tv First Ladies Influence and Image CSPAN December 7, 2015 12:00am-1:36am EST
c-span produced a series in cooperation with the white house historical association, through conversations with experts and visits to historical sites. we tell the stories of america's 45 first ladies. on firsta bush, ladies, influence and image. this is about 90 minutes. ♪ >> i am here to voice my strong support for the courageous people of afghanistan. women and men who have suffered for years under the taliban regime. each and every one of us have the responsibility to stop the suffering caused by malaria. because every life in every land matters. and all of us can do something to help. after studying the first ladies and knowing some of them very well like my mother in law, one i admire very much.
we benefit, our country benefits by whatever our first lady champions for. >> laura bush became first lady after a controversial election brought her husband to the white house. less than nine months later was the 9/11 attacks and she helped cover the nation while pursuing interests important to her including education, literacy, and women's health. good evening and welcome to "first ladies: image and influence." we will tell the story of the life of our 43rd president, laura bush. here to do that are two people who know her well. this is a laura bush biographer. her book "the perfect wife," tells the story of laura bush. she has covered the former force
-- first lady since 2001. welcome to the program. he is a presidential historian and is currently working on a book, the relationship between president bushes 41 and 43. nice to see you this evening. in your biography, you refer to the role of first lady as the most bizarre, volunteer job in the world. we heard laura bush talk about having her mother in law as a role model, whenever thought she may have had about how she would perform the role after september 11 and we told her recently. she talked about that day. i want you to watch a combat and watch and have you come back and talk about how she responded and how it redefined what her years would be like. >> i was on my way to capitol hill to brief the senate education committee in early childhood education. i had hosted a summit on early childhood education that summer, and i was going to brief that
committee on early childhood education when i was getting into the car and the secret service agents leaned over and said an airplane had landed into the world trade center. we went to the capital. we assumed as we started driving it was some strange accident. by the time we got to the capital, we knew the second plane had hit the we knew what it was. the secret service came to get me. they said it's time to -- at first they were thinking it would take me to the white house. they had to regroup and figure out where i should go. the white house staff was getting word to run. the people in my office, young women who worked for me, were
kicking off their high heels and running from the white house and i know they expected to have glamorous and interesting jobs at the white house. anyway, the secret service came to get me and senator greg kennedy walked me out to the door and i drove to where i went was the secret service building which has been reinforced after the terrorist attack in our embassy. really, after the oklahoma city bombing. a lot had been reinforced. that is where i went and spent the day. >> had you told your husband or girls at that point? >> i cannot remember. i had the logs from the day to remember. i talked to george once i got there and my mother. she was the one i really wanted to call.
i wonder her to say everything would be all right. i called her and said everything will be all right. >> how did she respond? how did she redefine her role? >> i have to say, i was with her that day because i was covering her for the washington post. there was some confusion initially to whether anybody was going to -- she and senator kennedy made a brief statement to the press over there. i can remember looking at her -- she twists her fingers at her sides when she is struggling with something that is very traumatic. i remember thinking she is getting her mother-in-law's wisdom.
what she came to say over and over again, we have to make sure we tell our children we love them as america is a strong country and will get through. it was spontaneous and sincere, and very much in keeping with her as a library and teacher and she dedicated herself to that. things were very different. >> she wrote a letter to the children of america a day after 9/11. some of what it said -- a personal message. as a nation, we had not experienced anything of this level of catastrophe since the attack on pearl harbor. what do americans want from the white house, the first lady? >> we are fortunate -- there are many moments will have the right people for the right moments. choose the right first lady.
