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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 31, 2004
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by Matt Lauer of NBC News
7:40 A.M. EDT
Q For the past four years, First Lady Laura Bush has been an eloquent advocate for issues that are near and dear to her heart, literacy, heart disease, and the plight of women in Afghanistan. Tonight, she'll take on another very important cause, telling the nation why her husband should be reelected.
Laura Bush, good morning to you.
MRS. BUSH: Good morning, Matt.
Q I keep thinking back, Mrs. Bush, and I get a chuckle out of it, to the story your husband likes to tell about the early time in your relationship where he talked about getting into politics. You said, okay, George, as long as I don't have to make any speeches. Wow, whatever happened to that deal? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Exactly. What did happen to that deal?
But I'm really looking forward to tonight to coming to New York and speaking there at Madison Square Garden where you are. This is actually my seventh political convention and my third speech at a political convention. I actually spoke at the '96 convention, had a very minor role. But I'm really looking forward to this. It will be fun to get there. Conventions are terrific.
Q What are you going to say about your husband? What are the themes you want to touch on tonight, Mrs. Bush?
MRS. BUSH: I want to tell people what I've seen in the private moments, because I've had a different vantage point than anybody else. And I've watched him over the last four years as he has made very, very difficult decisions. And I want to let people know what that was like and what he is like.
Q As a matter of fact, I had a chance to speak to your husband over the weekend and I asked him, what is the biggest personal change in him over these past four years. He said he has much more confidence in making those difficult decisions. What's the biggest personal change you've seen in him?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I would say that, for sure. He's more serious, of course. I think, in a lot of ways, all of us are more serious, because we've had very serious challenges for the last few years in our country. He still has a sense of humor, which I like. That was one of the things I liked best about him when I met him. He is a little bit grayer, he doesn't look quite as young as he did when he started.
Q That happens to most Presidents doesn't it? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Absolutely.
Q I've got a sticker here. I don't know if you can see me. But I've got a sticker here that's for sale here at the convention. It says, George W. Bush, the W is for Women. The reality is there is a gender gap here. The Democrats tend to poll better with women, John Kerry about 5 to 12 percent better with women than your husband. Why do you think that is?
MRS. BUSH: I don't know. But I know we're working very, very hard to attract women to the W Stands for Women campaign, for instance, is one part of it, a grassroots campaign. Today, I'm going to be speaking when I get to New York to the Republican -- the big National Federation of Republican Women luncheon, the FEDPAC luncheon in New York.
When I've done work around the country, pointing out women entrepreneurs. You may not know it, but women are starting small businesses at twice the rate of men in the United States. Women are a very, very important part of our economy and of the vibrancy of our economy. And as I travel around the United States, I find a lot of women who are supporting George Bush.
Q You talk about the speeches you have made. But there is a noticeable change, Mrs. Bush, in your prominence in the campaign this year. You're very much front and center as, by the way, your daughters are, Jenna and Barbara. They're dedicating a lot of time to getting their father reelected. Are you at all worried about them getting in the rough and tumble world of politics?
MRS. BUSH: Well, sure. We really protected them in every way we could before in every other campaign. We never used them in any political ad. But now that they are almost 23 years old, they really wanted to be involved in their dad's campaign. This is his last campaign, and they didn't -- they told us that they didn't want to tell their children when they were growing up that they never worked in any of his campaigns. But, of course, for us we're thrilled to have them with us. They relax us, they make us laugh. It's really fun to have them on the campaign trail.
Q Your husband said to me over the weekend, in technical terms he doesn't think we can win the war on terrorism but that we can certainly change attitudes around the world. As a mother, and you think about your daughters having children, you having grandchildren, it's a sobering assessment to consider the fact that their children may be reading about al Qaeda in newspapers when they're in their teen years.
MRS. BUSH: Well, look how much we've already done in just this very, very short time. When you look around the world and see in Afghanistan that women now can walk out on the streets, that 10 million Afghans have registered to vote, 40 percent of that number are women. The little girls are in school there. When you look at Pakistan, who is now our ally in the war on terror, or Libya where their leader is now dismantling their nuclear program. When you look at Iraq, where Saddam Hussein is in jail cell and the Iraqi Interim Government is responsible for the government there, I think we've made great success in winning the war on terror. But it's not a war that you're going to have a surrender at the end. It's not anything like we've ever faced before in our country. And it will last a long time. I think that's what the President meant. But I feel -- and I think we've already made such huge progress as we look around the world.
Q First Lady Laura Bush, look forward to having you here in New York. Have fun tonight. Good luck.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot, Matt.