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Bush thanks Obama for inviting his "rowdy friends" to portrait hanging

Bush brings sense of humor back to White House

(CBS News) Former President George W. Bush brought a light-hearted tone to the unveiling of his official White House portrait on Thursday, winning over an audience of friends, family and former colleagues with jokes.

Standing beside his portrait after its unveiling in the White House East Room, Mr. Bush chided the cheering audience to quiet down and thanked President Obama "for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging."

The new portrait "brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection," the former president said. "It now starts and ends with a George W."

A portrait of former First Lady Laura Bush was also unveiled. Both will become part of the permanent White House collection.

George W. Bush
Former President George W. Bush stands next to his official portrait, Thursday, May 31, 2012, in the East Room at the White House in Washington. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

It is a tradition for the sitting U.S. president to host a portrait unveiling for his immediate predecessor, and on Thursday, Mr. Obama had some jokes of his own.

Mr. Obama said he would always remember the kind words Mr. Bush had for him during the transition from one administration to the next. "Plus, you left me a really good TV sports package," the president said to laughs. "I use it."

Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush had only kind remarks for one another, with Mr. Obama noting, "We have our problems politically, but the presidency transcends these differences."

The current president noted that after three and a half years in office, he has "a deeper understanding" of the challenges his predecessor faced. He commended Mr. Bush for "conveying extraordinary strength and resolve" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and for understanding that issues of national security and economic stability transcend partisan politics.

First Lady Michelle Obama thanked Laura Bush for serving as "a wonderful model of strength and grace" as first lady and as a mother. Mrs. Bush thanked the first family and joked, "Nothing makes a house a home like having portraits of its former occupants staring down at you."

George W. Bush tears up talking about his dad
Those in attendance for the unveiling included Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, Mr. Bush's former adviser Karl Rove, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The portrait of Mr. Bush shows the former president standing in the center of the Oval Office with his right hand resting on an armchair that was made for the White House in 1818. Over his right shoulder hangs a 1929 western painting, A Charge to Keep, by William H. D. Koerner. Mr. Bush used the same title for his 1999 memoir.

The portrait of Laura Bush shows the former first lady in the White House Green Room, which she helped refurbish in 2007.

The portraits were painted by John Howard Sanden, who received the first John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists in 1994.

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