President reels one in as he celebrates Father's day weekend

By DEB RIECHMANN
Associated Press Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) President Bush began a long family weekend by hooking a drive off the first tee of a golf course and hooking a fish in the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean near his parents' coastline estate.

Wearing blue sunglasses that mirrored cloudy skies, Bush and his father climbed aboard a white speedboat named “Fidelity II” and went fishing just off Kennebunk Beach. Dad drove.

The president grimaced a few times, flicking his fishing rod in disgust, but soon scored a striped bass. After taking it off his hook, Bush leaned over and gently released the fish about a foot long back into the waters.

Bush, joined by first lady Laura Bush and their twin daughters, is spending four nights at his parents' home at Walker's Point. He arrived here Thursday evening after stopping in Connecticut to make a speech about Medicare. He leaves Monday for New Jersey, where he will make remarks to the business community before returning to the White House.

The president rose early Friday, hitting a golf course at 6:15 a.m. with his father. They were joined by club pro Ken Rainier and by Mark Plumier, a multiple winner of Maine's amateur championship.

Bush hooked his first drive into a riverbank. He found his stroke on his second try. His father called the long, straight second shot a “good ball!”

The former president didn't do much better. After a bad first shot, he mumbled, “Reload,” and teed off another ball.

Their scores weren't known, but as the senior Bush walked off the last green, he said, “It's not all about winning.”

Two Bush siblings, Dorothy Koch and Marvin Bush, played separately, and the family converged at the 18th hole after an unusually long round by Bush standards more than two hours. President Bush tried to use body English to ease his last putt into the hole, but it didn't work.

The weekend won't be all rest and relaxation. Bush is keeping abreast of violence in the Middle East that threatens to derail his efforts to get the Palestinians and Israelis moving forward on a peace initiative. He received his regular intelligence briefing and talked to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Friday, but he ignored a reporter's question about whether the so-called Middle East road map was foundering with the latest unrest.

With all the golf and fishing, however, it's clear that unwinding is a top priority of Bush's Father's Day weekend. His father celebrated his 79th birthday on Thursday and a quiet celebration at the home is planned for Sunday, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.