White House spokesman gets goodbye hosing

Sunday, July 13, 2003

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- White House press secretary Ari Fleischer thought he was only posing for pictures when he was brought to the nose of Air Force One after President Bush returned from a trip to Africa on Saturday.

What he didn't know was that his staff had enlisted a base fire engine to help mark the end of Fleischer's 2 1/2-year tenure as Bush's chief spokesman.

He quickly realized what was up when the mist from the engine's hose blew his way.

Fleischer, who by this time had exchanged his navy blue business suit for a pair of sweat pants, T-shirt and running shoes, sprinted away.

With firefighters in pursuit, Fleischer eluded them again.

But he then indulged his staff, administration and military officials, and reporters gathered on the tarmac by walking into the spray and getting drenched.

"This is what happens to me at the end of a typical briefing," Fleischer joked, referring to his daily encounters with the White House press corps. "That's a pool spray."

Pool spray is White House jargon for when a small group of reporters is given brief access to meetings between the president and his Cabinet or foreign officials.

Fleischer is leaving the White House staff on Monday after 21 years in government and politics, to try his hand at the speaker's circuit, find a job in the private sector and spend more time with his new wife.

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