Former president makes second stop in Rock County
This time, he did so as citizen Bush, not President Bush.
Bush and his wife, Laura, stepped off a private Bombardier Global Express jet at 11:35 a.m. and quickly got into a black sport utility vehicle that became part of a six-vehicle caravan to ABC Supply in Beloit.
There, the Bushes were guests of ABC owner Diane Hendricks for a private event closed to the press.
Hendricks said she shares many values with the former president and supports his efforts to create a public policy institute that focuses on education, global health, economic improvement and human freedoms.
The Bushes visit did not carry political overtones, she said.
The president’s talk lasted about 20 minutes.
“He said that his political past is just that, his political past, and he’s moved on,” Hendricks said.
The former president and his wife are visiting friends in the Midwest and wanted to visit ABC, she said.
“I did not bring him in,” she said. “They wanted to come here, and when I heard that, I was blown away.
“We are an American company where patriotism flows. It was a real pleasure to be able to share a former president with our associates. It was a great privilege and a great day for ABC Supply.”
Ahead of the appearance, fanfare at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport was dramatically less than when Bush made a campaign stop in Janesville on Sept. 24, 2004.
Then, hundreds of vehicles lined Highway 51 to watch Air Force One land.
Thursday, a couple dozen law enforcement and Secret Service officials met the Bushes at ABC’s hangar. A Janesville ambulance stood by just outside the airport’s fence.
The press—one Gazette photographer and one Gazette reporter—watched from about 225 yards away on a neighboring, non-ABC property.
The short motorcade—four SUVs sandwiched by squads from the Beloit Police Department and Rock County Sheriff’s Office—exited the property onto Highway 51, the southbound lane of which was blocked by two Janesville Police Department squads.
ABC is the largest wholesale distributor of roofing in the United States and one of the nation’s largest distributors of siding, windows and other exterior building products, tools and related supplies. Since Ken and Diane Hendricks founded it in 1982, ABC has grown to more than 350 locations in 45 states and the District of Columbia.