Bushes See Sites, Answer Public Questions in Austria

Early to bed, early to rise.

That's a typical day at the White House, says Laura Bush.

"We get up about 5:30 a.m. The president gets up and goes in and gets the coffee and brings it back to me in bed. Very nice of him," she said Wednesday, answering a question during a round-table with foreign exchange students.

"Record that, please," the president interjected.

"Then, we have three animals that get up at the same time and they have to go out — two dogs and a cat," she said.

The Bushes read the newspapers and drink coffee until it's time to get moving.

Breakfast at about 6:30 a.m., and President Bush is in his office a half-hour later.

"The president goes to work at the West Wing, which is right there — we live where we work," she explained. "It's sort of like living above the shop."

The first lady gets to her East Wing office around 9 a.m.

Unless one or both Bushes are traveling, they usually are back upstairs in the White House residence quarters by 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. for dinner, and are often joined by their 24-year-old twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

"One of them was just living with us, but she just has moved out," said Laura Bush, who usually is tightlipped about their daughters' doings. She was talking about Barbara, who is said to have recently left Washington for New York City.

"The other one lives in an apartment and is teaching school, she's a third-grade schoolteacher," the first lady said, speaking of Jenna, who teaches in Washington.

"So sometimes they'll come over and have dinner with us. Sometimes we'll watch a movie in the White House theater," she continued. "But we do go to bed early.

"And so that's sort of the typical day."


Tears rolled down the cheeks of some White House aides as that same questioner, a woman named Rezarta Gashi, expressed gratitude for the U.S.-NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999.

She gave Bush her thanks, although he wasn't involved. Bill Clinton was president at the time; Bush was governor of Texas.

"The intervention of 1999, of the American troops along with NATO partners, has enabled me to be a participant today at this round-table," Gashi said. "Otherwise, most of all, I would have had the tragic fate of my father, a prominent university professor and minister of agriculture, as well, who was murdered in the war."

Tears flowed from Bush communications director Nicole Wallace and Anita McBride, the first lady's chief of staff, while the president and Laura Bush listened intently.

Bush clenched his jaw. The first lady had a stern look on her face.


Earlier in the day, Laura Bush got a sneak peek at treasured works by Albrecht Duerer, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci — normally kept under lock and key.

"Beautiful," she said, bending over for a closer look at Duerer's "The Hare," which was laid out just for her enjoyment in an ornate, gold-plated room.

Also on a busy itinerary for her one day in the Austrian capital were stops at St. Stephen's Cathedral, and a Mozart exhibit in the Albertina Museum. She also was serenaded by five members of the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic.

At a meeting with members of an Austrian-based women's advocacy group that calls itself "Women Without Borders," Laura Bush smiled and nodded attentively as four young women from India, Austria, England and the United States described projects in Africa and Asia that teach practical skills to women. Projects also encourage young girls to be self-confident and pursue leadership roles later on in life.

"We know, as we look around the world, that the societies that are the most successful are the ones where women are included," Laura Bush said.


A former librarian who champions reading and helps libraries across the U.S., Laura Bush must have felt quite at home on a visit to the Austrian National Library.

One of the world's foremost libraries, it dates to the 14th century and was the setting for Wednesday's round-table with 14 foreign exchange students.

It resembles something out of a Harry Potter novel, with gleaming wood, marble floors, gilded fixtures, an ornate domed ceiling and ladders going every which way to reach the old books and manuscripts stacked on floor-to-ceiling shelves.

After the discussion, a white-gloved official showed them several library items, including one that dates to the 12th century.

President Bush appeared very interested, putting on his reading glasses several times.

In the rotunda, a few steps over, the Vienna Boys Choir, one of the most famous in the world, sang three songs as their American visitors smiled and nodded.

Performance done, Bush gave a sharp nod of approval before heading to the airport for the flight to Budapest, Hungary.