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Bush jokes. Crowd laughs. Girl cries.

A question for President Bush on immigration rose up like a ghost from the grave this afternoon in Ohio.

Only the questioner was a 13-year old blonde-headed girl, Jessica Hackerd, from Brecksville, Ohio, who immediately broke into tears after making her inquiry.

"Mr. President, I know immigration has been a big problem in the U.S. And what is your next step with the immigration bill?" Jessica asked Mr. Bush, during a question and answer period after a speech Mr. Bush gave to a Cleveland business group.

Mr. Bush's sarcastic reply -- a wry "yeah, thanks" -- drew laughter from the crowd of 400. But the attention caused young Jessica, who characterized herself in an interview afterward as very shy, to immediately tear up.

"No, it's a great question. No, I appreciate that," Mr. Bush said, as he saw Jessica's reaction.

Jessica, in the interview, said that she was crying because she was so nervous.

But when the president's sarcastic answer was mentioned, she said, "I heard that too."

Mr. Bush went on to speak more than 1,100 words about the death of his proposed comprehensive immigration reform, which was a heavy blow when it fell apart last month.

But Jessica, there with her parents and younger sister, continued to wipe tears from her eyes for several minutes, and midway through his answer, Mr. Bush again tried to encourage the distraught youngster without drawing too much attention to her.

"It's a great question by the way, and I'm glad you asked it," Mr. Bush said.

But when the president finished taking questions, an aide immediately went to Jessica and took her backstage.

After Mr. Bush had finished shaking hands for over 10 minutes, he met with Jessica and her family.

"He said it was really brave of me to do that and he said he probably wouldn't have been able to do that," Jessica said. "And he said it was the first time anybody had asked him about [immigration] since it happened."

Jessica said she did not say much besides, "Thanks."

She asked the question about immigration, she said, because her father, Richard, has engaged her in conversations about the topic, and that was what popped into her head.

-- Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

Comments (93)

Shame on you Mr. President! Shame on you all!

Sounds like:
A. Sour Grapes
B. He suspected someone set her up to it.
C. He was exhibiting his rancor at not getting his way.

You can take the man out of the frat, but you can't take the frat out of the man. Perhaps he needs to think a bit before being such a smart a**. January 2009 simply can not come soon enough.

Bush was caught off guard,tried to make a joke out of It,and It backfired,just like his SHAMNESTY bill. What a brave young girl. I hope she runs for political office someday....

George W. Bush never misses an opportunity to show everyone what a miserable creep he is. He can't even be civil to a 13-year-old.

Bush was joking because it was the elephant in the room and it finally got asked. The girl probably cried more from the 400 people laughing since she's shy. This is a huge nonstory.

Good God, I hope she *doesn't* run for office someday if that's the way she handles pressure. Voinovich cries enough.

Don't be ridiculous. It was an awkward moment where he said the wrong thing. I was sensitive when I was 13 and got upset when I was embarrassed in front of people. Since reaching adulthood I've said stupid things that alienated people. It's called life. If it had been anyone besides GWB it wouldn't be credited with political significance.

Pres. Bush saw that his answer caused Jessica distress and he took the time to encourage her. He was sensitive to her feelings and moved to help her. There are those that find fault with everything that Pres. Bush does.

What in the world have that girl's parents been teaching her? "Immigration is a problem"? WTF?

A 13 year old girl would no doubt also burst into tears if she were talking to Justin Timberlake (remember the Sanjaya girl on American Idol?). Does that mean that Justin is an evil man as well or perhaps people are looking for an excuse to take a swipe at the President in a comment? Or perhaps a tiny bit of perspective is in order.

Tim, David and James, you are all ridiculous. Bush wasn't being mean at all and you all look like fools for trying to play that card. He hadn't been asked about it yet, was sarcastic with his first response and the girl was nervous. It's people like you that can't even be honest about a clear-cut situation like this that are screwing up politics. If you have disagreements with Bush, fine, but don't waste our time with your foolish comments.