we forget now, but we did not know what to do. we did not know how to react to this. she mentioned this in the clip region showed. she sat comfortably her children. reach out to your kids. they want you right now. that helped them get through this trying time. she is a very teacher of -- picture of -- she served texas strong. it emulates from her. we benefited. that texas connection is where we are going now. both bushes assented to know them, you must know midland, texas. where was she born and tell us about her early childhood? >> midland, texas, it is west texas. is the kind of place you can see
from miles away. it shimmers like oz, 30 miles away. it is very wide and flat in big sky. her father was a builder and her mother was a homemaker. her mother came from texas. her mother had managed a dairy farm. when her grandfather was away. it was a place of who she was. and gave her a sense of strength about the land and the prairie and doing for yourself. i remember going there the first time, people talking about crying. she says she will for western pennsylvania having been educated. her husband so we are going to move out there and make our fortune in oil. she said, what is it like? there is a town and called no trees. and then her friend who entered do stir to -- introduced her to
george bush says she remembers, from the supermarket with tumbleweeds. she had no idea how to get to her house. it is very harsh and for bidding and in that way. you have to have a special appreciation. that made her tough. >> in her book, it is a love letter to midland, texas. so much a part of her. she talks about the sky. at how her mother and she used to look up at the sky for hours on end how important that it is for that part of the country. what did george w. bush mentioned what time is that allows you to see people for who they are. there are no trees and sky is the limit. >> midland and the 1950's was supportive but also could be insulating for some in what ways was a insulating? >> she was an only child. as always insulating in a way. it can be a lonely existence.
there were not a lot of folks who came from the outside. and when they did a canton oil business, it took him time to get adjusted. people had their own ways of being. and where you were and the social stratosphere. they used to say about odessa that you raised hell in odessa and raise your kids in midland. certain ways of acting and propriety. she went to the presbyterian church. people are dependent on each other and have to be because it can be kind of partial stop midland today has a large hispanic population. >> what was the light and terms of minorities what laura was growing up? >> i cannot speak as to how it was then.
there were three different high schools. when they got together for a reunion, when the bushes were in the white house, nobody remembered to invite kids from the other high school. it was not a matter of overt separation but almost obliviousness. i was going across town to do an interview and people and has a going to that part of town? people cap to their own lanes. it had its own shaping. when she went to smu, she said they do not have remembrance of dr. king and the race riots going on.
there were sock hops and sodas. >> we want to put the parent's names on records. her father was harold bruce welch. died in 1995. at her mother was jenna louise and is still alive. at 17, laura was in a car crash resulted in the death of a close friend of hers. she spoke about that and she wrote about in her book at our recent interview. let's listen. >> mrs. bush, you write about a difficult period of 1963 and a loss of faith. your faith. why? >> i was in a car wreck. i wrote about extensively in my book.
the whole time i was in the hospital, not injured really. i had a cut at a broken ankle. and i was praying that the other person in the car would be ok and the other person in the car was one of my best friends. i did not know. i do not really recognize that. his father came up. his father -- he lived past where the car wreck was. i recognize his father but i did not understand that was my friend who was there. because i prayed over and over again for him to be ok and if he wasn't, i thought nobody listened. god was not listening. i went through really a very long time of not believing and not believing that prayers could be answered.
it took me a long time broadly that it -- a longtime really and a lot of growing to come back to faith. >> the car wreck shaped her in what way? >> what she has said about it and what she mentioned to me about it was that you do grow up when you are young and you expect the world is one to be a certain way. she would've attained that majority anyway but it came to her pretty quickly. i think she is an empathetic person by nature and i think it probably made her less so now about other people. in a way that we do not often see at washington, she -- i think that has certainly made her the kind of person. she worries about her daughters
and her husband because she saw how a miscalculation can change everything. >> she talks about her faith. when you talk about faith. >> she said in an interview i did with her that she grew up out of that experience. you have to find a way to live on. that experience but very formative for a young girl was helpful to her in the days after 9/11. just seeing the role of that faith can play. as realized you have to move on. you have to be strong. it was very helpful. a great role in both of their lives. george w. bush became a born-again christian when he was in midland.
it changed his life in a lot of ways. she was vocal about her religious faith that he is. she's a little bit more low-key about it but it is important to both of their lives. >> she is the second first lady to have a postgraduate degree. what is important about her education and job? >> people frequently overlooked that. they make the mistake of thinking she is a conventional woman which she is not at all. she is quite interior is have -- and has a certain modesty. she did not ever really boast about it at all. she was very self-directed and came back from smu and teaching and said she wanted to go to the university of texas and get a degree as her father said, that will never get her a husband.
