For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 12, 2006
Interview of First Lady Laura Bush by KMID-TV
MRS. BUSH: Thanks, it's great to be here. It's especially fun to be
here today for the opening of the George Bush Home, and to have a chance to see my in-laws, President Bush and Barbara, who will be here for it. I can't wait to see their faces as they tour the house and see the way the group who put this house together have restored it to the way it was when they lived here.
April 11, 2006
10:45 A.M. CDT
Q First off, welcome back to Midland.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks, it's great to be here. It's especially fun to be here today for the opening of the George Bush Home, and to have a chance to see my in-laws, President Bush and Barbara, who will be here for it. I can't wait to see their faces as they tour the house and see the way the group who put this house together have restored it to the way it was when they lived here.
Q I'm sure talking to Barbara and former President Bush, they've given you some stories. What's one of the peculiar stories about this house that they've told you?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I know they love this house, that when they bought it, it was just a very, very nice house and they were so thrilled to get to live in it. But important things happened to them while they were here.
When they bought this house they had George and his little sister, Robin. And then Robin died while they lived here. And then they had Jebbie, baby Jebbie, who is now the governor of Florida. So the house ends up being the home of two Presidents and two governors. I know that Barbara was very happy here, that they had a lot of friends in Midland -- who are still many of their best friends. And they had a sewing club, I think, and other clubs.
One of the people that I met yesterday at the little reception after the opening tour told me that she remembered this house very well, she remembered coming here for their sewing club -- where I don't know if they did a lot of sewing, but I think they did a lot of talking, for sure.
George has told me a lot of stories about it. One of our best friends grew up right behind him, and he's going to be coming in town today. In fact, his picture is one of the pictures in the interpretation in the museum exhibits. And that's one thing that I think is also really terrific. I want to encourage people from around the Permian Basin to come tour the house, to come see what a 1950s Midland house was like.
And while you're here you'll see a few -- besides the rooms that are restored, like the one we're in, but you'll also see some museum installations that really talk about what the oil business was like in the '50s and what it was like to live here when you played for a Little League team. George played Little League and he loved that. And his dad was actually the Little League coach. And there's a funny story that Joe O'Neill has about one thing Mr. Bush could do -- he could throw the ball and then catch it behind his back. And so all the little boys tried it and instead they had scabs on their heads because they hit themselves in the head with the balls. (Laughter.)
So I hope people will come out. It will remind a lot of old Midlanders, especially, of what times were like earlier here.
Q During the second inauguration, I asked you -- you came to Midland, you said goodbye, and then my question was, was that forever? And you said you didn't know. And now it's nearly two years later -- any ideas?
MRS. BUSH: No, we don't know. I know we'll move back to Texas, for sure, when this is over. Texas is our home and always will be our home. I know we'll always come to Midland because we have so many good friends here. My mother is here still. This is the first official trip I've made to Midland since George has been President, but, of course, I've been here many, many times. My mother -- I came while she closed her house and sold it and moved into a retirement home. So I've been in and out of Midland to get to see her.
And as you know, at the first inauguration, on January 17th, on our way to Washington for the President's inauguration as President, we stopped here. Midland was our final stop on our way there. So Midland is with us all the time. Many of our Midland friends come see us and stay with us, come to Christmas parties at the White House or other parties. So I don't know, but I do know we'll come back to Texas.
Q You've been so busy. What have you been doing since the first term and since we talked at the inauguration? I know you -- you know, I see you in the spotlight all the time.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I've made a lot of trips overseas already this term. I went to the inauguration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the new President of Liberia. I visited Ghana and Nigeria on that same trip.
Then later I was very lucky to have the chance to lead our delegation to the Winter Olympics in Turin, in Italy. That was really fun and a great opportunity for me to be with these former Winter Olympians who were our delegates also -- the famous Dorothy Hamill, the skater; darling little Kerri Strug, the gymnast; and Debbie Thomas and Eric Heiden, both skaters, as well; Herschel Walker, that everyone here knows as a Dallas Cowboy, but actually was a bobsledder in the Winter Olympics. So that was fun to get to do.
And then I've done a lot of travel around our country. I've done events with the initiative Helping America's Youth, that I've been working on. And then, of course, I've been back and forth to the Gulf Coast, to see what we can do as we clean up from Hurricane Katrina and rebuild. Yesterday, on my way here, I stopped in New Orleans, had lunch with the state school superintendents, the chief state school officers from all the states from Texas to Florida -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- to talk about ways the Laura Bush Foundation, which is a foundation for school libraries, can help as we rebuild school libraries across the Gulf Coast; and then, also, just other ways we can help -- the federal government can help as the school districts rebuild. Many schools were destroyed, a lot were damaged. New Orleans is trying to really actually build new schools when they rebuild.
There's a lot still ahead to do, but I also was very encouraged in New Orleans yesterday. I saw a lot of rebuilding of homes. People had come in, they've torn out the old insulation and the sheet rock and it looks like they're really starting to rebuild, so that was encouraging.
