The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 9, 2004

Interview with First Lady Laura Bush by Jim Angle of FOX News
Sea Island, Georgia

7:25 A.M. EDT

Q Good morning. And we are here with First Lady Laura Bush. Good morning.

MRS. BUSH: Good morning. Thanks, Jim.

Q Here in a beautiful spot in Sea Island, Georgia.

MRS. BUSH: That's right. This is actually where we hosted the G8 last night, the leaders and their spouses right here. The tables were right here with this beautiful ocean view behind us.

Q It is lovely. Let me ask you, obviously this week, a lot of people are talking about the passing of Ronald Reagan. Have you been in touch with Nancy Reagan?

MRS. BUSH: I haven't talked to Nancy Reagan. The President talked to her on Saturday, as soon as we heard about Ronald Reagan, but I haven't stopped thinking about her. She has been just through her whole life, really, through their entire marriage, such a wonderful example to people in the United States.

And certainly I know what it's like, because my father died of Alzheimer's, to take care of someone to watch them slip away in that long goodbye, as they call the disease. And I know how very, very difficult it was for her and how devoted she was and is to him.

Q And you plan to go and see her when --

MRS. BUSH: That's right. We'll call on her as soon as we get back to Washington tomorrow afternoon. And then we'll of course be at the funeral and we'll host at the White House before the funeral the heads of state who are coming in for Ronald Reagan's funeral.

Q Ronald Reagan was a special politician. This week, even Democrats who opposed his policies were praising his charm and his wit and his steadfastness in sticking up for what he believed. What do you see as special about Ronald Reagan?

MRS. BUSH: Well, all of those things. But especially that he believed in the American people and that he was optimistic. I think those are two great characteristics of a leader and I think that's why he was so popular with the American people.

We knew him. You know, we got to be with him a few times, because George's dad was his Vice President. He was funny and he was fun and he made us feel welcome and comfortable when we were with him. And I'll always think of him as the big man that he was and the great sense of humor that he had.

Q Is that what you remember about him, the big, affable guy?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. Well, the very -- he was a very big man. He was a very, very attractive, big man, in that he filled a room when he came into it. But still, he was very modest and his humor was self-deprecating and modest and there was something very appealing about that.

Q He loved to tell jokes.

MRS. BUSH: He loved to tell jokes. And he didn't tell us jokes, but we certainly got to hear his jokes from President Bush.

Q So former President Bush would pass them on?

MRS. BUSH: He'd pass them on and tell us -- tell them to us. (Laughter.)

Q Now, he was a man who knew what he thought and stuck to his guns even when his policies were controversial, even when he was taking a lot of flack both here at home and abroad. Remind you of anyone?

MRS. BUSH: A little bit, I'll have to say. But he did. And really to his great credit, we did see the end of communism, we did see all of these emerging democracies in Central Europe because of his steadfastness. And you have to really respect that and admire that. The world changed because of his steadfastness.

Q You know, one of the other things was he really broadened the Republican party. He created a lot of new Republicans during those eight years in office. And aside from your husband's natural charm, one might argue that there were a lot more Republican voters inclined to vote for a Republican President --

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think that's probably right. He certainly did that and, because he chose President Bush as his Vice President, he made a huge difference in our lives.

Q Let me ask you about something you're doing to try to make a difference in people's lives here at the summit. You were trying to, I suppose it's fair to say, elevate women's issues here at the summit. What are you doing?

MRS. BUSH: Well, today I'm going to meet with the spouses of the G8 leaders and we've invited a woman from the Iraqi Governing Council to come and talk with us and a woman from the Afghan Governing Council. We have an Iraqi Fulbright scholar, a young woman who is studying here in the United States. People may not be aware that we have 25 Iraqi Fulbright scholars in the United States now.

We're going to talk about ways we can assist our sisters in the broader Middle East with health care, with education to make sure women are educated and that little girls have the chance to go to school. And I'm really looking forward -- it's going to be a very formal -- an informal dialogue. We'll be sitting around a round table and I hope it will be a really interesting -- I think it will be -- really interesting and informative.

Q Well, we wish you the best of luck. And thank you very much for joining us this morning. It's very nice of you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much, Jim. Good to see you.

END 7:30 A.M. EDT

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