Transcript: Laura Bush 'Glad' Newsweek Retracted Koran Story

This is a partial transcript from FOX News Channel's exclusive interview with first lady Laura Bush May 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

MOLLY HENNEBERG, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for joining us Mrs. Bush. You leave for the Middle East tonight.


HENNEBERG: What do you think about Newsweek's retraction of its Koran story that inflamed so many in that region?

BUSH: Well, I am glad that they retracted it, but I think it's really important for America to be able to get over to people in the Middle East what we are really like, and that freedom of religion and respect for other people's religion is a very, very important part of our country. In the history of our country.

HENNEBERG: Do you think Newsweek needs to do anything else about its error?

BUSH: Well sure. I mean, I think that they can let people know that it was a mistake, try to get the word out, but I think we all need to get that word out. And that's really what Karen Hughes is going to do and she comes on board this fall when her son goes off to college and that is to figure out ways we can let people around the world, not just in the Middle East, but around the world, know what Americans are really like.

HENNEBERG: What, specifically would you say or do, perhaps in a speech on Saturday at the World Economic Forum to spread that message about the U.S.?

BUSH: Well, what I am going to talk about at the World Economic Forum is how important women are to civil society and how important education and we know that from our own country. And one I've worked on a lot this year in helping America's youth. I visit great programs around the country that work with young people to try to keep them from joining gangs or using drugs or alcohol abuse and at the same time try to help young people make the decisions of their lives, so that the decisions they make now have a good impact on the rest of their life.

And I think it's true, not only for American children, but for youth everywhere. Young people need to be educated, they need to have the skills to get a good job. The people, men and women, want to be productive, they want to be constructive for each of their own countries, they want to have a place in society where they can contribute as much as other people can.

And so I think that's really the message that – the very same problems that we address here are also problems that young people have worldwide and we saw some very great news this week when we saw the Kuwaiti parliament vote for women suffrage, so now women in Kuwait will be able to be involved in political life, and we know from the building of a democracy that everyone has to be involved, that freedom and democracy demand the participation of everybody, men and women.

And so I'm going to talk about that and I'm really looking forward to it.

HENNEBERG: Do you think women have a difficult row to hoe in the Middle Eastern countries?

BUSH: Well, sure. I mean I think that women's rights are an issue that some countries have for women's rights. And Kuwait just joined that group. And then, other countries in the Middle East, women still can't vote. We saw what happened in Afghanistan with the Taliban, how repressive that was for women. Women were literally forced to beg because they couldn't leave their home without a male escort.

There were many widows because the war with the Soviets before the Taliban came in. We saw that girls were forbidden to go to school. But now, in Afghanistan, two million little girls are in school, women are starting businesses. American women stand side by side with the women of Afghanistan as they start to get educated and be contributing members of their country.

HENNEBERG: You just returned from a trip overseas and we're just hearing that that grenade in Georgia was live and could have exploded. It didn't. Was that unsettling for you, as you go back overseas?

BUSH: Sure. I mean, of course. You never want anything like that to happen. Especially, I don't want that to overshadow this huge crowd that turned out to see President Bush and the strides that the people of Georgia have made with their Rose Revolution. It was very, very exciting and very encouraging to be there and I think each one of these countries, the Central American – the Central European new democracies in Georgia, the Ukraine, in Latvia, the Czech Republic, Poland, all of those countries that have just been building their democracies for the last 12 to 15 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are also examples. They are examples for countries in the Middle East. They are examples for us as we forget and take for granted what our freedoms are.

And that's a word that I want to get out and I am sorry that that one thing happened. Thank God and nothing really happened from the grenade but the cause, the actual event was so magnificent and so encouraging.

HENNEBERG: So have you been following what's happening on Capitol Hill with these judicial nominees, and do you think it's time to end the filibuster for judicial nominees?

BUSH: Well, I know a lot of those judicial nominees and of course I know them to be really very, very wise jurists and very accomplished men and women and so I hope they have the chance to get an up or down vote. I think they deserve a chance to get an up or down vote.

