Transcript: Bush, Kerry Spouses Strike Out on Their Own

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, June 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Fifty million more men, women and children live in freedom thanks to the United States of America.



TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KERRY: It's nonpartisan. It's really not about politics, it's about feeling out what works and sharing it with the public.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: First lady Laura Bush (search) and John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry (search), striking out on their own these days, both political spouses doing some campaigning for their husbands. Heather Nauert's here with more on how valuable they could be.

HEATHER NAUERT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, campaign strategists say they will be very valuable. Laura Bush is a big hit at Republican rallies attracting thousands of fans after a recent swing through the Midwest and Pennsylvania. And, she's a good fund-raiser. In the other corner, Teresa Heinz Kerry is less well known nationally, but expect to hear a lot more about the outspoken philanthropist, whom her husband calls his "secret weapon." Presidential historian, Stephen Hess, joins us in Washington, and that's the big question, Mr. Hess. What role will Laura and Teresa play in the 2004 campaign?

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW: Well, it used to be, when I got into politics, 1960, the two candidates' wives, Jackie Kennedy (search) and Pat Nixon (search), just sat on the stage, smiled; they laughed when their husband told a joke, of course, he told the same joke six times a day. They always laughed. And then with, I think, probably with Mrs. Johnson, they started the active campaigning.

So we expect them to campaign, and I think they're extra voices, extra people who can tell about their husbands in an exciting and interesting way. And we expect them to be out there. So, they're an asset and we, I think, learn something more, not only about their husbands through them, but about the potential first ladies who increasingly do have a part, a governmental role, as we know, both in representational terms, as an entertainer, but from Hillary Clinton, we know it can go well beyond that just as well.

NAUERT: Sure. Well, can Americans seem to make up their minds as to whether they prefer a more traditional first lady or whether they like someone who's a little bit more — a little different. Hillary Clinton (search), of course, being a little bit more of an unconventional first lady in that when her husband was first elected, he didn't really have — well, you didn't have at all, the professional first ladies with a job like Hillary Clinton had, and then Laura Bush is — although she doesn't like to be characterized this way, but she is seen as being a more traditional first lady. Do we prefer one over the other?

HESS: Well, I think we like them both. Either one will do fine. Laura Bush already has been a very popular first lady, and I think we're going to be very intrigued if it should be Teresa Heinz Kerry. She has run a very large foundation, very much involved in the environment. She's quite funny and outspoken. They thought at first, during the primary season, she'd be an unguided missile, but she hasn't. She's been very popular on the campaign trail. So, we're going to be lucky regardless of who wins in November in terms of who they're married to.

NAUERT: Now, we know a little bit about, of course, about Teresa Heinz Kerry's politics. She was, of course, once married to a Republican and switched to the Democratic Party. She's outspoken. She's into the environment and health care issues, but we haven't heard a lot about where she disagrees with her husband in terms of policy issues. If her husband is elected this fall, will we start to see some disagreement between them on policy issues?

HESS: I don't think we're going to see that. If John Kerry is the president, he's the one that we elected, and that's quite clear. There's not going to be that sort of distinction between them. She understands that, and she'll find very useful things to do in the White House and in its environs without disagreeing with her husband. In fact, she may, in some issues, be very supportive of her husband, as Laura Bush has been.

NAUERT: What traits does each woman have that will help to promote the candidacy of their husbands?

HESS: Oh, I think they're both just very genuine people. I think that's the different types of people, as you've explained...

NAUERT: Do we not see the husbands that way? Is that what you're saying?

HESS: Well, I think that they're going to — no, no, I don't mean that their husbands are otherwise, but as we get to know them, we're going to have to assume that speaks well of their husbands, that they chose these women, strong-willed women, interesting women, women who have been very good parents, women who have their own particular causes, whether it's in the environment and whether it's in education, and I think we're going to like that.

We give the first lady a special role, and they accept that. They understand that when their husband runs for president. So I think we're going to do just fine this time around.

NAUERT: OK. Stephen Hess, thank you so much and, John, we're supposed to hear from both of them at their respective parties' conventions this summer.

GIBSON: And we will, indeed. Heather Nauert, thank you very much.

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