Q When President Bush was first elected you kind of said you were going to stay in [sic] the spotlight, but then during the first term you were really out there. And when you and I talked you said you realized it was a forum for you to help people.
MRS. BUSH: That's right.
Q And I guess you've become even more comfortable with that during the second term.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I have really, of course. I've gotten more and more used to it. But I really do have an opportunity because my husband is President -- and a responsibility -- to talk about issues that I think are important, to be as constructive as I possibly can be for our country.
And I've always worked on education issues. That's what I did from my very first job. I always wanted to be a teacher, from when I was in the 2nd grade at Old North Elementary here. I wanted to be just like my teacher, Miss Gnagy -- who's going to be here today, I'm actually going to have a photograph with my 2nd grade teacher. So that's what I've always worked on. And when was George was governor of Texas and then when he was elected President, it was a very natural forum because it's very -- education is so important both to the state government and to the federal government. So I worked on those issues, of course.
And then in the second term I've worked a lot on ways we can help young people -- not just little children, which is early childhood education, which I've worked on, as well -- but what we can do for our older children and young people, to make sure they get the education we want them to have, to make sure they have the good role models around them that we know are so necessary. And that's been very, very interesting.
I've visited Boys and Girls Clubs, I've seen Big Brothers and Big Sisters, I've visited after-school programs, I've visited gang intervention programs, I've visited fatherhood initiatives around the country, to encourage young fathers to be involved in the lives of their children. A lot of young men and young women are growing up without fathers right now, and they suffer a huge loss because of that. And many of them don't want their own children to suffer that loss.
So I think we're seeing in the United States a movement of young men, particularly, who want to stay involved in the lives of their children, and I think that's good. But I think there are a lot of ways churches and community groups -- every kind of group, businesses, can help make sure young people do really have the good role models that we want them to have.
Q We talked about discussing with the President about the issues that are taking place, and I asked you if you gave him your opinion. And since you've both grown a little bit in this job, does he listen any more than what you said he did before? (Laughter.)
MRS. BUSH: He does listen; of course, he does. We talk about a lot of issues together. I don't want to give him a whole lot of advice because I don't really think most men want a lot of advice from their wives, just like I don't really want a lot of advice from him, either.
But we do talk about, of course, everything that's going on. We can't help it. And because of the way the White House is, where we work in the same building we live in, we see each other really probably more than we did when he was in the baseball business or whatever. I go over a lot during the day for different events in the West Wing -- if he's having a briefing on education, for instance, or on other hurricane rebuilding, I'll go over and listen to those briefings. The women from Afghanistan who were here, if teacher-training institutes come to the White House, I'll meet with them and then later take them over to introduce them to the President.
So we do many, many events together, which I really like and so, obviously, we talk about all the things that are in the newspaper, all the current events, as well as what's going on around the world.
Q Talking about President Bush, of course, it's been a tough second term. Was Texas, growing up in West Texas, as a man, has he changed in the last six years?
MRS. BUSH: Well, sure, of course. I mean, all of us have grown up, all of us have gotten a lot more serious over all of our lives, but over specifically what's happened to our country since George was elected -- with the terrorist attack on September 11th.
It's been a tough second term, but it was a very tough first term. None of us would have predicted that we would have had a terrorist attack. None of us would have predicted that we'd be in a war on terror. But, of course, when you run for this office you know to expect the unexpected. So we've faced many challenges. He has faced challenges as President of the United States. Our country has faced challenges. We have men and women in harm's way right now in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world.
All of those things -- but I'm really proud, very proud of my husband because of the strength that he has and the character that he has. And I'm also really proud of the American people, because of their strength and their character. I see that every day. I see it in New Orleans, as I meet with these school superintendents who are building school districts from the bottom up. They are faced with something no other chief state school officers have been faced with in our history, and that is the devastation of so many schools and the rebuilding of so many schools.
And what I see when I travel around is how strong the American people are, how optimistic they are, and how sure they are that we can overcome the challenges that face us. And I'm sure of that, too. I really, truly believe that Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to build the democracies that we want them to build, that we'll be able to build the peace with them and with other countries that we want for our children and our grandchildren. And that we'll look back on this time as a very, very difficult time, but also as a time when we've seen Americans step up to the plate and do the very best they can so that other countries and other people, and the people in our own country, can live a life with peace.
Q I love the baseball analogy. Let me end this interview with a question I ended with last time. What do you want to tell the people of Midland?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I want to tell the people thank you all, and tell all the groups that worked on this house, that did all this work to restore it and make it as interesting as it is and such a story not just of two Presidents and two governors, but also the story of what life was like in Midland in the '50s, and all the people that moved here to the Permian Basin, that built the oil business, that built the life that people have here in West Texas -- it's a life of character, it's a life of really good values, and I appreciate that. So I want to thank all the people that worked on this house specifically.
And then I want to thank everybody for their prayers for us and for their very good wishes. We hear from people all over West Texas all the time, and I want to thank them for that.
Q Thank you.
END 10:58 A.M. CDT