Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and his wife Laura visited Broome County on a sunny Saturday afternoon two decades ago.

The future president marched in Binghamton's St. Patrick's parade on March 4, 2000.

Richard Bucci, who was mayor at the time, recalled the event Wednesday on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program.

Bucci said several days before the parade, the Bush campaign advised him that the candidate was planning to hold a series of airport rallies across upstate New York on the Saturday before the Republican primary.

Bucci said he advised a campaign representative that he had a better idea. He suggested the candidate march in the city's parade. He said that would be "a much better venue" than an airport hangar.

Campaign officials quickly agreed and Bucci said he contacted parade organizers, who decided it would be OK for Bush to participate as an elected official because he was the governor of Texas.

Although Bush was said to be feeling a bit under the weather, he marched in the parade with Bucci, state Senator Thomas Libous and Governor George Pataki. He then held a brief news conference at the Grand Royale Hotel on State Street.

Three days later, Bush defeated John McCain in the New York primary. He defeated Al Gore in the general election and became president in January 2001.

Richard Bucci with a photo of his wife, Sue, and his son, Peter, posing with George and Laura Bush at the Grand Royale Hotel in Binghamton. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

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