For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
December 4, 2003
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush with CBS's Bill Plante on the Early Show
The East Room
Q We have the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Laura Bush, with us this morning. Mrs. Bush, welcome.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks, Bill. Thanks for being here.
Q Well, thank you. This is your third Christmas here.
MRS. BUSH: Third one, I know it. It's hard to believe.
Q Does the magic ever go away?
MRS. BUSH: No, not really. When you see this house decorated, it's so fabulous, as you can see everywhere. We have decorators that come in from around the country, florists that volunteer their time to come put all these ornaments up. And then we have the great White House staff that builds things like the unbelievable chocolate factory from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Q We'll see more about that in a moment. But this holiday, you might even have the President here, you think? Think he's going to stay around?
MRS. BUSH: That's right, I hope I will. I think he'll be here this Christmas, this holiday.
Q Did you have trouble keeping the secret when he went to Afghanistan?
MRS. BUSH: No, I didn't. I knew what a secret it was and how important it was to be --
Q So many people have said to us, gee whiz, the First Lady must have felt some anxiety when he was on that trip.
MRS. BUSH: Sure. Sure, I was anxious. I also wish I had been with him. I would have loved to have gone on the trip myself and to have seen those troops.
Q It must have been very difficult knowing that he was there, you weren't, and that there was some element of danger.
MRS. BUSH: Well, that was difficult, of course, but also I had my daughters with me, Barbara and Jenna, and George's parents. And we had a pretty quiet Thanksgiving, but we had a really nice Thanksgiving, and we watched all the coverage on television and we were all really proud.
Q Well, you know, every year at the White House, the First Lady gets to pick the theme.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q Now, no surprise, the theme is?
MRS. BUSH: The theme this year is a Season of Stories. Of course, as an old librarian and a lifelong reader, it was really fun to choose my favorite books. On the mantels we have Harry Potter. On the dining room table, we have Alice in Wonderland.
Q You have so much here, we thought we'd -- we took some pictures. We'll take a little walk around.
MRS. BUSH: Okay, good.
Q And what we don't walk by, we can show. Now, Alice in Wonderland, for example.
MRS. BUSH: Alice in Wonderland on the dining room table, which is a favorite story.
This is a great one, Frog and Toad.
Q Frog and Toad.
MRS. BUSH: And, in fact, the Frog and Toad books would make really good gifts for early readers. So if you have children who are in kindergarten or first or second grade at home, the Frog and Toad books are easy for them to learn to read, and then they're great stories.
Q I'll make a note of that one.
MRS. BUSH: Exactly.
Q Now, how about everybody's favorite, Dr. Seuss, I think, the Cat in the Hat.
MRS. BUSH: Yes, the Cat in the Hat. And, of course, all the Dr. Seuss books are my favorite. They were really favorites of ours to read to our children. They are also great story books for children, great gifts for your children to find under the tree.
Q These models, like the Cat in the Hat and the newest children's literary favorite and a lot of adults', Harry Potter.
MRS. BUSH: Harry Potter, I love Harry Potter. I read all five Harry Potter books this summer and it was great summer reading. It was really wonderful to find five books -- to have a whole body of work. As soon as I finished one, I could start the other.
Q All these models made by people here at the White House in their spare time.
MRS. BUSH: That's right. The florist, the electricians, the painters, they all work on these models and they're so beautiful. And they start in probably June or July.
Q These trees are beautiful. But the main tree in this White House --
MRS. BUSH: The main tree.
Q -- is in the Blue Room.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q And that has some special significance for you this year.
MRS. BUSH: That's right. We borrowed some ornaments for that tree. We borrowed the ornaments from Barbara and Jenna's grandparents, from the Bush Library. They're storybook characters that they had on their Christmas tree in 1989. And there are 72 of them, and there's every storybook character you can think of. Peter Pan and Alice and everyone.
Q Now, I don't want to skip the edibles, because that's the best part of the holiday.
MRS. BUSH: That's the best part.
Q Look at this gingerbread house. We have it on videotape. The gingerbread White House, isn't that amazing?
MRS. BUSH: Roland, our pastry chef, every year surpasses what he did the year before. And this year's gingerbread house, if you look close, you can see the bedroom from Goodnight Moon, that favorite of young children.
Q My granddaughter's favorite.
MRS. BUSH: Right there in the White House. And then all the storybook characters that stand around the gingerbread house. It will be really fun for visitors and guests to pick out their favorite characters.
Q And I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen anything more elaborate at a White House Christmas than the chocolate factory.
MRS. BUSH: The chocolate factory. It's so amazing and that's just -- it shows the genius of our pastry chef. He got all these different molds. Part of the pipe from the chocolate factory is like a dryer hose that he filled with chocolate. He used about 80 pounds of chocolate to make this great chocolate factory.
Q You know, as busy as you are in this season, I know you're looking ahead. You've talked about going to Afghanistan. Do you think you will?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I hope I will. I mean, I haven't really set a date, obviously. But I've been very interested especially in the education of girls in Afghanistan. So I hope I'll have the opportunity to go.
Q Would you like to go to Iraq?
MRS. BUSH: I would like to go to Iraq. I hope I'll have that chance some day, too. And I want to urge the people of Iraq to take this opportunity to build their country and build it on human dignity, as the President said.
Q Let me ask you in our few remaining seconds what your fondest wish would be for yourself, your family and the nation at Christmas?
MRS. BUSH: Well, of course, my fondest wish is for peace, for our country and for the world. And to every American for a very happy holiday season.
Q First Lady Laura Bush, what a pleasure to have you with us. Thank you so much.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Bill. Thanks a lot.