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Bush Sides With the Longhorns

January 01, 2006|Edwin Chen | Times Staff Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas — Sure, solid majorities of Californians twice rejected his candidacy for the White House, but his team loyalties were determined even before that.

In Wednesday's Rose Bowl, with the college football championship at stake, President Bush -- a former governor of Texas -- will be rooting wholeheartedly for the University of Texas to whip the University of Southern California, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Saturday.

"As a huge college football fan, the president is looking forward to the Rose Bowl and pulling hard for the Texas Longhorns," Duffy said.

Duffy did not say whether the president would nosh on pretzels during the big game. In January 2002, Bush briefly passed out after choking on a pretzel while watching football upstairs at the White House.

Bush planned to spend a quiet New Year's Eve at his Prairie Chapel Ranch near here with First Lady Laura Bush and her mother, Jenna Welch. Their dinner menu: steaks, tamales, green chili, cheese grits, grilled vegetables and black-eyed peas, with a salad of Texas grapefruit and mozzarella cheese. Dessert: chocolate cake.

Bush is famous for his early-to-bed, early-to-rise discipline, and the betting here was that he would not ring in the New Year. "We'll find out tomorrow," Duffy said.

The president is scheduled to end his weeklong holiday today. En route to the White House, he plans to stop at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to visit injured soldiers and award them the Purple Heart.

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