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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Family Reads Story to Children

Aired December 17, 2002 - 13:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now we are going to take you live to the Roosevelt Room at the White House, where every year President George Bush and, of course, the first lady read holiday stories with children at the White House. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have you ever heard this one? It starts with "'Twas the night before Christmas?"

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: ... night before Christmas, when all through the house -- not even a mouse. Nobody was stirring. Kind of quiet, wasn't it?

You better read that, because I can't see.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds" -- don't they look snug?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

L. BUSH: "While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads." What does that that mean? Do you know what sugar plums are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

L. BUSH: Candy. So they are thinking maybe their stockings have candy in them, don't they?

G. BUSH: You can't see? You come right over here.

L. BUSH: "And ma in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter's nap." Do you all want to come up closer here? Yes, come on over here. These are really beautiful pictures, as you can see up close.

"When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window, I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters, threw up the sash. The moon from the crest of the new fallen snow gave a luster of midday to the objects below. When what to my wondering eyes should appear," do you all know, "a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer."

G. BUSH: Yes.

L. BUSH: "With a little old man so jolly and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick." Do you like these pictures?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

L. BUSH: "More rapid than eagles, the coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name."

You know the name of the reindeers?

"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen." See all these reindeer?

G. BUSH: Anybody in this room named Blitzen?

L. BUSH: You all remember all these names? Dasher and Dancer, and Comet and Cupid and Rudolph. That's right. He's not in this story because he came later.

"To the top of the porch, to the top of the walls, now dash away, dash away, dash away all. As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky, so up to the housetop the coursers they flew with a sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas, too."

This is pretty. You notice who is in every picture? Well, not every one.

"And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney he came with a bound.

"He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just about to open his pack."

See all those toys?

"His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His droll little mouth was drawn up in a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow."

Is this what we all think Santa Claus looks like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

L. BUSH: With a white beard and that nose like a cherry? "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a round little belly that -- shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.

"A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread."

G. BUSH: Pretty exciting so far, isn't it?

L. BUSH: "He spoke not a word but went straight to work, and filled all the stockings, and then he turned with a jerk."

And what's he going to do now? How is he going to get out? Back up the chimney, isn't he?

"And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose."

G. BUSH: That's kind of hard to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

G. BUSH: Have you ever tried to crawl up your chimney?

L. BUSH: He sprang to his sleigh and to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim as he went out of sight --"

What did he exclaim? Do you remember the very end of this? You?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

G. BUSH: Very good.

L. BUSH: That's right, exactly.

G. BUSH: Very good.

L. BUSH: Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

G. BUSH: And that's we want to say to you all: merry Christmas.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: He is all right. He is all right.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: This is Barney. He wanted to come. He wanted to hear the story. He is good boy, he won't hurt you. I can see why he scared you, though. He is pretty feracious (ph) looking when you first look at him.

L. BUSH: But he is very sweet.

G. BUSH: No, he doesn't bite. He is a little guy. He is a young boy. He is a young boy. His name is Barney.

L. BUSH: He is just two years old.

G. BUSH: He wants to be a reindeer for Christmas. He's a sweet little boy.

L. BUSH: He came in especially to tell you all merry Christmas.

G. BUSH: Seemed like a good idea at the time. Created a near riot.

L. BUSH: Is there everybody that is not afraid that wants to come pet him?

G. BUSH: He is a good little boy, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: Easy.

L. BUSH: Now you're not afraid.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: That's Barney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is black instead of purple.

G. BUSH: I know it.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: Love your cowboy hat.

PHILLIPS: All right, an annual tradition at the White House within the Roosevelt Room there. President Bush and first lady Laura Bush reading holiday stories to a bunch of excited young children, as you can see.

But it seems they are a little more excited about Barney than the story telling. Barney trying to escape after the president finished reading the Christmas story. Needless to say, a great opportunity to see the president in a relaxed atmosphere and children enjoying getting a chance to meet with the president and the first lady.

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