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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 31, 2004
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by Harry Smith of CBS News
7:07 A.M. EDT
Q First Lady Laura Bush has played a central role in her husband's reelection bid. Later tonight, she will give a prime time speech here at the convention. This morning, she is campaigning in Detroit. And Mrs. Bush joins us this morning. Good morning.
MRS. BUSH: Hi, Harry.
Q Thank you very much for being with us this morning. I want to talk a little bit about your role in the campaign. Among the things that you've been talking about is the rebounding economy. You've been talking about job growth and the economy rebounding --
MRS. BUSH: Women entrepreneurs --
Q -- but last week, new numbers came out that suggested that there are now more than 35 million Americans living in poverty. The number of people who have -- living without health insurance in America is now over 45 million. If your husband gets credit for the rebounding economy, should he also take responsibility on the numbers on the down side?
MRS. BUSH: Sure, absolutely. And those are things we're all working on. But those poverty numbers came from the census report that was actually earlier. The unemployment rate in the United States right now, average rate around the U.S. is 5.5, which is lower than it was in the '90s or the '80s or the '70s.
So the economy is rebounding. But absolutely, we all need to work to make sure everybody who wants a job in the United States has one.
I've had a really great time talking about women entrepreneurs and meeting women around the country who started businesses. And we know that the small business sector of the United States is really the backbone of our economy, and there are a lot of new small businesses, especially women owned.
Q One of the other things, there was an interview with you in Time Magazine yesterday. And I'm not sure from my reading of it that I got the sense that you were on the same page as the President on issues like stem cell research and gay marriage. Are you in accord? Are you in unison?
MRS. BUSH: Sure, absolutely. You know, the President and I have very similar values. We grew up in West Texas together. Do we see eye-to-eye on every issue? Of course not. But do we understand each other's viewpoint? Absolutely.
Q You understand each other's viewpoint. When you got married, you were the Democrat who turned into a Republican. You know, they call --
MRS. BUSH: When I got married to George, everyone in Texas was a Democrat. That was back in the days before there was a Republican party, really.
Q Are you the secret moderate in the family?
MRS. BUSH: I don't know about that.
Q I'm not sure that's an answer to the question or not. (Laughter.) Let me move on then. I watch the President a lot on CSPAN, and when he's out campaigning, about two minutes into his stump speech, he mentions you. And do you know that you are his biggest applause getter? You're the strongest applause line?
MRS. BUSH: Well, that's nice. I like that. I like it that he mentions me in his speeches, too. I'll be talking about him tonight.
Q Your daughter, Jenna, said in an interview that's going to be on A&E's Biography, she said, I think -- she's talking about your husband now -- that if he had never met my mom, there's no way he could have been successful as he is.
MRS. BUSH: Well, that's very nice of a daughter to say, but I doubt that. I think he would be a success with me or without me. But I'm just glad I'm along.
Q One of the other things that seems to be true is that originally you were somewhat a reluctant campaigner. You seem to be taking to it now. What do you get out of it?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I do really like it. It's a wonderful privilege to be able to travel around our country and to meet people all over our country. And I like that part of it. Politics is a people business, and if you like people, it's a great business to be in. I like talking about the successes of my husband's administration and there are so many, and that's fun to do as well.
The part that I was reluctant about when George decided to run was the criticism that I know comes in politics, and that's hard, that's always hard for anybody who loves the candidate.
Q All right. We'll ask you at another time about being the secret moderate in the family. (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Okay, Harry.
Q First Lady Laura Bush, we thank you. Thank you so much.