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Larry King Live Weekend

Barbara Bush Reflects on Her Life As First Lady

Aired January 28, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: She's been America's first lady, now she's mother of the 43rd president, too -- Barbara Bush. We'll revisit the best of our conversations with her next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. Until eight days ago, Abigail Adams was the only woman is U.S. history to be the wife of one president and the mother of another, and now Barbara Bush shares that distinction.

The very first time that this very special lady was a guest on our show was in October of 1992. We were near the end of a White House interview with her husband George.


KING: We are joined by Barbara Bush -- Mrs. Bush, first lady of the United States and the bestselling author of "Sleeping on the Floor," Millie, who never leaves her side, right?

Do you like campaigning, Barbara?


KING: You love it?

B. BUSH: Like the greatest candidate, I have no trouble at all speaking well of George Bush...

KING: Do you like being...

B. BUSH: ... and I love -- he's going to win.

KING: But, I mean, do you like the fact that he's not favored to win? Some people do like...

B. BUSH: No, no, I don't go for that.

But, you see, I know he's winning.

KING: How?

B. BUSH: Well, because I go out and work moles and go to a lot of places all around the country. I did seven -- 11 cities in seven states a couple of weeks ago, and then last week I was on the road -- it didn't count where I was. But I just can feel he's winning. They trust him; they think he's got good programs; they didn't know a lot of the things he's done, to tell you the honest truth.

KING: Do you get angry at Governor Clinton, at Ross Perot, at Hillary Clinton? Do you get your dander up?

B. BUSH: May I tell you why I don't? I'm like the ostrich; I read a lot of books during this period and I say to George, tell me the good news.

KING: In other words, you don't watch -- if Clinton's speaking on television you won't watch?

B. BUSH: Never. I saw him last night; we were at dinner together and...

KING: What happens? It just bothers you to hear your husband criticized, yes?

B. BUSH: I just get furious with...

KING: How do you take it?

B. BUSH: He's a much better sport.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't -- I try to read and I try to watch some shows.

KING: Do you dislike Bill Clinton?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: No; no, I don't dislike him.

I'll tell you what we're trying to do though, is get his -- you see, here's what I think one of the problems has been: For a while it was these eight Democrats or seven hammering my record, now it's him hammering my record; so I've had to start putting in perspective his record and saying to America, now look, here's what I'm for, here's what we've done, here's the problems, here's what I've failed to do, here's what I will do.

But here's his record, and we've got to look at it in detail. And I think that's made a little more tension on his part because, very candidly, Larry, the record in Arkansas is pretty sorry. I mean, environmental, whatever else it is...

KING: You dish, too? Personalities get into it, Barbara.

B. BUSH: I only campaign for -- I'm asked every day, how do you like so and so? What do you think about so and so?

And I say, ask me about George Bush, I know about him.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Barbara takes it positive, and I've gotten now -- going a little bit to define the opposition a little more clearly. Have to do it.

B. BUSH: But he doesn't sing his own praises as well as I do, either.

KING: While we have the two of you together, we can clear up something that a lot of people, maybe, are confused about on the abortion issue. that ended the convention with people...

B. BUSH: Want to make a bet about clearing it up?

KING: No, maybe we can clear it up.

B. BUSH: Maybe.

KING: Do you support the platform?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I support the platform. Here's my position: I am against abortion, I am against federal funding except for the life of the mother and I'm against abortions except for rape, incest and the lack of the mother. Now that's a clear position; it's been there, and...

KING: So that differs from the platform...

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, I don't know exactly...

KING: The platform is against it entirely.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, then I'm -- I've given you my position; and you know there's an awful lot of time spent in the media talking about abortion which shows up on these issues as No. 20 or No. 19 or No. 11, and I don't know why there was so much debate on it when they were at the Democratic Convention. Governor Casey (ph) -- I don't think he was even allowed to speak there.

B. BUSH: He wasn't.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: And we had people on both sides of the question.

B. BUSH: But we ought to be talking about abstention and about education, we really should, Larry. We're talking the wrong way.

KING: You don't think it's an issue, then; or shouldn't be an issue?

B. BUSH: I think the issue is that we ought to tell children that sex is death. It is. Promiscuous sex is death. They shouldn't be doing that; we ought to be telling these wonderful young women there's a great deal of life out there for you if you finish school, if you get a job, then you can have a family. But you just shouldn't be having promiscuous sex. It just ruins your life.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I got -- one other thing on this question bothers me. A 13-year-old girl cannot get her ears pierced in some places without permission of her parents, and yet Governor Clinton and those people want to pass an abortion law -- it doesn't require parents to be notified if the child's going to have an abortion.

I mean, I find that appalling. I find that is something that is not good for families...

KING: At this point, do you agree with the vice president, the defense of obeying the law is sort of OK?

