Local man meets President Bush

When John La went to Denver to meet President George W. Bush this summer, he knew what to expect as far as security screenings and protocol, because he had met the president before at the White House.

La, owner of the Galaxy Restaurant in Craig and the Panda Garden Restaurant in Steamboat Springs, was invited to a luncheon at the home of Charlie Gallagher in Cherry Hills near Denver.

The July 21 event featured a speech by the president at a fundraising event in support of Congressman Bob Beauprez's campaign for governor and congressional hopeful Rick O'Donnell.

La said the meeting was something he would never forget.

"We went through security with the Secret Service and the FBI was around the whole area," La said. "We had to walk up to the house in Denver, because no cars were allowed to drive close."

La said that his meeting with Bush went very well and the president remembered meeting him back in 2004, when La was helping to get out the Asian vote in Denver during the re-election campaign.

"Most Asians voted for Bush," La said. "We wanted to give him time to finish the war."

The president arrived through a back door to the mansion at about noon, La said.

He had his own White House photographer with him, as the public was not allowed to carry cameras or cell phones into the home.

Bush had his picture taken with many of the 300 guests in attendance, and then the crowd waited by the swimming pool for a presidential speech, which began about 1:30 p.m.

"It was humorous and friendly," La said. "He said that every morning he thinks about 9/11 and that's why he will not withdraw the troops (from Iraq.)"

La said that although he is not a Republican, he supports the president and he received a letter of thanks from the White House, and at Christmas he receives a card and a photo from the first family.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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