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Bush Still Hates Broccoli, But ‘Delighted’ It’s Being Given to Poor

March 22, 1990 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ George Bush, still harboring a childhood grudge against broccoli, escalated the rhetoric today in his one-man war against the vegetable.

″I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it and I’m president of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli,″ Bush declared to cheers and laughter at the close of an outdoor news conference.

Bush’s forthright stand has brought howls from broccoli growers, who are shipping 10 tons of the green, flowery vegetable to the nation’s capital to feed the hungry.

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″Now, look. This is the last statement I’m going to have on broccoli,″ Bush said. ″There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided.″

The president stressed at least one member of the Bush family likes broccoli.

″For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself,″ Bush said. ″So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that’s coming in.″

Bush said Wednesday night that not even his ″totalitarian″ wife could make him eat broccoli.

Mrs. Bush said today, ″I’m eating his broccoli. Don’t worry about it.″

Asked about the example Bush was setting for the children of America, she said, ″He ate broccoli until he was 60. Tell them to eat it until they’re 60.″

She shrugged off reporters’ attempts to probe further into her husband’s eating habits. ″Anyone who eats pork rinds can’t be all good,″ she said.

Bush expressed delight Wednesday that California growers were shipping 10 tons of the green vegetable to feed the hungry in the nation’s capital.

″I am not going to rethink my position,″ a puckish president insisted on his way home from the Oval Office.

Mrs. Bush has publicly bemoaned the difficulty of getting her husband to eat his vegetables, but Bush said later he didn’t really ban broccoli from the presidential plane.

At a state dinner for Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, he told reporters, ″I have not ordered it off Air Force One. I have just said, ’Don’t you dare bring me another sprig of that vegetable.‴

The president’s taste runs more to pork rinds, taco salads and almost anything smothered in hot pepper sauce.

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Bush gave his Polish guest a quick fill-in on the broccoli brouhaha.

″The broccoli growers of America are up in arms against me. Would you be interested in having the (10 tons) in Poland?″ he asked. Mazowiecki evinced no interest in the deal.

″Just as Poland is rebelling against totalitarianism, I am rebelling. I refuse to give ground,″ said Bush, warming to the subject. ″But the broccoli growers and my wife will win.″

Asked if he really viewed his wife of 45 years as a totalitarian, he replied, ″She is a total totalitarian - on broccoli only.″

Mrs. Bush said, ″You’re darn right I am″ a broccoli totalitarian. ″I love broccoli.″

She said she was prepared to serve a meal with broccoli soup and salad, broccoli with the main course and ″then finish it with a little broccoli ice cream.″

Earlier, Bush told reporters he was ″delighted″ at news that California growers had dispatched a truckload of the vegetable toward the Potomac.

Asked if there was anything else he doesn’t like, Bush laughed and replied, ″Yeah, but I don’t want to get 10 tons of it 3/8″

The White House is considering holding a welcoming ceremony for the broccoli when it arrives Monday en route to the Capital Area Community Food Bank, which will forward the vegetables to soup kitchens, shelters and other groups feeding the hungry.

Peter Lassen, food solicitor for the food bank, said he was contacted by the California growers Monday after a news magazine reported that broccoli was verboten on Air Force One. He called it a ″good-natured protest.″

The White House called Tuesday ″to make sure it wasn’t a hoax,″ said Lassen.

Mrs. Bush said she would welcome the broccoli caravan ″with open arms″ if she is around when it reaches Washington on Monday.