees and has not been getting around much.

He said he has been anticipating the wedding of a relative, whom he described as ''a piece of work,'' and said he doesn't know whether the current President Bush will spend much time in Kennebunkport after his second term expires in January.

Prodded by his aides, Bush finally signaled to the media -- somewhat apologetically -- that the visit was over.

''You've been thrown out of better places than this,'' he said.

Staff Writer Dieter Bradbury can be reached at 791-6329 or at:

dbradbury@pressherald.com

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