she goes on to get her masters degree. it is for and mrs degree. she very purposely moved into a part of austin which is still the barrio of the east side and taught at a middle east's -- at a mainly spanish-speaking school. she thought she can have impact on children helping them learn to read and exposing them to what they were not getting. that is a part that is really important. >> i want to tell you how you could be involved with the program. three ways. we have a conversation going on facebook. using the picture of laura bush
and you can join the conversation. you can tweet us. will mix in as many tweets as we can. or you can call. there are two phone lines. a question from twitter. i have a question about laura bush. was she always a republican? >> i will say i'm not a fan of the muppets. no. i think she supported eugene mccarthy. i think she was a card-carrying democrat for many years and she married into republican family. she loves her husband and has great faith in him and his judgment. and supporting its platform. no, she is not a natural republican. >> a set of relationships that
his character throughout her lifetime is a group of girlfriends and she made in midland. how important are they and what did they provide? >> what she and the president have a very strong set of friends that have been their friends forever and has been their sustaining aspect. you come to washington and his best to have your own friends. they have been with you and you know where they stand and they trust you and you have their loyalty. she's always treasured going off with them. even when she was in the white house, they will go on trips once a year where they will go rafting and care for each other. >> they are mostly progressive democrats, the group of girlfriends. >> it is interesting. as mark said, she loves her husband and his loyal to her husband. one of the things i have, to admire and appreciate about
laura and she has found areas of commonality of people she might find differences. she would campaign for republicans but i saw her once changed his speech in mid-script because the person who she was campaigning for, she is not going to attack a texas democrats that were running against. i think she has things that are very interesting. they care about literature. she is an avid environmentalist. she pretty active in women's rights. >> that set of friends you reference have really kept the ground. they knew them well. that gave them great comfort
when they were in the white house. both of them talking about bringing in their friends. george having his pals in the oval office. they looked at george. you are in the oval office. they are both very self defecating and having that circle of friends. >> laura welch and george bush were young people in midland. did they ever meet as children? >> and they did not. they attended the same schools. she said she does not recall him. and then i think and i inc. she knew who he was after a time. he came from a good family, a well-known family. at one point, they lifted the stay building at the château vermont.
i think she thought he was a bit rascally. her friends from midland fixed them up. she was 30 and he was about the same age. they were ready to settle down. they got married very quickly. >> i wanted to ask you. this a portrait of a library of who is very orderly and very measured. she did something -- marrying after 4 months. how did she described the courtship and the decision? >> she had a lot of suitors and her life but none of them quite -- she talked about feeling like an old maid. by texas standards, she probably was. her comes this guy who was so
different from her and and so complemetary. they clicked. she talked about how they went out of the campaign trail right after they got married. george bush campaigned unsuccessfully. they got to know each other so well that in these endless hours of riding around west texas talking about their lives really helped their marriage. >> what attracted laura to george? they seem so different in their younger years. >> she always say he made her laugh. she said she wanted somebody who would make her laugh. she had grown up as a lonely only child. she did not have a brother or a sister. her mother had miscarriages. she always wanted a sibling. the boisterous, cut up in
nature. he wanted somebody steady. so by to settle him down. i see that in him still. you never know what is in somebody else's marriage. i was struck when i saw the recently. >> the great moments for her was 10 when she was as the white house for the correspondents dinner i think in 2005 and she took the podium in place of her husband and talked about the fact that he goes to bed at 9:00. and she stayed up to watch "desperate housewives," and said i am a desperate housewife. they have this great reporter. they can kind of rib each other.
>> we have a caller for so you are on the air. >> is it true that her injuries -- her interest in afghanistan began in the sixth grade? >> i have never heard that. can you tell me a little bit more. >> and her book, she had to write a report on a country as she and her father went to the globe and spun the globe at her finger landed on afghanistan. she wrote that in her own book. >> talking about how exotic it felt. >> i think that when -- i travel with her to europe. she toured the museum in paris. there were a lot of the antiquities from that country is on the artifacts, she is very
taken that you can have this robust civilization and then it can be blown to bits in a matter of days. it was really quite compelled by that. it might have been in her roots. >> he ran for congress after they got married. did she know she was going to be marrying a politician? >> well, not exactly. he promised she would never have to give a speech. he broke that nearly immediately. she knew he was from a very political family. she described herself as not being a very political. that means they find politics this tasteful. they just do not like that. they think it is nasty. and full of one-upsmanship.