GEORGE H.W.BUSH: Well, I think certain parts of it. I just named one part which I think is just fine.

B. BUSH: You can't have your appendix out.

KING: What?

B. BUSH: You can't have your appendix out without your parents...

KING: Is Millie going to do another book?

B. BUSH: I hope so.

KING: Conseco going to play well for the Rangers next year?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: They better, because my son's got a lot at stake at this -- George...

KING: Thank you both very much. Thanks for joining us, both.


KING: We'll be back with more from Barbara Bush. Stay tuned.


KING: Two weeks after our short White House chat with Mrs. Bush, she sat down to talk for a full hour, and the first lady did not come empty-handed.


KING: Ladies and gentlemen, the first lady of the United States, who brought me a gift tonight -- and this is a treasured -- when we were at the White House two weeks ago -- they're writing a second book with Millie, right? Second book is coming, and they took pictures.

B. BUSH: Millie's writing it...

KING: Millie's writing a book.

KING: And this is the picture -- let me hold this -- this is me interviewing Millie.

B. BUSH: He wants to be on the cover, but I don't think so.

KING: Look at that. What is Millie saying here? What is my question -- what is Millie saying?

B. BUSH: She's saying, I'm not going to tell you that, Larry.

KING: Whatever the question is, Larry, I'm not going to answer.

She's right here, by the way, right?

B. BUSH: Of course.

KING: The world's nicest dog.

B. BUSH: That's right.

KING: Does this dog bark?

B. BUSH: Not much; not much. She doesn't bite, that's the important thing.

KING: Thank you very much for that picture, I'll treasure it.

B. BUSH: Good.

KING: Do you like this? Do you like campaigning?

B. BUSH: In all honesty, yes. I'm not so crazy about this -- I like you, but I'm not crazy about his.

But I love campaigning, I love being out talking to people.

KING: Why?

B. BUSH: Well, because they're wonderful, and it's almost what I do in regular life, anyway. I mean, yesterday I did a literacy program in Newport News; well, I do that regularly and I love it.

KING: So you're used to groups of people and talking to them.

B. BUSH: I worked a mall the day before and had a couple thousand people there; it's really nice.

KING: Are you uncomfortable in a broadcast setting or an interview setting?

B. BUSH: A little bit; I feel sort of feisty, and I hate that. I'm not a -- you know, I feel like, what are we doing in a campaign? George Bush is the most qualified man; he's done more for America than any president's ever done; and how could we even be in this kind of campaign?

KING: Let's tie up some loose ends; and we'll be taking calls for the first lady of the United States.

The president says -- he told this program -- he has nothing, ever against Ross Perot. Likes him...

B. BUSH: That's right.

KING: Ross Perot says, I have nothing against President Bush; I disagree.

Last night Margot Perot says that she loves the Bushes and adores you. Do you like her, are you...

B. BUSH: I like her very much, yes. And, you know, her daughter worked for us -- Nancy; we like them very, very much.

KING: So you're friends with them?

B. BUSH: And I told the Perot's, and I really feel this way very strongly, that they ought to know that we never investigated their children, as he said at the debate the other night. I mean, we wouldn't think of doing that -- of course.

KING: So you are friends, and all this is just press invention of some sort?

B. BUSH: Well I don't understand it, and I can't tell you what it is, but I don't understand it. And we are friends.

KING: What happens in a campaign? Do you dislike Bill Clinton? Do you get to not...

B. BUSH: I don't know him and I don't know Hillary -- I know them, but, I mean, I don't know them well enough.

But I'll give you another example: first time George ran for office, we ran against the Bensons (ph) in Texas -- maybe the second time -- no, the first time -- well, maybe the third time. I don't know, sometime in there.

KING: One of those races.

B. BUSH: We are -- I mean B.A. (ph) Benton and I are best friends, but they ran a very high-road campaign and so did we. And I think we have now.

KING: Do you think this low-road campaign is being run by the other side?

B. BUSH: Well, when Ron Brown (ph) says he's spending $40,000 investigating our children, that makes me wonder.

KING: How do you react to that, by the way, when the children take it on the chin -- as a mother?

B. BUSH: I'm trying to think how -- I hate it and I think it's extraordinary and I think we ought to be talking about the two candidates.

KING: Hate it more than criticism of your husband?

B. BUSH: Absolutely, and so does my husband.

KING: Because they don't deserve it?

B. BUSH: They certainly don't deserve it. We have the five most honest, decent children, who have sacrificed enormously, business-wise and everything else, to support their father because they think he's wonderful. And they are the most decent, honest people I know. They're the best parents, the best citizens, the most giving children and -- you bet, I mean, I could go to fisticuffs over my children.

KING: We'll be right back with Barbara Bush and more calls; don't go away.




KING: Are you angry at the media?

