Bush, Obama share White House Thursday

Nickalas Tabbert

Former President George W. Bush returned to the White House Thursday to witness the unveiling of his official portrait.

In a tradition that sitting U.S. presidents host portrait unveilings for their immediate predecessors, a ceremony was held this afternoon in the East Room as President and Mrs. Obama unveiled the portrait of the 43rd president and former First Lady Laura Bush.  The portraits are now part of the permanent White House collection, CBS News said.

Bush, who held a portrait unveiling ceremony for President Bill and Hillary Clinton eight years ago, has mostly stayed away from Washington and the White House since leaving office, CNN said. 

Both spokesmen for Obama and Bush said the men were looking forward to the event, despite some bad blood recently between the two camps.

Obama has blamed his predecessor’s administration for leaving the nation in economic shambles, and he now accuses his Republican opponent in November’s election – Mitt Romney – of advocating the same failed policies, CNN said.

Differences aside, both camps saw the ceremony as a timeout for tradition, The Associated Press said. 

White House spokesman Jay Carney referred to former presidents on Wednesday as “a community … with very few members that transcends political and policy differences.”  Only 43 men have held the title of president of the United States.

“There are differences there without question between (Obama’s) approach and the approach and policies of his predecessor,” Carney said.  “That was certainly the case when I believe President George W. Bush had President Clinton to the White House for his portrait unveiling, and I think it is well established that those two now former presidents have a good relationship, as did President Bill Clinton with President George H. W. Bush.”