she did not have much appetite for that. >> was she interested in politics or pushed into it? >> i think thrust very quickly in a world went fashion. they hit the campaign trail. >> with it being unsuccessful? >> he had to figure out what he has to do a wooded to the oil business in midland. that's where they were for the first 10 years of their marriage. that is where their daughters were born. and the childhood years. i think it was a pretty middle-class existence for a long time. he decide to do other things. >> middle class by choice or necessity? he came from a very wealthy family. >> i think there is a certain modesty about them that continues. they do not have the hugest,
most appointed house in dallas. it is nice. i think he felt a strong need to make it on his own. you are working on this book about the relationship between down. as you find, you do not want to feel as if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. >> uhh, he was -- [indiscernible] the other thing is midland is both a bust town depend on the oil industry. it was really in bust mode. not very profitable at that time. he struggled in that business before finding great successes as the owner of the texas ranger. >> and his father's friends were there to bail him out. they were not uncomfortable by any stretch of the imagination. >> the twins were born in 1981.
you write in her book they had considered adoption before they were born. what was parents and for them? can you talk about how their children were raised? >> i think she wanted to have children. she always knew she wanted to have children. she always imagined herself as having a family. she described that as an idyllic time. she had these darling little girls erasing them and being immersed in caring for down. i think your children find a way to challenge the misconceptions of what it would be like. they had a set of twins. one who probably has her daddy's press about -- personality a bit more and the other her mother's and they delighted in that. they were all together and what
was a very close town, austin. >> hi, lucy. >> thank you. when you were talking about laura's lack of faith after the accident, was there something that happened that caused her to find that back in her life? i was just a little curious when she said she came back. i was wondering if there was something that brought her back to faith. >> i do not know. do you know of anything that would have been catalytic in her life?
>> i agree with you. i think that the kind of modesty she projects and the kind of privacy she shepherds means that she is not really given anything, whether it is her husband talking and witnessing her faith in a public fashion. she was raised a methodist. always had a church. it was part of community life. the comfort of that, certainly she has talked about the comfort of scripture in a way that is part of her interest in literature. i remember her aching a bible verse out after september 11. she was looking forwards to give her meaning and strength. it is probably more complicated than that. i would not presume to speak for her in that way of how she found her footing again. >> the call mentioned billy graham and he had a role to play
in george w. bush embracing faith and stopping drinking alcohol. when the two bushes met each other, he was a bit of a browser -- perouser and made the decision to give up alcohol and i wonder if laura bush was a factor in that decision. >> i think she realized he was drinking too much and he realize that at some point. i think there was a conversation that george w. bush had with billy graham and kenny. billy graham was a guest at his father's compound. i think that, as he began talking to billy graham, he began embracing god in a way that he had not before. the threshold of middle-age, he turned 40 when he gave up drinking and took god into his heart. laura bush was extremely supportive of all of the decisions that her husband made,
including his embracing christianity. >> he made the decision that he wanted to make a bid for the governor's mansion in texas. there was concern because of the twins being young at that point. ultimately, she agreed to support him at that point. was she embraced the people? >> i think she was. in many ways, it was a very low-key position. she talked about how she liked sneaking out the back door and going around the corner to the drugstore to buy postage stamps. it is hard to imagine that somebody could live like that today. i think she really enjoyed it. she had a rich life and enjoy the texas book festival.
i think she had influence on him with his education initiatives. as is the case with lots of married people, he learned about what role early education had and she talked about the importance of that. i think they very much enjoyed that life those years. for the girls, it was easier for them too. they could be part of a set of well-connected, upper-middle-class kids in austin. nobody looked at them too harshly. >> he understood what life would be like in the white house. when he decided to go for the presidential election, how supportive was laura bush at that point? >> she was supportive. there is no question about that. she was confident he would win. when everyone thought he was going to lose to an richards,
she knew he was going to win. she knew that he was tenacious in his drive. i think she had the same thing in 2000. >> for a woman who was promised she would never have to make a speech, in 2000, she was asked to address the national audience at the republican convention. we will show you a clip from that, when many people in the public got to hear her voice for the first time. >> i am so thrilled and i am honored to be here. i have to say, i am just a little bit overwhelmed. to help open the convention that will nominate my husband for the president of the united states. [applause] the president is our most visible symbol of our country, of its heart and its values and its leadership in the world. when americans vote this november, they will be looking for someone to uphold that honor and that trust. you can see it in the pictures.