B. BUSH: Not angry, but I think it's so obvious, and I think the American people know it. That's one of the things that people say to me every place I go, and they say it in front of the media -- what are we going to do about the media, they're not doing a fair thing. My mail reflects -- I went to one meeting and the next day I read about it in "The National News" and it just didn't happen that way.

KING: What do you think it is? The media likes your husband -- he's not disliked; he's very likable. I never saw the media plot anything; they don't get up in the morning and say, let's get George Bush.

B. BUSH: Really?

KING: They don't talk -- really, they don't.

B. BUSH: I mean, the day after the convention "The New York Times" had -- seven out of 10 stories were negative about George. I mean, the day -- I find that hard to believe. You know, they always say, don't knock the media, they get the last word; but what difference does it make to us? They've knocked us for a year.

KING: They own the inkwell, is what they used to say; now it's the camera.

But you get a chance to come back. Television gives you an opportunity; look at this year, I mean.

B. BUSH: Well, not really. It does in the debates, maybe; but, I mean, we'll go to an event where George will have 22,000 people standing in the pouring rain and you'll see about five people off with Clinton signs -- and that's what you see. That is not what happened. There were 22,000 people for George, standing in Georgia or there were -- I mean, that's a little weird.

KING: You're a very positive person.

B. BUSH: Absolutely.

KING: Every person, though, has to have some -- do you get any negative thoughts, like, we might lose? What am I going to do? B. BUSH: Absolutely not. Well, first of all, if we did, what am I going to do -- about 800 other grand things. But having said that, the country can't afford to let George Bush lose. We've already had a president who taxes and spends and people have to remember back what that did to us.

We had double-digit inflation, we had double-digit unemployment, we had double-digit interest rates.

KING: Darien, Connecticut, hello.

CALLER: I would like to ask Mrs. Bush why she and Mr. Bush's permanent residence is in Houston, Texas, when they have a very elaborate estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and if they feel that that is setting a good example for the American taxpayer.

B. BUSH: I think it really is. Texas is our home; we've lived there since 1948; we've never voted any place but there. Our children were born there, our grandchildren live there. I'm not quite following your trend of thought; we pay taxes in Texas.

KING: And you pay taxes in Maine, too, don't you...

B. BUSH: We have property in Texas; we pay taxes in Maine, of course. In fact, I think we're the biggest taxpayer in our little town.

CALLER: Do they have a home in Houston, where you go to as much as you go to Kennebunkport?

B. BUSH: Well, we go to Houston when we can. We go after Christmas, we go in the summer, we go for visits; but we can't afford two homes. You know, the government made us pay when we sold our home in Houston so we could afford to buy our grandfather's house in Texas -- in Maine. The government wouldn't give us the roll-over you all have because they said we owned the vice president's house.

KING: Really?

B. BUSH: They did, that's right. So we had to pay -- i think it cost George a great deal of money.

KING: Help me with something, here; you can clear up a misconception: The Bush's are not wealthy?

B. BUSH: Well, of course we're comfortable. Anyone who eats three square meals a day are comfortable.

KING: But you say, we can't afford two homes?

B. BUSH: Well, we can't afford two homes and live -- so we can't. I mean, but so what? We're not -- I'm not complaining.

KING: No, I don't want you to complain, I mean, but most people think that the Bushes are... B. BUSH: We're very, very well off. We have a house in Maine and we have property in Texas. But do we have tons of money? No. But that's all right; George is very well paid, as you know.

KING: Does this job ever get to you? I mean, the criticism every day -- it's almost you're in a no-win...

B. BUSH: No because there are so many more people that you -- that are thrilled with what's happening. You ask anyone in the literacy field and they'll say, this president gave us a Literacy Act; we needed that and that' wonderful. Or you ask people who wanted to strengthen the infrastructure -- this transportation bill George Bush got through -- they're thrilled with it.

KING: So there are a lot of pluses?

B. BUSH: You know, we've had three -- we've had two months of housing starts going up and we've had some very good things now beginning to happen in America, and we don't want to risk them by having a tax-and-spend president.

KING: One more call; Dallas, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Mrs. Bush.

B. BUSH: Hello, I wish you were my son or daughter calling from Dallas.

CALLER: Well, I just -- first I want to say that I think you're just doing a spectacular job as first lady and I support you and President Bush wholeheartedly.

I would like to hear you address the qualifications as first lady of the United States of America.

KING: Good question; what does a first -- you can't elect her.

B. BUSH: No; and she isn't elected, and she ought to remember it. But, you know, everybody does his or her own thing. Some day we're going to have a man spouse.

But I don't think there are any qualifications. All the qualifications should be in the president, and we'll assume he's married someone -- he or she has married someone who will serve you well, but...

KING: You have to trust to that, though, right?

