Former President George W. Bush, on the other hand, was very comfortable in the biker realm, as he was around pickup trucks and NASCAR. He was the first and only president to formally greet Rolling Thunder members, Ms. Regg said.
In 2008, Mr. Bush was made an honorary member of the group, accepted a cowhide biker’s vest and posed for multiple photos. He also met with the group in the Oval Office.
“And I am just so honored to welcome you back. I want to thank you and all your comrades for being so patriotic and loving our country as much as you do. I don’t know if this is the eighth time we’ve been together here, but it’s pretty close.,” Mr. Bush told the group, which included Mr. Muller.
“You’ve done a lot for the country, and the troops appreciate you, and the veterans appreciate you and your president appreciates you,” Mr. Bush added.
Several Bush administration members rode with the group over the years, including Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, top economic adviser Edward Lazear and Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten.
Mr. Bush’s repeated meetings with Rolling Thunder members was a gesture that one Democratic strategist dismissed as a publicity strategy.
“One of the themes Bush has pushed is the idea that by going to NASCAR and by working on his ranch that he’s a regular guy,” an unnamed aide to Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and the party’s 2004 presidential candidate, told the Los Angeles Times that year. “This is just another chapter in that effort.”
Earlier in that presidential campaign, however, Mr. Kerry had driven a Harley-Davidson motorcycle onto the stage of NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”