The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 11, 2006

Interview with Mrs. Bush by CBS
USA House
Turin, Italy

12:08 P.M. (Local)

Q Thanks so much for talking with us.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot.

Q You're here with your daughter, Barbara.

MRS. BUSH: That's right.

Q What's it like to share the experience with her?

MRS. BUSH: Well, it's great. She's a very, very great traveling companion. She actually lived in Italy for a semester. When she was a junior in high school she went to school in Rome. So she particularly loves Italy, and it's fun to have her as a traveling companion with me. And I also have a really --

Q And she can communicate a little bit?

MRS. BUSH: A little bit -- not really, but a little bit. I have a great delegation, who have all been terrific and really fun to be with, some former Olympians that are still stars -- Dorothy Hamill, who is so lovely; and Kerri Strug, cute little Kerri; and then Eric Heiden, who is a speedskater, won five gold medals at Lake Placid.

Q Five gold medals.

MRS. BUSH: And he is also the team doctor, he's the orthopedic surgeon for the speedskating team. So we're going to get to go this afternoon to that event and I'm really looking forward to it.

Q That's terrific.

MRS. BUSH: And then we have the former Olympian that everyone knows as a former Dallas Cowboy, Herschel Walker.

Q Herschel Walker.

MRS. BUSH: A lot of people probably don't know that he was a bobsledder. And then Dr. Debi Thomas, who is another skater who's also now an orthopedic surgeon. So I guess it shows that you don't just peak when you become an Olympic star, but you go on to other great careers.

Q I want to talk a bit about the news today. Topping the news today, there are reports that Ariel Sharon's condition has gotten worse, that he's in critical condition.

MRS. BUSH: That's what I've heard.

Q How concerned are you that his passing will increase the turmoil in the Middle East?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I am concerned, because he made some really, really tough decisions, and very important decisions for the peace process, for the idea of having a free Palestinian state next to Israel, with the withdrawal from the West Bank. Those were very, very difficult decisions, and I think probably only an old warrior like Ariel Sharon could have made those decisions.

But I hope the peace process will move forward. I hope since he did make those decisions that we'll be able to move forward, and that Hamas, who just recently won in the Palestinian elections, will start to be constructive and think about constructing their country in a good way.

Q Adding to the turmoil, there are these protests in several places over the cartoon of Mohammed. And officials here at the Olympics are worried that they'll spill over here to Torino. Is the U.S. doing enough to stop these protests?

MRS. BUSH: Well, we're speaking out, which I hope every country will do. Every country needs to speak out all over the world, and especially in the Middle East, those countries need to speak out.

I know it's reprehensible to belittle someone's religion, belittle the revered figure of that religion, like the cartoons did. But on the other hand, such violent protests -- burning embassies and really violent protests -- are also reprehensible. And to have a dialogue, to have a real dialogue, the violence needs to stop. So I really hope everyone will speak out around the world and call for an end to it.

Q I want to talk a bit about the U.S. Olympic team. Some of the athletes have gotten some attention for bad behavior. Most notably, Bode Miller talked about drinking, got in a little bit of trouble for that. What would your advice be to him, as a representative of the United States?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I don't think I'm going to give him any advice. He's a wonderful athlete, and I know he'll represent our country very well.

I did speak to all of our team last night before the opening ceremonies, and I did ask them to remember that they can be ambassadors for our country. They represent the best of our country, they're diverse, it's a very diverse group. They're dreamers, as you can tell. Anyone who works as hard as you have to work to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team really is somebody who has big dreams and has worked really hard to achieve them.

And so I wanted them to know how proud Americans are of them. And I hope and I know they will be very gracious in victory or defeat, and give the world a real view of what American people are like.

Q All right. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much.

Q I hope you get to enjoy the Games.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks. I know I'm going to get to see three events today, which I'm really excited about.

Q Great.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you.

END 12:13 P.M. (Local)

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