Lighten up, people. a) The president was not mean, and b) The girl is 13, not 5.

LOL, stop! No one actually believes he was trying to be rude or mean to this girl. Greg's absolutely right. She cried because she was shy and in an unbelievable situation. Bush made an offhand remark and more than made up for it.

Bush was trying to joke ... BUT his continuing attempt to make America a part of mexico will make many more people cry farther down the road ...

How dare anyone ask a non scripted question of Commander Guy?

Greg - "Does that mean that Justin is an evil man as well"

Nobody is claiming that this makes Bush "evil." Just a jerk.

The difference is that we should be able to expect more than petulance and sarcasm from the President of the United States.

A couple times recently I've seen where the President responds flippantly to a question. I see where he's trying to introduce some levity to a situation but he must remember the spotlight a questioner is under and look at things from the questioner's point of view. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt the girl's feelings but he needs to remember what postion a person is in when he/she addresses him. No one wants to feel laughed at by the President, potentially in front of millions of people.

Little girl cried & Bush realized how nervous & upset she was & responded sympathetically.

Re: the Immigration Bill, lets face it even Jimmy Carter commended Bush on his moderate views on Immigration. It does not matter what Bush says or does, the Libs will slam him. I'm a moderate republican that supports this bill.

Too bad Bush didn't tell the audience that he was building the fences and cracking down on employers!

The girl was very brave to stand up and ask that, while many adults sat, said nothing and laughed.

Man oh Man; blame Bush for the crowd laughing that he could not get his immigration reform.

One the one hand, this is a bit of a nonstory as a few here have pointed out, and it really isn't worth making a fuss over. However, it is yet another example of how GWB seems to speak or act without carefully thinking through all the consequences of his words or deeds. I mean, he did try to endear himself to the wider audience by being a creep to a little girl. The fact that he responded to the girl's reaction by trying to smooth it over with her just indicates that he's not a complete monster (like Cheney). But still, the incident doesn't speak well of his understanding of cause and effect, or his ability to quickly size up a situation and theorize about probable outcomes so he can adapt his behavior to better facilitate his ultimate goals. You know, diplomacy... politics... the stuff a president does.

I am not President Bush's hugest fan, but I don't think he meant to hurt this young woman's feelings. It also sounds like this girl needs to grow a thicker hide. But, at 13, her personality is hardly fully formed.

I believe Mr. Pritchard NAILED it with "A 13 year old girl would no doubt also burst into tears if she were talking to Justin Timberlake"
She also admittedly offered the REASON she got so emotional HERSELF: "I CRIED BECAUSE I WAS NERVOUS". NOT because the President hurt her feelings. Bush-haters should think before they pounce, as they continue to prove themselves to be the tools the rest of us think they are.

He once again didn't like being asked a question (in a handpicked, by invitation only admittance event - the only kind he has) that would make him have to take responsibility for his own actions or remind an already angry base of another one of his follies.

You people have GOT to be kidding. You think this 13 year old "very shy" girl came up with that question all on her own, do you?

Cry me a river - this is a non-story if ever there was one. She'll get over it.

anyone who would defend bush's character after his lies about yellowcake, aluminum tubes, mobile labs, leakers, prosecutors, taxes, medicare, troop protection, medicine and the environment is either an idiot or a stooge. bush has turned out to be nothing worth having in any elected office.

It is what comes out of your heart, that first comes out of your mouth.

Yeah, so what. I am a leftie, and despise bush and his dumb politics, especially the war. But this means nothing....Why don't we discuss how his politics leaves so many thirteen year olds without health insurance, or so many 18 and nineteen years olds facing mortal danger in Iraq to no good purpose...Anyone--including the worst president I have seen in my 44 years--can be insensitive and make a mistake. I am glad GWB tried to make amends. But this is minor to irrelevant...

