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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.

Noelia Rodriguez
October 14, 2003

Noelia Rodriguez
Hello, it's great to be with you for "Ask The White House"! Looking forward to taking your questions about my terrific experience at the White House, and, especially, my work with our first lady, Mrs. Bush.

Clint, from Indiana writes:
What kinds of things does the 1st ladies press person have 2 do?

Noelia Rodriguez
I get to read a lot of newspapers, watch a lot of news television, and talk to a lot of reporters. But, the best part of all is meeting and working with Mrs. Bush to talk about the news of the day.

Elizabeth, from Independence,Ohio writes:
As the First Lady's Press Secretary, do you also help Mrs. Bush in deciding which events to attend?? And do you have any degrees that enabled you to get this position??

Noelia Rodriguez
Yes, I work with Mrs. Bush and my colleagues on her staff to identify events and media opportunities for her to take part in.

As far as degrees -- I had a non-traditional college career: I earned my Associate of Arts at East Los Angeles College, and completed my Bachelor's Degree at Cal State Los Angeles in Business Administration.

taylor, from louisville, ky writes:
What's your relationship like with Mrs. Bush? I heard the most surprising news that you are a democrat - what insights can you share about your experience working for a republican administration?

Noelia Rodriguez
I consider myself one of the luckiest people at the White House. I get to work with a fabulous First Lady. She and I have worked on many projects and events -- and, as a result, we’ve developed a great friendship!

As a democrat in the Bush Administration, I certainly feel special! My being here sends a signal that this White House is inclusive of all Americans. To me, it’s not about politics, it’s about the person, and I think we have a terrific President and First Lady at 1600 Pennsylvania!

David, from Florida writes:
How do you think that the First Lady will get more involved with the Presidency if President Bush is elected again next year?

Noelia Rodriguez
First of all, she’s been very involved since Day One of this Administration. She’s traveled to 25 states and 15 countries representing President Bush, while advocating her causes: children’s issues, especially education.

She’s also done a wonderful job promoting rights for women and children in war-torn countries like Afghanistan. In fact, Mrs. Bush was the first First Lady in history to record a full Presidential Radio Address. She spoke on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the importance of opening the doors of education for girls and women.

For the re-election campaign, Mrs. Bush is a terrific asset and campaigner.

Hugh, from Wellesley, Massachusetts writes:
Outside of the Bible, what is your best-loved book of all the books you have read in your life?

Noelia Rodriguez
The first one that comes to mind is "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. It's the story of how someone of humble beginnings never loses his moral compass as he follows his goals.

Amy, from Angola,New York writes:
1.)Was it hard being a woman and trying to become a Press Secretary?

Noelia Rodriguez
No. I have been very fortunate in my career to have met some interesting and wise people along the way. I had a mentor early in my career -- when I was clerk typist at a previous employer. He encouraged me to go to college (which I did at night while working full time), and pursue my goals. As a result of that relationship, it's very important to me to mentor young people at work.

It's my way of giving back to the next generation of Press Secretaries, if you will.

I'm also proud to be part of President and Mrs. Bush's team, because I get to work with so many talented and influential women. Just seeing Dr. Condi Rice and Margaret Spellings in the corridors inspires me to do an even better job for our country. Of course, Mrs. Bush is the best role model of all -- she had a career before marriage, and she raised two terrific daughters.

Tom, from Mt. Sterling.Ky writes:
Do feel that teachers in general are unpaid and is there anything you can say or do to promote higher pay?

Noelia Rodriguez
Teaching is one of the noblest professions in our society. We can all think back to a teacher who made a difference in our lives. For me, it was Mrs. Morgan, my sophomore social studies teacher. (She was told me I had brains and beauty -- I think she was right on one count, at least!)

Teachers deserve our greatest respect and support. Having worked with Mrs. Bush, who was a public school teacher, I have a better appreciation for America's teachers.

Regarding teacher salaries, I think we can all agree that they deserve the best pay possible. Because salaries are set at the local level, it's really important for you and your friends to advocate for your local teachers with municipal leaders.

As Mrs. Bush told members of The National Press Club in November of '01:

As a former public school teacher, I can say with certainty that teachers in your media markets would love that idea to catch on.

We owe a special debt of gratitude to America’s teachers. Their jobs are already difficult; and their extra effort -- far above and beyond what is asked of them – says much about their devotion to our children.

Because schools already play an important role in our lives and communities, we recognize and appreciate them more than ever.

We can all agree on this!

becca, from U.S. writes:
i heard you are leaving -- where are you off to next?

