May 23, 2007 in Nation/World

Does Bush regularly use seat belts?

Ben Feller Associated Press
Associated Press photo

President Bush with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Crawford Ranch.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – President Bush encourages people to wear seat belts. Whether he routinely does so himself is not as clear.

The question arose Tuesday, Bush’s first full day back in town after a weekend at his ranch in Texas – where he was spotted driving a pickup truck without wearing a seat belt.

The timing comes just as Bush’s government is sending the opposite message. This week marks the launch of law enforcement’s annual seat belt campaign, known as “Click It or Ticket.”

In his morning briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked whether Bush wears his safety belt while riding in his armored limousine.

“Does he wear a seat belt in the limo?” Snow said in some disbelief. “I don’t know.”

After starting to field a question on another subject, Snow stopped to amend his answer.

“Let me just back up,” Snow said. “I have seen him wear it in the limo. I’m not going to give you a report card because my ventures in the limo are relatively rare.”

Later, in his afternoon briefing, Snow was asked again to clarify Bush’s personal policy.

“Well, it’s always important to wear seat belts, especially when driving slowly on the ranch,” Snow said.

He seemed to emphasize that Bush was driving slowly when he had no seat belt on.

At the time, Bush was in his truck, pulling away from a pool of reporters who had come to watch him greet the NATO secretary-general and his wife.

“But I think it’s, in point of fact, something that – we encourage everybody to wear their seat belts,” Snow added.

Citing security reasons, Snow wouldn’t comment on whether the Secret Service requires Bush to wear a seat belt.

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