Trump Took 8-Car Motorcade to Greet George W. Bush at Blair House — a Whole 250 Yards Away
Donald Trump crossed political divides and stirred up additional controversy all at once when he welcomed George W. Bush and wife Laura to D.C.
According to the Washington Post, the 45th commander-in-chief, 72, took a presidential parade limousine of at least eight cars to greet his guests on Tuesday evening at their temporary residence just 250 yards away.
The actual meeting of the first couples lasted about 23 minutes, the Post reports, adding that Bush, 72, and Melania Trump, 48, exchanged kisses on the curb.
Almost immediately, critics of the president started to question why he and his wife didn’t simply just walk along West Executive Drive to arrive at their destination. Because of their actions, security had to clear Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Square of visitors and tourists taking pictures.
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment about the reason for the motorcade.
“Presidents, including the last one, have made the walk before,” Edward Price, who served as National Security Council spokesman in the Obama administration, told the publication in an email.
Barack Obama, 57, walked Chinese President Xi Jinping from the White House to Blair House after dinner in September 2015. And in 2014, Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough strolled, sans motorcade, from the White House to a nearby Starbucks.
CNN political analyst Sam Vinograd also joked about the incident. “Bone spurs?” he tweeted, referencing Trump’s deferment from the Vietnam War draft.
Security footage obtained by the Post shows Obama walked to Blair House at least six times over his two-term presidency. But he was not immune from taking the motorcade short distances. In fact, his wife Michelle, 54, said in her recent memoir, Becoming, that they were often told to “take the motorcade instead of walking in the fresh air” for their safety.
The president and former Apprentice host has gone out of his way to make bold gestures since former President George H. W. Bush died Friday at age 94.
In a presidential proclamation, Trump declared that Wednesday — the same day as the funeral, held at Washington National Cathedral — would be dedicated to H. W. Bush’s memory and that flags should be lowered to half-staff in his honor for 30 days.
“President George H.W. Bush led a long, successful and beautiful life,” Trump tweeted. “Whenever I was with him I saw his absolute joy for life and true pride in his family. His accomplishments were great from beginning to end. He was a truly wonderful man and will be missed by all!”
The relationship between the younger Bush and Trump has been tainted by subtle animosity since the latter took office in 2017. Earlier this year, a report in the National Journal said the Texas Republican often jokes that the current administration “sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn’t it?” according to an unnamed political source.
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“He’s shaking his head like everyone else wondering why they can’t get their act together,” the source added. “He wants the guy to succeed but thinks a lot of his problems are self-inflicted.”