For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 20, 2004
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno
4:30 P.M. PDT
MRS. BUSH: Thanks. Great to be here.
Q Nice to have you. Nice to have you.
Now, I'm told you're not really comfortable with the title First
Lady, you don't like -- what is you --
MRS. BUSH: People actually call me "First Lady." Like they say,
"First Lady Bush," to speak to me. (Laughter.) And I think I'd just
rather be called my name.
Q Just by -- oh, okay. Well, you can understand why people --
it's awkward. "Hey, Laura!" You don't want to do that. (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Well, that's right. Mrs. Bush.
Q Mrs. Bush. Describe your day for me. A typical day, what
time do you and your husband usually get up?
MRS. BUSH: We get up really early. We get up about 5:30 a.m. He
goes in and gets the coffee and we drink coffee and read the
newspapers. That's been our ritual our whole married life.
Q So he gets up and gets the coffee?
MRS. BUSH: He gets up and gets the coffee. He's very nice.
Q Does he grind the beans? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: No, he doesn't go quite that --
Q Instant coffee? What? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: I think he turns on the button. The coffee is already
made at the White House. (Laughter.) It's really easy to punch the
button and turn it on.
Q Does he bring it in on -- does he have one of those trays
MRS. BUSH: No, just two cups.
Q The two cups. Okay, then what happens? You have the coffee
MRS. BUSH: Then we read the newspaper in bed.
Q Now, didn't I read your husband says he doesn't read the
newspapers? Because I've done a lot of jokes about that.
MRS. BUSH: He only reads -- he does read the newspaper, of
course. Just not the reporters that follow him.
Q Oh, okay. (Laughter.) Now, why is that?
MRS. BUSH: Because he says he doesn't want to be mad at them the
next day. Also, because he was there at the event, so he doesn't need
to really read their coverage of it.
Q Oh, okay. (Laughter.)
Now, do you work out?
MRS. BUSH: I work out. I have a trainer who comes two or three
days a week, depending on how many days I'm at home.
Q Do weights?
MRS. BUSH: Do weights, lift weights. I'm getting quite buff.
Q Do you think in a fight you could take Theresa Heinz?
(Laughter.) I don't know.
MRS. BUSH: Very funny. (Laughter.)
Q Well, let me ask you this. When you watch TV, is it hard for
you when the TV is critical of your husband?
MRS. BUSH: Sure.
Q Do you think it's harder being the person or being in love
with the person?
MRS. BUSH: I think it's harder being in love with the person. You
know, you hate to see somebody you love criticized or characterized in
a way that you know they're not.
But actually, I don't watch that much television.
Q Late at night? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Well, every once in a while. (Laughter.)
Q Now, you have discussions with your husband, obviously. Do
you offer opinions when things -- whatever the story of the day is?
MRS. BUSH: Sure. Sure. (Laughter.)
Actually, when he was running for Congress the very first time, his
mother told me -- Barbara Bush said, never criticize George's
speeches. So I really took her advice to heart and never criticized
any of his speeches.
I knew there were plenty of other critics without me being one of
them. Until one night, we were driving into our driveway and he said,
tell me truth, how was my speech. And I said, well, it wasn't that
good. (Laughter.) And with that, he drove into the driveway, drove
into the garage wall. (Laughter and applause.)
MRS. BUSH: That's really true.
Q I can see why she didn't want you to that. (Laughter.)
All right. More with the First Lady right after this. (Applause.)
* * *
Q Welcome back. We're talking with Laura Bush, the First Lady
of the United States.
Now, you were in Las Vegas last night, I imagine partying until
dawn? Did you gamble at all while you were there? Did you pull a slot
machine? Did you go to a Chippendales show? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: Jay, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. (Laughter
Q Wow, that's the last answer I expected to hear. (Laughter.)
Let's hope the President went to bed early. (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: He did; he was in another time zone.
Q Have you ever put a quarter in a slot machine?
MRS. BUSH: No, I never have.
Q Really? Don't gamble at all? Well, I'm not a gambler,
Now let me ask you, this is I guess the last campaign, would you
MRS. BUSH: That's right. That's right.
Q Are you relieved? Are you enjoying this life? Is it fun?
MRS. BUSH: It's fun. It is fun. But there's something sort of
bittersweet about it being the very last campaign. We have been in a
lot of campaigns. When my husband was running for Congress, we spent
the first year of our marriage in a car traveling up and down the
panhandle of Texas. That was a lot of fun. Then, of course, we had
his dad's campaigns and then his two campaigns for governor.
Q Go back to that first one. Now, that was not successful.
You did not win that one.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q What is that like? I mean, you do this. I mean, it's like
running for President. I understand it's a smaller scale. But, you
know, you knock on the doors --
MRS. BUSH: Not quite like running for President.
Q Well, I guess not, no. But, I mean, how --
MRS. BUSH: George was driving. (Laughter.) It was the two of us
in the car.
Q We have a picture. Show that picture. Here they are. What
kind of low-rent campaign is that? (Laughter.) you're facing the
MRS. BUSH: That was a 4th of July parade in Morton, Texas, a
little, tiny town in the panhandle. And since the high school band --
since it was the 4th of July, the band wasn't practicing, so it was a
totally silent parade. (Laughter.) You know, just kind of waving at
the crowd as you drove by in the back of a pickup.
