Presidential Trips Abroad

<B>Andy Rooney</B> Looks Back At Past Presidential Visits

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
Our president, whoever it is at the time, likes getting away from it once in a while and taking a trip for some reason other than raising money for his next campaign.

When President Bush snuck out of Texas and flew to Baghdad for Thanksgiving dinner with American soldiers, it was one of the best trips any president ever took.

Even people who don't like him liked that.

"I think it was terrific," said Democratic candidate John Kerry.

One of the most likeable things about President Bush is that he obviously enjoys being president. He was really happy to be in Baghdad with soldiers. I mean, was this man having a good time or what?

Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to go someplace. He went to Panama in 1906 when they started digging the Canal. Herbert Hoover made several trips to South America during the Great Depression.

Calvin Coolidge went to Havana in 1928. Couldn't do that now.

Woodrow Wilson went to Paris at the end of World War I. No Air Force One in those days. He had to go by boat, so he was away for weeks.

President Roosevelt met with Churchill and Stalin at Yalta in 1945. Wherever Yalta is.

A lot of our presidents have gone to Brussels. Truman, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and senior Bush all went to Brussels. A president who goes to Brussels ought to bring a sandwich. I once paid $300 for dinner in a restaurant in Brussels.

Nixon met with Mao Tse-tung in China.

Most of our presidents have gone to Mexico and Canada. Canada doesn't really count though, because we don't think of it as a foreign country.

John F. Kennedy went to Ireland.

Both Bushs and Bill Clinton had an audience with the pope in Rome. If the pope came to Washington, would we say, "The pope had an audience with the president"?

President Bush wasn't the first president to visit troops at war. Lyndon Johnson went to South Vietnam. And President Bush's father visited the troops on Thanksgiving in Saudi Arabia. Maybe that's where his kid got the idea.

In 1997, President Clinton went to Bosnia and said what President Bush might have said in Iraq: "Now, what is the most important thing the United States can do? Stay for a while longer."

As a matter of fact, Bush did say that in Iraq: "We will stay until the job is done."

There are three times as many people on earth today as when Teddy Roosevelt went to Panama - three times as many people who don't like Americans.

If President Bush could find a way to charm the people around the world who hate us, the way he charmed those soldiers in Iraq, he should become a frequent flier.

Written By Andy Rooney