May 29th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Bush: White House pressure made my marriage stronger

Former President Bush said Thursday that it is 'much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president.'

Former President Bush said Thursday that it is 'much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president.'

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan (CNN) - Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that if Laura Bush hadn't been first lady, he isn't sure he could have counted on her vote.

"I can promise you that her life dream when she was growing up was not to be first lady of the United States," he told a Michigan audience in one of his first major domestic speeches since leaving the White House. "Frankly, I am not so sure that if we hadn't married she'd have voted for me."

Bush continued: "There's a lot of pressure in the White House as I'm sure you can imagine. Pressure sometimes can make a marriage stronger or weaker. In my case because of her patience and her enthusiasm, it made our marriage a really good marriage."

The pressure of the presidency, he said, weighs most on family members.

"It's much harder to be the son of the president than to be the president. And it's much harder to be the father of the president than to be the president," he said. "And I used to have to admonish him not pay attention to what they were writing on the editorial pages about his son. I had gone through the same agony myself. And so I am confident that the end of the presidency is a great relief because of our strong love."

Something else Bush called a great relief: having a vice president, Dick Cheney, who had no plans to run for the top spot.

"I was pleased to have someone serve as my vice president who was not running for president, because someone who is running for president, at times, will try to distance themselves," said Bush. "If things got tough, [he] could be one of the first person off the ship, and that would be really unpleasant in the White House."

Bush said he wasn't surprised to lose public support for some of the main elements of his national security agenda. "I was frustrated because the stakes were so high in some of the decisions that I had to make. I wasn't surprised that people would forget the feeling of how they felt after September 11. I was grateful that people were moving beyond September 11. As a president you don't want your nation to be so worried about an attack that people don't go about their lives ... the psychology of the nation concerned me. Which then made it harder to get people to listen to you, to some of the decisions I made."

The fact that Americans eventually tuned out media coverage of the risk of terrorism wasn't surprising to him either, he said - he ignored most news coverage himself.

"The truth of the matter is, I never watched the nightly news, because it was predictable, I thought. Nor did I ever pay attention to the editorial pages, good editorials or bad," he said. "I knew what was in the news. When you're president you can get so obsessed with this stuff that I felt it would cloud your vision. The truth of the matter is there is so much attention paid to you, I thought it was important even in the toughest moments to be upbeat and not to be so worried about myself that I couldn't convey a sense of confidence."

He mused on the transition to a far calmer post-presidential existence. "People ask, what is it like? Well, I have never stopped at a traffic light for eight years," he said.

"The neighborhood we live in is nice. You know Laura bought this house sight unseen. At least she saw. I didn't. It was like a faith-based initiative."

Bush will take the stage with another former president, Bill Clinton, tonight in Toronto.

Filed under: George W. Bush • Laura Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. Jane

    I love President Bush – I think he was a great President, a good man, and loyal to his family and his God. Yes, I know he believed in God.
    Can you say that about Obama – in the 60's Obama was living in Hawaii, laying on the beach, drinking, doing drugs and smoking and this is by his own admission. Who wants a President like that. Obama just doesn't have enough sense or experience to be President and the people around him are all dishonest, never paying taxes. What do you people think you know about Obama. How many of you have read the book "Audicity of Hope", a book so radical that it should be taken off the shelves and teachers will not let it be opened in their classrooms and this is the man you elected to run this country. He was born in Hawaii, lives in Indonesia and came to the U.S. when he was 19 years old to go to school. American needs to wake up,

    May 29, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Audrey in VA

    Bush's failure to respond to Katrina is a favorite topic for liberals. But what about how democrats EXPLOITED katrina victims for political gain?? Boy, did the left get a lot of mileage out of that catastrophe. Its curious how dems consistently fail to effect meaninful change for their consitutents...makes one wonder. If it werent victims, the dems would be out of business. They are committed to keeping people in need.

    May 29, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Tatianna

    The only one thing that can be said without reservations is that President Bush kept the country safe since 9/11 attacks. He delivered on the mahn charge of his office in time of emergency, in a crisis without guidelines or precedent. Can anyone explain how we are safer now? President Bush left office four months ago. Obama continues warrantless wiretaps, renditions, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Predator Drone and Gitmo still open. What measures or policies has Obama implented that has made us safer in which is different than Bush policies.

    May 29, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. SD,Michigan

    GWBush..what more do you expect from him? Lies, being a wus and giving the power to Cheney.....hope you enjoy your oil dirty money, George!

    May 29, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Jim Hall

    Yes it is amazing what alcohol and illegal drugs will do to you remember Bush during Vietnam doing these things and papa having his military records doctored up. Jim Hall Kansas City Missouri

    May 29, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. Republicans are the American Taliban

    His marriage is stronger? How are the marriages of the troops killed in a useless war initiated by W ?

    May 29, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. 8 years 4 sure

    CNN shame on you for printing that crap spewed from "Dave, the Truth Teller". Can't you tell the man has a mental problem!

    May 29, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. donttreadonme

    Sniffit May 29th, 2009 1:00 pm ET
    things like the right of choice or to equal treatment as loving couples
    Stop trying to pin the gay marriage issue on Repubs. If you think that Obama siding with traditional marriage did not affect Prop 8 in California you are blind. The only thing you can do is to try to drum up equal protection via the Constitution?? This is a weak argument (Any man can marry a willing woman straight or gay –that is pretty equal) This is just a way of pushing an agenda that the majority of Americans disagree with.

