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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 10, 2006

Press Briefing by the First Lady En Route Turin, Italy
Aboard Mrs. Bush's Plane

11:58 A.M. (Local)

MRS. BUSH: Hey, everybody. Now we're actually on our way to the Olympics, really looking forward to it. When we get there, we're going to host the U.S. Olympic Committee and other officials at sort of a buffet lunch, and then -- at the villa where we're staying. That will be fun to see them. And then, of course, we go tonight. President Ciampi is hosting the -- once we get the Olympic Village, hosting the heads of the delegation. And then we'll get to see the great opening ceremonies, which I'm really looking forward to. We'll have one meeting with all of our Olympics, our 200-something American Olympians before the opening ceremonies start. Then we'll have the opening ceremonies, which sound like they're going to be, from what I've read in the Italian papers, really pretty fabulous.

Laura Bush talks with members of the press aboard her plane en route to Turin, Italy, Friday, Feb. 10, 2006.  White House photo by Shealah Craighead So now we move on to the next part of the trip.

Q It sounds like there may be some anti-war protestors at the University of Turin tomorrow. Do you have any message for them, Mrs. Bush?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I understand there are protesters in Turin already that are protesting Coca Cola and the high-speed train that may go through the valley. And so I think it sounds like the Olympics has attracted protestors protesting everything of every stripe.

Q Does it concern you at all? I mean, do you -- is there a message that you take from this, or do you just feel that this comes along with the territory?

MRS. BUSH: I think this comes along with the territory. When we were here in July of 2001, I think, where the President went to Genoa for -- I guess it was the G8 meeting in Genoa -- there were tons of protestors there. There's protestors at every event.

Q Mrs. Bush, the International Olympic Committee today voted off the only remaining American on it, so the United States doesn't have a voice on the International -- but do you think that's any reflection on world opinion of the United States right now?

MRS. BUSH: I didn't know that happened, I hadn't heard what the International Olympic Committee did. But no, I don't think so.

Q What did you learn while you were in Rome?

MRS. BUSH: Well, we had a really nice trip. It was an honor and a thrill to have the chance to meet His Holiness, Pope Benedict, and then to have lunch with Prime Minister Berlusconi. Last night we had a reception at the Villa Taverna, the Ambassador's residence, and a lot of Italians came. And I think Italy and the U.S. have a very strong friendship and relationship, and I'm proud of that.

Q What do you think about President Putin's plan perhaps to invite Hamas to Russia, to Moscow?

MRS. BUSH: I haven't read about that, actually.

Q And what do you think about Mike's tie?

MRS. BUSH: Mike, I think your tie is really cute. Do you have a message with that tie?

Q Picked out by Susan. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: Very cute, Mike.

Q You've done so much traveling. Is the second term giving you a little more freedom or license to travel, or is there a kind of game plan on what you hope to accomplish in the second term?

MRS. BUSH: You know, just things that worked out. It's not that I thought I would travel a lot more during the second term. It's just different events have come up, like the inauguration of Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson in Liberia. And I was really very, very happy to get to go to that. And then this Olympics, to be able to go to it. So it's partly just circumstances that have made more travel opportunities. But also, I like to travel, I like to travel on behalf of the United States, especially on the Africa trip. I like to go to the projects that the United States government and the United States taxpayers fund -- the African Education Initiative that I went to in Ghana; St. Mary's Hospital, where PEPFAR money is being spent. I think people in the United States like to know -- I know that people in the United States are very generous, they want to help worldwide, and I think they like to know specific stories about ways their taxpayer money is being used overseas to help people.

Q What do you hope your daughter Barbara gets out of these types of trips?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think she already was very interested in Africa. On the Africa trip, she was really thrilled to be a part of it. She went to school in Rome when she was a junior in high school for a semester, so she particularly loves Italy.

Q How's her Italian?

MRS. BUSH: Not that good. (Laughter.) She did study some Italian when she was here, but really, of course, hasn't had the chance to keep it up.

Q -- sort of a different presence, a message that a First Lady can bring sometimes that a President can't, maybe, having a woman -- like, you talked about breast cancer. Are there certain issues that really --

MRS. BUSH: Well, sure, I mean, there are a lot of issues that I have the opportunity to talk about that he doesn't, and that's one of them. The Komen Foundation, the Komen Italia in Italy, really the -- Italy is a lot like the United States was when the Komen Foundation was founded, and that is, a lot of women are embarrassed to mention breast cancer. They don't talk about it. They sort of put off going for regular exams or mammograms. And so it's a really good message to get out, that there's nothing embarrassing about it. And there are treatments now where people survive and live very normal and positive and happy lives. And I think that's what we saw with all the survivors who spoke yesterday.

Q Do you think you're going to see a Texan win a medal tomorrow in speedskating? Isn't he favored to win?

MRS. BUSH: I hear he's a favorite, and he's a favorite of mine. And so I'm really excited about it.

Q What else are you going to be seeing at the Olympics?

MRS. BUSH: The speedskating -- the three things that the U.S. is in tomorrow that I'll be able to see: the speedskating, the women's ice hockey, and the pairs skating. I'm really looking forward to it.

END 12:05 P.M. (Local) Printer-Friendly VersionPrinter-Friendly Version   Email this pageEmail This Page