Monday, May 10, 2004

Now we know the president does recycle

Inside Washington

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WASHINGTON - Odds and ends left over from President Bush's visit to Lebanon and Cincinnati last week ...

President Bush advised Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer: "Fill the potholes, mayor."

Don't take it personally, Mayor Brewer. President Bush uses that line in every speech with every mayor.

In the past few weeks alone he's used the pothole line with the mayors of Niles, Mich.; Naples, Fla.; Appleton, Wis.; Bakersfield, Calif.; and St. Petersburg, Fla.

WHERE WAS BOEHNER: If anyone were counting congressmen at Bush's southwest Ohio appearances, they might have noticed a missing Rep. John Boehner.

The West Chester Republican, who chairs the House education committee, had votes and committee responsibilities, according to spokesman Steve Forde. But Boehner was helping Bush in another way: He did a conference call with reporters that day to rebut John Kerry's education speech.

"He was still able to pitch in for the president," Forde said.

Speaking of missing congressmen, some people at the Cincinnati Gardens rally might have noticed Rep. Steve Chabot leaving the rally 15 minutes early. He had to catch a flight back to Washington.

Air Force One was heading back there, too. Rep. Rob Portman of Terrace Park, a personal friend of President Bush's and the communications chairman for the Ohio Bush re-election campaign, took that flight.

"Why didn't I fly back on Air Force One?" said Chabot, pausing. "I wasn't asked. Perhaps they didn't have room on the plane.

"So I got a commercial flight. Good old Comair. I got my pretzels," the Westwood Republican said.

Chabot said he didn't feel slighted; he rode Air Force One to and from Bush's October 2002 speech in Cincinnati. Bush gave Chabot a speaking role at the Cincinnati Gardens speech.

"I still fully intend to vote for President Bush in November," he said.

MARRIED TO THE MEDIA: The cool thing about being a Washington press secretary is that, say, when you get engaged, it can happen on the steps of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall.

The lousy thing is that your cell phone could ring constantly during the proposal.

That's what happened April 29 to Amanda Flaig, press secretary for Sen. Mike DeWine.

The daughter of James and Susan Flaig of Blue Ash, Amanda thought she was going golfing with her longtime boyfriend, Nicholas Marko.

Marko had planned to ask her in the middle of the Capitol steps that overlook the mall, including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

As they walked across the steps, Flaig's phone kept ringing with calls from a Dayton reporter.

Her boyfriend tried to get her to slow down and stop in the middle of the steps. "I told him, 'I can walk and talk.' " Reporters called with follow-up questions. Flaig had to get hold of other staffers in DeWine's office to answer the questions.

Finally, Marko sat down, pleading blisters. (Now that's romance.)

When Flaig got off the call, Marko got on his knee and proposed.

Flaig said yes. Flaig, 27, and Marko, 25, a medical student training to be a brain surgeon, plan to get married sometime next year.


Carl Weiser covers Washington news for the Enquirer. E-mail or call (202) 906-8134.

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