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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 3, 2008

Interview of the First Lady by Maggie Rodriguez, "The Early Show", CBS News
Cross Hall and Blue Room

8:09 A.M. EST

Q Good morning.

MRS. BUSH: Good morning.

Q Your house looks beautiful.

MRS. BUSH: It looks great, doesn't it?

Q It looks spectacular, and I notice a lot of red, white, and blue.

MRS. BUSH: That's it, that's the theme this year, "A Red, White, and Blue Christmas." We thought it was perfect for an election year and for our last year here to have a patriotic theme. It's also a theme that Americans have suggested to me. It's the only theme, actually, that I've gotten letters from people who've said, why don't you do "A Red, White, and Blue Holiday"?

Q We see a beautiful --

MRS. BUSH: So we have, and you can see it here with the bunting and the garland and how pretty it looks with the flags that surround the door to the Blue Room, the American flag and the Presidential Standard.

Q I know that a lot of these ornaments, Mrs. Bush, were recycled.

MRS. BUSH: That's it. We --

Q You were so mindful of the economic plight of so many people in this country.

MRS. BUSH: Well, we -- just like every family, we've recycled and, of course, when red is one of your predominant colors, that's easy because we had a lot. We also used LED lights on the trees, which are much more energy efficient. And then downstairs we brought back other decorations from other Christmases. Downstairs we have the presidential homes from the Christmas of 2001 that are on the Cross Hall.

Q Such a great idea. Why not reuse them? They're so beautiful.

MRS. BUSH: Exactly, they're so beautiful and everyone wants to see them again.

Q Okay, as we walk into the Blue Room, we're going to show you the pièce de résistance right here -- (laughter) -- shall we? There it is.

MRS. BUSH: Here's the big tree.

Q The big, big, big tree.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q How tall is it?

MRS. BUSH: I'm not sure. It's floor to ceiling.

Q Eighteen feet I heard?

MRS. BUSH: Eighteen feet tall, I believe. And it's a beautiful Fraser fir from North Carolina. All the trees this year are from North Carolina from a Christmas tree grower there. And it's such a really beautiful tree.

Q I immediately noticed the ornaments. Now, initially, all of these ornaments were just blank silver balls that you've handed out to each member of Congress --

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q And told them what?

MRS. BUSH: We asked each member of Congress to designate an artist from their district to decorate the tree in the American spirit and something that represents their district. And so they're -- I have some favorites here that happen to be from my home state. Let's see if I can find any of them here on the tree.

Q Yes, I should say that I tried to find the ones from President-elect Obama and Senators Biden, Clinton and McCain, but it's such a big tree. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: Big tree. It's very hard to find them all, but we do have a brochure that tells where everything is from.

This is a Texas one and this, of course, is a typical Texas myth. This is the jackalope that everyone in Texas says really exists -- the jackrabbit with horns. (Laughter.)

Q You ever seen one?

MRS. BUSH: No, I never have seen one. (Laughter.) But you can see how pretty -- this is our youngest artist, a little 8-year-old girl from Virginia. Katie Schools, is her name, did this. She's suffering from a brain tumor and her vision is affected, but she did a -- she is an artist and she did this beautiful Virginia state bird, the cardinal. So she's our youngest artist. And a little bit around the tree we have our oldest artist, a 90-year-old man who did this ornament that represents Teddy Roosevelt.

Q Oh, that's beautiful.

MRS. BUSH: With Teddy Roosevelt's face on it. His name is Tom DeLuca, the artist.

Q Gorgeous tree. I also want to talk about the gingerbread house.

MRS. BUSH: That's right, isn't it great?

Q It's beautiful. It's huge. It weighs 435 pounds?

MRS. BUSH: It's huge and it's very, very architecturally correct.

Q Yes.

MRS. BUSH: It's a beautiful white chocolate gingerbread house, and so it's perfect and just the way the house is. And, of course, what makes it so patriotic is the fife and drum corps that's marching on the lawn in front of it. And that's our old fife and drum corps, based on the Revolutionary War Fife and Drum Corps that marched for any arrival ceremony we have for a head of state.

Q I'd like to ask you about your next house. You're getting ready to leave here in a few weeks.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q Bittersweet?

MRS. BUSH: It is bittersweet, absolutely -- you know, very mixed emotions. You know when you move here that you'll just have four years, or eight years if you're reelected, and so you know all the time that there will be a day that you leave. And of course we've been here on the day when other Presidents, like President George H.W. Bush, left. So I think from them, from Bar and George Bush, our father and mother, that we have a really good example of life after the White House.

And so we look forward to it, really; we look forward to going home to our home state. But we say goodbye with great gratitude to everybody here that works at the White House, both the people who work here for every President as well as obviously all the people that work here for us that are -- that will be going on themselves.

Q Quickly, you mentioned your mother-in-law, and we're all wondering how she's doing.

MRS. BUSH: She's doing very well. We're so thankful. We talked to her last night. She's home from the hospital, and so she's doing great. Thanks for asking.

Q Thank you so much.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much, Maggie.

Q It's so wonderful to see you. Thanks for the invitation.

MRS. BUSH: Appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

END 8:13 A.M. EST

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