Noelia Rodriguez
In a couple of weeks, I will be back in my state of California -- an interesting time, don't you think? -- where I will become Chief of Staff to Eli Broad of the Broad Foundation.

I'm looking forward to continuing my work in the education field, as that is one of the key areas Mr. Broad's Foundation is involved in.

Even though I'll be in CA, I look forward to continuing my relationship with Mrs. Bush and the President.

Michael, from Lawrence, KS writes:
Dear Ms. Rodriguez, Do you ever work with the President's press secretary? Also, can you describe some of your tasks in your current position.


Noelia Rodriguez
Yes, I get to work with Scott McClellan as well as all the other spokespeople at the White House. It's kind of like the West Wing meets the East Wing connection.

One of my fondest memories was in the summer of '01 when, during an official visit to Rome, President Bush introduced me to Prime Minister Berlusconi right after he had introduced Ari Fleischer to our host President.

President Bush explained to the Prime Minister that I was Mrs. Bush's press secretary -- and the reason Mrs. Bush got better press than he did! Ari elbowed me!

Liza, from Washington, D.C. writes:
What does the First Lady do when she disagrees with the president on policy matters? Does she often disagree, does she always tell him what she thinks, and does he listen?

Noelia Rodriguez
I suspect Mrs. Bush tells the President what she thinks on a regular basis ... and he probably responds in kind. However, I am happy to say that I've never been a witness to this!

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
How are press conferences for the First Lady done?

Noelia Rodriguez
Very carefully! We often hold press conference or media availabilities while we are on the road.

I was very proud to be with Mrs. Bush in Paris and Moscow a couple of weeks ago. You may have seen the picture of President Chirac kissing Mrs. Bush's hand during the Paris visit. Now, THAT, was a photo-op!

eg, from st. louis writes:
has the First Lady ever had an interview w Diane Sawyer? I think they would be a good match. They are both intelligent and admirable individuals and they are an example that you can be womanly and soft, and just as successful.Do you think you would consider my suggestion?

Noelia Rodriguez
Actually, eg, I'm one step ahead of you. Mrs. Bush was in New York City last month when she joined the President for the United Nations General Assembly. While in NYC, Mrs. Bush went to the Good Morning America studios in Time Square where she was interviewed by Diane and Charlie.

The purpose of the interview was to promote reading and a GMA book drive that is designed to give books to schools that are in short supply.

Sarah, from PA writes:
Can you describe your most memorable experience or favorite event that occurred while serving the First Lady?

Noelia Rodriguez
Besides appearing on Ask The White House (Jimmy Orr will be happy with this answer), I'd have to say September 11, '01. I was with Mrs. Bush that morning.

It was supposed to be a big news day for Mrs. Bush b/c she was on her way to make a presentation to Sen. Kennedy's Education Cte., so, you can imagine the press interest in Mrs. Bush's speech. Of course, it ended up being a big news day for other reasons.

I got to see Mrs. Bush make a press statement, along with Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Judd Gregg. That was when she first spoke out about the need for America to comfort our nation's children.

I never felt more proud to be an American as that moment when I knew she was making history in a time of crisis.

katie, from georgia writes:
what is the favorite place you have traveled w Mrs. Bush? Do you think you'll go there again?

Noelia Rodriguez
There are so many -- as Mrs. Bush says, "it's like asking a librarian her favorite book!"

I absolutely love St. Petersburg, Russia. Seeing Mrs. Bush and the President with President and Mrs. Putin and knowing that as Presidents and leaders, they are friends, assures me that our countries will continue to find common ground on important issues.

I also have been fortunate to travel on Air Force One to other wonderful places like Slovenia, Prague, So. Africa and Latin America.

And, all the great towns in the USA have been terrific stops -- especially after Sept. 11 when they've been decorated with flags all along the roads.

Elena, from Suburbs of Chicago Illinois writes:
Have you worked with any other presidential administrations? What is the difference between them and President Bush's?

What is your favorite thing about Laura Bush?

Noelia Rodriguez
I have not worked in other Administrations. I don't have one favorite thing about Mrs. Bush -- I respect her for so much: her passion for children, her work on behalf of women, and her keen sense of humor!

Hyrum, from Northfield, IL writes:
Did you have any idea in College that this would be the career path you would take? did you have any different aspirations?

Noelia Rodriguez
I had no idea. That's what makes my story so interesting -- no plan, but plenty of results! Nothing ever prepares you to work in the White House. But after working at the White House, I think I'm prepared to do just about anything!

Noelia Rodriguez
Thank you so much for your time and interest! I hope I've shed some light on my life at the White House. I feel fortunate to have been part of this wonderful team and to serve President and Mrs. Bush while working for our country.

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