B. BUSH: Yes, we can't pick spouses for our presidents. But you -- we all ought to be looking at, can we trust this president? Can we, you know, if our country gets into a problem, who do we trust? Who's built a business? Who's served in the Army and in the Navy? And who served his country?

I put down as one of George's great qualifications the fact that he built a YMCA in Midland, Texas, and he supported his church, and he taught Sunday school, and he built a little theater and he built a business and met payrolls. And experience counts, and record counts, and I put George Bush down as perfect.

KING: Barbara, are you saying that if the president weren't running, you would vote for Perot over Clinton? He seems to fit those things.

B. BUSH: I don't know about all those qualifications; did he build a YMCA?

KING: I don't know, but he built a business.

B. BUSH: Did he build a YMCA, did he...

KING: You're not going to answer that?

B. BUSH: No, I'm certainly not because George Bush is going to win and he's running.

KING: You have no doubt of it, right? There's...

B. BUSH: Absolutely not an iota of doubt, because when push comes to shove you've got to trust your president, you've got to respect him, you've got to look up to him.

KING: So people are going to pull that curtain, think twice...

B. BUSH: And vote for George Bush.

KING: Thank Barbara.

B. BUSH: Thanks Larry.

KING: Thanks so much.

Thanks Millie.


KING: We'll be back with more from Barbara Bush; stay tuned.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do you estimate your party will both nominate and elect an Afro-American and female ticket to the presidency of the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Bush or...

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I think if Barbara Bush were running this year she'd be elected, but it's too late.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now I want you to know I cleaned the bookstore like my own mother-in-law was coming.

B. BUSH: Well, it's a beautiful bookstore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it a beautiful bookstore?


KING: Anyone who knows Barbara Bush will tell you she's a woman who keeps her own counsel. But in the fall of '94, she published her memoirs. This revealing book was drawn, in part, from 30 years of diary entries. Mrs. Bush talked with me about her book and many other things on September 14, 1994.


KING: Why, Barbara, did this very private person, which you are, write this?

B. BUSH: Well, because my husband couldn't keep a job.

KING: That's a good pet line on the book tour.

B. BUSH: Right; you've been there.

KING: Why did you write it?

B. BUSH: Well, because I -- I really didn't plan to write a book, but three publishers came to me at the White House after George lost and said, we would like to publish you book. I said, well, I don't have a book. And they said, it's a well-known fact that you have kept diaries -- and then they offered me a sum I couldn't say no to, I'm going to tell you the honest truth.

KING: That kind of offer?

B. BUSH: That kind of offer; it was very nice. And, Larry, it turned out to be absolutely the best thing that could have happened to me. I loved writing it.

KING: Why?

B. BUSH: Well, because I always knew that I was lucky and that life had been good to me; but I really remembered again how really good it had been.

KING: For some people, when they face the catharsis of a book -- and in order for a book to be successful, it has to be honest -- have a difficult time letting it out.

B. BUSH: No, I loved writing the book. And let me just give you an example; I told George this on the phone this morning -- or last night before I went to bed he called. I awakened Monday morning in New York city, having said goodbye to George Bush and I looked and the airplane went into the White House, and a lot of things happened. The pope -- Arafat met with Rabin -- a lot of things happened. And I sat and watched the news -- darling, Jessica Tandy died and Hume Crome I thought about -- Cronyn.

And I thought, you know, I knew every single person or place that was on that television set thanks to George Bush, with the exception of Arafat -- and George did meet him this year. But every other person knew me and I knew them.

KING: Quite a life.

B. BUSH: That's an amazing life. I knew it from writing the book.

But it told George, I said, it really struck me how really great a life you've given me.

KING: Did he say to you, when you reveal for the first time you were pro-choice...

B. BUSH: He knew that.

KING: ... did he say to you, well, I've always known you're pro- choice, Barbara, I'm your husband, but you don't have to write this.

B. BUSH: No he did not.

KING: He did not?

B. BUSH: No, because -- you know, I can't quite get this point across...

KING: Get it.

B. BUSH: ... I agree with George 99 percent on that particular subject. I mean, I agree with George that parental consent is very important. I agree with George that abortion is all right in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. I personally feel that abortion after the first trimester is wrong.

KING: So your only disagreement is in the first trimester you believe in the choice.

B. BUSH: And the one thing we agree on -- that's exactly right -- and the one thing -- well, I'd never have one myself, but...

KING: But you believe that a woman in her first trimester has the right to...

B. BUSH: I can't do that for someone else. But having said that, the thing we really agree on, Larry, is that 1,6 million abortions a year is an outrage and that education is the answer. And, you know, it's very chic to laugh at Dan Quayle, but families have really abdicated from being parents. They haven't taught their children.

KING: But the president didn't say to you, leave this out?

B. BUSH: No he did not.

KING: Were there other areas of disagreement?

