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Governor also watches, waits

By LUCY MORGAN, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 21, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush watched the war begin Wednesday night the same way many other Americans did: at home in front of a television set.

Watching from the Governor's Mansion with his wife, Columba, and their Siamese cat, Sugar, Bush said he called his father, former President George Bush, but didn't try to call his brother, President George W. Bush.

His father led the United States in the Gulf War 12 years ago after Iraq invaded Kuwait and now his brother is president in yet another war in the same area.

"My father said he had spoken to George yesterday, but expressed the hope that the war will end quickly," the governor said. "It's a very emotional thing. It's a huge decision that will last a lifetime and beyond."

Bush had not talked to his brother in several days because he felt he would be too busy but did reach him about 3:15 p.m. Thursday to tell him that he loves him and that Floridians support the war.

As he watched his brother announce the start of war, "reality struck in Florida as we intercepted a hijacked airplane," Bush said. "But we never thought it was anything but a hijacking and the National Guard was on their tail."

Bush talked about the experience as he boarded an airplane for a domestic security meeting Orlando in Orlando, where he also read to schoolchildren. He also attended a business forum in Palm Beach.

Bush wants to keep up his regular schedule and set an example for Floridians.

People should go about their daily activities and rely on beefed up security in public buildings and at public events, Bush said.

Bush said Florida has benefited from years of hurricane disaster planning and is well prepared to deal with any emergency.

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