1 of 5
Eric Draper, White House
President George W. Bush greets Thomas Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the church's headquarters Thursday. Also pictured at right is Henry Eyring, First Counselor.

President George W. Bush finished his trip to Utah Thursday morning after meeting with the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

The meeting, which lasted about an hour at the Church Administration Building, was his first with the new leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has previously met with the First Presidency when it was led by former President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Accompanying him to the meeting was his press secretary, Dana Perino; senior advisor Barry Jackson; and communications assistant Kevin Sullivan. It is expected that the White House communications office will brief the national press pool sometime later today about the meeting.

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said he was not present at the meeting and did not have a comment.

After the meeting, Bush went in his motorcade to the Utah Air National Guard Base and departed on Air Force One at 9:40 a.m. He did not come across the tarmac to greet a couple of dozen gathered airmen, to the disappointment of the gathered military.

However, most of the airmen had previously met the president when he shook their hands during his last visit, in 2006. And with a steady rain falling at the time, it did not surprise them that he simply boarded the plane.

"When I saw the rain, I thought he wouldn't get too close," said Cindy Rodriguez, an airman from New York who has not previously met the president. "It was good while it lasted, but it's sad."

Prior to his meeting with the First Presidency, Bush flew in the presidential helicopter, Marine One, from Park City, where he stayed overnight. His motorcade came from the base around 8:30 a.m., once again closing streets throughout downtown, as well as portions of I-80 and I-15, and snarling the already busy morning commute. He left around 9:20 from the church offices.

Although only a few people watched the motorcade on its way into downtown, more people were gathered along State Street and 500 S. as the motorcade zipped past. Some snapped pictures, while others — such as a man on a bicycle who gave the president a thumbs-down — were less impressed.

Bush was expected to next fly to Kansas City, where he'll attend a fundraiser for a GOP congressional candidate, Nick Jordan, before returning to Washington, D.C. early this evening.

Bush arrived in Utah yesterday, and attended two private fundraisers for the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain. He had no public events scheduled for this trip, his fourth to the state during his presidency.


E-mail: lisa@desnews.com