He makes me cry daily and I'm 58 years old. I think this is another example of his inability to "get on the balcony" and look at himself in public the legally blind reporter thing...but the quality can be positive: it bares his brain at work to the whole country.

i hope whovever is slamming the guy for this is just kidding, because this is not so bad that it would ruin credibility for all the justified criticism that is owed this man and this administration.

I agree with the frat boy comment. This is the same overgrown sophomore who, with "Yo, Tony!" summoned the Prime Minister of Great Britain to come to him like a dog. And the one who made a joke out of pretending to look for WMD in the Oval Office closet, while destroying American lives, decimating their families, and squandering our country's good standing in the world, for something he already knew Iraq never had in the first place.

George Bush is nothing more than a typical playground bully. Rude sarcasm and put-downs are all part of his standard routine with White House reporters. He demands to be called "Mr. President," but makes up childish nicknames for members of the press. He makes glib replies, stupid jokes, and smirky faces at inappropriate times, like when he's asked about terrorism or the war in Iraq.

This is who he is or has become as a person. It's gotten to the point where he has no internal mechanism for monitoring his responses, so everything he says is sarcastic and condescending. Even to a little girl who is trying to ask a serious question.

It deserves attention because it fits a pattern of this president's contempt. That extends from reporters and politicians to little kids. Stop defending this man. He was being himself. As for those bragging about how he spoke to her and encouraged her, that's merely his shame kicking in, as it should have done. I wish he'd feel shame more often.

Bush's "wry" comment was dismissive, crude, and insulting. I agree that to make a big deal out of it is silly, since he is normally crude and insensitive. But every now and then, something like this comes up to remind me of how unwholesome this man is and how inappropriate it is that he is running our country, a job that should go to someone with a great deal of compassion.

The President met with her afterwards (bottom of story) consoled her and met with her parents.

Had it been Bill Clinton meeting her...

A 13 year old girl would no doubt also burst into tears if she were talking to Justin Timberlake (remember the Sanjaya girl on American Idol?). Does that mean that Justin is an evil man as well or perhaps people are looking for an excuse to take a swipe at the President in a comment? Or perhaps a tiny bit of perspective is in order.

I agree, Mr. Prichard. Personally I would suggest that imprisoning people as terrorists without a trial, invading countries that haven't done anything to us, and spying on Americans without our consent (among other things) would definitely put him, if not in the 'evil' camp, then pretty close.

Perhaps in the neighborhood of Guantanamo.

I'm far from a Bush fan (and haven't seen the video yet), but it actually sounds like he handled this misstep with a little bit of class. His handlers did a good job.

The fact that the girl burst into tears doesn't make Bush an evil man. Bush acheived that status all by himself.

I can't believe someone would think that this was news. It just proves to me that the growing hatred for the president is a runaway train. People are so preoccupied with hating him that they aren't even really listening to what he says or observing what he does.

I am one of "those that find fault with everything that Pres. Bush does" and even I can't find the significance here. I have to agree with Geo (much though it pains me). Bush made a harmless joke, it had an unfortunate effect on a young girl, and he made some effort to limit the fallout. Would that he was this caring for our service men and women.

The issue here is not that a 13 yo girls cries with nervousness, but that this president who has failed miserably at everything he has attempted, also fails to note the gravity and sincerity of the questions being asked him. Instead he is ready with a flip answer.
We are intrigued by this story because it is more compelling evidence that Mr. Bush does not care about the people that he has been elected (?????) to represent. IF he is going to call on a 13 yo to give him a question, he ought to at least have the grace and dignity to field the question with the same amount of respect with which it is delivered. He does not have grace or dignity, nor does he even seem to understand what that means. America is being led by a man who can't even understand the sensitivities of a young girl. How frightening for the country, how frightening for the world. How long do we continue allowing this bafoon to run our country into the ground? Those of you who still support him, I ask you...How much more harm must befall our country before you overcome your pathetic political ideology and realize that you are fiddling while America is burning?

Perhaps a new administration is in order. The one we have appears to be out of order.

bush is at 29% approval rating and he's failed to protect our nation and failed in iraq, and he even failed to open up our borders to terrorists. he doesn't care anymore.

