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Bush's mystery guest for State of the Union

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Who will be this year's Lenny Skutnik? Ever since January 1982, when Ronald Reagan paused during his first State of the Union address to point to the man who had pulled an Air Florida plane-crash survivor out of the icy Potomac River, the practice of introducing surprise guests at the big speech has been an annual presidential routine. President Bush will almost certainly have a hero or two from Sept. 11--a New York City fireman, a policeman or perhaps the widowed spouse of one of the brave passengers who brought down Flight 93--in the balcony sitting next to Laura Bush that night. But a better-known guest is likely to be Hamid Karzai, the dapper interim leader of Afghanistan's new U.S.-backed government. Karzai is scheduled to pay Bush a visit at the White House on Jan. 28, the day before the State of the Union address. Will Karzai be a guest at the speech? Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer refused to comment, saying, "You'll have to watch the speech." But one White House staff member was less circumspect. "I can't say," he replied after a pause. "Wink, wink, nod, nod."



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Cover Date: January 28, 2002

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