Q Now, when you lost that campaign, did you say to yourself,
oh, thank God, I never want to do that again. Or, I want to get back
in this right away? What was your feeling? Because it must be
devastating to do that for six months or a year --
MRS. BUSH: It was. But we made tons of friends that we really
like and, you know, we were newly married. We wanted to have babies.
We had a lot of other things to look forward to.
I used to jokingly say that maybe he would run again when we were
50, because we had a really good time. And then, as it turned out, we
were almost 50 when he ran for governor.
Q Now, when you're out on the campaign trail, you say you don't
criticize the speeches. Was that the last time?
MRS. BUSH: No, of course not. (Laughter.)
Q Well, I mean, there are certain things like -- I sense that
there are certain -- sometimes the President will say something and do
you ever say to him, why did you put that word in the speech or why did
you say -- because there were certain -- like I remember there were a
couple of phrases that really got to be -- axis of evil and evildoers
and these type of things.
What is your opinion on that? Do you ever say, that seems a little
strident, that seems a little -- you know?
MRS. BUSH: Sure. But not in time, usually. (Laughter.) He's
already said it.
Q When was the last time you and your husband had a
disagreement on an issue?
MRS. BUSH: Jay, what happens in the White House says in the White
House. (Laughter and applause.)
Q Wow. How does one unwind in the White House? Do you have a
guilty pleasure? Have you ever watched a reality show? Have you --
MRS. BUSH: We watched the very first Survivor a lot during the
2000 campaign in motels across the United States, a lot of them in New
Hampshire and Iowa and other places. But, no, we watch baseball.
Q Baseball, okay. Are you a big fan?
MRS. BUSH: I'm a huge fan. When he owned the team, we went to
about 60 games a year, and I loved that. Baseball is very relaxing.
It's long and it's slow and you have plenty of time to watch and
daydream and do everything else. (Laughter.)
Q There you go. Now, obviously, the convention is coming. Is
it me, or does this campaign seem like the nastiest in a while? It
seems like they start earlier and earlier. It seems to me, where we
are now would have been maybe July or August a number of years ago. I
mean, the intensity, the amount of money. Does it seem that way to
you? From your side, how does it seem?
MRS. BUSH: Well, you know, I don't know how to say that. I think
the fact is, campaigns are always like this. They are always alike in
one way which is, of course, you want to make your opponent look the
worst you can possibly make them look, I guess. I think that's what
But in our history, a lot of campaigns have been very, very
brutal. There was a lot of pamphleteering, for instance, during the
campaign of Lincoln, just like there seems to be now about President
Bush. No one gets that joke. (Laughter.)
Q Now, you spoke at the last convention. Will you speak at
this one at all?
MRS. BUSH: I'll speak at this one.
Q Okay. Because obviously you're very popular and people like
I remember you -- I think you were one of the first First Ladies
ever to give a presidential address; isn't that correct?
MRS. BUSH: A radio address.
Q A radio -- right. Okay, okay. But were you the first?
MRS. BUSH: That's right. About the women in Afghanistan under the
Taliban and what their life was like.
Q That was pretty historic. Okay.
You know what I wanted to ask you about. I had Barbara Bush here,
obviously the ex-First Lady. And she shook my hand, and she went,
"Don't tell any more jokes about my son." She almost broke my hand.
And I thought -- she was the most intimidating woman. I was like
this -- and I was wondering, when you're dating and you go to see
Barbara Bush, was she --
MRS. BUSH: She was pretty intimidating. (Laughter.) She was, for
sure. She still can be. (Laughter.)
She's terrific, though. She's a wonderful mother-in-law. And she
loves her children -- and, of course, I love one of them, too.
MRS. BUSH: I like that.
Q When did you know you were first in with her? Was there one
time when she wasn't giving you the eye, you know what I'm saying? And
you went, whew --
MRS. BUSH: When we moved to Washington, we moved to Washington in
1987 to work on Mr. Bush's '88 campaign. That was really the only time
we'd ever lived in the same town. And we finally bonded.
Q Oh, okay. Finally bonded? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: There was a little bit of a slow start. (Laughter.)
Not really. (Laughter.) She's great.
Q Now, your girls are graduating.
MRS. BUSH: This weekend.
Q I thought this was kind of sad that you and your husband
can't make the graduation because, obviously --
MRS. BUSH: Well, we could make the graduation but if we went to
the graduations, everyone would have to go through mags and they're
both huge graduations, outside. And it would just be a hassle for the
parents and the students, so we chose not to.
And, in fact, I didn't go to my college graduation. I went to my
undergraduation with my parents. But I didn't go to my graduate school
graduation at the University of Texas, because it was the same way.
That's where Jenna is graduating now -- so big.
And so once I started giving commencement addresses, I looked up to
see whose commencement address I had missed and the speaker was George
Q Oh, really? (Laughter.) Don't tell your mother-in-law that
MRS. BUSH: Don't tell her. (Laughter.)
Q Well, very good. Well, thank you. I know you have to run.
I want to thank you very much for coming by. I didn't even get a
chance to ask you if George was a good salesman when he was at Sears.
MRS. BUSH: He was a very good salesman at Sears.
Q How far do you think he could have risen at Sears if he
hadn't become President?
MRS. BUSH: President. (Laughter and applause.)
Q First Lady Laura Bush. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 4:44 P.M. PDT