Former First Lady Laura Bush Speaks from the Heart

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 27-28, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now a very special guest. Former first lady Laura Bush goes "On the Record" from the childhood home of President Bush 43 in Midland, Texas. Mrs. Bush talked about her new book, "Spoken From the Heart," and so much more.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mrs. Bush, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: And this is terrific. What a wild kitchen.

BUSH: Isn't this great? This is the George Bush childhood home. George always thinks it's a little weird that is isn't the George Bush Senior home, since he's the one who bought it when they moved to Midland years ago. But this is the little house that George grew up in while he lived here in Midland.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they could swap the clocks (ph) every once in a while. They could both (INAUDIBLE)

BUSH: Exactly. I think they both should.

VAN SUSTEREN: The refrigerator behind though, everything is a facsimile of how it was when President Bush 43 grew up. But this is no ordinary refrigerator is it?

BUSH: That is my mother's very fine turquoise refrigerator from a house that we lived in and probably 1959, we moved into it. And that was - - she had an all turquoise kitchen which was very chic.

VAN SUSTEREN: You can't mention Barbara Bush.

BUSH: I don't think Barbara had such a fine, cool turquoise refrigerator. But when mother moved to the retirement home she still had it in our utility room, so we brought it down here for this childhood home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did the eight years go fast? Now that they made the circle back to Texas, did it go really fast?

BUSH: It did. George said the days were long but the years were short. It did seem to go very quickly. Every moment was full of the years that we lived there.

As you know, they were recon shall years for our country with September 11th, and the threat of terrorism for the rest of the time we lived there and working on that as well as the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq. And so there was a lot, a lot happened in those eight years. They were very consequential and it was a privilege to get to represent the United States then for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting reading your book, because it is a biography, so you start at the beginning and move on. I thought it was interesting when you were, I guess a young girl, I guess when President Bush 41 was vice president and you would go to the White House. In your wildest dreams, did you ever think you were going to be there as first lady?

BUSH: No, I never did of course. When he was vice president we went to the vice presidential house a lot with the little girls. When Barbara and Jenna the first year he was in office into 1981, and visited there often. We were invited to the White House a couple times by President Reagan and Nancy Reagan. I wrote about those times in the book. But I would have never guessed then.

In fact, I remember very well, leaving Washington in 1988, right after President Bush was elected. Before George and I lived there for a year and a half. And on the way home, I remember looking out of the plane window at the monuments below in Washington and thinking how fortunate I had been to get to live there and never thinking of course that I would get to move back and live in the White House for eight years.

VAN SUSTEREN: You wrote about getting caught in a motorcade.

BUSH: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is fun to track that whole history.

I got here a little early and I met some of your young friends. You still have your old friends?

BUSH: I do. George and I both do. We have our friends who were in the first grade with us here in Midland. George went here from the first to the eighth grade. It was the eighth grade when the Bushes moved to Houston, and I graduated from high school in Midland and went through. So we are very fortunate to have that sort of history with our friends.

One is the pictures in this George Bush childhood home is the great Mike Proctor who lived across p the street from George, his elementary school best friend and still one of our best friends today.

VAN SUSTEREN: The bedroom that -- his childhood bedroom he has a crocket set that belonged to the man that introduced the two of you.

BUSH: Joey O'Neil. And Jan, and Jan is actually on the board of the childhood home here. And Jan was one of my great high school friends. She and Joey had gone to St. Anne's Catholic School. They hadn't gone to elementary school with you us, but came on to high school with us.

They were the ones when George moved back in 1975 who invited us over for dinner in 1977 when I was hope visiting my parents. We got married three months later.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you know you were getting set-up that night?

BUSH: They had been talking George, Joey had been talking about George for a couple of years. Actually, we were the last two single people they knew. So we had to get together, I guess.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things I read in the book, that when you were about the time you were getting married a friend of yours mother came in and said, that the most eligible bachelor --

BUSH: -- was marrying the old maid of midland.

