The Washington Times - October 16, 2009, 12:44PM

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - This is not Obama territory, but nonetheless, the president is coming Friday.

Protests by the College Republicans and by Tea Party groups are planned and could be large, just as there were surprisingly many who protested President Obama in San Francisco on Thursday evening.

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But Mr. Obama will have a special kind of protection when he comes here, in addition to the layers of Secret Service and police keeping him physically safe. He’ll have the protective presence of former President George H.W. Bush on stage with him inside Texas A&M’s Rudder Auditorium.

Cabbie Henry Hailey, a 64-year-old life long resident in the nearby town of Bryan, said Mr. Obama will get a good reception.

“He’s got George Bush standing up there with him. When George Bush talks, number forty one, everybody listens,” Mr. Hailey said.

Mr. Bush also wrote an open letter earlier this week to the A&M community, noting that Mr. Obama’s visit is “an important national moment, and a moment for Texas A&M to shine in the global spotlight as it always does.” 

“I sincerely hope and believe it will serve as a point of Aggie pride for many years to come,” said Mr. Bush, who is 85.

Rumors circulated that Mr. Bush might be fading into bad health over the summer when he did not attend the funeral for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, but friends of the former president and CIA director said Mr. Bush was feeling fine, though moving a bit slower. His appearance in public today will be the first public sighting of him in some time.

Mr. Obama is visiting A&M’s campus to celebrate with Mr. Bush the 20th anniversary of the former president’s Points of Lights Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting community service.

“President Obama accepted President Bush’s invitation to travel to College Station for the Points of Light event because he has long admired President Bush’s commitment to public service,” said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro. 

“He also shares President Bush’s belief that serving one’s community is a core American value which transcends the partisanship that too often dominates public life in Washington,” Mr. Shapiro said.

Michelle Nunn, the Points of Light CEO, claims the group is “the largest volunteer service organization in the country” because of its 250 “action centers” across the country.

“Obama will thank Bush for launching the current era of service that has laid the foundation for Obama’s own service agenda,” Nunn wrote at the Huffington Post.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

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