WASHINGTON – FOX News' Carl Cameron spoke with first lady Laura Bush on Tuesday about the campaign to make women more aware of heart disease, the elections in Iraq and President Bush's State of the Union message. The following is a full transcript of their conversation:
FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT CARL CAMERON: Thanks very much. We're here in the Map Room (search). Mrs. Bush, thanks so very much for inviting us here to the White House. It is Heart Truth Week.
FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: Heart truth. That's right. Today, the president will sign the proclamation designating February as "American Heart Month" and I'm wearing my red dress because of the red dress campaign — the Heart Truth Campaign (search) — that's trying to get the message out to American women that heart disease is the No. 1 killer among American women. Women, many women, still think of heart disease as a man's disease. So if they start to suffer any of the symptoms of a heart attack, they don't go to the emergency room like they would rush their husband to the emergency room. So we're getting the message out. I've gotten wonderful letters from people who heard me on television when they were in — when I was in Kansas City or Miami — and that night they realized these symptoms they'd been having were probably the symptoms of a heart attack, and went to the hospital and found out that was the case. And now these women are going around to the churches in their communities to get the word out to women.
CAMERON: I brought the red tie. And Friday is wear red day?
LAURA BUSH: Friday is actually "Wear Red to Work Day." And so I hope women will wear a red dress or a red suit and that men will wear a red tie so that all their colleagues and peers will learn about heart disease. And the great news about heart disease is that it's preventable.
CAMERON: It's astonishing that one of the statistics in getting ready to talk to you today is that women don't understand that it's the No. 1 killer. Talk about some of the real basic preventative maintenance that this campaign this week and elsewhere can do.
LAURA BUSH: Well, that's the really good news — you can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 82 percent, which is a really huge percentage, by following all the things we already know, of course. And that is eating a healthy diet, a heart-healthy diet; maintaining a healthy weight — watching if you get overweight, start to try to lose weight; go to your doctor to find out what your risk factors are; know what your blood pressure is; if you have diabetes, that's a risk factor; know what your cholesterol is; don't smoke — that's one of the major reasons to watch what your risk factors are; and then get some exercise. Just get up off the couch. And this is just going for a walk every day, just for maybe 30 minutes. Just walking. If you drive to the mall to shop, just park at the far edge of the parking lot and walk in. There are really easy ways to add a little bit of exercise to your life.
CAMERON: Take the stairs, skip the elevator.
LAURA BUSH: Take the stairs. That's right.
CAMERON: And doctors and men need to help remind women collectively that this is something they can't ignore because, even though it has sort of been staring the American public in the face, it too often gets overlooked.
LAURA BUSH: And men also — it's also the No. 1 killer among men as well. But more women than men die of heart disease in the United States every year. The good news is, that women can really change their lifestyles. And when they do, then they also change the lifestyle of their family. And we're hearing all this about how American children are obese and the high rates of obesity among American children. So if mothers can work to change their lifestyles, it really will help their children as well.
CAMERON: Well the Heart Truth Week and the Wear Red on Friday— it's obviously a very important week. And we're delighted to help you get the message out. It's an important week obviously for an awful lot of other reasons. Over the weekend, we saw the spectacular election in Iraq. Tell us a little bit about what it felt like here in the White House, what you and the president did, how you learned and saw and what the reaction was on a personal level to this historic occasion.
LAURA BUSH: Well, personally, we were very, very moved. When we woke up that morning — we always get up really early — and I think we woke up around five, the president called the Situation Room here in the White House to find out what the situation was in Iraq and the news was very good and very encouraging at that point. And then, over the day as we watched the images on TV that I hope many, many Americans got to see, of people voting, showing their purple fingers, people actually being carried to the polls, the long distances people had to walk. It was such a moving day for us. And of course, we got phone calls from everyone, starting with our daughter. One of our daughters called in first thing, because she was watching it as well. And she was so happy about it. And then of course, friends of ours called from around the country. And family members called. And then the president also started getting calls from other political leaders. And it was really very thrilling.
CAMERON: I think one of the things the American people have been struck by is seeing Iraqis in circumstances other than insurgent violence.
LAURA BUSH: That's right.
CAMERON: Seeing happy people, men and women, boys and girls, dancing in the streets. Too often, it seems we lose track of the progress in all of this. There, it's obviously a massive worldwide pledge the president has made in his inaugural address: To end tyranny and spread global liberty. This week, in addition to the Iraqi elections, the State of the Union [takes place] tomorrow night. The President has historically large agenda items, both international and domestic. This week brings the two together. Talk a little bit about how the two of you and how the world needs to address these two challenges.
LAURA BUSH: You're right. We live in very, very historic times. These are very different times for the people of the United States, and really for the world. And we've seen over the last several months three historic elections: We saw an election in Afghanistan; we saw an election in the Palestinian territory; and now this weekend, we saw the election in Iraq (search). And over the last 15 years or so, we've seen at the fall of the Soviet Union, other emerging democracies, all the Central European emerging democracies. And now to think that we can also see emerging democracies in the Middle East is really unbelievable. I mean, it's really so, so hopeful for our country and for many, many countries in the world.
CAMERON: Was there a moment that you can describe for us, in general terms, the president's reaction as an insight as to what was really being felt here?
LAURA BUSH: Well, I don't know if there's one moment, but late in the afternoon, before we had dinner, he had gone down to the theater to practice his State of the Union (search) address. And when he came back up, he said, "People are calling in." And he'd heard from Jerry Bremer and from other people who had such a stake in how Iraq is able to develop a democracy. And, so all of those moments really meant a lot to him.
CAMERON: You mentioned the State of the Union. Of course you'll be watching from the audience tomorrow as the president speaks to Congress. So what's in it?
LAURA BUSH: And he'll also be tackling some very difficult and challenging problems that we have domestically. And certainly Social Security (search) — he's going to talk about that. And I think that's really important. It's an important issue to face. I think one of the things we've learned from Sept. 11 and other issues that we face in our country, is that we need to deal with problems as they occur, rather than pushing them to the backburner and waiting until the problems become acute. And Social Security is one of those problems that right now, people who are on Social Security are perfectly secure with their checks. They'll continue to get their checks. But as the baby boomers age and we have more and more people on Social Security, and fewer and fewer younger workers paying into Social Security, we will have a problem. And I think the American people expect their elected officials to work with each other to face problems, to try to solve problems, to not try to make politics out of every one of those problems. But instead to work with each other on it. And that's what the president wants to do with the members of the United States Congress.
CAMERON: Terrific. Mrs. Bush, thanks so much. Obviously the State of the Union tomorrow. The election over the weekends. And this, Heart Truth Week, with the very important message to women across the country. We really appreciate it.
LAURA BUSH: Thanks so much, Carl.
CAMERON: Thank you.
LAURA BUSH: Welcome to the White House beat.
CAMERON: I'm delighted. It's going to be great fun.