A question from the UK press really caught Bush flat footed (cackles ensued) and made Tony Blair smile and say: "You had kind of forgotten what the British media were like, hadn't you?" (Laughter.)
This isn't the first time Bush has been asked questions by the UK press, but he sure acted like it. Yes, the British press is a little more "direct," you might say...Makes a person wonder how our political system would operate if our press had that same level of frankness...
Q During the course of this visit it has been confirmed that Gordon Brown is going to be the next British Prime Minister, taking over in 40 days' time. I wonder if I could have both your reactions to that. And, in particular, Mr. Blair, what you say to those people who are saying now there is a new Prime Minister in place, you should go sooner? And to Mr. Bush, whether --
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's a lovely question. (Laughter.)
Q -- however inadvertently, you once said that you would like Tony Blair to stay for the duration of your presidency. He's not doing that. Do you think you're partly to blame for that?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I haven't polled the Labour conference, but could be. (Laughter.) The question is, am I to blame for his leaving? I don't know.
Q And what do you think of Brown?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I hope to help him in office the way Tony Blair helped me. Newly elected President, Tony Blair came over and he reached out, he was gracious -- was able to converse in a way where our shared interests were the most important aspect of the relationship. I would hope I would provide the same opportunities for Gordon Brown. I met him, thought he was a good fellow.
My attitude is this, this man here is the Prime Minister, we've got a lot of work to do until he finishes. He's going to sprint to the wire. He's going to finish the job that the people want him to do, and I'm going to work with him to do it. The meetings today weren't -- this wasn't like a farewell deal; this was "how can we continue to work together for the common good." And that's what we'll do.↓ Story continues below ↓
As to why things happen politically in Great Britain, I'd suggest you go over there and ask people. Nice to see you again. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: You had kind of forgotten what the British media were like, hadn't you? (Laughter.) These things --
PRESIDENT BUSH: He woke up to ask the question. (Laughter.)