This is what Bush's political discourse has devolved to: Ridiculing little girls in front of large crowds.

OK, I hate Bush. I mean true hatred. But come on. How was he supposed to know the little girl was going to cry because he made a joke? He probably thought she was going to smile and be proud because she got a good one in on the President and everyone knew it, including him. It was probably meant as more of a "congrats" kind of thing. She didn't announce in advance that she was painfully shy, all she did was stand up in front of hundreds of people to address the President of the United States. I wouldn't have guessed her for shy.

Bush always leaves 'em cryin' in the aisles.

Usually that's at all the funerals he has caused but here he gets harsh with some little girl. Perhaps the whole situation was too much for her but Bush has become very testy with questioning.

Another flip answer from Bush that made a shy girl cry. But what I can see, from the comments, is a bunch of Bush enablers tripping over themselves to excuse any action that gets unfavorable press coverage for Dubya. He's got people to do that for him, so give it a rest.

I loathe Bush, but I think he was making a genuine effort to comfort the girl from the podium. Every so often, he shows that he still has some decency.

Lets face it. This may be a non story but Bush's lack of answers or actions to important matters is concerning...

He needs to remember that he is the President of the United States, not a stand up comedian, wether he's being asked a question by a 13 or a 30 year old.

"The President met with her afterwards (bottom of story) consoled her and met with her parents."

"Had it been Bill Clinton meeting her..."

Posted by hoo rah

-Bill Clinton would have answered her question, instead of saying "yeah, thanks".

Lord, I can't wait for the day, when he returns to Crawford to clear more brush. That is what cowboys do...

Blame it on Global Warming.

The Commander in Chief is fighting a Global War on Terror. He is too busy as the Decider to answer any question posed by a thirteen year old!

What kind of grown man bullies a 13 year old? If he had any decency, he would have treated her with respect. Rather than being an oaf.

It's embarrassing have the leader of a nation behave in such a way.

Why didn't he just answer the question like a normal person? What was the reason for sarcasm and flippancy? Can't he behave decently just once??

I cant believe all of the long and bizarre analysis of this. It was obviously a joke. I am not a Bush fan, but it is not his fault. Its a very simple joke and the girl did not take it as she should have

Sure, the president wasn't intentionally hurting her feelings and the girl probably reacted that way because she was bit too shy. This probably is a non-story if it was anybody but the president of the United States. I think when you are the president of the United States, or the proclaimed the free world, we need to have certain expectation as to how he will interact with the public. And I don't think people would've made such a fuss if there weren't other lapse of judgments in the past we saw from Bush. In conclusion, if you isolate the incident by itself, it's not a big deal, however, if you look at it under the big picture, he should have more sensitivity and sensibility than that.

He probably spent more time on the topic because of that reaction than he would have otherwise. I do find it odd, however, that he replied with 1,100 words, but none of them are mentioned in the article...

As for her father speaking with her about immigration... good job dad! Most children are brought up by what they see on television and don't understand what the real world is like. It's nice to see someone taking time to discuss issues with their children. Imagine what would happen if all parents did that?

It doesn't matter if it was said by the president or by the least important person in the country, it was incredibly rude and nasty and insensitive.

You don't talk to a child like that. I used to support Geroge W Bush, but after this I've changed my mind. I've seen a new side to him and I don't like what I see.

or it could of been the fact that he's so used to dealing with the blood hungry press that his instinct was to react with a sarcastic remark. The title of this article makes it seem that Bush was making fun of the girl...small comment (bad) being apologetic and encouraging the question then responding with over 1,100 words (good)...he made up for it. It's embarrassing to ask a question to the PRESIDENT in front of a large crowd, it would make a confident person humble. It wasn't even Bush's fault, it was the laughter from the crowd that sent her in tears. Stop putting horns on the president and get off the bandwagon of bashing bush. get your own opinions.

i love it. i think it's great.
B.U.S.T.E.D haha

Well, I've enjoyed all the cooments, including from the winger brethren. What it is, Bush is a bully and the story reinforces that, so he gets little credit when pulling back and trying to do the right thing, if that's indeed what he was doing.

