Bush Observes His Birthday with an Extra Long Jog
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush observed his birthday Monday with a longer-than-customary jog ″to show that 65 can still do three miles.″
The noon-hour temperature was 77, the humidity was 60 percent and Bush’s T- shirt was soaked with presidential sweat by time he finished his run at Fort McNair, an Army post in southwest Washington.
″I wanted to show that 65 can still do three miles,″ Bush puffed.
Later, the Marine Band played ″Happy Birthday″ and someone dressed in a gorilla outfit - identified by the press office as Budget Director Richard Darman - pranced on the White House lawn as Bush departed by helicopter for Andrews Air Force Base, Md. on the first leg of a trip to the West. The president planned to inspect regrowth at fire-damaged Yellowstone National Park and visit Grand Teton National Park.
The gorilla wore a red sash that read ″kinder, gentler″ and carried gas- filled balloons marked ″education,″ ″S&L″ and ″clean air.″ First lady Barbara Bush laughed and waved from the balcony.
When he was sworn in at age 64 in January, Bush was the fourth oldest man ever inaugurated. White House physician Burton Lee says Bush is in excellent shape and consequently ″10 years younger than his stated age.″
After Bush’s midday jog, he reached into his limousine for a plastic bag containing ice and cans of orange soda, tossed a soda to an aide and had one himself.
Accompanying the president on the run were a military police cruiser and a few Secret Service agents in jogging gear carrying walkie-talkies. At the end, a handful of other joggers were tailing along, too.
Also along for the run was Joseph Bagnerise Jr., 20, son of the base commander and a junior in political science at Louisiana State University.
His father said that when he got word Bush was coming to the base for a run, he rushed over to the State Department Credit Union, where his son has a summer job, to bring him back to accompany the president.
Joe Jr. had run once before with Bush. His mother, JoAnn Bagnerise, said she had worried that time about her son’s ability to keep up with Bush because the young man suffers from asthma. ″I was afraid that he was going to embarrass himself, but he did all right,″ she said.
She carried a hastily made sign that said, ″Happy birthday Mr. President, with Love,″ and some snapshots she had taken of Bush’s first run with her son. She took more snapshots Monday until her camera ran out of film.
Joe lifts weights and has such muscular arms that reporters on the sidelines overheard Bush say, as they ran by, that he looked like an LSU halfback.
Turning to a reporter, Bush called out as he ran by, ″It wouldn’t hurt you to do a little (running) yourself.″
On his way to Yellowstone National Park to inspect last summer’s fire damage, Bush invited reporters aboard Air Force One into his compartment for a celebration, cutting a chocolate cake himself while aides passed out champagne.
The president, in a jovial mood, brandished a newspaper article on the advantages senior citizens get, such as discounts on mass transit fares.
Barbara Bush - who turned 64 on Thursday - violated an agreement not to exchange gifts this year and give him two pairs of tennis shorts, the president said.
On arrival at West Yellowstone, Montana, Bush was serenaded with ″Happy Birthday″ by about 700 well-wishers at the airport.