For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 23, 2004
Question and Answer Session with First Lady Laura Bush in Media Availability in Chicago
The Bloomingdale's Building
3:40 P.M. CST
Q Mrs. Bush, do you yourself have any heart disease in your
family, genetically, running through.
MRS. BUSH: I don't that I know of. My father died of
Alzheimer's. And my mother is still living. She'll be 85 this
summer. She does have high blood pressure, which is sometimes a
symptom of it.
But just like Kathy said, there are a lot of people who know they
have heart disease in their family, their brothers or parents have died
of a heart attack. But even if you don't have heart disease in your
family, you might still be at risk.
Q Mrs. Bush, can you tell us how you came to be involved with
MRS. BUSH: Well, I was so surprised because I, like most women, I
think thought that cancer was the number one killer of women. And when
I found out heart disease was and that, in fact, more women than men
will die of heart disease -- heart disease is the number one cause of
death among women and men in the United States.
So when I found out more women than men will die of heart disease,
I really felt obligated to get the message out. Because I knew that if
I didn't know that, that there were a lot of other women who wouldn't
know it, either.
I've done a lot of work on breast cancer awareness and many other
women's health issues, so I wanted to join the Heart Truth Campaign to
also let women know about this.
And the good news is, those steps that women can take to avoid
heart disease also are great steps to avoid cancer. So we can really
help ourselves if we remember to eat healthy foods, to get exercise.
And that means, they're saying now, just 30 minutes a day of walking.
Really get up off the couch to make sure you get exercise, to try to
maintain a healthy weight. Obese women are at a much higher risk of
having heart disease. To get the preventive screenings, and to take
charge of your own health.
And the other side benefit of that is that women make about 75
percent of the health choices for their families. So if women are
making good choices for themselves, then you know they're making good
choices for their children.
And all of us -- and I know all of you have reported on the rising
obesity among children. It's really important for women to make those
healthy choices and be great role models for their little boys and
Q Mrs. Bush, have you made any changes in your own life as a
result of being involved --
MRS. BUSH: Well, I've paid a lot more attention to it. I'll have
to say that. I already exercised and I still do that. My husband is a
really great example to me.
When we first married and he made that promise to me that I'd never
have to give a political speech -- (laughter) -- the other side of the
story, which I promised him I'd run with him and I never did, ever, not
even once. (Laughter.)
So I've had a really good example in my home of somebody who has
gotten exercise. So I work out now, work out with weights. I walk on
the treadmill. I love to walk outside if I have the chance. When the
weather gets better, I'll start being able to do that again.
But also, I pay attention to the foods that we eat.
Q Mrs. Bush, the significance to you of the suit that you've
MRS. BUSH: This is an Oscar de la Renta red suit that I actually
did not buy from the designer himself, although I'm lucky to be able to
do that now. I bought this before my husband was inaugurated and I
bought it from a store in Dallas. And I wore it in a Vogue photo shoot
after he was inaugurated. And then I wore it in Mexico with President
Fox and Mrs. Fox at an event that they had. I also wore it in China.
I love to wear American designers, and especially I like to wear
them when I'm in other countries, because I'm proud of our American
Q Still fit?
MRS. BUSH: Still fits.
Q Is it a little small? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: I think it's too big. (Laughter.)
Q Mrs. Bush, what is your reaction to Richard Clark's outlook?
MRS. BUSH: Well, now we can go off heart disease but I want to ask
all of you to be sure and cover this. I hope you will cover the heart
disease, and the Red Dress Project will really get the word out to
women. Come to Calumet City, to the River Center and see this.
But now I'll move on to other questions.
When my husband was inaugurated and he swore to protect and defend
the Constitution and the people of the United States, he took that
very, very seriously. And for someone to imply that he doesn't is just
wrong. And that's what I think about it.
Any other questions?
Q Mrs. Bush, tomorrow the Supreme Court is going to take up the
issue of the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. I know
that's very important to you and to President Bush as well. Do you
care to comment on that as well?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I mean, I think it's a legitimate issue for the
Supreme Court to take up, and I'll be interested to see what they do.
Q Mrs. Bush, as you enter into this next political campaign,
perhaps your husband's last --
MRS. BUSH: It will be his last. (Laughter.) I can tell you
Well, I'm looking forward to it, I really am. And I'm sort of
nostalgic about it. As I watched the Democratic candidates in Iowa and
New Hampshire and all the other primary states, I remembered what that
was like when we had a primary three years ago.
And, you know, there are horrible moments in political campaigns,
as everybody knows. But there are also a lot of really great moments.
We met wonderful people in all of his campaigns, starting with the
first one in 1978 for Congress, when we lived in the panhandle of West
So I look forward to it. I look forward to campaigning. I have
done a lot already, traveled around and done some fundraisers for
Bush-Cheney. I'll be doing some more.
But there's a certain nostalgia with it. It's an unbelievable
privilege to be able to travel around the United States and campaign
for public office, it really is.
And what we see, what the President and I get to see is how great
Americans are, and we see that every day, wherever we are. And this is
a good example of it. You know, these women who have suffered a loss
in their lives, a loss of their health that worried them so much. And
now what they want to do is support and help other women. This is just
one example of millions that we get to see of the good work Americans
Q Any idea of when we might see President Bush here in Illinois
MRS. BUSH: He'll be here. I don't know what his schedule is.
Q He hasn't been for a while.
MRS. BUSH: I don't know what his schedule is, but he'll be here.
Q Mrs. Bush, do you regret the look and tone that the campaign
has taken so early on?
MRS. BUSH: Well, you know, sure. Yes, no one wants a negative
campaign. No one likes it when the person they love is criticized or
characterized in a way that you know they're not.
We had a long primary season. The other candidates had a long
primary season and they spent a long time and spent a lot of money as
well running against my husband and saying a lot of things about him
that I don't like, of course.
But I also know that that's just a part of political life and I
hope it's not discouraging to people. I think it actually might
discourage people from actually getting involved in public service
themselves, because it seems discouraging. I hope it won't be. There
are a lot of really good parts about it too.
Q Mrs. Bush, has your mother-in-law given you any advice? As
you mentioned, this reelection phase, that she went through with her
own husband --
MRS. BUSH: Well, of course, we watched. We were very personally
involved in that election in 1992. We lived in Dallas at the time.
But whenever it's somebody you love running for office, you feel
real personal involvement in the race.
She really hasn't. I love my mother-in-law. She's terrific.
She's very funny. She's a lot of fun. We were together recently when
they happened to be in Washington for a cancer event. They are both
very happy to -- the national dialogue on cancer.
And we commiserated, we had a good time commiserating about whose
article we liked to read and whose we didn't. Whose column we liked to
read, I guess, and whose we didn't, and what shows we liked to watch
and which ones we didn't. It's wonderful to have that kind of support
from your mother-in-law.
Q Mrs. Bush, what are your thoughts on the violence in the
MRS. BUSH: Like everyone here, praying for peace. Hoping and
wishing and praying that people will put violence aside and that we'll
have peace in the Middle East.
I know that's what everyone in America, certainly, is hoping for.
Q Security sources in Israel are saying that they're planning
to target all the leaders of Hamas. What is your reaction to that?
MRS. BUSH: Well, it's deeply troubling, it really is. I mean, I
understand their side of it. We are also in the war against terror.
But at the same time, I think as many people as can come to the
table to work for peace -- the more people that can come to the table
and work for peace, the better off we'll all be.
Thank you all. Thanks so much, and thanks for covering the red
dresses. Get the word out. (Applause.)
3:46 P.M. CST END