The Rhode Island Trip? Maybe It Was Providence

Mark Knoller is a White House Correspondent for CBS News.
NEWPORT, Rhode Island – Forty-nine down – one to go.

With his speech today at the Naval War College, President Bush scored one of the last firsts of his term in office: his debut appearance in Rhode Island.

And it brings to 49, the number of states he has now been to as President.

Guess which one he has yet to visit.

Vermont, you say? Good guess.

There's no White House grudge against Vermont – it's just the way his schedule works out.

Of course, Mr. Bush did not fare well politically in either Rhode Island or Vermont.

He lost both states by substantial margins in 2000 and again in 2004.

But on making his first visit here this morning, he received a warm reception from Rhode Island's republican governor Donald Carcieri.

"Please join me in giving a great Ocean State welcome to our nation's commander-in-chief," he said in introducing Mr. Bush to his audience of naval officers.

"Thanks, Governor ... Go find a nice seat," said the President in response.

Mr. Bush has just over 18 months left in office to finish getting his ticket punched in all 50 states.

It took Bill Clinton nearly to the end of his presidency to achieve the 50-state milestone. He got on the scoreboard just weeks before leaving office in December 2000 by visiting Nebraska.

The first President Bush served only one term in the White House, but completed the odyssey of visiting every state in just 3 years and 2 months.

Ronald Reagan had eight years as President, but fell short of the goal. The map of his travels shows no pushpins in four of the states.

Of course, there's no prize for any president who visits every state. It's more of an asterisk at the end of his travel records.

As for the current president, spokesman Tony Snow tells me that Mr. Bush knows this was his first time in Rhode Island - but has no plans at the moment to visit Vermont.

We'll see.

  • Mark Knoller On Twitter»

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.