- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Laura Bush says the people of Georgia gave her a memorable gift: a rare night out on the town with her husband.

The famously homebound couple received a hearty welcome here, complete with acrobatic dancers, fireworks and miles of cheering crowds along the motorcade route. They were awe-struck by the hospitality, she said.

“George said last night, ‘Seldom do we have a night like that,’” Mrs. Bush said. “‘We really got to have fun, stay in the downtown, go to a restaurant.’ … The dancing was unbelievable.”

Mrs. Bush spoke yesterday during a visit to Tbilisi’s House of Books, a bookstore and library, where she was given a book of images from Georgia’s democratic uprising in 2003. She suggested that a children’s version be put in U.S. libraries so American students can learn about the peaceful revolution.

The Bushes clearly reveled in their visit.

Usually faithful to their schedules, they stayed long beyond the 20 minutes allotted for a visit to the city’s Old Town section Monday night. They ate at a restaurant, from which President Bush emerged rubbing his stomach.

Mr. Bush got caught up in the traditional dancing and music at the welcome ceremony. He clapped, waved his arms from side to side and shook his hips.

“Some dancers told me they like his rhythm,” Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told White House reporters at a reception. “He captured the whole thing immediately.”

Mr. Bush usually appears a little stiffer when the music strikes, sometimes missing the beat when he tries to clap along and dancing only when obliged to. He danced the quickest of turns with his wife at the inaugural balls in January, at one point making a show of checking his watch to signal that he would rather be elsewhere.

But he was a different man in Georgia, to the obvious delight of one smiling onlooker — his wife.

Mr. Saakashvili said his own wife, Sandra Roelofs, was impressed by the U.S. leader’s moves, too.

“He’s a very charming person,” Mr. Saakashvili said. “At least that’s what my wife kept telling me.”

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