President Bush, who vows a more "civilized" relationship with the news media than his predecessor had, jokingly tried to brush away questions during a Saturday Oval Office session but succumbed to his own new rules and chatted amiably with reporters.
In recent weeks, Bush repeatedly has complained about White House reporters taking advantage of "photo opportunities" to quiz Ronald Reagan during his eight-year presidency.Bush informed the media he would devise more "civilized" ways for the press to interrogate him, instead of forcing them - in the absence of regular news conferences - to shout questions over the roar of helicopter motors, at the start of meetings or during photo sessions.
When reporters and photographers were ushered into the Oval Office for a picture-taking session with the new president Saturday, they were informed questions would be permissible.
As Bush began to answer questions, he suddenly called out to White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater: "Help me! help me! This isn't a photo opportunity?"
A reporter reminded him that he can set the rules. "OK, we've established one thing - that this is not a photo op," Bush said.
Fitzwater refined the rules, saying Bush does not want to answer questions when he has a visitor in his office.
"I love it when it's tranquil and peaceful like this," Bush said.
His first Oval Office visitor Saturday morning was his 87-year-old mother, Dorothy, who also took a couple of questions with a big smile on her face and her blue eyes sparkling with excitement.
"I think it's the most exciting day of my life, so far. It's just wonderful. Everything's been perfect. Everything's so beautiful."
Mother and son sat side by side in armchairs as Bush gleefully told of the thrill of his new challenge:
"I can't wait to get to work; I mean serious work. It really feels wonderful. And I know how to begin and we're going to start right in Monday. I couldn't wait to come over here today," Bush said.
As his mother beamed, Bush reached over and patted her on the knee. "This is the one who told me not to brag about myself and to bend my knees when I volleyed," Bush cracked.