Bush Says He Won't Answer Serious Questions While 'RecreatingCHRISTOPHER CONNELL , Associated Press
Aug. 18, 1990 12:13 PM ET
KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) _ A testy President Bush, brushing off reporters' questions, said Saturday that he no longer will discuss ''serious matters'' like the Persian Gulf crisis while playing golf.
The president displayed clear misgivings about the image he was projecting by juggling his annual end-of-August vacation with a massive U.S. military build-up against Iraq in the Middle East.
Bush cut off reporters' inquiries on the first tee as he set out on an early morning round of golf.
Asked if he had been in touch with the White House situation room, the president snapped, ''I talk to them every morning at 5:30 and I'm not going to take any more comments up here, though.''
''Let's go,'' said Bush to his golf partners, including son George W. Bush, who chided reporters for talking during his back swing.
Bush's ire may have been sparked by footage shown on television networks of some lighthearted remarks the president made on the golf course Friday. Asked then if he had signed rules of engagement for U.S. naval forces in the gulf, Bush quipped, ''I haven't done anything yet. I just got up.''
He then sped off in his golf cart.
When he finished Saturday's speedy round on the Cape Arundel Golf Course, a reporter asked the president if he was still ''mad'' at the media.
''I've never been mad at you. I just don't like taking questions on serious matters on my vacation,'' he said.
''It's just not a good thing to keep doing it like this. But I'll try to be available,'' said Bush, who has held two formal news conferences and two informal ones since he came to Maine Aug. 10 on a 25-day vacation.
One of those news conferences was at the White House when the president returned to Washington for a Pentagon briefing on the gulf crisis. He is also returning to Washington Sunday night for a meeting Monday with Energy Secretary James Watkins to discuss the impact on U.S. energy reserves and to address the Veterans of Foreign War convention in Baltimore.
''I think we've been readily available to the press, probably more so than most, and I'll try to continue that,'' said Bush.
''But it just doesn't seem appropriate and so I hope you'll understand if I, when I'm recreating, will recreate, and then when we're working, which I'm trying to do up here also, I'll work hard,'' the president said.
Bush regularly has answered reporters' questions from the first tees during his golf outings. A media pool of about 15 reporters, photographers and broadcast crews travels in his motorcade and is escorted out to watch his performance at the first tee, the ninth green and 10th tee, and the 18th hole.
When reporters persisted in asking questions Saturday, Bush's eldest son rose to his father's defense.
''Hey, hey 3/8 Sir 3/8 Could you wait until we finish hitting at least? My game is really bad. But when you're talking in the back swing, it gets even worse,'' said Bush, a part-owner of the Texas Rangers.