- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008


President Bush on Tuesday night called President-elect Barack Obama to congratulate him on what he deemed an “awesome” win.

The president, who supported and voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent, Republican John McCain, called his newly anointed successor at 11:12 p.m., less than 15 minutes after Mr. Obama was announced the election winner by the Associated Press.

“What an awesome night for you, your family and your supporters,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Obama, speaking to him from the White House Treaty Room, in the residence. “Laura and I called to congratulate you and your good bride.”

“I promise to make this a smooth transition,” Mr. Bush said. “You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life. Congratulations and go enjoy yourself.”

Mr. Bush invited Mr. Obama and the next first lady, Michelle Obama, to visit the White House with their two daughters soon.

At 11:38 p.m., Mr. Bush called Mr. McCain, who had conceded defeat earlier in the evening.

“John, you gave it your all. I’m proud of you, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” Mr. Bush told him. “You didn’t leave anything on the playing field.”

The president told Mr. McCain that his concession speech was “fabulous and very classy.”

“Please give our love to Cindy,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush spent the early evening at the White House celebrating his wife’s 62nd birthday and watching election results with a small group of friends.

During a birthday dinner for first lady Laura Bush with several friends and senior staff in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, the president ended his toast by saying, “may God bless whoever wins tonight.”

“In celebration of Mrs. Bush’s birthday, they shared a meal of some of her favorite dishes and a coconut birthday cake. Mrs. Bush said the president gave her a pair of beautiful earrings to celebrate her day,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

The Bushes and a few members of the president’s senior staff then moved to watch election returns in the White House residence.

Mr. Bush, who voted for Mr. McCain by mail-in absentee ballot in late October, had no public events for the fifth consecutive day, attempting to keep himself stay out of sight.

Democrats have said a vote for Mr. McCain would be akin to continuing Mr. Bush’s policies, and so the president removed himself almost entirely from the public eye over the last few days before the election, in order to blunt the effect of that tactic.

“The president’s approval numbers, you know, were not helpful in the race,” McCain adviser Steve Schmidt told reporters Tuesday night. The president worked at the White House during the day, conducting “private briefings and meetings,” Mrs. Perino said.

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