The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 12, 2007

Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by Rachael Ray
New York, New York

3:56 P.M. EST

Q I don't know if it's appropriate to say this or not, but I'm just going to: You are very beautiful in person. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: Oh, thank you.

Q And you're all dressed in red and it's very appropriate.

MRS. BUSH: I'm dressed in red because this month, February, is American heart month, and I've been a part of the Red Dress project, a project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, to let women know that heart disease is the number one killer of American women. Women don't realize that -- they think heart disease is a man's disease.

Q Yes, we all have this stereotype in our head of men sitting around with big steaks, you know, and it's a common problem for men, but not for women. It's the number one killer, right?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. More women then men die of heart disease. And the really good news, though, is that heart disease is often preventable.

Q And in simple ways -- healthy foods.

MRS. BUSH: Simple ways: healthy food, really good healthy food, exercise.

Q And it can be as simple as walking, right?

MRS. BUSH: Going for a walk -- I really think that's the most important thing to do, is get up and go for a walk, get your kids up off the couch and have them go for a walk, and then come home and have healthy foods. (Applause.)

Q Then have a good healthy burger here. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: This looks great, by the way.

Q Well, we don't make you eat it on camera, but over there are plates. I'd love to know what you think. I really did invent that recipe for you and I think that your family might enjoy it -- I read that everybody likes spicy foods.

MRS. BUSH: I think everyone will love this. It looks really terrific.

Q You know, there is good news in heart disease. It used to, tragically, kill one out of three women. That rate has been brought down some, right?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. Since the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute started the Red Dress Project, women have really learned around our country that heart disease affects women. So deaths are declining from heart disease for women.

One reason that more women than men died is because women didn't take heart disease personally or seriously. They would send their husband or their boyfriend to the emergency room immediately, but they wouldn't go themselves. A lot of the symptoms, the symptoms of fatigue or jaw pain or neck pain, a lot of pains that are a little bit different in women than men, women would discount, they wouldn't go to the hospital -- and when they got there it would be too late or they would have suffered a lot more damage than if they'd gone right away.

Q Just since 2003 these numbers have really dropped.

MRS. BUSH: That's right. Now more than 55 percent of women know that heart disease affects women, they know what the symptoms are, they know to go immediately to the emergency room if they have any of the symptoms. And then they also know what they can do to prevent it, all the good ways you can prevent it -- by exercise. Obesity is one of the high risks of heart disease; diabetes is a risk. If you see your doctor and always know what your blood pressure and your cholesterol are, then you'll know if you have high blood pressure and that that's a risk factor for you, or high cholesterol is a risk factor. So there's a lot of things women know.

Q Well, that's why this has low cholesterol, an EVOO, no animal fat. You do this work in honor of your mother, right? She's a breast cancer survivor.

MRS. BUSH: She's a breast cancer survivor. I don't have heart disease in my family, but when I learned that heart disease was the number one killer of women, I was surprised. I had no idea.

Q Me, either.

MRS. BUSH: And I knew if I didn't know, that most people, most women probably didn't know. I assumed that cancer was the number one killer of women. But, in fact, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.

Q That's frightening, it's so frightening. But it's not all bad news -- it's good news, the rate is coming down.

MRS. BUSH: It's not bad news, it's good news.

Q And our good news is that Mrs. Bush is going to stay with us. We're going to talk more with the First Lady. She even let us inside the White House kitchen. We're going to see that in a few. (Applause.)

* * * * *

Q We are honored to have in our kitchen today the First Lady, Mrs. Laura Bush. (Applause.) And we're both wearing red because it's February and it's Heart Disease Awareness Month. And the first Friday of every February we're all supposed to wear red.

MRS. BUSH: Wear red day.

Q And we wore red together then, too, at the Red Dress event.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q I love this red dress idea, because the red dress represents women as being aware of what's going on inside their body as well as their clothes and what goes on, on the outside of their body.

MRS. BUSH: Everyone knows that women love red dresses. In fact, recently at the White House, the night of the Kennedy Center Honors, I had a red dress on -- and three other people had the exact red same red dress on. (Laughter.) It was a major fashion faux pas. (Laughter.)

