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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 29, 2007

Interview of the First Lady by CNN's American Morning
Via Satellite

      Holidays at the White House 2007

8:33 A.M. EST

Q It's great to see you this morning. Thanks for being with us.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much.

Q Tell us about this year's theme.

MRS. BUSH: Well, this year's theme is "Holidays in the National Parks," and that's what those ornaments on the big Blue Room tree represent. We sent a big ornament out to every national park -- 391 of them -- and they had an artist decorate the balls in some way that represent our national parks.

And so it's a really beautiful way to show how beautiful our country is.

Q It is gorgeous, and it's so neat that everybody wanted to take part and do that. How do you decide on a theme, though? Because I imagine it must be a big task to try to figure out what you want to highlight about our diverse nation.

MRS. BUSH: Well, every year, just some theme seems obvious. And this year, I think the national parks are very important to let everyone know about, because we're coming up, in 2016, on the centennial of the National Park Service. And President Bush and Secretary Kempthorne, the Secretary of Interior, have issued a Centennial Challenge, both to the Congress, to the appropriators for more money over the next few years, up until the centennial, for our national parks, and also to private philanthropy, to think about giving to our national parks.

And so this was a great theme to have. Besides that, I hike in national parks every year, and have for the last 20 years. And so they're particularly important to me.

Q Yes, a wonderful natural resource for sure. You know, one of the things we always enjoyed was Barney Cam, getting a chance to see how the First Dogs are enjoying themselves. What are they up to this year, celebrating, Barney and Miss Beazley?

MRS. BUSH: Barney and Miss Beazley and going to be Junior Rangers with the National Park Rangers this year. And so they'll be showing everyone, when Barney Cam is presented on the website, all the decorations, and then talking a little bit, if they do talk, about our national parks.

Q It's funny, they have run of the house. When I interviewed you a few months back, I saw them running around. What do they think of that enormous 18-foot tree?

MRS. BUSH: Well, they like it, and they especially love all those great big ornaments on it, because they think those are soccer balls for them to push around with their noses. (Laughter.)

Q You guys do everything big at the White House. Of course, there are going to be 20,000 Christmas cookies made this year. Of course, everyone has a favorite. How about yours?

MRS. BUSH: Well, this year, the cookies are so adorable. They're all the different animals and birds that you might see in the national park. They're eagle and bluebird and cardinal cookies, as well as bears and moose and foxes and all the things that you might see in any of our national parks. And so they're especially pretty and decorated cookies.

Q All right, so you're not saying you have a favorite, though? You like --

MRS. BUSH: Well, I love those iced Christmas cookies; they're my favorite. Of course, we have other kinds too. We have unbelievable desserts for the many people that will come to all the different holiday parties, including, of course, the press.

Q That's right, the invite for tonight, actually. Well, turning to presidential politics for a minute, you and the President acknowledged last week that Hillary Clinton's experience as First Lady would help prepare her for the pressures the next President will face. In terms of dealing with those issues, how much does being First Lady prepare you to be able to deal with national security, let's say, or foreign policy?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think what the President meant was that she is used to the klieg lights that only the President of the United States and his family are under, the huge pressure of the job. And she certainly understands and knows that.

Q Do you think that being the First Lady is enough experience to then help you make your way to President?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I mean, I think it is certainly some experience -- there's no doubt about that -- and being actively involved in all the issues that come to the White House. That certainly is experience.

We actually were very -- we also had watched somebody we loved a lot in the White House -- President Bush and Barbara Bush -- and that was an advantage for us, I think, that we had been with them, that we'd seen them, that we'd been here a lot and that we'd been very aware of the issues they dealt with when President Bush was President.

Q Good point. Well, thanks so much for joining us this morning. And your Christmas tree looks beautiful, and we're glad we had a chance to give our viewers a sneak peak.

First Lady Laura Bush, thanks a lot.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much.

END 8:37 A.M. EST

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