HENNEBERG: Should we end that filibuster then? Should the Democrats end it or …

BUSH: Well, of course I think so …

HENNEBERG: Republicans end it – Right, right.

It seems like you've been raising your profile a little bit this second term. You're going overseas – leaving Mr. Excitement at home. This trip is going so well. Why raising your profile the second term?

BUSH: Well, I actually have been working on exactly what I worked on the first time. I gave the address, the presidential address about the plight of women under the Taliban in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. So these are all issues I have already worked on. I have worked on education issues since George was governor of Texas.

Really, my whole life, first as a teacher and as a librarian. I know how important education is for opening up the world for people. For each individual and the same, certainly, for reading. You can read about things that happen at every point in history and you can read about life all over the world, experience things that you might not ever get to experience in person and I want that for American students. I want to make sure that American students can really have that big world that comes with being really educated with a really good education.

And I want that for the citizens of the world. I'm the honorary chairman of the Decade for Literacy, UNESCO's Decade for Literacy and there are about 800 million people worldwide who can't read or write and I know that our country and the people in our country also want to help other countries to make sure people are educated.

HENNEBERG: So are we going to see more and more of – I know you once said you didn't like giving speeches and maybe didn't like doing media as much, but are we going to see more of you the rest of this second term?

BUSH: Sure.

HENNEBERG: Let's talk a little bit about your legacy. What would you like your legacy as the First Lady to be? Have you been thinking about that?

BUSH: Well, no, I haven't really been thinking about a legacy yet, but if I'm asked about it, of course, I hope that more people are educated. That's what I've worked on. I hope our schools are better and better. I hope we can recruit more and more great teachers. We need teachers. There is going to be a teacher shortage in America and I hope people will consider teaching as a career. It is a very, very satisfying and rewarding profession. One of the most satisfying and rewarding professions.

And so I hope young people who are just graduated from college will think about teaching. I have worked with the Troops to Teachers project that tries to encourage retiring military men and women to teach and so that's what I hope the legacy is, that we're a better educated and more compassionate country.

HENNEBERG: On this trip, in addition to doing very serious things, like the World Economic Forum, you're also getting to do some touristy things …

BUSH: That's right.

HENNEBERG: What specifically are you looking forward to?

BUSH: Well, I am really looking forward to the first thing I go to, Mount Nemo in Jordan. And of course, in Israel, we go to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock. Both of those places, I am really looking forward to that. And then, of course, in Egypt to the pyramids. I am excited about going to the pyramids. I actually have been before. George's mother, me, and all my sister-in-laws on a Nile cruise a few years ago and we had a wonderful time doing that.

HENNEBERG: And the library in Alexandria.

BUSH: And the library in Alexandria which I have never seen and I am really looking forward to seeing the library in Alexandria, the new magnificent library, which, of course, Alexandria had one of the first libraries in the world.

HENNEBERG: Are you going to touch, in your speech, on any of the more sensitive topics of violence against women in the Middle Eastern countries, or honor killings, anything like that?

BUSH: I am going to mention violence against women only in the context of it's an issue that we need to talk about, it's an issue that women and men ought to be able to discuss in the public sphere because it's important to talk about that. But the real purpose of the speech is to talk about how women want the same things that men do, they want to have a place in society, they want to be able to be educated, they want to make sure their children are educated. They want to be advocates for their children and their families and I think it's just a human need that all people everywhere want, and of course mothers want their children to live free from violence and free from poverty and free from fear.

HENNEBERG: All right. Well, I'm getting a wrap-up sign, but just one more fun question. So this is a time for yard sales. What of your husbands would you like to put out at a yard sale?

BUSH: Actually, my husband has really great clothes now. For most of our married life he had the clothes I think he had gotten in high school, but now that he is president I am very proud of him and he has some pretty terrific clothes. He is pretty good about getting rid of old things.

HENNEBERG: No bass fishing trophy or …

BUSH:He has actually a lot of maybe I should say bass fishing lures and worms and all of those things. And that's all right if he keeps those.

HENNEBERG: OK. All right. Thank you. That was great, Mrs. Bush. We appreciate your time.

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