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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 30, 2006
Interview of the First Lady by ABC
The Red Room
8:07 A.M. EST
Q 'Tis the season here at the White House, and it's something that we all look forward to -- really, the holiday spirit, as soon as you walk in -- I wish you had scent cam, to smell the scent here. We're inside here at the Red Room and we're going to have a tour, and we have a very special tour guide, none other than the First Lady, herself, Laura Bush, who has graciously invited us into her home. Thank you.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks for coming.
Q Always a pleasure. Of course, you graciously also agreed to answer a few questions.
MRS. BUSH: Sure.
Q Your husband is on his way back here as we speak --
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q -- critical meetings with Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki. Has he called home to let you know?
MRS. BUSH: I've talked to him every day, but not this morning. I guess he left there before I was up this morning, so he hadn't --
Q Didn't want to wake you up?
MRS. BUSH: -- called me to wake me up. I'm still recovering from the Asia trip, from the jet lag, and I got the week off to relax and decorate.
Q You deserve it. And get everything ready.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q What were you hoping that he was going to be able to accomplish on this trip?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I think from what I've heard -- which is only what you've heard, as well -- that he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, which was a good, long substantive meeting with Maliki. And I think that's what's really important, for both of them to be able to talk in person, to have a chance to talk about both what Iraq can do and what the United States can do to bring peace there.
Q Your husband has done so much. Are you fearful that this is going to be his legacy? Everyone always talks about Iraq -- it is a very tense situation there right now -- that this is going to be his legacy?
MRS. BUSH: It's tense, but I think it will be a good legacy. I think if Iraq can build a stable government, which I know many, many people in Iraq want, that that will be really unbelievable for the Middle East, for the whole area there to have a good democracy there. Remember, 70 percent of Iraqis turned out to vote. That's more than turn out to vote in the United States. And that means a lot.
Q So he's on his way home and --
MRS. BUSH: On his way home.
Q -- he has a reception?
MRS. BUSH: That's right. When he gets here, he gets here for the first reception tonight, the first party. The very first party is for the press preview, later this morning; and then the decorators who decorated the house, spent the last week here decorating. And then tonight is our first reception for friends from around the country.
Q Well, let's talk a little bit about the decorations here, because we're inside here in the Red Room. And people don't -- it takes months and months to prepare, doesn't it?
MRS. BUSH: We've been planning this for months. We thought of the theme early last spring, which was "deck the halls and welcome all." And we really took the theme off of this room, the most dramatic and beautiful room -- and many times the First Lady's favorite room in the White House, the room that First Ladies have used to serve tea. And we have the beautiful Angelica Houston [sic] here above the fireplace, who was -- Angelica Van Buren, who was President Van Buren's hostess when he was President. Because this is a room that First Ladies have used.
And because of the very dramatic red color, it's perfect for the starting of Christmas. So this year it's really traditional looking, because everything is red and green.
Q Well, you said, welcome all, let's go into --
MRS. BUSH: So let's go into the Dining Room.
Q That's perfect. I hear you're going to have, like, 10,000 guests this holiday season?
MRS. BUSH: Ten thousand guests over the whole holiday season, that's right.
Q Oh, goodness. This is great.
MRS. BUSH: So this is what the dining room looks like. This, of course, is sans the food, which will be brought out here a little bit later this morning for the first of the parties. We decorated the table with this little forest of trees, which I think is so pretty, and then continued all the red and silver and green everywhere here, around the famous portrait of Lincoln.
And on the menu we have a lot of our favorites. This year we actually have chicken fried steak --
Q You're kidding.
MRS. BUSH: -- and creamed gravy, and tamales, which is a tradition of ours to have at Christmas. And then, of course, we have Cris, our chef's classic sweet potato souffl , which everyone loves, it's a wonderful dish. And then regular things that you expect at a Christmas buffet -- turkey and ham and shrimp cocktail, lots of good things. I think it will be a really, really beautiful table when it's all set up.
Q When I come in here I sometimes think of the Hoovers -- remember the --
MRS. BUSH: That's right. The story about them, they were having their Christmas Eve dinner in here when the West Wing caught on fire. And everyone rushed out to save -- including one man who worked in the West Wing, had to rush over and save a puppy that he was hiding there to give his son for Christmas. And Herbert Hoover's own son pulled the drawer's out of the President's desk to save his files.
Q So much history when you walk in here.
MRS. BUSH: There is. This room was done like this by McKim Mead and White for Teddy Roosevelt. That's the way all the molding and everything is done, including, if you'll notice on the marble fireplace, there are buffalos on either end -- bison on either end. A very American symbol.
Q Well, Mrs. Bush, the crew is really eyeing the gingerbread house --
MRS. BUSH: I knew it. Of course. This is the classic -- this is always the most spectacular thing of the decorations. And this year our former pastry chef, Roland, came back to build this for us. And as you can see, I think there are more than 800 snowflakes that are all over it. On the very top we have Barney and Miss Beazley driving Santa's sleigh. Kitty is down here right under the birdhouse. And I think that looks great. It's so attractive; every year Roland has done something so different and beautiful.
Q You can smell the gingerbread..
MRS. BUSH: It's all real. It's all edible. I actually had a piece of it -- not broken off the gingerbread house, but one of the big sheets of it that they were working on downstairs when they were putting it together. So it's gingerbread, and chocolate works as the glue inside, and marzipan on the trees. And all these little doves, you can see there beautiful little birds that Roland created.
Q That's great. And I can tell how much you enjoy -- when you look at it as a whole like that, it is gorgeous.
MRS. BUSH: It's so beautiful to look at. And why red is such a really wonderful color for this year's decorations, because, of course, red is the predominant color and off of the Red Room in the White House
Q It's hard not to be in the spirit when you're here. So have you done your shopping?
MRS. BUSH: No, I haven't done any. Well, actually, I ordered a couple of things from catalogues, but that's all I've done so far.
Q Oh, so you're a catalogue shopper, as well?
MRS. BUSH: I am a catalogue shopper. I like to do that. It's an easy for me to shop.
Q And do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
MRS. BUSH: George's family has a very strict rule that it's Christmas Day. My family always opened on Christmas Eve. But he's the President, so he gets his way on Christmas Day.
Q Oh, so a little bit of a comprise there.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q And Mrs. Bush, do you have a message to the troops that are --
MRS. BUSH: Sure. I want to tell the troops, I want to send them my respect, my deep respect and my love and my very best wishes. And also to their families who will be alone this Christmas because their loved one is deployed. I know the special burden of worry that's on the families of our troops everywhere, and I want to send them my best wishes and deep respect, as well.
Q Well, you're always a very gracious host. We really appreciate you inviting us in. And I can't believe the President has to be at a reception when he comes back today.
MRS. BUSH: Exactly. I'm sure he can't believe it, either. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you again; always a pleasure to see you.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot.