HNN Quiz: How Many People Did Bush Take to Europe?
The New York Times reported this week that President Bush was accompanied to Europe by between 800 and 900 people. The group included members of the Secret Service, officers in the State Department, and White House aides.
CONTEXT When Richard Nixon traveled to China in 1972 to meet Mao he brought with him 300 people, including reporters. The Chinese were said to have been shocked. Even their emperors had never traveled like this.
After Nixon all of the presidents began traveling with large retinues. Indeed, the retinues became larger and larger. In 1984 when Ronald Reagan went to China he brought six hundred people with him. In 1998 when Bill Clinton voyaged to China he brought 900. The Clinton roster included 70 senior aides, 150 security officers, a hairdresser and a valet. Along with the people came communications equipment, podiums and 10 armored limousines.
More were supposed to go. But on the eve of the trip the White House cut a hundred travelers to show that it was being appropriately budget conscious. Officials subsequently admitted that because the list had been shortened at the last minute the government still had to pay for the accommodations booked months in advance for those who had been left behind.
BACKWARD GLANCE In the spring of 1791 George Washington traveled to the Deep South. According to biographer James Thomas Flexner, Washington's cavalcade consisted of"his light coach drawn by four horses, a baggage wagon, four extra coach horses and one saddle horse. In addition to the men necessary to handle the horses, Washington's only attendant would be a valet."
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