I work with 11-14yr olds on a daily basis and I know that there is a significant amount of sensitivity you have to have with them because their bodies and emotions are hormonal and changing all the time. That said, no one in their right freaking mind would even try to make a joke out of a sincere and relevant inquiry to a girl in that stage of her life. Even my least shy kids get visibly offended by things I may not consider offensive. Therefore, this further shows the enormous bubble the US' premier warlord lives in. All you defenders ... I can only feel sympathy for you--mind you, not empathy.

Everyone knows the Bush administration is a catastrophe silently awaiting its own spontaneous explosion.

That doesn't mean Bush is the devil.

Find something better to waste your time on than this.

It could have happened to any of you and probably has once or twice.

How was he supposed to know the little girl was going to cry because he made a joke? He probably thought she was going to smile and be proud because she got a good one in on the President and everyone knew it, including him.

Maybe he shouldn't answer every question with a joke? Maybe just act with a bit more class? I get that he smoothed it over, but is a flip response always appropriate? This isn't a big story, but those of you accusing people of blowing it up, what are we doing exactly? These are comments on a message board for Pete's sake.

Its a very simple joke and the girl did not take it as she should have

As with Bush supporters, it is always somebody else's fault.

You think this 13 year old "very shy" girl came up with that question all on her own, do you?

and there are the other Bush supporters. Seeing conspiracies everywhere to harm Dear Leader.

Although Bush is an unforgivable sociopolitial hooligan, 13 year old girls start crying when they break a nail. Save your self righteous yowling for when he offsets an economy or something. Yeesh.

Shows his true colors (yellow). Truly pathetic, but, then again, he's very free with other people's feelings and, as shown in Iraq, lives. What a TOOL!

I'm a lefty who hates Bush more than anyone but I'll give him credit for meeting with her and her family privately afterwards. If only he would take the same kind of responsibility for his screwup in Iraq as he did for this screwup ...

Bush made a little girl cry... how many little Iraqi girls have died or lost fathers today? How many little girls in America don't have health insurance? More than one right? He's an inarticulate creep, who can't balance a budget, can't keep his heroic misadventures from costing us (in the collective sense US) TRILLIONS... and he also makes little girls cry. Impeach him now!

This story actually makes the President look like a human being. Didn't think it could happen.

It could have been worse, Bush could have sent her father to Iraq to fight the terrorists.

Was she by any chance African American? Because when I looked at that crowd I couldn't find any African Americans. None. Nada. Zero. That to me was the big story about that event.

He probably didn't mean to give such a reaction, especially in front of all the media, but since that was his first and foremost reaction to the question, he proved himself to be an a**.

His bully type attitude is not only shown in the way he reacted to a brave little girl, but also in his policy. Take Iraq for example, Iran, the various other nations who have come to know well the attitude of this pres.

Hang on folks. The pres will soon retire into well deserved obscurity.

I believe g.w. is a low life war criminal, however, he was rude to a little girl, she cried and he took the time to compliment the question twice and then brought her back stage.
This is the first adult thing the pres has ever done in his life. Good for him

The president did nothing wrong. "yeah thanks" is Bush connecting to the crowd. Considering he got beat up over the amnesty bill the majority adult crowd got it.

The best part about this is that he probobly called on the little girl assuming it would be an easy question. He was probobly caught offguard and that is why he made that "wry" comment. Either way, the President of the United States is supposed to hold up an image. It is the greatest, most powerful (maybe too powerful) position in the world. If he can't treat his position with the respect that it deserves, that so many great Presidents of the past have held, then he does not deserve to hold that title.

I was fooled by Bush and voted for him. I am not suprised by anything this reprobate man does. I don't put anything past him.

