Photo Op with President Hinckley of the Mormon Church
Salt Lake City, Utah
February 8, 2002
3:20 P.M. MST
MR. HINCKLEY: We're honored to have you here. We very much appreciate that you've
come. We're all here, excited about the Olympics and we think this is going
to be a great thing for this area and for the United States of America.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree. Thank you, sir.
MR. HINCKLEY: Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm looking forward to it. I want to congratulate the great state
of Utah for putting on the Games. Its' going to be a -- I know it's been a lot
of hard work, and now we're here and I think the world is going to see why we
love the west so much here in the United States -- people can get things done.
MR. HINCKLEY: We're happy that they're here. We hope that all will go well,
with confidence that all will go well and that it will be a great season for
all of us.
THE PRESIDENT: I might answer a few questions. You got anything, Ron or Steve?
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you confident about the security situation at the
THE PRESIDENT: I'm so confident about the security condition, I've come. (Laughter.)
Fournier, you got anything?
QUESTION: What did you talk about in there?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we just -- interestingly enough, we talked about our family
heritage, our lineage. The President kindly gave us our family histories, genealogies
that have been researched here. And it's a wonderful gift.
And I said, before you tell me, are there any horse thieves in there? (Laughter.)
MR. HINCKLEY: I want to tell you that he comes of good stock. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's right. (Laughter.)
MR. HINCKLEY: And so does she.
QUESTION: Mr. President, did you give any advice to the American athletes on
carrying the flag from New York, the World Trade Center flag?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't.
QUESTION: And is there a danger that an event like this takes on some political
overtones, especially with the United States engaged in a war on terrorism?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the event is going the -- the events are going
to strike a proper balance between the patriotism that we all feel here and
the international flavor of the Games. As I understand it, they've reached what
appears to be a reasonable compromise about the flag that flew over the World
And I think it's important for all Americans, obviously, to root hard for our
athletes -- and recognize, however, this is an international event. And one
of the things that is important is that there be world unity. And this is a
nice place to have world unity, during the competition. You know, an athlete
wins, people salute their flag and their anthem. And, unfortunately, it's not
going to be the American flag every single event -- it'll be somebody else's
country. But it gives us a chance to cheer for others and celebrate with others,
So it appears to me that the proper balance has been struck. No question that
tonight is going to be an emotional moment, though. I mean, we're the host country
and we're a nation that has been under attack. And this proud country is unified
and strong and when they play the National Anthem I'm sure there's going to
be millions of Americans who are proud to hear the Anthem played in a unique
setting and in an historic moment.
QUESTION: Were you disappointed, sir, when you first heard that the flag was
not going to be allowed in the ceremonies?
THE PRESIDENT: I knew that there would be an accommodation reached, I talked
to some friends about it. So I'm happy with the outcome of the accommodation.
I think it's a nice balance --
QUESTION: Did you weigh-in at all on it?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't.
QUESTION: Mr. President, why was it important for you to meet with President
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, this isn't my first meeting. I was -- it's
kind of --
MR. HINCKLEY: Reunion.
THE PRESIDENT: Reunion, right. Thank you, I was searching for the word. (Laughter.)
I was here in the summer of '99. And first of all, President Hinckley represents
a great religion, he is a strong part of the American scene and I wanted to
come by and say hello and pay my respects. And I'm glad I did.
Also, by the way, looking forward to hearing the Choir tonight, it is going
to be a magnificent moment; an incredibly touching experience for all of us,
particularly those of us who will be there live.