President, First Lady Pay Respects To Former President - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/01/07 - WASHINGTON, D.C.

President, First Lady Pay Respects To Former President

President Bush & First Lady Laura Bush pay respects to Former President Gerald Ford Monday in the Capital Rotunda.  (AP Photo) President Bush & First Lady Laura Bush pay respects to Former President Gerald Ford Monday in the Capital Rotunda. (AP Photo)
Former President George Bush & Former First Lady Barbara Bush pay their respects to Former President Gerald Ford on Monday.  (CNN) Former President George Bush & Former First Lady Barbara Bush pay their respects to Former President Gerald Ford on Monday. (CNN)
The State Funeral will take place Tuesday Morning at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (CNN) The State Funeral will take place Tuesday Morning at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (CNN)
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush have paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford at the U.S. Capitol.

Their visit punctuated the flood of mourners who came on New Year's Day wearing parkas and bearing umbrellas who braved a rainy wait to pay their last respects to Ford.

Monday marked the third day that Ford, whose presidency started and finished well before many of the visitors here were born, has lain in state where he worked for two decades as a congressman and House minority leader.

Karen Olson, 53, of Herndon, Virginia, said the rain could not dampen her determination to see Ford's casket. Her mother was on his staff, she said.

"I wanted to come pay my respects. He was a big part of my life," said Olson, who was among the people lined up before 9 a.m. ET to enter the Capitol building. "I have a lot of ties to his family."

"The few times that I met him, he was just really nice," she said.

Both of Olson's parents have passed away.

"I kind of felt like I wanted to be there for them," she said. "There's just an emotional connection there."

Inside the Rotunda, Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales, and son Michael Gerald Ford, stood near the casket greeting mourners.

Kirk Scofield, 44, and his wife Mary Scofield, 50, of Sterling, Virginia, also were among those who lined up early.

Mary was dressed in a parka, poncho and had "six hours of food" in her backpack. She said she was expecting a six-hour wait, though they had been in line less than an hour. "She looks like she's ready to go camping," Kirk joked.

Mary said she wanted to come to the viewing because it was a unique opportunity.

"It's just kind of neat to see."

John Erb, 56, and his wife Karen Erb, 55, of Alexandria, Virginia, said they were in line at 8:20 a.m and stood less than an hour to see Ford's casket.

"Between being New Year's Day and rain, it kept a lot of people from being ahead of us," John said.

John said he was in the Army during Ford's administration and came to the viewing because "it's part of the old commander in chief thing."

Following the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes from the Watergate scandal involving a White House coverup of a burglary at the Democratic Party's national headquarters, Ford lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. Former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, Ford's running mate in that campaign, returned unannounced to pay his respects again Sunday, after being among the invited guests as an honorary pallbearer at Saturday evening's ceremonies in the Rotunda.

Political analysts believe the pardon played a major -- if not the major -- role in Ford's defeat.

Ford was out of the White House after just 2 1/2 years in office and he is the only unelected president. Nixon had appointed Ford vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who resigned in a bribery scandal stemming from his days as Maryland governor.

The Rotunda was closed to the public at just after 6 p.m. Sunday, but a military guard, changed every hour, stood silent vigil throughout the night, and then reopened Monday morning.

Ford was to lie in state for public viewing through Monday.

On Tuesday morning, Ford's remains will rest outside the Senate chamber before a funeral service at Washington National Cathedral where Bush will deliver a eulogy.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: ABC NEWS Coverage of the State Funeral for Gerald Ford will begin at 8a.m. Tuesday on KLTV 7.

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