For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 15, 2004
Mrs. Bush's Remarks in Media Availability in Nashville
Opryland Resort and Convention Center
4:10 P.M. CDT
MRS. BUSH: Thanks for coming out today. I'm very glad to be here in Nashville, at Alpha Kappa Alpha's big convention, to have a chance to talk about education and to thank the women who make up Alpha Kappa Alpha for all the work that they do in their communities all over the United States, specifically their work on education to help children in schools, their tutoring programs and their AKAdemies that they're doing in schools in their neighborhoods, which is so important.
It's very important for everyone in every community to be involved in the education of the children in their community. It's really a responsibility that all of us have as parents and as community leaders and as adults in the United States to make sure all children get a great education.
So I'll be glad to answer any of your questions.
Q Could you talk to me, please, about fun reading? What do you read for fun?
MRS. BUSH: Well, right now I'm reading the Life of Pi. Have you read it? It's really terrific.
I like to read fiction; I read a lot of fiction. The President reads a lot more biography. I do read some biography, but right now I'm reading fiction and it's really terrific. I'm just about to find out what happens at the end and finish it.
Q What about movies? Have you or the President seen Fahrenheit --
MRS. BUSH: No, obviously we haven't seen that. I don't believe we'll be going to see it.
Q Why does the Republican party have such a hard time attracting African Americans?
MRS. BUSH: I don't know. I think -- I hope that President Bush will attract more African Americans to vote for him this time than did last time. For sure, I think a lot of the things he has worked on since he has been President are very important to the African American community.
And certainly, the No Child Left Behind is very important. The whole premise of it is that there is such a gap between affluent students in the United States and poorer students, as Dr. Paige just said when he talked specifically about scores of African American students. And it's unconscionable in the United States to have that kind of gap and it really requires all of us to focus on it and make sure.
But it really is a charge. The No Child Left Behind Act is a charge to state departments of education and local school districts to focus on what they're teaching and to make sure children are learning. And part of -- a piece of it is that accountability part, the task part which a lot of people complain about.
We'd never go to our doctor and say, I'm not feeling well but you can't perform any diagnostic tests on me. And that's exactly the same thing in education. All the accountability and monitoring of progress is very important so teachers can adjust their teaching methods if they're ineffective, and so they can address specific problems that they're -- that each child has.
Q Do you think the President might have hurt his efforts to improve relations with African Americans by not going to the NAACP?
MRS. BUSH: I don't think so. I mean, I think the NAACP has -- recently, the leadership of it has been very obviously not welcoming, maybe I should say, to him to address them. So I think people understand that around the United States.
Q Was this trip an attempt to deflect some criticism?
MRS. BUSH: This trip was planned a long time ago.
Q Mrs. Bush, we've been seeing your daughters on television and in newspapers a lot lately. Will the family be doing a lot more campaigning during this --
MRS. BUSH: Well, the girls are just venturing into campaigning; they showed up at the headquarters last week. And then this week -- last week, Jenna traveled with George one day and Barbara traveled with him yesterday and the day before. And Jenna has been with me. And when I just left Florida, she stayed and she's going to do some campaigning by herself with her two cousins who are working on the campaign in Florida the rest of today and tomorrow in Florida. So we'll see.
They are just sort getting their sea legs, I guess you might say, about campaigning. This is the first time they've been old enough in all their dad's campaigns to really be involved and they told him that they didn't want to grow up and have children and say to their children that they never worked on one of their dad's campaigns. And since this is the last one, we're really happy to have him with us.
Q Do you think they might give a speech at some point?
MRS. BUSH: Jenna introduced me two -- at actually three events, she introduced me three times yesterday and today. They both have written introductions of their dad, but they haven't had the nerve. His crows are too big to actually give it. So we'll see. They're just -- you know, this is new to them, and we're just glad to have them with us.
Q Have they shown any interest in perhaps enlisting in the military, ma'am?
MRS. BUSH: No, I don't think they have. But they're very interested -- Jenna is very interested in teaching and she is going to teach in a charter school in New York next year, next fall, and Barbara is interested in doing work with AIDS and she has an opportunity with Baylor College of Medicine to work either in Africa or Central Europe.
Q Can you talk about how the campaign sees Tennessee? Your husband was in the eastern part of the state earlier --
MRS. BUSH: Tennessee is very, very important, as you know. President Bush has campaigned here a lot. He's been here a lot, visiting a lot as President as well as, of course, campaigning a lot in the 2000 election. And I'm sure he'll be here often. We hope to carry Tennessee.
Q How do you think that Edwards' addition to the ticket will impact here?
MRS. BUSH: People will vote for who is at the top of the ticket. I think they'll vote for George Bush.
Q Do you think the Vice President is a liability for Mr. Bush?
MRS. BUSH: No, absolutely not. The Vice President is a very serious, experienced man and he is a great man. And I don't see him at all as a liability.
Okay, we're ending on a Vice Presidential note. (Laughter.)
Q Is the Secretary coming?
MRS. BUSH: I don't know if he is or not.
MR. JOHNDROE: We'll check.
MRS. BUSH: Okay, thank you all.
END 4:16 P.M. CDT