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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Anita McBride
Mrs. Bush's Chief of Staff

April 4, 2005

Anita McBride
Good afternoon. I'm happy to be here on "Ask the White House" and I look forward to your questions. Let's get started.

Duane, from Savannah, TN writes:
Was there any unusual protocol to follow during Mrs. Bush's trip? How is a First Lady received when she travels alone as opposed to when she travels with the President?

Anita McBride
Duane, There was no usual protocol for this specific trip. There is always a lot of planning and logistics that are involved in any trip Mrs. Bush would make alone, or with the President.

Mrs. Bush is warmly welcomed wherever she travels.

Jamie, from Birmingham, Alabama writes:
Mrs. McBride,Please tell me what the people of Afghanistan were like. They seem very nice and the photos make it look like the children were excited to meet Mrs. Bush.

Thank you. Jamie

Anita McBride
The people of Afghanistan were very grateful for Mrs. Bush's visit and spoke to her about the opportunities they now have to go to school and to work.

And yes, the children that Mrs. Bush met were beautiful and happy to have a special visitor. There was one little boy that was waiting to see her outside of a bakery in Kabul. He was surprised to hear Mrs. Bush was there and knew who she was. I encourage you to look at the photo of Mrs. Bush and this little boy with his younger brother and sister. He spoke English and his siblings did not, and he told them who she was.

Billy, from CA writes:
what is it like working with mrs. bush? I think she looks really nice and I would like to know more about her.

Anita McBride
Yes, she is very nice! It is very exciting to work in this office and to lead a team of people who are extraordinarily talented and devoted to doing a great job for Mrs. Bush and the President. Mrs. Bush is interested in a wide range of issues affecting Americans and people abroad.

Steven, from Erlanger, KY writes:
Hello, I would like to know, when Mrs. Bush travels, does she preform any kind of political agenda, or mission when she is over there, or is she just visiting the country. Thanks again Steven

Anita McBride
Mrs. Bush's visit to Afghanistan was one of enormous symbolic and emotional importance to the people of Afghanistan. President Karzai told Mrs. Bush that "your visit matters much more than hundreds of millions of dollars."

I encourage you to look at the photo of Mrs. Bush meeting with President Karzai at the Presidential Palace.

Nicole, from Seattle writes:
What was the First Lady's favorite part about the trip?

Anita McBride
It is difficult to identify any one particular favorite; however, Mrs. Bush was thrilled to meet with the young women who were going to school to become teachers. The Women's Teacher Training Institute that she visited was born from her desire to see young girls in Afghanistan educated.

She was also happy to meet with a group of Afghan women who have developed their own businesses and are now able to provide for their families.

And of course she was thrilled to see our troops at the military base at Bagram. They are making it possible for Afghanistan to help reconstruct their country.

Rob, from Houston, Texas writes:
What is the attitude of the men regarding the new liberation of the women in Afghanistan.

Anita McBride
Rob, this is a great question.

One of the most moving moments in the trip was when Mrs. Bush went into a classroom of men being trained to be teachers. When she entered the room, they were asked to introduce themselves to Mrs. Bush. One of the gentlemen struggled to say his name and greet her in English. Another stood with his hand over his heart and thanked her and the President for what they have done for Afghanistan.

Michael, from Tennessee writes:
What exactly was it like flying to Afghanistan? Was it a long flight and how dangerous was it? I admire Mrs. Bush for going.

Anita McBride
It was a very long flight--14 hours from Washington, D.C. to Afghanistan.

The value of the trip, however long, was immeasurable!

Beth, from Columbus, Ohio writes:
Why did Secretary Spellings also go with Mrs. Bush? Is it because they are good friends? Thank you so much.

Anita McBride
Secretary Spellings is a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and has traveled to Afghanistan before. She accompanied Mrs. Bush as the U.S. official that signed a memorandum of understanding between our two governments for the establishment for the new American University of Afghanistan and the International School of Afghanistan.

Secretary Spellings told Mrs. Bush about the enormous progress she witnessed in one year's time from her first trip to Afghanistan.

