First Lady Laura Bush 'On the Record' on Breast Cancer Awareness and Sarah Palin

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now you go to the White House with first lady Laura Bush went "On the Record," or maybe we should call it the "Pink House."

Last night, to make us listen about something very important in honor of breast cancer awareness, the White House was lit up in a brilliant pink.

And earlier today the first lady talked to us about breast cancer awareness, Governor Palin, and much, much more.


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

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I can't help but notice you're wearing pink.

BUSH: I'm wearing pink, that's right, for breast cancer awareness month, October, which is a good time for everyone, all women, to get their mother and their sister and make their appointments for a mammogram and really pay attention to it.

Because we know that the best thing we have for a cure is early detection. So it's really important for women to take charge of their health and make sure they have the screenings that are necessary.

VAN SUSTEREN: You've amped up the notice. Last year, of course, we went to the Middle East, but I can't help but mention how spectacular the White House looked--the "pink house," I should say.

BUSH: That's right. Didn't it look so pretty?

I got an e-mail this morning. Last night we lit the White House pink for breast cancer awareness.

There was a symposium across the street at Blair House that included women from around the world, spouses of ambassadors and women ambassadors from around the world to talk about the way women can reach out to each other everywhere, like we did in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and UAE. You went with me on that trip last year.

But I got an email early this morning from one of the White House operators, who couldn't come out while we were turning the lights, the pink lights, on the White House because she was working answering the phone at the White House. But she said she finally got a break about 10:40. And so she asked the policeman that was there, she said, "Is the White House still pink?" And she had a chance to run over and stand in front of it.

And she said-and this sort of makes me want to weep-that when she stood there--she's a breast cancer survivor and her sister is suffering from breast cancer right now-that it made her want to weep standing there.

And she was so thrilled to see the White House pink for breast cancer awareness, for all the women, you know, both who have breast cancer now and are struggling with it or the many good friends and family members that we've lost to breast cancer.

Watch Greta's interview with first lady Laura Bush

VAN SUSTEREN: There's something like hugely symbolic in something so beautiful when you see the White House lit up like that.

And it does send a message so far. It's like when you see the pictures of the White House when it's snowing--to see it with the pink was certainly sends a message.

BUSH: I hope so. The State Department has a partnership with the Middle East to get people in the Middle East to start talking about breast cancer, to try to educate women about breast cancer, because there are many parts of the world where breast cancer still is shameful and carries a stigma.

And, of course, women are always fearful of breast cancer, and that's true everywhere in every part of the world. The idea of losing a breast in a mastectomy is very, very difficult for women to contemplate, for sure.

And so the State Department has reached out with a partnership to the Middle East, and then last summer I announced a partnership between Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and the United States on breast cancer.

And it's really a way for us and the United States to be able to use our research expertise and our education expertise, the Susan G. Cullman, the "Avon Crusade for the Cure" or many other breast cancer organizations here in the United States have developed, ways to let women know what they can do to protect themselves.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's so interesting, on your five-day journey last year that we took to the Middle East, even--I mean, how different culturally.

I'll never forget walking and seeing the woman who was standing next to the X-ray machine that did the mammogram, and all you could see were her eyes. And it was so symbolic how we're much more open about it. And how much, you know, a partnership can really help a little bit.

BUSH: I think it really can. And we know because we have the results of the number of women in Saudi Arabia who have shown up at the cancer screening center in Riyadh, the one we visited.

Before we went there, very few women, about maybe six a day on average showed up for a mammogram, and now that's up to 25 or more a day women are coming in for mammograms.

So it really did get the word out to women. Our visit there and our ability to be able to talk about something that they would be shy about talking about in public.

And, of course, the great advocates there, like Dr. Samia (ph). I don't know if you remember her from Saudi, but she's a breast cancer survivor herself and a physician, and she was here last night when we lit the White House. But because women like her will speak out, more women in Saudi Arabia and in other countries where women would be afraid to talk about breast cancer now are see seeking screenings.

VAN SUSTEREN: In that country, women can't drive to get a mammogram, must have permission from husband to get a mammogram. If something shows up that is curious that must be examined, they have to get permission from the husband to get a biopsy.

It just goes on and on and on.

BUSH: That's right, but I also think that's part of our advocacy there. Because we were there and because we talked about it, that it just gave it an attention that it wouldn't have had otherwise, and made men and women more aware of it.

And men don't want to lose their wives to cancer, or their mothers or their sisters. And so I think our advocacy was very, very helpful there.

And now the Saudi women who are speaking out, or the women in Jordan, or the women in Jordan or the women in the UAE who are speaking out.

If you'll remember in the UAE we went to a chamber of commerce event, where the business council was starting a breast cancer awareness campaign.

And that brings, of course, the voices of many men--although there are many businesswomen in the UAE as well--but brings that whole voice to the breast cancer cause, and I think that's important. It's an added emphasis on breast cancer awareness.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know which country I was in, and your memory is probably a lot better than mine, but I also remember what he thought was intriguing--I think it was M.D. Anderson, which is of course the hospital in your home state of Texas, where they were actually watching and participating by satellite in the surgeries.

And so the exchange of medical technology and experience was phenomenal.

BUSH: And that is one thing we have to offer in the United States that we can reach out to developing countries with, and that is our medical technology.

And the Anderson Cancer Center is a partner with the State Department and the Susan G. Cullman foundation and these Middle East countries.

