How to host Pope Francis this week: Obama learns from Bush

When Pope Francis makes his first visit to Washington, this week, President Obama will do something he has rarely done in his six years in office: He’ll follow George W. Bush’s example.


Obama will take the unusual step of welcoming Francis in person at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, greeting the head of the Catholic Church as he disembarks from the chartered aircraft that brings him to the United States after the first leg of his North American tour, a stop in Cuba.

Other world leaders don’t get that kind of reception.

But “we felt like this was customary,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz recently told reporters, noting that Bush had set a “precedent” in April 2008 by making the brief but symbolic trek to the facility to see former Pope Benedict XVI arrive.