The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 9, 2007

Interview of Mrs. Bush by Gretchen Carlson on FOX and Friends
The Map Room

8:14 A.M. EDT

Q Joining me now from the White House Map Room for an exclusive interview is First Lady herself, Laura Bush. Welcome to you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks, Gretchen.

Q So, so many people want to know all the details behind the scenes when the Queen was in town. But most importantly, they want to know, did the President break out the cowboy boots again today, now that he doesn't have to be so formal?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I will have to say that there was a little bit of a sigh of relief, although sort of a letdown, too, I think, after all the festivities were over. I can really tell the American people are very, very fond of Queen Elizabeth, and it was a thrill to get to be with her and then to get to introduce her to a lot of people.

Yesterday I went to the National Children's Medical Center with her, and we saw patients that are there and the families of patients. And I could tell they were very happy to have Her Majesty visit that hospital.

Q I'm sure that they were. Now, everyone knows that most wives and families have a lot of influence over their husbands. What did it take for you to convince the President that he really had to put on that white tie?

MRS. BUSH: Well, it wasn't easy. Not really. He was very happy to have a very formal dinner, because if you're going to have a formal dinner, this was the perfect time for it, when you have the Queen of England as your guest. But he did complain just a little bit, and Condi Rice and I talked him into it. So he was happy to wear white tie. And I will say, from the photographs yesterday from the newspapers, when you saw Peyton Manning in his white tie, and Calvin Borel, the winner of the -- the jockey, they looked very elegant. So I hope men know how elegant they look in white tie.

Q So many people talked a lot about the etiquette that you have to have when you're in the presence of the Queen. And I'm wondering, you're the First Lady of the United States, do you have to follow that same etiquette -- for example, not speak to her until she speaks to you?

MRS. BUSH: Sure, I mean, I would wait until she put her hand out to put my hand out to shake hands. But she's actually very easy to be with. She's very lovely and warm. And so it was really not that difficult to always be aware of what's proper, but at the same time, to have a friendly conversation.

Q Is that the only person, First Lady, that you would have to defer to? I mean, in that type of situation?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I'm sure there are a lot of people around the world that I would defer to, definitely, a lot of leaders in other parts of the world that, when I meet, of course, I'm on my very best behavior. And I would expect that American people would expect that both the President and I would do that, out of just courtesy.

Q All right, I have to ask you about the President's faux pas, because a lot was made about when he talked about the bicentennial and accidentally said 1776. But we were kind of having a bet here on Fox and Friends that maybe, in fact, he did it on purpose. What is the truth?

MRS. BUSH: No, I can assure you he did not do it on purpose.

Q So it was actually just a little Majesty --

MRS. BUSH: But she got back at him last night in her toast at the British embassy at the reciprocal dinner when she started her toast by saying, you said that I was with you at the bicentennial -- or at the 1776, and got a great laugh from the audience. And the President admitted to her he couldn't top that with another one-liner.

Q All right, a lot was made about what you served at that dinner. What did the Queen decide to serve at the dinner for you last night?

MRS. BUSH: Well, they had a beautiful dinner for us, starting with smoked salmon as the appetizer, that was great. And then they had veal and wonderful potatoes. And then they had a very traditional English dessert, summer pudding, that was great, with clotted cream.

Q No fish and chips?

MRS. BUSH: No fish and chips.

Q All right, First Lady, if you'll stick around with us, I hope, for just another moment, we want to talk to you about what you're going to be involved with today -- the national dropout rate. Stick around and we'll be right back with First Lady Laura Bush in just a moment.

* * * * *

Q More of our exclusive interview now live with First Lady Laura Bush. She joins me from the White House.

First Lady, I'm interested in knowing what you're taking part in today, the nation's Summit on America's Silent Epidemic. You're going to be giving the keynote address, talking about the crisis of the dropout rate in our nation's high schools. I think a lot of people think that this is not a problem anymore, but obviously it is.

MRS. BUSH: It is, it's a huge problem, and we had a report, research that was done on the actual numbers of high school dropouts in the United States. It was done last year, 2006, and this summit is in response to that.

What we found was that a lot of high schools and school districts were not reporting their number of dropouts accurately, and in fact, over a million American students drop out of high school every year, and half of African American, Hispanic and Native American students, ninth-graders, don't finish high school on time with their class.

And so today's conference, which includes the Education Department, the National Governors Association, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of other stakeholders are meeting to try to address this problem to see what we can do.

When you ask students why they drop out, a lot of them say because they really weren't prepared for high school work, that they couldn't keep up in high school. And so that makes it even more important for us to make sure children are learning to read when they're in elementary school and are prepared.

And I want to encourage parents, if you know your children are desperately unhappy in high school, look around and see what you can do to help them, see if you can find a teacher at their school that will be an advocate for them, see if you can get tutoring for them. There is some money under No Child Left Behind for tutoring for students. But stay involved in your child's education.

Q And you would know.

MRS. BUSH: Children whose parents are involved really do a lot better.

Q Yes, you would know, as a former librarian and teacher. And you bring up the point of parents, which is where I was going to go next. I was looking at the top five reasons -- you cited some of them -- as to why kids leave high school. One of them -- 38 percent of the people who responded said, hey, I just had too much freedom and not enough rules in my life. And I'm wondering, that comes back to the family life, and to the parents of these kids.

MRS. BUSH: That really does. And so parents need to remember that even their high school students need parenting. Parenting isn't just for little kids, although that's certainly very, very important. But high school students want their parents to stay involved in their lives. And if parents are supportive of their kids, even their high school kids, go to the schools, go to the games, go to the plays in the drama department. Do all of those things, and your children are much more likely to be successful.

Q All right, so there is a website, this new online resource that you're kicking off today, It's going to be unveiled today. But the interesting thing is, is that people will be able to go on this website and see the data about their own local school system, correct? And find out where, in fact, their kids are dropping out, at what level.

MRS. BUSH: That's right, you can go on this website -- this morning at 9:00 a.m. it will go up on the Internet -- and you can type in your own school district and see what your dropout rates are. You can also see at what grade most students drop out, and ways that your own community can address this problem at home in your own school district. And that's going to be a very important piece of it, because the federal government can't reach into every single school district, but local community people, school advocates, teachers and principals and parents can reach into their own districts and see what they can do to address the problems of their students who are dropping out.

Q All right, a little bit earlier, Mrs. Bush, Steve Ducey, sitting next to me, was talking about the Dewey Decimal System. And he was wondering -- I was wondering, actually, does it still exist? In the age of computers and the Internet, does it still exist in our libraries?

MRS. BUSH: Absolutely. The Dewey Decimal System is used in some school libraries, but really most public libraries now use the Library of Congress system. And now the great news about computers is librarians don't have to catalogue every single book, but you can easily find all the catalogue information on every book for a library. And so that made libraries a little bit easier. But I will admit that our books in our library are in Dewey Decimal order. (Laughter.)

Q All right. Well, since you have -- since you have so much influence on the home front, as well, when I was at the White House Christmas party, and you were gracious enough to take a photo with my mom and with the President, I did say to him, now, we always have an open seat for you on Fox and Friends. I'm wondering, Mrs. Bush, with your influence now, you got him to wear the white tie; could you get him to come and take a seat with us here for a morning on Fox and Friends?

MRS. BUSH: I'll try to. Thanks, Gretchen.

Q All right, great to see you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot.

Q Good luck today on the nation's summit. Again, it's Find out what your local dropout rate is and see what you can do about it.

Thank you so much, Mrs. Bush, a pleasure to speak with you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks a lot, Gretchen.

END 8:26 A.M. EDT

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