B. BUSH: No, not really. You know, when you're married almost 50 years you begin to grow together.

KING: Where did you see the role -- Eleanor Roosevelt, who I was fortunate enough to interview before she died -- said that she thought it was the role of the good first lady to give her husband her input...

B. BUSH: That's right.

KING: Whether he used it or not is his call...

B. BUSH: And she did, and he couldn't get out, but she got out; and she was the most visible first lady. She wrote for money -- a column.

KING: "My Day."

B. BUSH: That's right. I mean, times are different, but she was certainly the forerunner of the, you know, the 21st century wife, I think.

KING: Now, you were not a yes-woman to George Bush then, though?

B. BUSH: He didn't ask me to be.

KING: So he wanted your input, and when he asked for it, you gave it to him.

B. BUSH: You're darn right; and sometimes when he didn't ask for it. But did he take it always? No -- probably not. But, I mean, he listened. And I though that was my role.

Everybody does their own thing; I really felt my role was to have priorities, and my sense of priorities told me that I should really work hard for literacy. And I'm very proud to say we got the first act -- 1991 Literacy Act.

KING: Why did you pick that?

B. BUSH: Well, I picked it because -- I knew George was going to run for high office and I'd always volunteered in hospitals. And I thought about it and thought, I ought to pick a project that will help the most people possible and probably not cost too much more government money and certainly not be controversial. I mean, why pick a cause that's going to cause trouble always in the family.

But having said that, when I jogged and thought, now I worry about pregnant teenagers -- and I do worry about that -- and I worry about high school dropouts and I worry about a ton of things that all of us worry about. We didn't have AIDS then, or we really didn't have homeless.

But I worry about all those things -- the environment, everything. It suddenly occurred to me, if more people could read and write and comprehend everything would be better.

KING: You could make a case, there's no excuse for illiteracy in a civilized society.

BUSH: Right; and then I got thinking, when I worked on it about eight years -- maybe six years -- that it really isn't just literacy, it's family literacy that counts because children copy their parents.

KING: And in the book you mention that Governor Clinton of Arkansas -- you wowed them at that first literary conference that you headed, right?

BUSH: That's right.

KING: He came up and spoke...

BUSH: As did many others, I might add; and some disappointed us, but he was very good, and he was very good at the education summit, too.

I haven't heard much from him lately, but that was something he was very good at.

KING: We'll talk about that and other things with the former first lady Barbara Bush, one of the most popular first ladies in the history of the land.

We'll ask her why she hates...

BUSH: I hate that.

KING: Loves the White House, doesn't miss it; hates popularity.


KING: We'll be right back with Barbara Bush after this.


BUSH: But before she could speak, Nana said: "It seems that Natalie (ph) is just another one who don't know nothing. You can be anything you want, Blake (ph), if you put your mind to it."

You know that book by heart, don't you?

And that's true. You can be anything you want if you put your mind to it.




KING: The first ladies are kind of like a union, aren't you?

BUSH: Well, I guess so. We're the only people in America who ever shared that job, I guess.

KING: And there's a comradery, isn't there? A kind of a...

BUSH: Yes; there's a genteelness about it.

KING: You liked Pat Nixon a great deal.

BUSH: I loved Pat Nixon very, very much.

KING: Probably the least known of all.

BUSH: That's right, but she certainly wasn't to the congressional wives of -- I was one of those at that time. And she just was a great lady.

And you know, her children are fabulous. And that, I mean -- that's something, too.

KING: And Jackie Kennedy.

BUSH: I loved her. I didn't know her and I was, I think, the only first lady who didn't sort of write something about her. But I didn't because I thought it would be presumptuous; but that didn't mean I didn't admire her enormously.

KING: How do you feel about two sons in politics, both running for governor of two huge state?

BUSH: I think we're just -- the country's lucky to have them. They're the two best-qualified, finest young men you've ever known.

KING: Were you surprised at either one of them entering the political ring?

BUSH: Not really, because they'd worked so hard in their communities and in their parties for years. Both of them are pretty successful businessmen and have very strong families.

And, I'll tell you, it touched both George and me because you might have thought they'd have been turned off after the ugly 1992. They love their father and he adores them. And for them to get into politics -- and if you're listening, you bad boys -- you made your dad and mom very, happy.

KING: That's very nice.

BUSH: It's true.

KING: Do you get this -- are you angry at Governor Richards (ph) and Governor Childs (ph), you know...

BUSH: No, no. I want the best man to win, and we know who they are, don't we?

KING: Do you think they're both going to win?

BUSH: Yes. I'm very hopeful. Don't go by what I think, though; I mean, others have told me. If you want another way to go, don't go with me, I'm always wrong, but...

KING: Do you go to fund-raisers and the like for them?

BUSH: If they ask me. I hate to say that out loud, but I'm ready.