the pictures are one of the most compelling stories of this campaign. we first saw them on our very first campaign trip. they are the pictures of america's future. moms and dads and grandparents. they hold up pictures of their children and they say to george, i am counting on you. i want my son or daughter to respect the president of the united states of america. [applause] >> that comment about respect came on the heels of the president's impeachment and what would be a very contentious campaign in 2000.
can you talk about their transition into the bushes and all of that acrimony lyrically and how the bushes establish themselves in the white house after that. >> it was a very important advantage. they had been there before, in a way, because george bush's father was president of the united states. they had spent a lot of time there. running for president is a marathon. if you get there or you do not, you are in for a surprise either way. that is a very steep learning curve and i think they had some exposure to that. the transition was somewhat used for them. it was a famously bitter recount. she talked about how she tried to keep herself busy. there was this time to wait and you could not get too much
started because you were not sure what was going to happen. once they were sworn in, she spent many months not being in washington. she had two daughters who were going to college. she wanted to make sure she got things settled. i think she was only beginning to figure out what she was going to do, if she was going to focus her attention when september 11 came along. >> historic proportions. we have the biggest impeachment in history before the election. we have the supreme court making a decision and the outcome of the election. how difficult is it for a presidency to establish itself in the wake of all of this turmoil? >> i think they transitioned into the white house life relatively easily. right before 9/11 occurred, laura bush started hitting her stride as first lady.
she had her first beginner for the president of mexico. -- big dinner for the president of mexico. she had done her first national book festival using the texas festival as a template. she was starting to hit her groove in that role and then 9/11 occurred. she talked about a friend of hers who had called her and said, when you first took on this role, i thought, i do not envy her at all, but now i envy her because you have a role to play. a very difficult role to play as our nation picks itself up in the wake of this tragedy. and she did an admirable job of it. >> michael is washing from washington dc. that's -- is watching from washington dc. >> is laura bush as conservative in her politics like abortion and gay marriage as her husband is?
and does he feel like she is a smoker? >> does she still smoke today? do we know? >> we really do not know that. there are people who have said she would sneak one every once in a while. she has said that she gave that up because she knew it was not good for her because her daughters did not like that and she knew that it was not healthy. i think that she, like her mother-in-law before her, barbara bush, who was married to a congressman from houston who championed funding for planned parenthood 40 years ago, those women sometimes will give the sense that they are more liberal than their husbands and that can work well for the party.
there is not necessarily evidence that that is true. i do not know that we can really answer that. in terms of her personal view of the world, i would say that she is not a judgmental and harsh person. i would say that she has also not ever felt that it was her role to crusade on behalf of reproductive rights or benefits for same-sex couples. she has tried to have her impacting areas which we might consider safe subjects that everyone can get behind. but she would feel and i would argue correctly can have impact. her foundation gives $1 million to libraries every year, which are woefully inadequately funded across the country. the book festival remains a persistent legacy of hers.
200,000 people went last year. and she admired lady bird johnson because all of these years later, there was the initiative to put wildflowers on the nation's highways year after year to bring a sense of beauty. i think she has tried to make her impact where she could and let her deeds speak for herself. >> i do not think she is an ideologue. i think that is absolutely right. a first lady could take on a cause and make a real difference without world events coming across their desk. and then 9/11 occurred. instead of getting deeply involved in education or literacy, as she would have liked, she had to do other things. >> the national book festival, which she emulated on the model
she built in texas, she was working on it days before the 9/11 attack. we have a clip from september 8, 2001, and first lady laura bush was on the national mall in washington. she was talking about the first annual national book festival. >> one thing i like about this festival, the national book festival, and the texas book festival, they are right here in the capital. we are on the steps of the library of congress with the united states capital behind us. i love the whole idea and the symbolism of books and the idea that books, with our national government and our democracy, because the ideas in books are an important part of our democracy. >> both of you are authors. the publishing industry has been a little bit left of center over the years. was there skepticism on the part of book writers or authors on the first lady getting involved and if so, how did she mitigate
it? >> she made the book festival enormously successful and gathered writers who did not share the politics of her husband in -- of her husband. they had a wonderful experience. i think that might have helped. i think books are an easy cause to get behind, whether you are a liberal or conservative. so that was an easy rally. >> she did have an issue in the white house after the war began in which she had been having a series of symposiums, one on libraries and the role they have played and won that she was going to do on poetry. she invited a number of american poets, some of whom were very left of center and opposed to the war. and outspoken on that subject. and spoke out about it, that
they would not come and if they did, they would protest. the cries got loud enough that she canceled it in the face of that. it was not without controversy. she was not universal accepted. -- universally excepted. and there have been librarians who have questions whether she has thrown her might into the fight over educational tact and the idea of whether we teach evolution or whether we teach sex education and emphasize abstinence. those kinds of intellectual arguments have sometimes sort of ensnared her. despite her efforts to stay away from that. >> on that note, pablo references that incident. has she ever commented directly on that debacle, as this viewer calls it?
