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

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 1, 2008

Interview of the First Lady and Mrs. McCain by Greta Van Susteren, Fox News
Xcel Energy Center
St. Paul, Minnesota

5:09 P.M. CDT

Q Wonderful to see both of you. Mrs. Bush, nice to see you.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much.

Q And Mrs. McCain, very nice to see you. I suppose we should talk -- the convention got a little turned upside down, not exactly what we expected, is it, Mrs. Bush?

MRS. BUSH: Well, that's right, because we're paying attention to what's happening on the Gulf Coast and we're -- I know the organizers of the convention will look at it day by day, and we'll see what happens and what goes on. But today Cindy and I went to a service project that Target and FedEx and the Red Cross are doing together to put together hygiene kits for all the people who had to evacuate and are in shelters in various places. And so there -- a lot of good things, I think, will come out of this very first day of the convention with people really making an effort to give to the people across the Gulf Coast as we watch and hope that there won't be that much damage.

Q Have you -- do you have any plans? I mean, do you know what's going to happen day by day, Mrs. McCain, or is it just play it by ear?

MRS. McCAIN: No, we're playing it by ear. Obviously we're waiting to find out what happens and what the level of devastation is down there. And what's important right now is what's going on in the Gulf, and as we said earlier, all of us are Americans tonight and we need to remember that.

Q I suppose that it would have been helpful for Mrs. Bush to sort of guide you through what to expect. (Laughter.) But the hurricane has sort of changed the dynamics. I mean, how do you advise Mrs. McCain?

MRS. BUSH: I don't care give Cindy any advice. (Laughter.)

MRS. McCAIN: I'll take anything she will give me. (Laughter.)

MRS. BUSH: She is very accomplished. She's already -- really has done so many things internationally, things that it took me a long time to even realize I had the opportunity to do after George was elected. And she's -- just in the last few months while she's been campaigning with her husband, she's been to Rwanda with the One program; she's been to Georgia, to Tbilisi, Georgia, with the World Food Program; she's been to Vietnam with Operation Smile. So she really is very, very accomplished. If she's done all that much just in these few months, you can imagine what she can accomplish as first lady.

Q Well, it's sort of interesting, the job of first lady -- I mean, it's a job without a description. We've traveled with Mrs. Bush when she went to the Middle East -- basically I think we hit almost every country in about five days trying to keep up with her on breast cancer awareness. But it's interesting, the platform, if your husband is elected, it just -- you've already got a huge one, but imagine that.

MRS. McCAIN: First of all, I can't even believe I'm here. I mean, occasionally I have to pinch myself, but I really have -- I'm flattered by what Mrs. Bush says, because I have looked to her for guidance, whether she knew it or not, through the years because her strength and her dignity and her character throughout their eight years in the White House has been remarkable. I could only -- if I'm lucky enough to be with my husband and be in the White House, I can only hope to be a portion of what she's been. I really mean that. I'm so honored to be here next to her.

MRS. BUSH: That's so sweet.

Q How often do you speak to your husband during these days?

MRS. McCAIN: Oh, quite often.

MRS. BUSH: Well, he called today while we were waiting. (Laughter.)

MRS. McCAIN: I talk to him three or four times a day.

Q And how many times do you get to talk to your husband a day?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I haven't talked to him today. When I back at the hotel to call him, he was -- I knew he was in San Antonio or in Austin or he wasn't available. But I'll talk to him tonight, I'm sure.

Q Do either of you get nervous going up there and greeting this huge audience?

MRS. BUSH: I do. (Laughter.)

Q You do?

MRS. McCAIN: I do, too. (Laughter.) My husband is very good at this; this is new to me.

Q Big news, the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket -- a woman.

MRS. BUSH: I'm thrilled.

MRS. McCAIN: I am, too.

MRS. BUSH: I'm so happy. I think it was such a terrific choice of John McCain's. I've been wanting to vote for a Republican woman, and I'm so thrilled that I'm going to get to this time.

Q Have you met her?

MRS. BUSH: Yes, sure, of course. I've known her from the -- coming in for the National Governors Association for the last couple of years. And then George and I just stopped in Alaska on our way to Asia for the Olympics and stopped in Alaska to see our troops, and she was there. And I think he made a really brilliant choice of somebody who is just so strong, like a lot of Western women are.

MRS. McCAIN: She's remarkable.

MRS. BUSH: She's got experience that no one else has. She's been a mayor. When you're a mayor you're very close to your constituents. They're your next-door neighbors. And so she's somebody who really knows how cities and towns are affected by rules that come out of the federal government and what it's like to run a city or a town. And I think that that's unbelievable experience for somebody on the ticket.

Q Did you push your husband in the direction of a woman or tell him that we'd like to see a woman on the ticket, Republican --

MRS. McCAIN: Well, there's been -- through the years, of course, I've always said I'd like to see a woman on the ticket. But when he spoke to me about possible consideration, I jumped for joy because we knew her, I knew her, and I just think she's remarkable. She's a reformer, she's tough, she's straight-talking, she's a maverick. She is a true Western woman. And I could not be happier. She truly is a great match for my husband and I'm thrilled with it.

Q What about sexism? Do you think there's sexism in the media and do you think there's sexism in politics and you think she's going to get hit a little bit?

MRS. McCAIN: A woman with the kind of credentials that she has, I think anyone that would try to hit her with that would be way out of line and very, very misunderstanding of who she is. She's a wonderful woman.

Q Mrs. Bush?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I mean, I think that might be a part of it. But I do think people will really watch themselves -- I certainly think the media will watch themselves. (Laughter.) We certainly hope so.

Q Is this -- does the campaign surprise you at all, Mrs. McCain? I mean, as it's developed, I mean, is this what you expected?

MRS. McCAIN: It's a surprise every day. I mean, I remember where we were a year ago; no one ever expected us to be here. They pretty much counted us out. So the fact that we're here and the nominee of the party and in contention for the highest office in the land is what America is all about. I'm truly -- every day is a surprise to me. To answer your question: absolutely.

Q What about the media with the children? I mean, you've got two daughters. You have a number of children as well.

MRS. McCAIN: A collection. (Laughter.)

Q And not to mention all the pets at home that you have. What do you think -- how do you get the media off your kids?

MRS. BUSH: Well, I think the media will be pretty good about it. You know, they -- when George was elected, they really had pretty much left Chelsea Clinton alone. So I asked them the same thing, and I think they -- I think by and large they respected that.

So I hope they'll do that. I really do think that -- it's a burden on children. They worry about their parents when their parents are in public life like that. And of course they don't like to see their parents criticized, and I know that because I happen to have a father-in-law and a mother-in-law who were in these jobs. And so I know what it's like to be the child of somebody in public life.

So I hope that -- and I do really think that in general the media and the general public give your kids a break, and I hope that's -- that that will continue to be the case.

Q So, you looking forward to this, until November?

MRS. McCAIN: Absolutely. It's a lot of fun. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience in terms of being where we are right now for the first time and to be in contention and being able to travel the country like this. I've really had a good time with this, I really have. I mean, there have been days where it's been tough, but all in all it's been a remarkable experience, and I'm so proud to be here.

Q Well, it's nice to see both of you. Mrs. Bush and Mrs. McCain, nice to see both of you.

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much.

Q And obviously we'll be carefully watching the campaign. Nice to see both of you.

MRS. BUSH: Thanks, Greta, appreciate it.

MRS. McCAIN: Thanks for having us.

END 5:17 P.M. CDT

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