    May 29, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Marcus, Great Lakes IL


    You know why you talk to terrorists? Because you keep your friends close, your enemies closer. That way you might get one up on them before they can you.

    May 29, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. abby

    Thank God those days are over. Thank God!

    May 29, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. abby

    After three months on the job, President Obama continues to be widely popular.

    That is according to a new poll released today by Gallup that shows Obama's approval rating at 65%

    President Obama's approval rating has stayed relatively consistent - and high - since he was sworn into office in January. He started out with a 66% rating and dropped temporarily to 62% in March.

    That puts Obama into a select group of presidents whose approval ratings have increased from February to May of their first year in office.

    Since World War II, only three first-term presidents - Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan - have had a higher average approval rating in May of their first year.

    In recent years, declining approval ratings have been the standard. George W. Bush's rating dropped four points from February to May, and Bill Clinton's dropped nine.

    May 29, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. New Yorker

    So many still believe the lies about Bush that the liberals have perpetrated for years. The fact is, Bush was a great president because he is morally upright , a man of integrity, and had the courage to do what others would shrink back from. Those who complain about the torture issue would shut their mouths if their loved ones' lives were threatened and the only way to save them was by torturing a thug. Just face the reality of it; you know you would approve of any means of getting info if a terrorist was holding a knife to your child's throat.

    May 29, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Lolbama

    Dims whine about 4300 dead since the Iraq invasion. It never ceases to amaze. Considering these people are playing with death 100% of the time there, 4300 is extremely low. Alcohol related deaths in 2006 were over 16,000. Why don't the dims scream bloody murder about that??? They lied to us about WMD's!!!! NO they didn't. We supplied WMD's to Iraq. Get over your knee-jerk liberalisms and wake up to the socialism headed down the pike right at us all.

    May 29, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. kingssman

    I'm glad Bush is taking the long needed retirement out of politics.

    Stay out of sight, out of mind and perhaps may be redeemed.

    May 29, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. AJB

    Being president probably isn't as hard when you have the tools to do the job. Bush was intellectually lazy and appeared to have little to no comprehension of many of the issues he was forced to deal with. This made him a mallable dupe for the likes of cheney, rumsfeld and the rest of the neocon cabal.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    May 29, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |

    His new coloring book...."THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GEORGE BUSH"...It comes complete with crayons...It will be out in June....

    May 29, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Bob of Lompoc

    A Stepford Wife with bad taste in men. He was a Lounge Lizard in his 20/30s who evolved into AWOL missing in action (at the Lounge) from his military duty station – oh hell, everybody knows all this. He is just a sad, sad example of a man. He has hit bottom, and started to dig.

    May 29, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Joseph L

    All you Bush haters, should know in Texas we are happy to have him. In fact We are just happy. Texas doesn't have the problems the rest of you complain about. Simple if the Dem's take over Texas we will be miserable. Thank you Mr. President Bush. If Obama even gets re-elected then all you Obamanites can speak. Yea and try blaming N Korea on Bush thats so funny. No one respects Obama go get some newports Barry. Love them new college pictures. Smoke some green in Cali did ya.

    May 29, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Common Sense

    Thank you, President Bush. We all love you. You kept this country safe and sound for 8 years. You're right... don't let the turkeys bother you.

    To the Bush haters... if you voted for BO and you got laid-off, you have nobody to blame, but yourself. Because the entire economy is based on forecast, ie. future growth of the company/country. And yes... your upper management see there is no way anything will grow under the BO administration, so you're chopped. Have a good day... hiding your head under sand. =)

    May 29, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Davis

    What an IDOIT!!!

    May 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. kingssman

    Its interesting, Reagan had a great economic expansion and in his 2nd term noticed a major Collapse in history. Bush had a good economic expansion and in his 2nd term noticed a major Collapse in history

    Seems like their house of cards tend to fall

    May 29, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. CT Mama

    If people want to make the claim that Bush "kept us safe for 8 years," they must also acknowledge that Bush bears the blame for 9-11. The attack happened on his watch. You can't have one without the other.

    May 29, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. David

    I wish this man would be arrested or at least slink away. I guess he has figured he won't be prosecuted for permitting 9-11 to occur after being told about it. I guess he has not driven his car into a closed garage because Laura was more loudly applauded than he. That moron w is such a liar or a dimwit that he says he cannot remember doing all the cocaine he did, the dry drunk.

    May 29, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Manny BLUM, Bernalillo

    One reason that such blogs should be forbidden is because they provide a home for a small minority of low IQ and hate filled morons to vent their venom. This people represent the US population not more as Rush Limbaugh or the 'Move On" anarchist (posing as liberal) movement

    May 29, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. Retired US ARMY

    I do not feel that Gerorge W Bush is necessarily a bad person, what I do feel however is that he surrounded himself with individuals that gave him bad consul, and he did not have the foresight to understand that they might be good ole boys in his adminstration, but what they were telling him to do was not in his best intersts or the interests of the nation. Cheney and Rove come right to the top of the list.

    Basically, some are right, history will be the judge of Gerorge W Bush, it will look back at him in shock and disbelief that the nation could have been so rattled that under his leadership the nation forgot its very roots and ideals.

    May 29, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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