has she ever spoken out about what that meant? >> not that i am aware of. >> not that i am aware of. i think she has a tendency to say that it is unfortunate that people cannot come together and have a civilized discussion. that, once again, you might be able to find some common ground if you get beyond that rhetoric. i do not think she spoke about it directly. >> marcy is with us from the washington suburbs. you are on. >> hey. thank you so much for taking my call. it is interesting. between laura bush and last week, hillary clinton, they are to women of my generation. one has chosen one path and another has chosen another path. both women i admire very much. the one success that they have had is that they have both
raised strong, successful young women. can you comment on the difference between the two and why? thank you. >> on the difference between the two and why they both managed to raise strong women or -- >> that is what she is implying. >> very different women and yes, their children are both strong. i guess i believe this my self. i am a strong woman who i hope has raised strong and successful daughters. there could be -- there should be room in america for all kinds of women to have all kinds of personalities and temperaments and to devote our attention in whatever ways we want to, whether we set aside our own careers for a time, pick them back up again, stitch our lives
together through the decades to make it work within our own families. we each have our own ways we can pursue that to reach the same kind of levels of what we would feel as satisfaction and success raising our children. i think they are very different. i think they are both women and i would say a lot of these first ladies would tell you that they saw their time in office as being primarily to be a support to their husband. i think there are people that rubs the wrong way. they think it is an antifeminist position. you should be able to work and pursue your own interests, maybe even disagree with your husband. it is the particular hothouse of being in the white house and the stresses on any couple, if you do not have a strong partnership, the president is not going to be as successful as
he can be or would be even less successful than he might have been. certainly, george bush has spoken about that directly and everyone of them have is spoken about that -- has spoken about that. i think it is a partnership. >> in november of 2001, shortly after the attacks, laura bush made history by becoming the first first lady to deliver the president's weekly radio address, which is a custom. his reflections on that experience and a little bit of the address that she gave. >> did it surprise you when you first became first lady at the platform that you were given and the voice that you have? >> i knew that, of course. i knew intellectually because i had seen my mother on the platform that she had to talk about literacy, which was her
interest. i had seen lady bird johnson and how she influenced me here at home, in texas, because of her interest in native plants. i did not know it until i made the president's radio address in fall of 2001 after the terrorist attack, to talk about the way women and children were treated by the taliban in afghanistan. >> good morning, i am laura bush and i am delivering this week's radio address to kick off a worldwide effort to focus on the brutality against women and children by the al qaeda terrorist network and regina supports in afghanistan -- and regime it supports in afghanistan. the people of afghanistan, especially women, are rejoicing. they know through hard experience what the rest of the world is discovering, the riddle oppression -- brutal oppression of women is a singular goal of the terrorists.
the cause in afghanistan, we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us. all of us have an obligation to speak out. we may come from different backgrounds and faiths, but parents the world over love their children. we respect our mothers and sisters and daughters. fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture. it is the acceptance of our common humanity. >> that is the first time i realized that people hurt me -- heard me and that what i said, people listen to. i knew from then on -- although, i think you never really know until maybe after you leave and see what the platform is. >> that experience helped laura bush find her voice as first lady.
>> she did find her voice. she talks about going to austin to visit her daughter at the university of texas. jenna was attending college and talked about going to the department store. the people behind the counter thank her for making that speech about the brutal beating of women under the taliban in afghanistan. she realized what a profound difference she could make. you do not see the people, but at that moment, they told her she was making a difference. >> how did she use that voice once she found it? >> she is one of the few people i have ever encountered in washington who refuses to take credit for what she has accomplished. this is a city where people are always taking reddit for things
they have nothing to do anything with. she was instrumental in spurring a program whereby liz claiborne and the singer sewing machine company donated so that they could become self-sufficient in afghanistan. thinking about our previous caller, one of the things that she and hillary clinton share is the believe that societies cannot be successful if they do not take advantage of half of their population. she was very interested in doing that. although ira member pressing her repeatedly to say, how does secretary chao get involved? how did liz claiborne get involved? finally, he mumbled out, i got secretary chao. i think finding a voice from her, her bully pulpit is -- she likes to use it in a way to get results. she continues to do that today. she travels quite a bit, i have
noticed. she speaks on behalf of a lot of organizations who are raising money for things she believes in. >> connie is watching us in east lansing, michigan. what is your question for us? >> does laura bush have a project -- does both george w. bush and laura bush have a project or foundation that they both work on and i am wondering if you could talk about that a little bit. i am sorry that we do not know more about it. >> can you talk about how this works in the world of giving and finance and how one can be a public figure and except contributions like this and what it does politically? >> laura bush continues to work on the issues that are of importance to her. the bush center is a collaboration of a number of different institutions. including the bush library and the bush institute.
the bushes continue to further the causes they began to take initiatives towards in the white house. >> they do that with the help of donors. >> yes. they raise money that goes into the bush institute and the bush library as well. >> in the case of laura bush, her husband is not going to be running for president again and she is not going to be running herself. those donors might gain if there were another bush, for instance, that might run for president. yes, i think that is possible. i think that they are sort of protected at this point from that. with mrs. clinton and the clinton global initiative, i think this remains an area that
the public rightfully wants to watch for. those of us in journalism continue to try to track, because if she were to run again, those people who have paid her money for speeches or donated to her various causes have a relationship with her. >> everyone watching this program knows about the many challenges during the eight years of the bush administration. it was a difficult time for the country. not only the 9/11 attacks, but the decision to pursue a war in iraq and afghanistan. during that time, there was hurricane katrina and ultimately the 2008 financial crisis. on the domestic policy side, the big initiative was no child left behind. the administration's major education initiative. laura bush continued to pursue her own interests even as the
country responded to the various bush administration policies. we have seen this throughout this series about first ladies standing behind -- beside their husbands and the public opinion of their work changes. how difficult is that to see the increased criticism that the person you are married to is receiving? >> it is very difficult for them to receive the scrutiny directed at their husband. they know the man. they know the real person. very often, we can get caught up in the heat of the moment when we scrutinize our presidents. they all become characters, in a way. laura bush is so deeply in love with her husband. it hurt her deeply. she continued to stand by him. she traveled far more in his second term than in the first
term. again, she had found a voice on so many issues, particularly related to women. she hit the road and tried to be, tried to better explain his policies to our nation and the world. >> for the reelection bid, laura bush was on the road extensively. this next clip shows you one of the challenges of being the first lady when you are trying to pursue your own agenda and the press corps continues to ask questions. >> i am very proud of no child of mine and the way schools in states all across the country are rallying to meet the goals of that. it is the same goal. we all have the same goal and that is to make sure every child has a great education. there is a very wide achievement gap between title i schools and students in poor schools and
that is what we have to address. it is not fair in our country to have that achievement gap. >> how has it been in the last couple of weeks for you watching your husband the criticized widespread around the world for the behavior of the united states military? >> i am sorry about that. i know that they do not reflect the vast majority of our military. they certainly do not reflect the values of the united states of america. i know this. it is terrible, but the good news in our country is those people will be prosecuted. there will be transparency and what happens and that is one of the benefits of living in a free country. that i am sorry about and i am sorry about what happened to the iraqi prisoners.
because it does not reflect our country. >> what are you seeing there? >> i think one of the things we never talked much about our qualities of leadership. we talk about leadership in terms of chief executives, people who we elected to put in charge. leadership is also being specific and targeted and focused about how much time you have and what you can accomplish with that time you have.