For Presidents, Souvenirs Rarely Make It Home

When President Bush visits Elvis Presley's home at Graceland this week with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi, he’s bound to get a souvenir, but he’s unlikely to keep it.

“The president and first lady really aren’t allowed to keep those things and they have to send them to the State Department,” said Larry J. Sabato, the executive director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

In order to stave off an international incident, the president and first lady do accept gifts. It's rare, though, that any of the gifts given to President and Mrs. Bush will find their way onto the family mantel at their Crawford, Texas, ranch.

According to 2004 records released by the State Department, Bush received $22,000 worth of antique weaponry from King Abdullah II of Jordan, including a $10,000 Dakota Arms sniper rifle.

Click here to read a list of gifts given to U.S. officials in 2004.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Arabian ambassador, gave the president $310 worth of Dallas Cowboy clothing and accessories, while former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi presented the president with a $4,200 gold Cartier watch and 12 silk ties worth $1,620.

Gifts are offered all around. Bernadette Chirac, the wife of French President Jacques Chirac gave First Lady Laura Bush a Chanel purse worth $1,150 while Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy offered Mrs. Bush a signed first edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” worth $875.

The vast majority of these gifts will be displayed in a future presidential library, Sabato said.

Officials at Graceland declined to comment on what gifts they planned to offer to the president and prime minister.

“I certainly hope the Graceland people will not simply give him an Elvis bobble-head doll,” Sabato said. “I assume they will do better than that, but you never know.”

One thing is for certain: The State Department calls dibs.