Fayette County

'Favorite' president drops in

Annie Toffey received the thrill of a lifetime this week when she got a visit from her favorite president: former President George W. Bush.

Bush joked around with Annie, 8, during his stay at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington. He was nicer than she thought he'd be, she said. "It was awesome."

Bush's visit to Kentucky was his first trip out of Texas and his first flight on something other than Air Force One since he left office, said Annie's dad, Ned Toffey. He arrived in Lexington on Tuesday afternoon and left Wednesday morning.

His journey to Kentucky began last fall when Annie wrote a letter to the president.

"A lot of people were like being very, very rude and not being good to him," Annie said. "I wanted to make him feel better."

She wrote a letter telling Bush how much she loved him and invited him to Spendthrift Farm on Iron Works Pike.

Annie's letter was hand-delivered to the White House by a friend of B. Wayne Hughes, the owner of Spendthrift, who knew the president.

Bush wrote Annie back saying how proud he was to have been her president and thanking her for her letter.

Later, he told Hughes' friend that when he got a chance, he was going to visit Annie in Kentucky one day, said Toffey.

That day came on Tuesday.

Bush is her favorite president because he is her first president, Annie said. "He's been my president my entire life."

While in Lexington, he toured Spendthrift with Toffey, the farm manager, and met farm employees and their children.

"The thing I came away with is how down-to-Earth he is, and you just got the sense that this was just a very decent person," Toffey said. "That's what struck everybody. What a very decent person he seemed to be and genuinely interested and asked the managers about their jobs."