KING: Your son Jeb said that it was about 4:00 in the afternoon the day of the election, he told me, that you knew you weren't going to win.

BUSH: Our son George came and told us.

KING: And you had a great line; you said, how do I make airport -- or, how do I get a driver's license, right? You hadn't had to go apply for one.

BUSH: I'm driving; you all watch out.

KING: You're back on the road again.

BUSH: I'm on the road again.

KING: How painful was defeat? You've had defeat before.

BUSH: Well -- someone you love -- well that was painful, too. I don't want to tell you that was easy. But if you adore your husband, it's hard; but George Bush would tell you that I, the minute we lost, maybe a couple of days later, had started sort of mentally packing myself; and I was home by the time we got there.

And people have been so nice to us in Houston, Texas. Are you a Texan?

KING: No. Larry L. King is; I'm a Brooklynite.

BUSH: That's right. If you were lucky, you'd be from Texas. But I mean, our house was unpacked; the garden in the rented house was planted; there were yellow ribbons all over the city. People still act -- almost two years later -- like they're glad to see us.

KING: Was the lame-duck aspect -- those last few months in the White House tough?

BUSH: Well, it was hard for -- I -- George was so busy still being president. We had Somalia and we had Saddam.

KING: What about for you? BUSH: No, because -- it was tough when I sat down and thought about it -- but we had Christmas to get through -- and I'm really not going to kid you, I loved everyone from the maintenance man to the janitor to the plumbers to the florists to the ushers to the butlers, and all the rest of them. I loved every one of those 93 people and, I think, knew them.

KING: What was the day like the day you took Hillary through.

BUSH: It was fine. She made up her mind and I made up my mind it was going to be fine. It was just fine; she couldn't have been nicer, and we had a nice talk. Unfortunately, that was the day George's mother died, right while she was upstairs and I was down.

KING: You were both in the house at the same time?

BUSH: Well, she was upstairs looking at the house. We didn't tell her, but they were very kind about it later. But I mean, that happened.

We'll take a break and come back an go to your phone calls. The guest is former first lady Barbara Bush, the book is "A Memoir." There's a lot of great pictures in this book; one great one. We'll talk about that later.

Back with your calls after this.


KING: Zurich, Switzerland, hello.

CALLER: Thanks, Larry; good morning madame -- good evening.

You enjoy great admiration in Europe as well.

BUSH: That's so sweet, thank you very much.

CALLER: And I'm pretty sure that if the young women in America and elsewhere have followed your responsible example, perhaps a tragedy like the O.J. Simpson one could have been avoided.

My question is: which of the two styles do you think would serve the modern presidency better, your son-in-law -- if your son becomes the president, would you advise your daughter-in-law to be your style or Hillary Clinton's style?

BUSH: I can't answer that. That's a good question.

But one of the things, sir, that George and I have agreed upon is that we will not knock the Clintons. I mean, it's very hard to be the president, and maybe it's hard to be the wife of the president -- I didn't find it so, but...

KING: Are the styles of Jeb and George's wives similar to yours or similar to Hillary's or are they distinctly their own people? BUSH: I think they're distinctly their own people. They're wonderful young women; but I mean, everybody does their own thing, and I don't criticize the Clintons; their job's not easy.

KING: Pocatello, Idaho, hello.

CALLER: Hi Mrs. Bush, I'm a big admirer of yours. And my question for you is what -- if you would have finished your college education, what would you have -- what would have been your career if things at the time were different?

BUSH: I understand. I'm not sure; I suspect I would have majored in, you know, English or something; but I wanted to be sort of a nurse later. I mean, I worked in hospitals for many years as a volunteer, and I think that's where some of my talents lay, at that time, anyway. I like to be with sick people if you can make them feel better.

KING: Oceanside, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello Mrs. Bush and hello, also, from Davis, Oklahoma.

I've got -- you often say that you had two choices in life, that you could like what you're doing or dislike it, and you always chose to like it. What gave you the insight and strength to really live by that, because it has inspired me.

BUSH: Is your name Casey (ph)?

CALLER: It is.

BUSH: I love you, Casey.

KING: Wait a minute, who is this?

BUSH: She was my aide for years, and she's right; I had two choices in life, you can like what you do or not.

KING: Casey, when did you work for Barbara?

CALLER: I was with her 1987, '88 and part of '89.

BUSH: You're a good girl; how's the baby?

CALLER: He's wonderful, thank you.

BUSH: Oh, I'm so glad. How's Hugh (ph)?

CALLER: Great also.

KING: When you say, Casey, an inspiration; in what way?

CALLER: That it's true; I mean, she truly taught me that you do have two choices and you can like it or you can dislike it. And if you like it you're going to make everybody else a lot happier, too, as well as yourself. And I just have always wondered where she got that. I got it from her.

