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Restaurant Industry Eats Bush Up

By Hanna Aronovich in News on May 24, 2006 2:15PM

Although President Bush has only a 35 percent approval rating in the U.S., the restaurant industry seems to have a much higher opinion. In the course of his one-hour speech at the National Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place, Bush received several enthusiastic cheers and standing ovations. bush.jpg

Chicagoist has attended the Restaurant Show for several years. The event draws some big-name speakers (Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell, Ted Koppel), but no speaker has been as high-profile as the current president. The show drew about 73,000 attendees, and while the other speeches are open to all, Bush’s speech required a special ticket. How those attendees got tickets? We don’t know -- the association didn’t announce his speech until Saturday.

Chicagoist was fortunate to attend the event and hear Bush’s speech for ourselves. He opened with the obligatory White Sox congratulations and paid tribute to Mayor Daley. His touched on foodservice-relevant topics for the first 15 minutes, including the economy and immigration reform. Bush then discussed the “victory for the cause of freedom,” later comparing the war in Iraq with World War II. 20060522-1_d-0402-250h.jpg

After his speech, he held a short Q&A. Aside from one woman shouting, “Where are the weapons of mass destruction,” the questions were soft. A woman representing the Florida Restaurant Association praised Gov. Jeb Bush saying, “He has been very good to the restaurant industry.” “He sure has been eating a lot I noticed,” Bush joked back. Another question regarding the U.S. reliance on oil, asked by a resident of Crown Point, Ind., was prefaced with, “You’re doing a fine job.” And, lastly, a chef from Florida asked if Jeb would ever consider running for president. Bush informed the disappointed crowd, “I think he wants a breather.”

Chicagoist doesn’t claim to know much about politics, but we think it’s certainly lucky so many fans got to ask questions. You can read the full speech, along with Bush’s quips here. With such a warm Chicago reception, maybe Bush will return to answer some less-rehearsed questions.

Images via the White House.