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Obama Welcomes George W. Bush Back to the White House

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite frequently blaming his predecessor for the “messes” he inherited, President Obama on Thursday will welcome former President George W. Bush back to the White House to honor his legacy.

The 43rd president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, will be back at their former home for the official unveiling of their portraits, an often uncomfortable presidential tradition.

The White House maintained Wednesday that Obama is looking forward to the event and that it’s “not at all” awkward.

“Look, there are differences… without question, between [President Obama's] approach and the approach and the policies of his predecessor,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.  “That was certainly the case when, I believe, President George W. Bush had President Clinton to the White House for his portrait unveiling.  And I think it is well-established that those two now-former presidents have a good relationship…. I think there is a community here with very few members that transcends political and policy differences.”

Obama often publicly blames Bush for the economic crisis and the nation’s continued high unemployment, as well as many of America’s foreign policy challenges.  Thursday’s event, however, will be free of politics.

“What has been the case and will be the case is that there is so much shared experience between, so far, the men and one day the men and women who hold this office that there is much to talk about that they hold in common.  So there’s not a lot of need to talk about where they differ,” Carney said.

This will not be the first time that Obama and Bush have met at the White House.  Then President Bush first welcomed then President-elect Obama to his future home shortly after his election in November 2008.  They met again at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shortly before Obama took office and, of course, on the day of Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

In addition to his wife, Bush will also be joined Thursday by his father, former President George H.W. Bush and his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush.

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