VAN SUSTEREN: That was rotten. Did you ever say anything to her?

BUSH: I never have said anything, but I thought it was funny at the time. It was so typical. I'm four months younger than George but he was considered the eligible bachelor and I was considered the old maid.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your life is a life that many people live. Your father had been in World War II, had been to a concentration camp as part of liberating it. He didn't talk much about it.

BUSH: He didn't really. His company, the 104th infantry, liberated Nordhausen, one of the German concentration camps. He had these photos he had taken of the bodies that were there when they got there.

And he said when the American soldiers there and saw all those bodies piled up that they put their faces in their hands and wept. He brought home these photos from World War II, and every once in a while we would get them out and look at them. But he didn't really talk about it.

And I think he was like a lot of other men that came home, after World War II, in 1946, when he got home, January 1946, who just put that life behind him and went ahead and went to work and built our economy, really. And that's what happened in the United States, all over.

And Midland was an example of one of the many one industry towns that spread across the country. Ours happened to be the oil business. It could have been a steel town in Pennsylvania or a textile town in the Carolinas or all those others where the men and women after World War II just went to work and put those years behind.


VAN SUSTEREN: Next, more with Mrs. Bush. She talks about Governor Sarah Palin, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The word "lookism" is used. Why? More with Mrs. Bush, next.



VAN SUSTEREN: Continuing with former first lady Laura Bush about her new book "Spoken from the Heart."


VAN SUSTEREN: When we were lucky enough to travel to the Middle East with you, I remember sitting in a room in Saudi Arabia, and you were you surrounded by many women who were veiled, and they were either breast cancer sufferers or survivors.

They very -- they were very excited to have the first lady from the United States. And they gave you a gift, a scarf that they had made, and you took it out and put it on for three, four seconds, took it off.

And I remember thinking, I thought, you know, how gracious and empathetic. I knew you weren't supposed to do that, but I thought for a second that's the best thing I had ever seen you done. And you got criticized for it. It was so important to those women.

BUSH: The criticism was from someone who had no idea what the real context of the meeting was and how intimate those conversations were, as you know, when you talk with women about breast cancer. There's an intimacy there I really didn't expect the when I on the trip but I was moved by when I was there.

And so of course the scarf they gave me had the pink ribbon on it for breast cancer awareness. We have gotten some really good news also out of Saudi Arabia having to do with that. Many, many more women there are now going in for mammograms early, which important, because they were for some reason presenting earlier with breast cancer, and there was a great sigma associated to cancer.

But, good news, many more women are going in early so they can detect breast cancer when it is still curable.

Another thing we got in a newspaper in Saudi Arabia recently was a photograph of King Abdullah meeting with a group of women, many of them healthcare advocates or doctors, and their faces were not covered.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is huge, because when we were there the women were wearing things over their faces -- I don't want to be disrespectful -- which almost looked like football face guards.

BUSH: Exactly. So I think that is encouraging to see.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's huge. It is a big difference.

BUSH: It really is.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you are in so much trouble when Barbara Bush sees you --


I can't believe you said that. Has she seen that yet?

BUSH: I don't know. If she's seen it yet, she hasn't mentioned it to me. She has called me a number of times since.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone does the Washington read, looks in the back to see where you are.

BUSH: She probably saw that first thing. She would be the first to admit that's how she was. She's so terrific.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does she scare you?

BUSH: She doesn't anymore. But she was pretty intimidating in the first few years when I first met her.

VAN SUSTEREN: She's tough!

BUSH: She's though. She's great. She's the person you really want at your dinner partner. She will keep the conversation going. She will make you laugh and tell wild stories, all the fun things you want to have at a dinner party

VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, President Bush 41.

BUSH: He's so much fun and he's so sweet and so dear. And they both are ferocious bears of parents. They love their kids and they love their grandkids. And I appreciate that very much because I happen to love one of their children a lot and two of their grandchildren.

