WASHINGTON – Teresa Heinz Kerry (search) apologized quickly on Wednesday after suggesting that she would be different from first lady Laura Bush (search) because the two women had different experiences, and saying she didn't know if Mrs. Bush has ever had "a real job."
Laura Bush taught in public schools in Texas from 1968 to 1973, then got her library sciences master's degree and worked as a school librarian until 1977, the year she married George W. Bush (search).
In an interview published Wednesday in USA Today, the newspaper asked the wife of Democratic candidate John Kerry (search) if she would be different from Laura Bush as a first lady.
"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good," Heinz Kerry said. "But I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown-up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things."
Campaigning for her husband in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Heinz Kerry said she forgot Mrs. Bush had a career.
"I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a school teacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children, I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as First Lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past," she said in a statement.
In the newspaper interview, Heinz Kerry said she sees her age as a benefit — she is 66. Laura Bush turns 58 two days after Election Day. "I'm older, and my validation of what I do is a little bit bigger — because I'm older, and I've had different experiences. And it's not a criticism of her. It's just, you know, what life is about," she said.
Prior to Heinz Kerry's apology, Karen Hughes (search), an adviser to President Bush, criticized Heinz Kerry's remarks as "indicative of an unfortunate mindset that seeks to divide women based on who works at home and who works outside the home."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.