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Bush 'Healthy and Fit for Duty' - Doctors - 2001-08-04


President Bush had his annual physical Saturday. He then left for a month-long vacation at his ranch in the state of Texas.

President Bush spent about six hours at Bethesda Naval Hospital. A White House statement says doctors found the 55-year-old Mr. Bush "healthy and fit for duty." They put him in the top two percent of men his age in cardiovascular fitness.

Results of the physical show mild high frequency hearing loss that has not changed from previous examinations. Doctors said Mr. Bush has seasonal allergies and should use reading glasses on an "as needed basis."

The president runs about four times a week, swims, and lifts free weights. Leaving the hospital, he told reporters he feels "pretty good."

After the physical, the president and first lady Laura Bush left for a month-long vacation on their 1,600 acre ranch in Crawford, Texas. Critics say that is a lot of time off after just six months on the job, especially as he has already had 14 weekends at the presidential retreat in Maryland.

White House officials are calling this break a working-vacation, the president's "Home to the Heartland Tour," where they say he will spend an average of two days a week on public events. He is expected to make day trips to Colorado, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.

Reviewing his first six months in office Friday, President Bush said he plans to return to Washington in September with new ideas for improving community life and promoting family values. Administration officials say those ideas may include initiatives on teen pregnancy, school safety, and affordable housing.

Before he returns, he may also decide on whether the federal government should fund research involving embryonic stem cells. While the procedure offers hope for new cures, it is opposed by right-to-life groups who say it is killing the unborn. The president has spent months considering the ethical ramifications of the procedure in meetings with groups on both sides of the issue.

Vice President Dick Cheney is also taking most of the month off at his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Mr. Cheney is scheduled to appear at a convention of the Utah Republican Party and a meeting with wildfire officials in Idaho.

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