The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
February 11, 2006

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

12:22 P.M. (Local)

Q So good to see you again.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much.

Q How are you enjoying your trip?

MRS. BUSH: Well, great. We've had a terrific time. The opening ceremonies last night were unbelievably fabulous. And that was fun. I got to meet with our Olympians, our team, right before they walked in, when they were all together. And that was interesting. We have a really wonderful Olympic team with so many cute young people -- a few older people, as well. But it was really fun to get to see all of them.

Q And it is a wonderful opportunity because around the world, people view Americans this way or that way, and for two weeks, we have these wonderful ambassadors. And I know you talked to them about the opportunity they have to show what America is about.

MRS. BUSH: That's right, absolutely. They represent America, the whole makeup of the team, a very diverse team of people who work really, really hard. And you have to work really hard -- a lot of sweat, a lot of injuries, a lot of other things to make it that far, to the Olympic team. And so that's exciting. They just really represent the best of America, and I hope and I know they will be really good ambassadors for our country.

Q There are difficult times around the world. I think the Danish team had to have guards. Thankfully nothing -- there was no incident whatsoever, but they had to have guards because of the cartoons, as you know, that were first printed in Danish papers. I know you had an opportunity to speak with the Pope about that, and the violence that's ensuing all around the world. What was that conversation like with the Pope?

MRS. BUSH: Well, we just talked about it. I mean, he worried about it, and of course I worry about it constantly. And I know the President does. It's a constant burden of worry on him, on the President, and on all the families who have a loved one overseas, deployed overseas.

But I hope that the world will speak out. Maybe there will be something good that comes out of this, the reprehensible cartoons. But on the other hand, the really violent response to the cartoons, maybe if people -- it will give people the voice around the world to speak out and say we don't need this kind of violence, we can have a dialogue with each other. But if we resort to violence, it's very, very difficult to have any sort of dialogue.

Q Is there a role that the U.S. could play in this or should play in this?

MRS. BUSH: Well, certainly. I mean, if the U.S. will speak out with every other country, and the U.S. certainly can talk to other leaders, the President can talk to other leaders around the world. A number of leaders are here for the Olympics I met with last night. Several -- the President of Slovakia, the President of Latvia, the President of Estonia, all of them who I know because we've met them over the years, either visiting their countries or at the big meetings that we go to, that all the world leaders go to. Cherie Blair is here representing Great Britain. She and I got to sit by each other.

So I think there's -- certainly the United States can ask other leaders, and we can talk to people around the world to try to speak out about it.

I visited this very interesting program in Chicago called Ceasefire Chicago, started by a psychiatrist, Dr. Gary Slutkin. And with the work that he's done in Chicago, in these neighborhoods where there'd been a very high murder rate, now there's a zero murder rate. But he told me as I left that program, he said, working here I'm thinking about these kids in Chicago every day. But he said, I can't stop thinking about the Middle East. And I wonder if there isn't a message that he would have also, that people need to speak out everywhere, and say we don't want terrorism. We don't want to live a life like that, we want to -- I know mothers everywhere want their children to be safe and be able to have a safe life and go to school and be educated. And so I hope maybe this will be something good that comes from this reaction to the cartoons -- the cartoons themselves, and the reaction to it. And that is for people around the world to say enough.

Q I know education is very close to your heart, and that you have several initiatives that you're a part of. And some of them are geared toward boys. And when I'm at an event like this, I'm like, how can we get them more interested in books than balls, how do we get them -- because in the classroom they're not doing as well, boys are not doing as well. They're not going to college as much as girls. So I know this is something that's very close to you and dear to you. So how do we make that different?

MRS. BUSH: Well, that's a very good question, because, of course, boys -- and girls -- but boys love to play video games and do all those things with their thumbs that keep them from reading books.

I think a lot of school districts are really paying attention to the way they're teaching boys, and are they letting boys be as active as they are naturally, and at the same time, making sure they get the academics they want.

But I think that's one way, certainly, parents can encourage their boys to read. There are a lot of books that boys would like, that boys are interested in. I remember when I was a public librarian in Houston, the kinds of books I would buy for boys would be motorcycle mania and dinosaur books. They loved those. So I think there's a way --

Q To cater to their interests.

MRS. BUSH: That's right, appeal to the interests of boys. And a lot of American writers -- and we have so many great children's writers -- can write specifically for boys things that they would like to read.

Q Are you able to have fun while you're here? Are you able to go to --

MRS. BUSH: I am having -- I'm having a great time. Our delegation is so terrific. They're very, very fun to be with. We have Herschel Walker, the former bobsledder; and Debi Thomas, Dr. Thomas, who is a skater; and the beautiful Dorothy Hamill. And Kerri Strug is with us; and then Eric Heiden, who is also the team doctor for the speedskaters; and then two of my best friends, couples, friends -- and my daughter. So it's a great delegation. We've had a really good time with each other and getting to know each other and laughing and talking and going to all of the events.

Q Well, you could hold your own with the athletes. You look terrific.

MRS. BUSH: Well, thank you very much.

Q What is your workout secret?

MRS. BUSH: I do work out, you know, I walk and lift weights and work out. But believe me, I'm far from an athlete. I wish I were.

Q If you were able to compete in a Winter Olympic sport, what do you think that sport would be?

MRS. BUSH: Oh, gosh, maybe skiing. I mean, I can't do any of those things. I can't skate or ski. But they're so much fun to watch. And it will be really fun to watch the pairs skaters and the ice dancers that we have. We have some really very lovely teams that will be dancing together.

Q Well, you have been able to maintain this kind of lifestyle. I know that more and more you're entertaining, and you're going to different events, and you're really being an ambassador, and yet you're staying -- fitness. And I don't want to rush you, but down the line you're turning 60 this year. (Laughter.) I don't want to rush it.

MRS. BUSH: Don't mention it. (Laughter.)

Q No, Diane turned 60, now all that's -- every time I talk to somebody who's approaching that, she wants to know how they're doing, because it hasn't been the easiest for her.

MRS. BUSH: It is hard. It's hard to think about it. But I have a lot of company with all those babies born in 1946, including my husband and a lot of others who are turning 60. I try not to think about it, I'll have to admit.

I do feel strong, though, I do. I mean, I work out, and all my friends work out. Everybody I know exercises. So I think that's good. And I hope more Americans will do that. I know you do that.

Q Yes, I do. I do that. Before I let you go, one political question, because I'll get fired if I don't ask at least one political question. The ceremony for Coretta Scott King was just so moving, all the speakers at that. Hillary Clinton has now taken a little bit of the forefront. And I know that you all travel together, and just a week before, she had some very harsh words about this administration, saying it could be one of the worst -- go down in history as one of the worst ever. Is that just politics, is that fair game, or is that out of bounds, a statement like that?

MRS. BUSH: Well, of course I think it's out of bounds. But I think it's politics, it's certainly politics. President Clinton and President Bush and President Bush number 41 who was with us, as well, are in a club together, and really, I think, wives of the Presidents are in a club, as well. We know what it's like to live in that house. We certainly know what it's like to have your husband criticized. So I think there's a certain empathy that we might have for each other that we wouldn't have maybe for somebody else who said something like that.

Q Well said, gracious as always. Mrs. Bush, thank you very much for your time.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks, Robin.

END 12:32 P.M. (Local)

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