For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 29, 2007
Interview of Mrs. Bush by FOX's FOX and Friends
Holidays at the White House 2007
7:47 A.M. EST
Q Good morning to you, Mrs. Bush.
MRS. BUSH: Good morning, Gretchen. How are you?
Q I'm doing just great this morning. All right, so we've been talking about the holidays today, and what better way to kick off the season than to get the official tour with you. I know you've been putting in a lot of hard work on the theme. What is the official holiday theme at the White House this year?
MRS. BUSH: Well, this year the theme is "Holidays in the National Parks." I hike in the national parks every year, and so we thought they'd be perfect to portray as part of the decorations at the White House. We've used the color gold everywhere, because we think our national parks -- from our magnificent landscapes like Yosemite or Grand Tetons, to our most sacred historical sites -- the White House and Philadelphia and Independence Hall, all of those other very important historical sites -- are more precious to us in the United States than gold.
Q How very interesting.
MRS. BUSH: So of course, gold is a perfect color here because of the gold drapes and everything that's already in the White House.
Q Well, I can't imagine all the ideas that go into the hopper, and you came up with a good one this year. I want to start by showing folks this exclusive tour right now. I want to start in the East Room, where you have a wonderful nativity scene. Tell me about this.
MRS. BUSH: That's right, and this is the 40th year this beautiful cr che has been in the East Room of the White House. It was given to the White House in 1967 by Mrs. Engelhard from New Jersey. And it's so beautiful here. It's 18th-century Italian terracotta pieces, and it's really always the center of the White House.
As you can see from where I'm standing, this is looking straight into the East Room at the White House, and that's where the beautiful nativity scene is.
Q Of course, the Blue Room houses the White House Official Tree. This year it came from Laurel, North Carolina. The ornaments represent 391 national parks -- all hand-done.
MRS. BUSH: That's right. We sent a big ornament out to all 391 national parks and asked them to designate an artist to decorate the ornaments with their national parks, and they are really beautiful, as you can see. They're -- right on the very front is the White House. People might not know that the White House lawns and gardens and the facade of the White House are run by the National Park Service.
Q Very interesting fact there. Moving on to the State Dining Room. Now, this may be my favorite room, Mrs. Bush, because it has to do with eating. And this is maybe the most spectacular gingerbread house out there right now. Tell us about it, because I see it features your pets.
MRS. BUSH: That's right, it's an unbelievable chocolate, white chocolate house this year that our pastry chef, Bill Yosses and his whole team, built. It's built to scale, and isn't it so magnificent looking?
And then of course we have Barney and Beazley and Kitty in Santa's sleigh on top of it, and because of the national park theme, around it we have many of the magnificent American animals -- the moose and the bear that many people can see when they visit some of our national parks.
Q Barney, Miss Beazley and Kitty are getting along with all those other animals there?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I think they are here. (Laughter.) Peace on Earth.
Q All right, I want to move on to the Grand Foyer, because there we see the Statue of Liberty Monument. So it's not just parks; you're talking about monuments in your theme as well.
MRS. BUSH: That's right. Well, the national monuments and the national seashores are all really part of our big national park system. And so of course, the Statue of Liberty, that's what greets the visitors when they come right here into the front hall of the White House, and that's also what's greeted immigrants who have come into New York Harbor over a hundred years in the United States' history.
Q Now, I understand when the President leaves the residence and walks to his office every morning, he's going to pass by a very special decorated area: the Palm Room. What's there?
MRS. BUSH: The Palm Room, which is a beautiful conservatory room that joins the big White House with the West Wing. And this year, it represents our national seashores. And you can see the magnificent shell trees and shell wreath that our decorators built this week, and it's so pretty, I think.
Q Well, that looks spectacular, Mrs. Bush. Speaking of the President in the last few days, he's been very busy with the Mideast conference. But you've also been raising your profile. I'm thinking of the October trip that you took to the Mideast. Seems to me I remember, like, maybe seven years ago, you said, oh, I hope I never have to give a speech if I become First Lady. (Laughter.) You have really been evolving your role.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I actually said I never have to give -- hope I never have to give a speech 30 years ago when we married, and fortunately, within the 30 years and long before I moved here, I realized I could give a speech and that I had a podium, when George was governor in Texas and certainly one here. And it was really an honor to be able to represent the United States in the Middle East to talk about an issue that women in the Middle East don't talk about, just like women in the United States didn't talk about it 25 years ago, and that's breast cancer.
So it was a really very sort of intimate and personal way to reach out to women in the Middle East on behalf of American women to talk about how women can protect themselves.
Q Here are some other quotes that people are saying about you: "She's not just following, she's leading." The National Security Advisor says the First Lady is a "foreign policy asset to the President." I understand that also, when you've been having coffee recently, you've been inviting over key lawmakers. Now, maybe a lot of people do not know this about the No Child Left Behind Act, correct?
MRS. BUSH: Well, that's right. That, of course, education is what I've always worked on my whole life. I was a teacher and librarian. It's, I think, one of the most important issues in the United States, to make sure children everywhere across our country get a really good education.
And so I have been having senators and congressmen over to talk about reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act that I hope we can reauthorize, maybe early next year, and fix some of the things in it that we want to fix in it, but also keep the really important accountability piece and the other important pieces of it.
Q If you're getting the attention of lawmakers, I know your close friend and colleague, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings also said, "She can knock him up-side the head pretty much on anything and get his attention." (Laughter.) She's talking about your husband. Millions of American women -- and women across the world, Mrs. Bush, want to know how the heck you do that.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I don't do it that way, the way Margaret explained it for sure. (Laughter.) But of course, we talk about every single issue. We just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.
MRS. BUSH: And so we have -- we are very aware of what the other one thinks about most issues.
Q We just talked about a study, Mrs. Bush, that 41 percent of husbands and wives don't remember what their spouse bought them last year. Do you remember what the President bought you?
MRS. BUSH: Last Christmas?
MRS. BUSH: Is that what you mean? Yes, I do. He bought me some beautiful citrine earrings, and they're very lovely.
Q Wow, fabulous. Well, we're all wondering what's on your list this year, but I'll let you keep it secret for now until you receive it from the President.
We sincerely appreciate the tour this morning. Happy holidays to you, Mrs. Bush.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much. Happy holidays.
Q Always a pleasure to speak with you. And when Brian, Steve and I end up at the White House Christmas party in two weeks, and you guys have to take all those photos with us -- and you do it so graciously -- please just, I don't know, be okay with Brian, because you never know what he might say.
MRS. BUSH: We never know what he might say, you're right. But it will be fun. Those press parties are a lot of fun for us.
Q All right, Mrs. Bush. Great to see you.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you.
END 7:55 A.M. EST