KING: All right, she got it from you; where'd you get it from?

BUSH: I don't know, but it's sure true. Like what you do.

I love you.

KING: Did premature gray run in the family?


KING: No. Did anyone say, why not color it?

BUSH: Oh, I did color it for years. It turned orange, green in water; you can't be married to George Bush and color your hair unless you cover it up and -- you can't play golf, play tennis, swim.

KING: What age did it start to change color?

BUSH: About 34 of five. And then when I let it go white, one of my boys said to me, oh mother, why did you dye your hair? I thought, the kid thinks I dyed my hair white.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And mother: Everybody loves you and so do I. Growing up, she gave me love and lots of advice, I gave her white hair.



KING: One of the pictures that we're going to show you now, for the benefit of our television viewers -- we are also simulcast on radio -- is, there he is -- Larry and the dog.

BUSH: No, Larry and Millie.

KING: Sorry, Millie.

I like the little caption you put in this: "Interviewing Millie concerning her thoughts on the election." That was a great night.

All right, we're going to go to phone calls for Barbara Bush, and we start with Norfolk, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hello; thank you Mr. King for such an honor and a privilege; you do a great job.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Mrs. Bush, I'm Don Wood (ph) from Norfolk, and I would just like to ask you, with the Haiti situation, how -- what did the president and you go through -- President Bush go through when you had to make the decision to actually commit troops to the Persian Gulf? It must have been a tough decision.

BUSH: Well, it was my husband's decision, and I went through it only with him because -- I made no decisions, I want you to know that.

KING: What was it like to go through...

BUSH: It was awful; terrible. George, having been to war, knows what it's like to send someone else's son or daughter to war. It was a very terrible time but, you know, I very immodestly think that George Bush taught us how to keep the peace.

KING: There is some hope tonight that the Haitian Junta will back down...

BUSH: Oh, I hope so; I hope so.

KING: That's the hardest thing for any chief executive to do, and the wife is involved, right?

BUSH: That's right.

KING: I mean...

BUSH: But involved -- it's much easier to be...

KING: Peripherally.

BUSH: Yes. It's very hard to make the decision.

KING: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi Mr. Larry; I'm really delighted, and thank you for your effort. Hi Mrs. Bush, good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to convey my deep regard to our great friend Mr. Bush.

BUSH: Aren't you nice.

CALLER: And secondly I would like to ask you, what were your last thoughts while leaving the White House?

BUSH: What were my last thoughts when I left the White House?

KING: You look very sad in the picture.

BUSH: Well, I wasn't very happy in a way, but I was -- I hope I was just remembering all those wonderful times. But we did love the people; and I haven't been back to see them and I hope they know I love them.

KING: Why not?

BUSH: I just wasn't ready. George went back, but I'm just not ready.

KING: You're not emotionally ready?

BUSH: Well, no; they're doing their thing -- new president, and they ought to do it. And they know I love them from what I'm telling you now.

KING: But if Hillary called and said, please come...

BUSH: They did ask us for the night, which was very thoughtful, during the NAFTA signing time; and George went and he enjoyed it immensely. So they were very hospitable. I just wasn't ready.

KING: Are you ready now?


KING: Arlington, Virginia with Barbara Bush, hello.

CALLER: Hi; Mrs. Bush, first I want to tell you that I think you are one of the most gracious first ladies this country has ever had, and I thank you for that because you've set a wonderful example for young women across the country.

But having said that, I'd like to know if it was difficult for you, given that you do have your opinions and you are very intelligent -- was it difficult for you to not be more aggressive and more like, say, a Hillary Clinton and come out with your opinions more often, especially on the issue of abortion?

BUSH: No; it wasn't difficult for me at all. Abortion, No. 1, is not a major item with me -- it's not a top priority with me.

But, you know, I think the person who has the courage to run for the office is the one you should hear, not the wife or the husband. Having said that, of course I told George how I felt; but, you know, when you're as close to your husband as I am to mine, he knew how I felt; I'd told him. And I knew how he felt and I never questioned the sincerity of his beliefs.

KING: How did you emotionally deal, during that short period of time when there were all those stories in tabloids about infidelity?

BUSH: Well, how can you...

KING: I mean, emotionally, how do you deal with something like that?

BUSH: Well, I had no problem. It never happened.

KING: None at all?

BUSH: Nobody ever accused George Bush of anything. Rumors, ugly rumors -- political -- I had no problem. George and I talked about it and we said, isn't it sick how people do something like this?

KING: The job of his it appears that you like the least was CIA. BUSH: Well, that's because I can't keep a secret; I'm going to tell you the honest truth. And I -- I mean, we discussed it, and we both know I can't keep a secret.

KING: So he didn't tell you?

BUSH: I asked him not to tell me, but he did share with me. But, you know, you're talking about the depression I had.

