Laura Bush: Life After the White House

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Eight months ago they moved home to Texas. Now we went to Texas, Dallas today, where former first lady Laura Bush went "On the Record."

We met Mrs. Bush at Southern Methodist University. Yesterday Mrs. Bush and former President Bush were at SMU unveiling their vision for the project they plan to work on for the rest of their lives.


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


VAN SUSTEREN: This is home.

LAURA BUSH: This is home. This is Southern Methodist University, where I graduated a long time ago. But this is also going to be home to the Bush Presidential Center.

And yesterday was the day that we announced everything about it, really. It will be the presidential library and museum, and obviously, the library part belongs to the national archives. Those will be all the papers from the eight years of George's presidency. And then it will have a museum, like most of the presidential libraries do.

But the really exciting part that George and I are most thrilled about is the institute that will be a policy institute associated with the library and with Southern Methodist University, but independent, really, from both.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's almost come full circle in that I saw the plaque which predates the presidency, the 1999 plaque that's here on this promenade with your name on it. So this must really be fun for you to come sort of full circle.

LAURA BUSH: It really is. George gave me as a gift for Christmas in 1999 the Laura Bush promenade. He gave a contribution to SMU to landscape this part of the walk into the library. This is the part of the library that we see here behind us. And it was really the sweetest and most romantic gift he ever gave me.

And then my friends, different friends from college, bought benches, and I had different quotes about friendship carved into them. And even President Bush and Barbara Bush bought a bench here in honor of who would have been my little sister-in-law, Robin, George's little sister that died from leukemia.

VAN SUSTEREN: The institute that you unveiled yesterday, it's going to include people around the country who have fellowships?

LAURA BUSH: That's right. It's a policy institute, a think tank. But the idea will be to focus on four areas of policy, policy that was important when George was president and that we think is important always in our country, and that's education, freedom, human freedom, the economy, and global health. So those are the four areas of focus.

And all of it will be based on four principles that are important American values and principles and that are important to George, and that's opportunity, responsibility, freedom, and compassion.

VAN SUSTEREN: What would the president be doing, and what would your role be doing in this institute? Do you both have different functions? Are you going to work together on this?

LAURA BUSH: We'll work together on a lot of it. We'll be actively engaged with it for the rest of our lives.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the human rights aspect. You've been very interested in the situation in Burma. I've tracked with you. We've had other conversations on this. Will there actually be specific areas of the world that you're going to concentrate on?

LAURA BUSH: There will be specific areas of human freedom. And one thing different about the archives here in the institute is that we're going to have a freedom repository, and that is a collection of works by dissidents and political prisoners, current ones, or ones like Vaclav Havel, who will be one of our first contributors to the freedom collection, who led the revolution in Czechoslovakia. And he was jailed as a dissident in Czechoslovakia and then finally became president of the Czech Republic after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

So that is going to be very interesting. And our first fellow that we announced that will be part o f the human freedom part and the freedom collection part of the institute is Oscar Morales Guevara from Colombia. He'll start here in January.

He will produce a conference on cyber dissidents. He's an engineer in Colombia, but he started a Facebook movement "No Mas FARC" against the FARC in Colombia. So he will be able to bring into the whole idea of dissidents and political prisoners this idea of being able to reach out beyond the boundaries of a tyranny through the Internet.

And so we'll have a cyber conference here next March or next spring to talk about ways we can increase the voices of people, let people who are shut behind the tyranny be able to reach out to the rest of the world through the Internet.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's so interesting listening to all that you've been doing. We dog the president and the first lady when they're in office. We had blackberries. I knew your schedule e very day. Every speech I'd get an hour before.

And so my BlackBerry isn't full of your daily tracking so much, but you haven't stopped.

LAURA BUSH: We haven't stopped.


LAURA BUSH: Not at all. It's been really fun.

We're both working on memoirs. We're both writing books. Mine will come out in May and George's will come out next fall. And that's also been very interesting and fun to do for me because it took time to reflect what happened over the last eight years, but also over my whole life.

And one of the things I've discovered -- I guess I knew this, but it's become very clear to me in working on my memoirs -- is how many women were big influences in my life.


LAURA BUSH: Well, obviously, my mother, but then many others. Professors that I had, a professor that I had here at children's literature -- a children's literature professor, who really was the one who interested me in children's literature. And I went on, then, to get a library degree and became a children's librarian in Houston, in Austin.

She, by the way, Dr. Harriet Earhart was her name was a state representative when George became governor of Texas, a Democrat state representative, I might add.

So that was really fun for me to have that full circle from the professor who's meant a lot to me when I lived here to working with her when she became -- when George became governor and she was already a state representative.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can only imagine what your two daughters are saying, because they have pretty much pursued much the same lifestyle you have, at least professional interests. And that's Barbara and Jenna.

LAURA BUSH: That they're great. Jenna was here yesterday for the speech. Barbara came in a little bit after the speech and didn't get to hear it. But Jenna did say last night that she was very interested in everything her dad laid out, the ideas of this institute.

VAN SUSTEREN: How is our country doing in your opinion in terms of the media treatment of women? We've got Governor Sarah Palin who's making front pages with her new book. We've got Secretary of State Clinton is out there. And you've certainly been in the hot seat and continue to be. How are we doing on that?

LAURA BUSH: Well, in media coverage, I think fine.


LAURA BUSH: I don't know. I think it's fair. The only thing that happens to women is that sometimes the coverage is about how they look. You know, there's more written maybe about their hairstyles than there is about what's really in their heads, and I think that's too bad. I think that part is not -- doesn't really serve and it's certainly uneven. We don't talk that much about the way men look.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it tougher, do you think, for women?

LAURA BUSH: It is tougher for women.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean in this country. Obviously in other countries it's really tough for women.

LAURA BUSH: And I do think that's one of the reasons the women of the United States have felt such a sisterhood with the women of Afghanistan, and that's because we were so shocked at the serious and stark contrast between their lives and ours.

And that's one of the parts of the institute that I'm very excited about, and that's for me to continue to work on issues that had to do with women of Afghanistan and women around the world.

And in fact, we're going to host the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council meeting here at SMU next March.

VAN SUSTEREN: You went to Afghanistan as first lady.

LAURA BUSH: I went to Afghanistan three times as first lady. And the last time I went I visited the province where you may remember where the Taliban destroyed those two towering sixth century Buddhas, really shocked the world by destroying those Buddhas that had been there since the sixth century.

And now that province has a woman governor. And when I was there, I met women who were studying to become police officers.

So there are encouraging signs. And are there setbacks? Sure, every day. But I think it's important for all of us, and especially for women and American women, to speak up for our sisters around the world.


VAN SUSTEREN: There's much more of our interview with Mrs. Bush, and we will be posting the entire interview on GretaWire, so check it out.

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