And so that brings the whole authority of the medical community and the researchers, the cancer researchers, to this equation as well.


VAN SUSTEREN: Next, the first lady goes "On the Record" about Governor Sarah Palin. You might be surprised what the first lady thinks. She will give you her thoughts there. They are straight there. There will be no doubt in your mind what the first lady thinks when you watch this.


VAN SUSTEREN: We continue with first lady Laura Bush.

The first lady went "On the Record" about Governor Palin, life after the White House, and breast cancer awareness.


VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a reason why you chose this particular time? I know you do a lot of events and a lot of events and you advocate for a lot of good causes, but why this one? You've been almost tireless in trying to raise awareness.

BUSH: Well, my mother and grandmother both had breast cancer. It's a family issue for me. It's something I know I'll always have to watch and make sure I have regular screenings because breast cancer is in my family.

So that's a personal reason. But also because I think it's a way for women to reach out to each other. And one of the things that made it so moving, really, for me in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and UAE was this opportunity that I had to have sort of intimate conversations with women that if we'd been talking about any other subject, we might not have been able to reach each other like we could talking about cancer and breast cancer specifically.

Also, as you know, Nancy Brinker has been one of my friends for years. And the Cullman Foundation was located in Dallas, still is in Dallas, headquartered there. And it's just an issue that I've worked on for a really long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is interesting, though, how, when we have sort of engaged in rather--we have diplomatic issues with different countries around the world, is that when we can reach out and share a medical technology or experience, it does sort of help the dialogue between the countries.

BUSH: Exactly. It is almost a sort of diplomacy. And who would have thought it? But it really is. It's a way for American women to reach out to their sisters around the world.

It's something that everyone fears--disease and cancer, and certainly women, especially, fear breast cancer. And so it's a way for us to support each other and to reach out to each other.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't mean to jump ahead, but you'll be moving in a couple of months. Have you sort of thought how you'd take this campaign, this breast cancer awareness, or is that not on your radar screen as to how you're going to continue?

BUSH: I'll continue work with it. It's something I've worked on for years. It used to be the invitations chairman for the Susan Cullman Foundation lunch-in in Dallas, which was a very easy job because it was always a sold out luncheon before we even mailed the invitation. So it was just a fun way to get together with friends and address invitations. So I'll continue to work with Cullman because it will be there in Dallas. We're going to move. We're going move to Dallas.

And then I hope I'll have the opportunity to continue with the diplomatic outreach to these countries in the Middle East partnership and in the partnership in the Americas. I've made a lot of friends and each one of these countries who are working on breast cancer and breast cancer awareness. And those friendships will continue.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me talk about another woman's issue, sort of.

It's possible we're going to have a woman vice president, Governor Palin. What do you think about that?

BUSH: I'm just crazy about Sarah Palin. I'm very--I like her very, very much. I loved watching her in the debate last week. I really like how she is.

She's a really tough western woman. She's a woman like a lot of people I know who are from Texas. I think there are a lot of similarities.

And I'm excited about it. I'm really thrilled to have the opportunity to vote for a Republican woman for vice president.

VAN SUSTEREN: You emphasize Republican. I guess many people are surprised that the Republican ticket--of course, the Democratic ticket in 1984 had a woman on the ticket. But it's been a long time.

BUSH: That's right, exactly, only the second time in American history. And I think it's terrific.

VAN SUSTEREN: Think she's getting a fair treatment? Is she getting--

BUSH: No. Not really.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess you had to think about that one for awhile.

BUSH: I think she can take it though. For sure, there's no doubt about it.

But, you know, I guess they say all is fair in love and war, and I guess politics is part of that. And, certainly, I know that that's what happens in politics, is the other side does the, you know, the most they can to diminish their opponent, and we certainly have seen people try to do that to Sarah Palin.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting that one of the things I'm careful about when I interview women is that we talk about issues because things have changed in the world for women. And there's a lot of talk about how she's dressed and how she looks.

When I sat down I couldn't help but notice that you're wearing pink for breast cancer, and I sort of reluctantly asked, but it was symbolically important.

BUSH: That's right. And I am wearing pink today for breast cancer awareness.

But I guess we can't help--and really, the fact is, we talk about the way the men candidates look as well. There's no doubt about it. But I like the way Sarah Palin looks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is she getting treated unfairly in your mind because she's a woman, because she's a Republican, or both?

BUSH: All. Both.

VAN SUSTEREN: So she's got a double.

BUSH: Both in all of those, absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any advice for Governor Palin?

BUSH: I wouldn't give her any advice. But I did talk to her. I went to see her when she first got to Minneapolis for the convention. Cindy McCain and I went over there and visited. And, you know, my advice is just be strong. This is what happens in politics, and you're really in the big leagues when you're on the ticket, on the presidential ticket. And, you know, expect anything.

But there's a lot of good also, and I know she knows that. I know she sees people around this country who are saying they're praying for her and they're for her and they're thinking about her. And I certainly want her to know that I am, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about the "First Dude," her husband, Todd. What do you think about him?

BUSH: I like him a lot, too. We had just seen them when we stopped in Alaska to see our troops on the way to Asia for the Olympics. And so we had just seen them, been with them a couple of weeks before with Sarah and her husband.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never dull.

BUSH: Never dull, absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mrs. Bush, thank you very much. I hope we get to sit down and talk again in the White House before mid-January.

BUSH: Great, thanks. I appreciate it.


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