Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SANDY — Former President George W. Bush kissed, hugged, flirted and shook hands with an adoring crowd of supporters who waited hours, some overnight, for a chance to meet him and get his autograph on his new memoir "Decision Points."
"I asked, ‘Could I get a hug?' He said, ‘You sure can' and he got up and gave me a hug," Matt Bell said. "I told him I kept him in my prayers and he was very grateful."
As he was leaving the secured area where the book signing took place, Bell, an international relations student at Brigham Young University, shouted, "Go Rangers." And Bush, who once owned the Texas team that just lost the World Series, responded, "Go Rangers. So close."
He also met briefly with Gov. Gary Herbert and other Republican Party leaders.
The former president did not disappoint the hundreds who waited in a line that snaked around the warehouse store.
Eleven-year-old Andre Holewinski, clutched his autographed book after meeting Bush and told reporters he, too, wanted to be president someday.
"He said, ‘You look like a nice, fine young man,' and I said thank you, nice to meet you," Holewinski said of his brief conversation with Bush. "I felt like I was almost famous and I'd like do something like this again."
He said he was inspired by both Lincoln and Bush. "I've looked up to them and I want to be like them," said Holewinski, who skipped his sixth-grade classes at Pony Express Elementary in Eagle Mountain to accompany his dad, Robert, to the book signing.
Robert Holewinski served in the Army under Bush and was among the first soldiers to reach Baghdad as part of the Bravo Company 164 Armor Division of the 3rd Infantry in 2003. He showed the former president a citation he received for his service. He told his former commander-in-chief that he was glad to have served under him.
"He said, ‘you guys did your job well,'" Robert Holewinski said. "For me, it helps piece part of my life together. For me, going to war changed my life." He said he has suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and getting the chance to see Bush with his son by his side helped ease his pain.
Bush shared lighter moments with other Costco customers, kissing the hand of one woman and talking flirtatiously with another.
"I was so pumped. I walked in there and saw him and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, it was worth the wait,'" a flushed Ruth Ellis of Orem said. "He so was so personable. He said, ‘How are you darlin.' "
Ellis, who taught piano for years, said her husband will be jealous he didn't come along.
At the end of the day Costco had sold more than 2,000 copies of Bush's book.