Former U.S. President George W. Bush met with a small group of San Diegans at a downtown hotel Thursday morning as part of his national book tour.
The former president walked out to cheers from the crowd inside the U.S. Grant during the appearance organized with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Many of those in attendance used their phones or cameras to take images.
“It is nice to be back here and I want to thank the regional chamber for giving me a chance to come and sell a book,” Bush joked at the beginning of the discussion.
“First of all, the fact that I wrote a book will come to as a shock to some,” he quipped. “They didn’t think I could read much less write.”
The former president shared his personal thoughts on some major events during his presidency, including the war in Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
“If you really want to understand the decisions I made, many of the decisions I made, you got to understand the effects of September 11,” he said.
The meeting was not open to the public. News media could record only the first few minutes of the discussion.
Unlike other stops across the nation, this one included zero sightings of protestors. San Diego County's executive director of the ACLU, although not invited, came to the lobby to "give a different perspective."
"I think most people are like 'oh, he is done and gone and he has a book out, we don't care anymore', but we should care and we should care because a lot of the constitutional rights abuses he started are actually continuing in the Obama administration" said Keenan.
Bush has been busy talking with television networks, cable hosts and others about his book called "Decision Points," a memoir on his presidency, but San Diegans who were able to see him in person were thrilled.
"Growing up I always heard people say he doesn't talk well, not very good in public. I thought he was charming, honest, real and he did a very good job presenting himself," said 18 year old attendee Leila Pedraza.
"Whether you are a republican or whether you are a democrat, listening to the President speak today you got a really good sense of where he was coming from" said Chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Tom Wornham. "History is proving fairly quickly that those decisions were very good."