President Bush will leave the Beijing Olympics about eight hours from this posting, but will not leave earlier than scheduled to deal with the growing crisis in Georgia, the White House told the Washington Times.
Russia continues to increase its aggression towards the former Soviet bloc, which is now an independent, pro-western sovereign nation. But after three days of Olympic activities, Mr. Bush will still stick around in Beijing to watch baseball practice on Monday.
Beijing is 12 hours ahead of East Coast Time, so it is currently almost 9 a.m. on Monday there. As I write, the president is scheduled to be in an interview with NBC Sports’ Bob Costas.
Mr. Bush is scheduled to attend a 3 p.m. USA men’s baseball practice, but his schedule has several hours open in which he “may attend Olympic events,” according to his official schedule. He is scheduled to then depart Beijing at 4:45 p.m., local time. It seems possible that instead, Mr. Bush could leave Beijing right after the interview to return home, to be able to better coordinate the West’s response to Russia’s actions.
Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili has warned that if the West does not take strong action to stop Russia, then Russia could continue to act military against a number of its former communist bloc countries.
If Mr. Bush left in the next hour or two, he would return to the White House around noon on Monday, in time to work several hours during the day.
However, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in an e-mail there is “no change in the president’s schedule.”
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe, who is with the president in Beijing, also wrote in an e-mail moments ago that he was “not aware of any schedule changes.”
UPDATE - 9:38 P.M. - In his interview with Bob Costas, the president said he’s going to watch swimming today.