Stunned confusion or presidential calm?
George W. Bush says he was aiming for the latter in the moments directly after he first learned of the 9/11 attacks.
In a rare post-White House interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush addressed his much-debated and often-criticized reaction to the news during a visit to a Florida classroom on the morning of September 11, 2001.
“My first reaction, ‘Who the hell would do that to America?’ Then I immediately focused on the children, and the contrast between the attack and the innocence of children,” Bush says in an excerpt of the interview shown to television writers on Thursday, Reuters reports.
Bush said that he quickly realized that all eyes were upon him, both in the classroom and out of it. “So I made the decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom,” he said. “I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm.”
The hour-long interview will air on August 28 as part of a the channel’s weeklong “Remembering 9/11” special.
You can watch the video of Bush's 9/11 reaction below: