First lady Laura Bush (search) says she's delighted her daughters are taking part in President Bush's re-election campaign, saying she told them to "stand up straight and keep your hair out of your eyes."

The time had come for Jenna and Barbara Bush (search) to participate, Mrs. Bush said, even though the first couple sometimes has chafed at press attention given to the 22-year-olds.

"I think our children are finding this race very tough when they're watching from the sidelines," she said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show.

"They grew up," she said, saying the time had come for them to play an active role.

Jenna made a trip with her father last week and Barbara is traveling with him this week on his tour through midwestern states.

In the "Today" interview, Mrs. Bush also said that she believes Democrats John Kerry (search) and John Edwards (search) continue to harshly criticize Bush on Iraq because they don't have an answer themselves.

"I don't think you can regret that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power," she said. "The world is safer. It's safer with a democracy being built there in the heart of the Middle East."

She said she didn't regard it as embarrassing that Ron Reagan, son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is speaking at the Democratic convention and said there was no truth to recurring rumors that her husband will replace Vice President Dick Cheney on the GOP ticket.