"He was only making a joke."....
Aren't jokes supposed to be funny?

Bush didn't mean to get her upset, he saw her reaction, he tried to make her feel better. He even met with her.

What more do you want?

Am I the only one who remembers what being thirteen was like?

I do not know what Bush was thinking, or even if he was, when he responded to the girl sarcastically. Maybe he was thinking "about time someone asked me that!" But a man with daughters himself should have been a bit more sensitive to the emotions of a child confronted by what she believes is the most powerful person on earth, and watched the sarcasm, or maybe said "how is it a child gets it but you adults don't?"

When the crowd started laughing, I'm certain the child thought she was who they were laughing at, because that is who I think they were laughing at. Ever ask a question in front of a large gathering that then began laughing?

Ever do it at 13 years old, in front of the US President? No, I didn't think so. Because if you had, you would remember it, and know that at that moment the child felt humiliated, stupid, embarrassed, and all the other negative feelings a child that age goes through when being laughed at by several hundred adults in front of the President of the United States.

Like I said, I can't blame Bush, because I do not know what or if he was thinking. But I can blame the crowd, and you who think this is somehow the child's fault. She asked a good question about a pressing issue, and got slapped down not by Bush, but by a laughing audience.

So much for family values. Just another example of how a child's worth to neoconservatives ends the second the child is born.

By their quick response, Bush's handlers knew he had stepped in manure.
Review the details of W's reaction provided in the story -- he immediately turned the focus back on what the child had done, and never even alluded to the fact that he had been wrong to give a flippant reply.

While i dont agree with many of Bush's policys or actions and while i dont feel that he is a good president, i dont go around twisting his actions to make him appear like he is something he is not. If you read more than headline you will see that he did in fact attempt to make the girl feel more comfterable. You cannot blame a 13y/o girls shyness on President Bush.

"There will always be dissident voices heard in the land..." ~ John F. Kennedy, Speech for the Dallas Trade Mart which was never delivered

Forget the insensitivity/oversensitivity. There IS a nugget of newsworthy information here:

"And he [POTUS] said it was the first time anybody had asked him about [immigration] since it happened."

Really? Really? Nobody has asked about one of the country's top priorities in weeks?

How isolated and out of touch is our Chief Executive? How often do his handlers allow anything unscripted to pass thorough the protective veil of executive privilege?

And how about his will and all of that political capital? Oh yeah, its being spent in a foreign desert. Is there nothing Mr. Bush can do to advance some sort of resolution to the immigration problem? He's just gonna quit and walk away?

Oh george, you've done it again...

Oh, please. Leave the poor girl alone!

She jumped into the very adult and very nuanced world with a very loaded question. I think she suddenly realized what she had unleashed a few moments later and got nervous about it.

Let the kid get over it. Stop flinging it around. Bush did nothing wrong, nor did she. All of you trying to peddle this politically ought to be spanked and sent to bed early for juvenile rudeness to a perfectly nice and normal young girl.

Poor George. Whenever he opens his mouth, I think two things: 1. I need a drink, and 2. So does he.

Well the question may have been unexpected for poor George, #1 most of his appearances are before hand picked supporters. #2 George falls flat on his face or trips over his tongue any time he speaks ad-lib. It also shows how out of touch and uncomfortable the "CEO" really is with ordinary people

You just can't trust those evil-doing 13 year olds!!! Little radical!

I can't stand Bush policy wise, but c'mon y'all, this is rediculous, lay off the man.

"...the girl did not take it as she should have..."??? C'mon Joe and everyone else who agrees....this is a 13-yr old asking a SERIOUS question and expecting a serious answer, not an adult who readily knows how to take a joke from a peer. And, yeah, okay, this particular incident is NOT a big deal but it IS a big deal that he does not realize that his position requires him to behave with decency, class, and some forethought. And to those of you defending him for trying to make amends, I hope you realize he HAD to do that because he realized how bad it made him look (delayed processing- should have thought of it sooner), not because he's such a swell guy after all.

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