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Bush marks first year in low-key style

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WASHINGTON — A business-as-usual mood prevailed Sunday at the White House, with no celebration marking President Bush's one-year anniversary of taking office.

Asked to reflect on the significance of the day as he and his wife returned to the mansion following two nights at Camp David, Bush flashed a thumbs-up and a smile but said nothing.

The first lady said she was a bit nostalgic: Shortly after arriving back in Washington, she donated her inaugural gown to the National Museum of American History.

The whirlwind of nine black-tie balls one year earlier made for "a very fun and joyous night," she told The Associated Press. "We would have never guessed what was going to happen to all of us" in the year that followed, she said.

The first family was having friends over for dinner Sunday night but not to mark the anniversary, she said. One top White House official said many staff members were spending the day working.

Though Bush said little, he seemed in good spirits. When one of his dogs wandered into a pack of journalists, the president shouted: "Be careful, Barney. Nothing is off the record!"

Bush's return to the White House from Camp David, where he jogged in the snow and worked on his State of the Union address, briefly elicited memories of the cold, raw day on which he was sworn in. The inauguration capped a divisive 2000 campaign and an unprecedented recount battle.

As his helicopter landed, it blasted Saturday's snow all over the South Lawn, the journalists and a small group of well-wishers.

Well-wishers used to routinely greet the president on his Sunday returns, but they have not been seen since Sept. 11. Among those in the dozen or so people waiting Sunday were Nick Calio, Bush's liaison to Congress, and his family.