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October 29, 2000
George W. Bush: Nowhere Man

Editor's Note: Updated information on Bush's travel history can be found in a story filed on June 15, 2001.

National polls show that the American people are on the verge of electing as the president of the world’s only remaining superpower Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a 54-year-old man who’s never been to France or Great Britain or Germany or Russia, according to information supplied by his campaign.

From the campaign’s information, it appears Bush has never pushed through the crowds of Tokyo, or visited Red Square in Moscow, or taken an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or gazed on Big Ben, or walked through the ruins of ancient Greece, or experienced scores of other international adventures.

It seems that Bush not only does not know the names of many world leaders, he may have only a rudimentary knowledge of where these countries are and what they’re like.

The Republican nominee for president of the United States could be called the quintessential nowhere man, having gone fewer places and gained less world experience than any candidate for president in modern American history.

Outside of trips to Mexico, the country bordering Texas, Bush is claiming only three overseas trips. His longest was a month-long stay in China in 1975 when his father was U.S. envoy.

The New York Times cited this trip in an article about Bush’s surprising ambition to be president, noting his “overseas experience was pretty much limited to trying to date Chinese women (unsuccessfully) during a visit to Beijing in 1975.” [NYT, Oct. 29, 2000]

Another overseas trip was with a delegation of state governors to the Middle East in 1998, Bush's campaign said. En route, Bush stopped in Italy to see one of his daughters, apparently Bush’s only time in Europe.

The third overseas trip was a visit to the African country of Gambia as part of a U.S. delegation commemorating Gambia’s independence. [NYT, Oct. 30, 2000]

Those three trips leave out vast areas of the world and suggest a lack of curiosity about people and history outside American borders.

The Bush campaign sought to compare Bush’s lack of world knowledge with that of presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. But those presidents had traveled widely in the world.

Clinton had been a Rhodes scholar in England and visited much of Europe, including Moscow. Reagan had traveled as a movie actor and a representative of the United States. Carter served in the U.S. Navy.

Bush’s lack of world experience is particularly striking, given the fact that he was the son of privilege and had a father who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as CIA director. Despite these advantages, Bush apparently chose to stay close to home, shunning the challenges and excitement of international travel.

That stay-at-home mentality may not be uncommon for many Americans. But it stands in marked contrast to the expected requirements of serving as U.S. president at a time when many nations look to the United States as the world’s leader.

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