VAN SUSTEREN: It must be hard for them and also for a spouse to see your husband, the president -- of course he's the president so he's going to get whacked by everybody. Hard?

BUSH: It was very hard. It was so hard for news 1992, when President Bush was running for reelection. And when we saw him being characterized in a way we knew he wasn't.

And in fact that was the reason I was reluctant when George wanted to run for president because I knew that's just what happens in American political life. And it was very, very difficult for George and me to see his parents, especially his dad, criticized.

Barbara was very popular and very fun and people love her. And they love her because she's the way she is, because she is so strong in and her personality is strong and her sense of humor is terrific.

VAN SUSTEREN: Things are interesting now. We have a new president. There will be an election in 2012 with a new Republican candidate. The women, Governor Palin and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are they treated like the men?

BUSH: I don't think so, not yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the story?

BUSH: We'll see. I hope that a Republican woman will be elected first, as president. And of course, I'd like to see a woman president in my lifetime. I'd like for my girls to get to see a woman elected to highest office?

VAN SUSTEREN: How about the treatment from the media? Do they get the same treatment as the guys?

BUSH: They do, except the media talks about how they look to some extent, and you don't hear that as often about the men. There's a lot of pressure on the spouse of the president to look great, to always have their hair fixed perfectly, and to have really nice clothes. It is still a little bit of lookism, I think.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned that in your book in terms of how the spouses are treated. What is the job description of the first lady? Can you describe it?

BUSH: It is everything. You're supposed to be a great hostess. You are supposed to be informed about policy of all sorts. You're supposed to be a terrific mother, and, you know just a lot of other things, decorator who takes care of the White House.

And actually those were all roles that I really liked. I loved living in the White House. I loved and I wrote a lot about my stewardship of the White House, how interesting it was to be able to live there with the furniture of other presidents and how much fun and how rewarding it was.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's a great book. And even more importantly, it's interesting to see behind the scenes. And we started off with things you have done in the world for women. I hope women read this. And I hope they feel inspired to do some of the things you have done.

BUSH: Thanks a lot, Greta. It was fun to write because of that. I wanted people to have a real -- even the mundane things about the White House -- to have a real idea of what it is like to live there.


PART II - MAY 28, 2010

JAMIE COLBY, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Now, part two of Greta's interview with former first lady, Laura Bush. Greta went on a road trip to Midland, Texas for a behind the scenes look at the town where Mrs. Bush grew up. She had a face-to-face chat about Mrs. Bush's new book "Spoken from the Heart." They started at the childhood home of President George W. Bush. Take a look.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tell me where this is?

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Well, this is George's bedroom. This was his bedroom when he was a little boy. This house the Bushes bought it was already built, they didn't build it. This is the way this cute little room was with all these little perfect little boy bedroom with all these cute little desk and a built book shelves.

I think these are just vintage cub scout clothes. I don't think he had those, but Mrs. Bush was his Cub Scout leader when he was a cub scout in Midland. It is such a cute little bedroom. I can tell -- I can see why they wanted to buy this house when they were newly married and had this one little boy and this was the perfect little bedroom for the little boy.

SUSTEREN: All this fixtures tell history about the way things used to be including the turquoise, the refrigerator.

BUSH: The refrigerator, this was all sort of interpreted at the 1950s house, which of course, is the decade they lived here in this very house.

SUSTEREN: How far away did you live?

BUSH: I lived about 10 blocks from here. We'll drive-by there in a minute.

SUSTEREN: Great, let's go. Explain where we are?

BUSH: This is the street that my dad bought probably about 1948 or 49 and he built every house on this block. We lived in several of them. We lived in this little house first and then we moved to the corner house, a bigger house next and then he built our fine brick house.

SUSTEREN: You lived in that one too?

BUSH: Yes, we lived in that one and that's where we had a garage on one side. But when television came in, the first time TV came in and Midland got a television channel then we closed off the garage and made it into a den for our TV watching.

SUSTEREN: So this is where you got married what year was it?