Jason, from Bahgram Air Base, Afghanistan writes:
Good afternoon Anita McBride. My name is Jason. I am a soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan. I was pleased that The First Lady decided to eat with some of the soldiers but I wish that more of us could have had an oppoturnity to see her. All of the roads leading to our chow hall were closed of my MP's (military police). Nothing much happens here...pretty mundane. Was the First Lady just on a really tight scheadule and unable to see more of us?

Anita McBride
Jason, Mrs. Bush was so looking forward to seeing our troops in Afghanistan. She warmly greeted representatives from our coalition forces when she arrived at the base and then moved quickly to her scheduled events at Kabul University. She did have limited time on the ground and would have loved to spend more time in Afghanistan. She was particularly excited about having dinner with the troops at Bagram so that she could personally thank all of you for your service and all that you are doing to help the people of Afghanistan. I am so sorry we did not get to meet you!

James, from Wisconsin writes:
What did you and Mrs. Bush learn from the teachers you met while in Afghanistan? Did anything suprise you? Were lots of individuals interested in education--or is it difficult to find interested citizens?

Anita McBride
James, Thank you for your question.

Mrs. Bush was inspired by the interest the Afghan men and women have in education for themselves and for the children of Afghanistan. In fact, President Karzai expressed his satisfaction that approximately six million children will attend school this year thanks to U.S. assistance. It was not difficult to engage anyone she met in a discussion about the importance of education.

Anne, from Tennessee writes:
What future travel plans outside the United States does Mrs. Bush have on behalf of women's issues?

Anita McBride
Mrs. Bush is very interested in international women's issues and she is certainly interested in advancing these issues as she travels around the world.

As the Honorary Ambassador for UNCESCO's Decade of Literacy, Mrs. Bush will continue to be an advocate for international education issues. She recently spoke at the Georgetown University Conference on UNESCO's "Education for All" Initiative.

kevin, from erritt island, florida writes:
Are President and Mrs. Bush lead the deligation to the Vatican for the funeral of Pope John Paul II? Who else will be in the deligation?

Anita McBride
The President and Mrs. Bush will travel to Rome to pay their last respects to the Holy Father on behalf of all Americans. An American delegation has not yet been announced; however, as soon as it is, it will be available on

Judi, from Santa Rosa, CA writes:
Thank you for serving our country. I wish the press would give us more highlights when Mrs. Bush travels - she looks like a very loving and caring person. We are so blessed to have a First Lady like Laura Bush. What do you think will be Mrs. Bush most memorable event of her trip. Sincerely, Judi

Anita McBride
Thank you, Judi. I am honored to be serving my country and to work for the President and First Lady. She is a wonderful loving and generous person who cares about her family and her country.

Mrs. Bush was inspired by the enthusiasm of the Afghan people she met and she was encouraged by the progress she was there.

Dora, from Cleveland, MS writes:
When you went there, were you at all scared or worried? I understand that we shouldn't be afraid of the whole nation because of a few people, but I think you're a brave person.

Anita McBride
Mrs. Bush was never frightened or worried while she was there. She was so honored to be with the people of Afghanistan and was happy to hear from President Karzai that the Afghan people were "thrilled" as they began to hear about her unexpected visit.

Gwen, from New York City writes:
Tell me more about mrs. Bush's new initiative with young boys? Is it just for youth who are at risk for gang violence? Also, did she go to Afghanistan because of this initiative at all?

Anita McBride
When the President asked to lead this effort of "Helping America's Youth", Mrs. Bush eagerly accepted. As a former teacher, Mrs. Bush understands the importance of education and developing a lifelong love of learning for our nation's children.

Mrs. Bush is traveling around the country to highlight programs that help young people achieve their full potential by continuing their education and avoiding risky behavior. While the President and Mrs. Bush are concerned for all children, she is particularly concerned with making sure young boys stay in school and have the benefit of positive role models in their lives who will influence the decisions they make.

Mrs. Bush has been working with USA Freedom Corps and the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to highlight programs around the country that are effective and successful. If you would like to volunteer your time to support these wonderful programs, please visit or for more information.

Anita McBride
Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Mrs. Bush's Office and her trip to Afghanistan and the issues that she is involved in. It was an honor to accompany Mrs. Bush on this historic trip. I look forward to joining you again on "Ask the White House." Thank you!

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