President George W. Bush probably won't watch the clock hit 2009, choosing instead to celebrate the new year with a sunrise stroll around his Texas ranch.
Bush and his wife, Laura, planned a quiet New Year's Eve with longtime friends from Texas, deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe told reporters Wednesday during what was — barring urgent world events — the last White House briefing from Crawford, Texas.
With Bush leaving office on Jan. 20, the sun is setting on the Western White House in Crawford, a tiny town that has watched the comings and goings of the president, world leaders and the Bush entourage for years.
Bush will return to Texas on Inauguration Day after President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in, but it's unclear whether he'll travel back to Crawford, or to Dallas, where the Bushes recently purchased another home.
"They'll spend a lot of time in Dallas, but I also expect they'll continue to spend time down here in Crawford on the weekends, and, you know, possibly during the holidays," Johndroe said. "I know that he and Mrs. Bush have found their time here in Crawford to be exceptionally good. This was a place they could come and relax, get out of the spotlight a little bit."
Asked if the president planned to stay up until midnight to welcome in the new year, Johndroe smiled.
The president typically is early to bed and early to rise.
Johndroe said he suspected that Bush would more likely be awake to see the new year in, than the old year out.
"I expect he and Mrs. Bush will get up to see the sun rise on the new year," he said. "It's been a tradition they've had for, I think, for almost their entire presidency down here. They've woken up and gone for a sunrise walk on the ranch."