National

George W. Bush tells Wichita audience 'I conducted my presidency accordingly'

Former president George W. Bush used a combination of humor and serious reflection to charm and draw frequent ovations from his audience during a speech in Wichita on Thursday.

An example of the approach came during a question-and-answer session when Bush was asked what he missed most after leaving office.

"Well, we actually had to stop at some stoplights on our way over here," he said. "I miss being pampered."

Then he said what he missed most was saluting soldiers who fought for the country in the wars in the Middle East.

Bush spoke to about 5,000 people at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting at the Convention Hall in Century II. It was the first sold-out crowd in chamber history, chamber officials said.

Some of his remarks were taken from material in his biography, "Decision Points."

Bush talked about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the principles that guided his presidency, and some of his policy decisions.

He also shared anecdotes about friends from Texas who visited him in Washington D.C., his furniture in the Oval Office, his parents and even his pets.

Bush took a poke at himself by joking that the book came as a "palpable shock" to people on the East Coast when it was published.

"People didn't think I could read, let alone write," he said.

Gov. Sam Brownback attended the speech, which gave Bush a chance to tell him, "I remember when you were somebody — a U.S. senator."

Among more serious topics, Bush spoke of his willingness to spend taxpayer money to help Africa during its pandemic, his faith-based initiative to prevent AIDS in children, and his actions after the terrorist attacks.

Bush remembered this thought process after hearing about planes crashing on the East Coast that day:

"The first plane was an accident, the second was an attack, and the third was a declaration of war," he said. "I conducted my presidency accordingly."

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