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(Shortly After 8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001: President Bush Chats with the Greeting Party instead of Taking an Urgent Call

Adam Putnam.Adam Putnam. [Source: Congressional Pictorial Directory]President Bush continues chatting with members of the official party that has assembled to greet him at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, even though Andrew Card, his chief of staff, has told him he needs to go and take an important call from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. [GW Hatchet, 4/8/2002; St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/2002; Palm Beach Post, 9/11/2011] Bush has just arrived at the school, where he is going to attend a reading demonstration (see (8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 41] The greeting party that is there to meet him includes teachers and administrators. It also includes Frank Brogan, lieutenant governor of Florida, and two members of Congress: Representatives Adam Putnam (R-FL) and Dan Miller (R-FL). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 43; St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/2002]
Greeting Party Members Were Told Bush Would Not Talk to Them - While the members of the greeting party were waiting for the president’s motorcade to arrive, a White House staffer informed them that Bush would not stop and talk to them as he made his way into the school, because he has to take an important call from Rice. They were told, “When he arrives, and he’ll be here in a minute, he’s going to walk past you,” Putnam will later recall. “He’s not being rude, he’s just got to take this phone call,” the staffer added.
Bush Stops and Talks to the Greeting Party - However, the president seems to be in no hurry to take the call. After getting out of his limousine, he stops to talk to the members of the greeting party. He goes “down the receiving line, shaking hands and exchanging a few words with everyone,” according to Brogan. He “comes up [to the greeting party] and does not go past us,” Putnam will recall. “He stops and talks with us, having a good chat with the teacher of the year.” [GW Hatchet, 4/8/2002; St. Petersburg Times, 9/8/2002; University Press, 9/18/2003; Tampa Bay Times, 9/6/2011] (This is Edwina Oliver, who is in the greeting party. [Sammon, 2002, pp. 43] )
Bush Continues Chatting When Told He Has a Call to Take - While Bush is chatting with Oliver, Card tells him, “You have a phone call from National Security Adviser Rice you need to take.” Bush says, “I’ll be right there,” but continues talking with the teacher. Card then comes over to him, grabs him by the arm, and says, “Mr. President, you need to take this call right now.” [GW Hatchet, 4/8/2002; Palm Beach Post, 9/11/2011] Bush tells the members of the greeting party, “I need to go take an important telephone call.” He then goes to a classroom, where he will talk on the phone with Rice (see (Shortly Before 9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Sammon, 2002, pp. 42; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016] Bush already knows a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center when he meets the greeting party. He was told about the incident by Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, director of the White House Situation Room, after he got out of his limousine (see (8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Dayton Daily News, 8/17/2003; Priess, 2016, pp. 240] He is also told about the crash by Karl Rove, his senior adviser, while he is shaking hands with the members of the greeting party (see (Shortly After 8:55 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Rove, 2010, pp. 249-250; Politico Magazine, 9/9/2016]

Entity Tags: Dan Miller, Andrew Card, Edwina Oliver, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Adam Putnam, Frank Brogan

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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