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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 30, 2006

Interview of the First Lady by CBS
The Red Room

      Holidays at the White House 2006

8:33 A.M. EST

Q Good morning, Mrs. Bush.

MRS. BUSH: Good morning, Hannah.

Q Happy holidays to you. I know that you choose the theme every year. How did you choose this year's?

MRS. BUSH: Well, this year we really took the theme off of this beautiful room that I'm in, the Red Room. Red is such a beautiful color in this old house, this beautiful house. So our theme is "Deck the Halls and Welcome All," which we will do with lots of parties -- I think about 25,000 people come on either tours or to parties over the whole month of December.

Q Wow, you host a lot of people, and I know you have a lot of parties. That Red Room is outstanding. Do you want to take us through some of the special decorations that you have this year?

MRS. BUSH: Sure. Everything really is red this year, except for of course, the green of the greens -- the green trees and all of the other greens that are around the house. So it's particularly beautiful and perfect in this house.

The White House Christmas tree, the beautiful, big Christmas tree is all covered with crystals, and I think it's really gorgeous with snow on it. The tablecloths in both the East Room and the Dining Room are a red-on-red polka dot. And we have a little forest of trees that runs down the middle of the table. And later this morning, food will be all covered on these tables for the press preview and then the decorators' party later this afternoon, and then, finally, this evening for the very first reception.

Q I understand that there's a gingerbread house replica of the White House; is that right?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. Roland, our former pastry chef, came back by popular demand to build this really fabulous gingerbread house. Up on top of the gingerbread house we have Barney and Miss Beazley, our dogs, are driving Santa's sleigh for him. Kitty, our cat, is sitting down below the little bird house, in front of the gingerbread house. And Roland this year covered the White House gingerbread house with snowflakes -- I think there are more than 800 snowflakes that he made that are all over it. It's once again a really, really beautiful gingerbread house, one of the most beautiful ever, I think.

Q Well, I've been to some of your parties and they're so much fun. And you always pick a great menu, too. I know you're in charge of that -- what's your specialty this year, what're you serving?

MRS. BUSH: That's right. We have some new things on the menu that are some of our old favorites. We have tamales, which we always had on Christmas Eve. And then we have chicken fried steak and creamed gravy, which I think will be great. We have our chef, Cris's signature sweet potato souffl that everybody loves. And then of course we have regular, classic holiday foods -- we have ham and turkey and shrimp cocktail. I think it will be really beautiful. And of course we'll have a number of really fabulous desserts, some of them -- some cakes wrapped up like presents that I think people will really find not only beautiful but, of course, delicious.

Q And I know as you're getting ready to celebrate that your hearts are with some of the families who will be apart from their loved ones, as we will be going through our fourth holiday now with so many of our young men and women fighting overseas. And I just wanted to ask you, Mrs. Bush -- because your husband said this morning that he's not looking for a graceful exit from the war; that our troops will be there as long as the Iraqis want them there -- what your thoughts are for these families?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think of our families of our troops who are deployed every single day. And I think about them with very, very deep respect. I meet them all over the country, and I know the special burden of worry that is on the shoulders of the ones whose loved ones are deployed. And so I want to send them my very best wishes and my respect.

Q And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as, I think, many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops, but yet once again, we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely.

MRS. BUSH: Well, we don't have the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group, those have not been submitted to the President; we don't really know what's in those yet. But the President will weigh what comes in those recommendations, along with the recommendations of his generals and the recommendations of the government of Iraq -- the duly elected government of Iraq, I might add. Over 70 percent of Iraqis turned out to vote. That's more than Americans turned out to vote. And I think it's very, very important that we do whatever we can to help Iraq build a stable government there. It will make a huge difference in the Middle East and in this very volatile part of the world.

So I'm glad that we're going to stand with the Iraqis. I hope that this meeting that the President had with Maliki, which seemed to be a very substantive meeting, will be the first of many discussions of ways we can work together to make sure the violence is reduced.

Q Absolutely, and that's what everybody is hoping for these holidays. And First Lady Laura Bush, it's always so great to visit with you.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you.

Q The White House looks beautiful, and Merry Christmas to you and your entire family.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks so much. Merry Christmas.

END 8:38 A.M. EST

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