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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

New details about Bush and his 8 hours aboard Air Force One on 9/11

9

September

In a remarkable retelling of the eight hours after the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center, Politico includes many new details about that day that began right here in Florida. 

Politico writes that it interviewed more than two dozen of the passengers, crew, and press aboard Air Force One with President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001. 

White House chief of staff Andy Card said, “We woke up in Sarasota, Florida, at the Colony Resort. There was a terrible stench in the air—the red tide had killed a lot of fish that had washed up on the shore. I remember being struck by that smell coming from Air Force One the night before. We’d gone off to dinner in Tampa. It was unusual for President Bush to stay out late like that, but it was a relaxing evening.”

Adam Putnam, now Florida’s agricultural commissioner, but then a freshman U.S. representative is also quoted in the article, “We’d gone into the media center (at the elementary school), when the main event was going to be, while we wait for the president and the children to read together in the other room. We were clustered around the TV and watched the second plane hit.”

Putnam also said, “There’s some debate within the staff that I can hear about how the president needs to address the nation. They’re saying, ‘We can’t do it here. You can’t do it in front of fifth-graders.’ The Secret Service is saying, ‘You’re doing it here or you’re not doing at all. We’re not taking the time to do it somewhere else. We need to get him secure.’ “

The piece also explores the debate over whether or not Bush should immediately return to Washington as Air Force One circled 45,000 feet above the Gulf of Mexico.

After Bush was safely escorted to a private office at the base, Card told other passengers that they could call their families, but they couldn’t tell them where they were.

Putnam said, “We get to Barksdale, keep in mind that we haven’t really had good TV images. We were all overwhelmed with emotion, because we were all catching up to where everyone else had had a couple hours to process. I called my wife and said, ‘I’m safe. I can’t tell you where I am.’ And she said, ‘Oh, I thought you were in Barksdale? That’s what I saw on TV.’

RELATED: Photos show Bush administration reaction to Sept. 11 attacks.

 

[Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2016 10:05pm]

    

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