The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 9, 2004

Interview with First Lady Laura Bush by Norah O'Donnell of NBC News
Sea Island, Georgia

7:08 A.M. EDT

Q As you know, today, Ronald Reagan's remains will be flown to Washington for the state funeral. And many Americans have been thinking about Nancy Reagan.

MRS. BUSH: Well, I certainly have been thinking about Nancy Reagan.

Q Have you spoken with her?

MRS. BUSH: I haven't spoken to her. We -- the President did, of course, and we'll call on her tomorrow night when we get back to Washington. But I have thought about her all week. I've been thinking about Ronald Reagan all week as well.

Q So you will see for the first time Nancy and the family who will be staying near the White House?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. We'll see them tomorrow night when we get to Washington. We'll pay a call on them. And then, of course, we'll see them at the funeral.

We'll host the world leaders at the White House before the funeral and then all go there together.

Q Your President -- your President and your husband -- (laughter) -- will deliver the eulogy at the national funeral service on Friday. What will he say?

MRS. BUSH: Well, he's been working on that and thinking about that this week while we've been here in Sea Island.

I think he'll talk about how Ronald Reagan believed in America. I think that's why Americans loved him so much, because he was so optimistic and had such great strength of character, and he was funny and fun to be with, and a very, very warm personality. And he just believed in the people of America. And I think that's why people loved him.

Q You seem personally moved.

MRS. BUSH: Well, I am. I mean, you know, we knew him, of course. Our -- George's father was his Vice President. We didn't know him well; we didn't go to the White House often. But we did go some while George's dad was Vice President.

And when you go to the White House, especially for the first time, which that was the first time for us, you're intimidated, you don't know what you're going to say when you are in the receiving line and meet the President and the First Lady. But he could always make you feel at home and feel welcome, and there was something great about his very modest but strong personality.

Q And he suffered from Alzheimer's, which your father suffered from.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q A painful disease. And, as you know, Nancy Reagan has become an advocate of finding a cure and has differed with your husband on the issue and has said he should ease restrictions on stem cell research.

MRS. BUSH: Well, we're all advocates for a cure for Alzheimer's. I've worked for that for years, myself, because my dad also died of Alzheimer's. And there are stem cells that are available for research.

But also we need to balance the interest in science with moral and ethical issues that have to do with embryonic stem cell use. There are also adult stem cell research that could be done, and there's a lot of research going on.

We all hope that we can find a cure for Alzheimer's. we're going to have a huge explosion of Alzheimer's, because of the aging baby boomer population, if we don't find a cure or prevention for it.

Q Let's talk about the G8 summit here today. You are hosting the spouses.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q What's your goal?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm hosting the spouses of the G8. And if people don't know, the G8 is made up of the largest economies, the countries with the largest economies in the world. And because we are the most developed countries with the largest economies, I think we have a special responsibility to other countries around the world.

So today we're going to meet with a woman from the Iraqi Governing Council and a woman from the Afghan Governing Council, and an Iraqi Fulbright scholar who is studying here in the United States. People may not know that we have 25 Iraqi Fulbright scholars in the United States right now.

And we're going to talk about ways we can work together to help women and children in those countries and worldwide.

Q Great. First Lady Laura Bush, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much.

Q We appreciate it.

END 7:12 A.M. EDT

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