I really -- it was stupid of me, Larry. I'm glad now I...

KING: What do you mean it's stupid? You can't control it.

BUSH: No, but I could've gotten help, but I was too sort of proud to get help. And when George -- he was the only person I told. I didn't tell Andy Stewart (ph), my closest friend in the world; I didn't tell anybody.

KING: What's depression like?

BUSH: Awful, painful and it really physically hurts.

KING: It's been described that no news is good news -- that nothing can please you when you're in it.

BUSH: Well, it wasn't, maybe, quite that bad. I mean, I faked beautifully -- I mean, I faked through it.

KING: Mike Wallace worked every day with it.

BUSH: He did?

KING: Yes, every day; endured.

BUSH: Well God bless him because it's just a terrible thing to have. And you...

KING: How did you lick it?

BUSH: I don't know, but George just held me and he would suggest, you know, why don't you go to a doctor; and then I'd think, he thinks I'm crazy!

I only cried at night, when I could just keep him awake. And I mean it was terrible. But, having said that, I was the right age -- menopause, my children were gone for the first time. It was a job I couldn't share, and we'd had such fun in China and the U.N., and I loved all that; being part of his life and the Republican National Committee.

And all of a sudden all that sort of -- but it was really the physical thing. And the doctor could have helped me and I was too stupid to go.

KING: And drugs could have helped. BUSH: Yes; but I just didn't want to tell anyone. I mean, I was ashamed of it. My code was, you think about other people, stop thinking about -- obviously you're thinking about yourself. That just isn't true.

I mean, I worked hard at the Washington home every day, I gave slide programs of China, George took me abroad with him on trips; I did a lot of things.

KING: But inside...

BUSH: I just hurt; but I'm over it. I was sad to read in the "USA Today," though that it recurs to people; and I said, not me, big boy.

KING: We'll be right back with former first lady Barbara Bush. The book is "A Memoir," the publisher is Scribner. This is LARRY KING LIVE; we'll be right back.



GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you; he's giving me a suggestion on who my vice presidential candidate ought to be. My mother's not available.


KING: Fichburg, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry; Hi Mrs. Bush.


CALLER: I've got two questions, one's a small one: How's Millie and would you ever think about running for public office?

BUSH: No. I'm 69, No. 1, and No. 2, I'm not qualified. But, would you vote for me?

KING: What about -- we have a couple minutes left -- campaigning? Do you like or dislike it?

BUSH: Some days I loved it and some days I hated it. Sometimes I was so tired, as is every candidate -- candidate and wife -- that I just thought, I can't move. The hotel windows don't open and the motels have hard beds and they all smell like cigarette smoke -- some days. Some days you're in the most beautiful places in the world.

KING: And the same's true of the candidate?

BUSH: Oh, yes, definitely the candidate.

KING: Orlando, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, good evening Mrs. Bush; we love you very much, we're excited about your sons, hopeful of his gubernatorial election this year.

Most importantly, how's Millie?

BUSH: Millie is great, and I loved what you said about Jeb; thank you.

KING: When you get back to private life -- what's been the toughest part -- the toughest adjustment?

BUSH: This is honestly true, and it sounds a little bit selfish, but it never occurred to me that I could never walk down the street again. I always loved walking in Kennebunkport down the ocean drive to downtown and back. It was good exercise and I loved doing it.

People drive off the road now, they ask you...

KING: You go shopping with George, though, right, you go to...

BUSH: Well, we race; he stops and signs autographs and I race through and shop. But...

KING: But there's no normal life?

BUSH: ... he's much more generous than I am.

KING: Do you miss -- you're driving sedans with...

BUSH: No, no, I drive.

KING: You drive?

Does the Supreme Court -- is the Secret Service in front of you and behind you?

BUSH: No, I just drive.

KING: Barbara!

BUSH: Watch out for me on the road! Watch out, she's on the road!

KING: Be careful, folks.

How long is this book tour you're on?

BUSH: We'll be through about the 28th or ninth. I'm going to end in Florida and then fly back to Maine and then go off with George to Central America.

KING: That's when, next year?

BUSH: No, the first of October.

KING: And then you'll be back in time for the elections?

BUSH: Oh, no; I'll be back two days later to speak in Baton Rouge -- I'll be there.

KING: And then -- if the boys invite, you're on the way?

BUSH: You bet.

KING: Thank you, Barbara.

BUSH: Thanks a lot; I love being on the program.

KING: Great having you with us.

BUSH: I'll even come again.

KING: Any time.


KING: Barbara Bush, an outstanding lady. We hope you enjoyed this look back at her conversations with us. Thanks for watching LARRY KING WEEKEND; good night.


BUSH: Tonight I have the great pleasure to introduce to you a great man that we love very much: the next president of the United States, George W. Bush.




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