Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Details from the White House
By James Hall Editor, Bassmaster Magazine
2008 Classic Champion Alton Jones during his visit with President Bush.
In case you are wondering, President Bush put on hold his meeting with King Hamad of Bahrain in order to spend more time talking about fishing with Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones. And the extra time President Bush gave the Jones family was something they will never forget.
"We were originally scheduled to be on the President's schedule from 10:40 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., when he was supposed to meet with King Hamad. So, we were scheduled for about a 15 or 20 minute meeting," explained Jones.
"However, when we arrived, our liaison to the White House told us that the President was very excited about our visit and had rearranged his morning schedule. So, instead of going in at 10:40 we went in at 10:00 a.m. and stayed with him until 10:55. So, we had an hour in the Oval Office with THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! I can't believe I am saying that!" exclaimed Jones.
After only a few minutes with President Bush, Jones and company lined up in front of the Resolute Desk and President Bush motioned in the national press corps. "I'm seeing the Fox News correspondent, the CNN guy, ABC, NBC and then I look and see the editor of Bassmaster Magazine. I thought, 'Wow, this is quite an eclectic group!' And these guys all come running in like little puppy dogs and get in their little spots and do their thing. And then he sent them all out," explained Jones.
"But the one thing that I thought was really cool is that he noticed James (the editor of Bassmaster Magazine), and told him to stay to take some extra photos. That's how much he loves fishin'!"
After the press left, Jones recalled the time in the Oval Office with the President as very "intimate." There were no microphones, doors were closed and the conversation was very casual and sincere. After a short explanation of the artwork chosen for the office and other trivia dealing with the history of the room, Bush said something that Jones will never forget.
"The president looked into the eyes of my children and said, 'Popularity lasts for a moment, but principles last for a lifetime. Always follow your principles.' What a powerful thing for the President of the United States to say to your children."
In conclusion, Jones admits that there have been many things that have surpassed his expectations since winning the Bassmaster Classic. But this visit to the White House is something that has far greater impact on his life than a check or trophy could ever have.
"This was a moment in my life I will never forget," he promised. And by the sound of it, neither will his children.