But we know women love red dresses, and it's a great attention-caller to heart disease. During the Red Dress Month at Fashion Week, and really all year, the red dresses travel around the United States.

Q They're really becoming --

MRS. BUSH: Fashion designers do red dresses. And when they're in your city -- in Kansas City once, when I was there, the red dresses were there, and there was a big fair where you could come get your blood pressure taken and your cholesterol checked and find out what your risk factors were for heart disease. So it's a great way to call attention to heart health.

Q It is. And it's pretty, too. (Applause.) Now, we were also talking about food. I wrote a recipe for you and your family to enjoy at the White House, a heart healthy burger. You brought some heart healthy muffins from Chef Cris from White House. These are your carrot muffins, right?

MRS. BUSH: That's right, carrot muffins.

Q And she even allowed us, if you could imagine it, inside the White House kitchen. So we wanted to show you what fun we had there. Please take a look.

* * * * *

Q You know, it's so fun to see inside that kitchen because it's not at all formal, she's got all of her cookbooks up there and there' all those little mugs -- everybody has their own mug. It's fun.

MRS. BUSH: You can also see how sweet and cute Cris is. She's just a wonderful cook, but really fun to work with, too.

Q She seems like such a warm person.

MRS. BUSH: She is.

Q Do you love to cook? Do you ever get down to the kitchen?

MRS. BUSH: I do love to cook, but I don't -- no, I don't get down into the kitchen. (Laughter.)

Q You're a little busy. A little busy.

MRS. BUSH: I like food, I love to read cookbooks, and I used to be a cook, but not any more.

Q Were you a good baker? I'm a lousy baker.

MRS. BUSH: No, not a very good baker. (Laughter.)

Q You see how much we have in common? We're bonding. (Applause.) Now, what about the girls? Were your girls -- you have beautiful girls, by the way, because their mom is so pretty.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks.

Q That wasn't a slam to dad, sorry. (Laughter.) But your girls, were they picky eaters?

MRS. BUSH: They weren't picky eaters. They inherited a really good appetite from their dad and me. But they like foods, they like all foods, but they're very careful about what they eat. Neither one of them eat a lot of meat.

Q Oh, yes, well, that can be dangerous too, right? Too much red meat. But all things in moderation.

MRS. BUSH: All things in moderation. But they mainly have fish and vegetables.

Q They're probably figure conscious.

MRS. BUSH: And beans, they love beans.

Q Green beans or baked beans or --

MRS. BUSH: No, beans, like black beans, Cuban black beans or pinto beans.

Q I love beans, too. Well, they can come over anytime they want, I'll whip them up a little black beans, no problem. (Laughter.)

So we were talking about how important exercise is, of course, for heart health and general health. Do you -- how often do you work out? Do you use equipment? Do you just do aerobic exercise?

MRS. BUSH: I work out about three days a week. My sister-in-law lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and she drives in to work out with me at the gym in the White House, which is really fun, a good chance to get to be with her when we are too busy to see each other a lot.

Q I'm trying to picture you -- on the treadmill?

MRS. BUSH: We lift weights and I get on the treadmill, on the elliptical.

Q Are you girls listening to the Ipod?

MRS. BUSH: No, we have a very loud -- just the regular CD player

Q Oh, what's in the CD player?

MRS. BUSH: Lots of different things. Let me think what was just in. I have a Luther Vandross album -- (applause.)

Q That is so cool.

MRS. BUSH: -- that just came out, with a lot of other people singing his -- that's a new one.

Q Oh, it's a tribute album. I like that, because you get a little of everything all mixed up.

MRS. BUSH: A lot of B.B. King, we like that. (Applause.)

Q Good taste. See? We could work out together, too -- I'm just saying, that's another -- (laughter.)

Okay, we have to take a break, because they're flailing their arms about. Go get a snack. We're going to have some muffins and we'll be right back with more. (Applause.)

* * * * *

Q I'm so honored to be at the kitchen table with the First Lady. And we have just -- you know, we've been talking about a very serious subject, but one where there has been a lot of progress and a lot of good things happening, the prevention of heart disease, especially in women. And we've got Chef Cris's muffins here, we traded recipes. We really thought it might be fun, though, to ask some cocktail party questions before you leave. Would you mind?