BUSH: We got married here November 5th, 1977. This is the entrance to the chapel that we walked into and got married. This is the Methodist church that I was baptized in as a baby that I went to my whole life. My mother was a Sunday school teacher here and then this is we lived here after George and I had Barbara and Jenna, this is where they were baptized as babies as well.

SUSTEREN: Now, this was a whirlwind romance. You meet the president then not the president, I would say in July, and how soon are you married to him?

BUSH: November.

SUSTEREN: No second thoughts like it's a little fast or something?

BUSH: I might - I had thought it was reckless if my girls tried it, but no, I really didn't. Neither George or I did, we felt very happy to find each other. I think we were looking for each other. We are happy to find each other.

And then we knew we had grown-up in the same town, we had same friends. It was really like we had known each other all our lives even though it was three months between the first date and getting married.

SUSTEREN: Well, it worked. I mean, you got admit it worked.

BUSH: It worked. We were married now for 33 years later.

SUSTEREN: Were your parents or his parents a little surprised like you know, maybe we got to slow this one down a little bit?

BUSH: You know, they really didn't act like it. I think they were just really glad we had found somebody. George was 31 when we met and I turned 31 the night of our rehearsal dinner so I think our parents were really happy we finally got married.

So this is the beautiful chapel where we got married and we got married on a Saturday morning and then had a luncheon for our reception afterwards and this is the way the windows looked with this kind of pretty light coming in the stain glass windows.

SUSTEREN: Who would have guessed how things developed exactly?

BUSH: Like I would have never guessed I would have been back here this many years later with you.

SUSTEREN: If I would have asked you on your wedding day what is your life going to be? What would I've heard?

BUSH: I wouldn't have - you know, who knows. I knew it would be interesting that was the one thing George had said to me. We'll live an interesting life. We certainly did.

SUSTEREN: He promised you wouldn't have to give political speeches, that didn't work out.

BUSH: That didn't work out. I said so much for political promises on that.

SUSTEREN: So we've gone from the tract of houses that your father first built to --

BUSH: This is was the next tract of houses that -- he bought in property in here and developed it and built a lot of these houses on the street, including our next house. We lived in that corner house and then when I was in the third grade we moved to this big fine house.

SUSTEREN: How long did you live in this house?

BUSH: We lived in it just for several years or maybe five years before someone -- a realtor knocked on the door and said I'd like to buy your house I have somebody who wants it. Since daddy was a builder, he said yes, fine.

And we moved into a spec house he ready and then he built another house for us, which ended up being the house they lived in until my dad died and my mother lived in it until she moved into the retirement home in 2004.

SUSTEREN: How crazy about moving with your mother. It seemed like your father is picking up and moving every year?

BUSH: Well, they liked it. You know, of course, every house was nicer and nicer. George and I lived, when we had Barbara and Jenna we lived this is 910. We lived right one street over on the Harvard and I'll show you that house in just a minute.

SUSTEREN: All right, well, let's go see that house.

OK, so, now we are at the house that you and the president first had together at the - you're a little bit surprised.

BUSH: Yes, that's right. This is what happens when you can't go home again, I guess. This was the house that George and I moved into when Barbara and Jenna were probably about two, it was a big fine ranch house. Now it has just been redone. It didn't have the stone before, but this is the house.

SUSTEREN: And I should say as we drove, you say, it looks so different. It must really look different because you're --

BUSH: This is where we lived with Barbara and Jenna until we moved to Washington in 1987 to work on Mr. Bush's campaign.

SUSTEREN: So you have never been back at this house since?

BUSH: I have. The people who bought from it us had us back the next Christmas. There are many happy memories of living here. These neighborhoods are the neighborhoods I walked around with Barbara and Jenna in the stroller. It was nostalgic because I lived one block over on Princeton. So it was fun to be back with my babies.

SUSTEREN: Although they've changed it. Your memories haven't changed.

BUSH: Yes.


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