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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 1, 2005

Interview of the First Lady by NBC News
The Diplomatic Reception Room

7:31 A.M. EST

Q First Lady Laura Bush is the nation's top ambassador for the Heart Truth, a national campaign to raise awareness about women and heart disease. Mrs. Bush, good morning, good to see you.

MRS. BUSH: Hey, Matt.

Q You've been talking about this for a couple of years now, been involved in heart disease as a cause.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q When you travel around the country now, Mrs. Bush, are women getting the message?

MRS. BUSH: I think women are getting the message. And a lot of women are trying to make sure other women get the message. In fact, this Friday is "Wear Red to Work Day," and so I hope a lot of people will wear their red tie or their red dress to remind people to take action about heart disease, that heart disease is the number one killer among women in the United States, but the good news is we can really change our lifestyle and prevent heart disease.

Q Sometimes, Mrs. Bush, statistics make people glaze over. They're just numbers. But I do want to read a couple, because they made an -- had an impact on me last night. You just mentioned the number one killer of women in the United States. Almost half a million women in the U.S. will die from cardiovascular disease. That's 65,000 more women than men who died of the disease last year.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q One in every three women will die from heart disease. Talk to me a little bit about risk factors.

MRS. BUSH: Well, one of the major risks is that women don't know heart disease is a number one killer of women, and so if they start to suffer any symptoms of a heart attack, they don't think they're having a heart attack.

Q And they don't like to go to the doctor, anyway.

MRS. BUSH: They don't go to the doctor. They would rush their husband or their boyfriend to the emergency room but they don't go that quickly themselves, which means a lot of times they suffer more damage.

Q Yes. And let's talk about some other risk factors. High cholesterol --

MRS. BUSH: High cholesterol --

Q Smoking --

MRS. BUSH: -- high blood pressure --

Q That's right.

MRS. BUSH: -- smoking, diabetes, and then, of course, overweight, inactivity. Those are the people that don't get any exercise. And those are all things women can change. Women can make sure they eat a healthy diet, and when they do that, they can really change the lifestyle of everyone in their family, by making sure they all do.

Q Do you have personal experience? Has this impacted your family?

MRS. BUSH: No, I haven't.

Q Thank goodness.

MRS. BUSH: I don't have a family member who died of heart disease, but I hear about people all around the country. And one of the, really, most gratifying parts about working on the Heart Truth campaign is that I get letters from people who saw me on television in Kansas City, or in Miami, or wherever I went on television and they say that very night they realized that the symptoms they'd been having were heart disease and so they went to the hospital. And now they're the ones who are going to their churches and in their communities to talk to other women about heart disease.

Q Well, so clearly it's making a difference, and we congratulate you on that.

Hey, can I talk about a couple of subjects in the news?

MRS. BUSH: Sure.

Q The Iraq elections this week, they're called a resounding success by your husband. About 60 percent of the Iraqi people went to the polls. Privately, if you will, how nervous was he about the turnout for those elections?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think both of us were very concerned, of course. I mean, we were really worried, like everybody in Iraq was, and that's why it's such a huge success for the people of Iraq, that they braved -- went out, even though they'd been, of course, told that there were going to be terrorist acts. But they all went to the polls, so many of them did. And it was so moving for me and for the President, as we watched on television on Sunday and saw people come out with their purple fingers from the ink that they dipped their fingers in. It was a very, very moving day.

Q Your husband is going to deliver his State of the Union speech tomorrow night. Has he read it to you?

MRS. BUSH: He hasn't read it to me. He's been practicing. I know some parts of it. I know he's going to talk about how we need to confront problems, like Social Security, before they become acute. But I also know that he's going to talk about something that I'm particularly interested in for the second term, and that is what we can do for teenagers and middle school-aged children to help them be really successful in life.

Q What about what we can do for the families of American servicemen killed in the line of duty? Will that be part of the speech, an increase in the death benefit?

MRS. BUSH: I don't -- I'm not sure that's part of the speech, but I know that that's an issue that he has been working on and that's the benefits that American service families can receive if they've lost someone in Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere around the world.

Q There are reports that will go from $12,000 to up to $250,000 when you factor in a life insurance policy. Is that pretty accurate?

MRS. BUSH: I'm not really sure. I don't know the details of that, Matt.

Q On the subject of Social Security, why do you think so many people disagree that, A, either there is a crisis right now, or B, that this particular solution is the right one right now?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think people are always worried about any sort of change, and certainly people who are dependent on Social Security right now are worried that they won't get their checks, which, of course, is just not the case. They will continue to get their checks. It's when we have a huge number of baby boomers on Social Security and fewer workers, fewer younger people working, putting money into Social Security that the country will face a problem.

And so it's really important, I think, for all of us to face what that problem is now, to try to figure out ways that we won't have it, that problem, when we get to that point in our history.

Q A couple of real quick things. Your husband says he wants to be a uniter, not a divider. Are you at all worried that this particular issue, Social Security, will further divide Washington?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I hope it won't. I hope that people will all -- from all viewpoints will come to the table to try to do what's the very best for the American worker and for the American retiree who is dependent on Social Security, now and in the future.

I think that, you know, it's really very important for people to work together on issues, to not try to use issues in a political way to bash the other party. And I think we've seen a lot of that, and, frankly, I don't think the American people like that.

Q And during the State of the Union address, I always like to look up to see who is sitting with the First Lady. So give me a hint. Who is going to be sitting next to you tomorrow night?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm going to have -- I think I'm going to have somebody from Afghanistan and I think I'm going to have somebody from Iraq, both voters, people who have voted in those two elections.

When you look at the three elections that we've had in the last few months, in Afghanistan, in the Palestinian Territory, and then this weekend in Iraq, it's very, very encouraging. And it's also a sign that people the world over want to live in freedom and want to have a democracy in their country.

Q First Lady Laura Bush. Mrs. Bush, always nice talking to you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks, Matt.

Q All right, thank you.

END 7:39 A.M. EST

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