MRS. BUSH: Sure.

Q Okay, so we want to know: What is your favorite TV show? I mean, are you at home watching "American Idol" like the rest of us Americans, working the clicker?

MRS. BUSH: No. (Laughter.) Your show is my favorite TV show. (Laughter.)

Q Oh, of course. (Applause.) Here, let me give you that dollar I promised you. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: I do actually like to watch cooking shows a lot. I like those shows, those are fun.

Q You loved to cook back in the day, don't get much time to do that anymore.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q So Food Network? I'm on that. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: Food Network.

Q I know some of them guys over there. (Laughter.) So, yes, do you like to watch movies or anything like that?

MRS. BUSH: I like to watch movies. We watch movies at the White House --

Q Do you like chick flicks or action films?

MRS. BUSH: We watch a lot of sports. You know, Super Bowl is right around this time.

Q A lot of sports-watching in everybody's house.

MRS. BUSH: A lot of sports-watching, a lot of baseball.

Q I am a huge baseball fan. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: You are?

Q I am. I'm a Boston Red Sox fan and I threw out a pitch from the mound -- not halfway -- and it made it to the plate. I'm not saying it was a speedy ball, but it made it to the plate. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: That's great. That's terrific.

Q Now, listen, Valentine's Day is around the corner. Not that it's any of our beeswax, but do you have any special Valentine's Day plans? (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: No special plans. We'll probably have a really romantic dinner, just like Cris talked about. We have had, one year, a Valentine party in the Red Room, the perfect place for a Valentine party. And we had six couples of people that we were in the 1st and 2nd grade with, which was really, really fun.

Q No kidding. That's sweet.

MRS. BUSH: Long-time friends that have stayed really good friends of ours over all these years.

Q Did you all trade Valentine cards, like you had to when you were in kindergarten and 1st grade? (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: We didn't trade Valentine cards, but we had a really wonderful time. It was great.

Q How's the President at remembering it's Valentine's Day?

MRS. BUSH: Not very good. (Laughter.) But, fortunately --

Q You better be listening. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: -- there's a White House florist, so they always send up flowers and he signs the card. (Applause.)

Q They cover for him. They cover for him.

MRS. BUSH: Last year one of the gardeners at the White House -- they're National Park employees -- did a heart topiary for the President to give me. But, of course, the President didn't think of it, the gardener did. (Laughter.)

Q Boy, it sounds like you better have something planned for this year, is all I'm saying.

You know, I said how striking you are when you meet you in person -- your eyes are very, very bright, you're a very beautiful lady. (Applause.) She said it's okay to have cocktail party questions, so I'm going to: Do you have any beauty tips for the rest of us girls?

MRS. BUSH: No, no beauty tips.

Q Just smile all the time.

MRS. BUSH: Get a lot of sleep. I think a lot of sleep is healthy. (Applause.)

Q Oh, if only I could take her up on that. And we know that you used to be a librarian and a teacher, of course. So I was wondering what are you reading now? What can you recommend to us?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I always have something that I just finished, and what I just finished is the "Glass Castle," have you read that?

Q No.

MRS. BUSH: It's by Jeannette Walls, it's very good.

Q I'm going to write this down. I need a pencil.

MRS. BUSH: Very good and interesting memoir.

Q Okay, any others?

MRS. BUSH: I read all the time; that was just the most recent one I read, sent to me by my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, had mailed it to me. (Applause.) I mailed it on to Sheila Martin, another friend, whose husband was the Prime Minister of Canada.

Q Name-dropper. (Laughter.) I think it's so nice you do that. I mean, that's a neat tradition, you read something you like, you pass it along to another friend.

MRS. BUSH: It's very nice to do it with your mother-in-law, too.

Q I think that's nice. I'm going to send the next one to my mother-in-law. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: And to your father.

Q And to the gardeners that watch out for the rest of our husbands and boyfriends out there. (Laughter.)

We just wanted to thank you so much. You bring so much heart to the White House, and thank you for coming here and talking about it.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you. (Applause.)

END 4:17 P.M. EST

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