VOL. 127 | NO. 114 | Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Baptist to Host Former President Bush
By Andy Meek
Former President George W. Bush has stayed largely out of the limelight following his departure from office in January 2009, choosing to focus on writing his memoir and on other private interests.
At an event in Memphis next month to help Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. celebrate its centennial year, the 43rd president will shed a little light on some of those things that he and his family have been up to since leaving the White House.
Bush is coming to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens July 16 and will be accompanied by his wife, Laura, and his daughter, Jenna Bush-Hager, the hospital confirmed to The Daily News.
The private, invitation-only event will be structured largely in the form of a question-and-answer session led by Bush-Hager that focuses on post-presidential life. Guests at the event will include civic leaders, board members and community partners.
Baptist’s yearlong centennial celebration actually kicked off late last year with a fundraiser for the hospital’s new comprehensive cancer care center that featured famed recording artist Patti LaBelle.
“Baptist Memorial Health Care’s mission is healing, preaching and teaching,” said Baptist president and CEO Stephen Reynolds. “As part of our Centennial Speaker Series, we brought singer Patti LaBelle to Memphis to talk about her struggle with diabetes and her family’s battles with cancer, former coach and NFL commentator Tony Dungy to talk about diversity and his faith, writer and cancer survivor Geralyn Lucas to talk to women about fighting an illness such as breast cancer, and actress Marlee Matlin to talk about her deafness and overcoming disability.”
A Baptist spokeswoman said the former president agreed to help celebrate the hospital’s anniversary because he shares its faith-based core values.
Bush will be in Memphis less than a month after an Obama campaign fundraiser featuring first lady Michelle Obama. Even if it’s only in passing, Bush will almost certainly be asked about whether he will be involved in the 2012 presidential campaign, about which he has not said a lot publicly thus far.
As the Republican presidential nominee in 2000, Bush came to Bartlett the day after Vice President and former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Jr. of Tennessee claimed the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Memphis move by Bush signaled he would not cede Gore’s home state in the presidential general election, and Bush ultimately claimed Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes.
Bush went on to visit Tennessee several times as president and was not shy about his affection for the state. That’s because had he not won Gore’s home state, of course, the hotly contested Florida recount, which left the result of the 2000 election in limbo for days, would not have mattered.
Bush also came to Memphis in 2006 with then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The two heads of state toured Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion and ate lunch at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous restaurant Downtown.