May 29th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
5 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. Paul

    "Bush kept us safe from terrorist attacks" -– huh? I seem to recall one big terrorist attack 8 months after he won the presidency, but lost the popular vote. 7 months after he "won", he went on a month-long vacation. I wonder how republicans would feel if President Obama spent all of this August clearing brush?

    May 29, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. yuri

    Wow and wow indeed! We did scan thru the number of responses to W's statements and the opinions were divided. Unfortunately for W, adverse comments far outnumber the fabv. ones.

    May 29, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Derka Derr

    Oh yeah Bush was brilliant, yeah yeah....heard it all before...what more do you need as proof of absolute failure, honestly...this is a president we are talking about here...clueless. Read a book and get off the internet for a little bit. Think about it, the best these people can come up with is the teleprompter? muslim? hes not even black?!?!?! or....hes not even white?!?!?! saving money is making us less safe?!?! science is bad!!! Michelle doesnt dress good, omg they have a garden at the white house...hes a terrorist!! best one yet...god forbid we get off our dependence on foreign oil....a HUGE no brainer...what else? see where this is goiing? you people have to get an education and stop wasting time with your childish opinions that are irrelevant to the reality we find ourselves in now and in the future. Sit!!!

    May 29, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. BJ

    @ Susan...

    Hahahahahaha...he fooled you twice?

    Typical dumbocrat.

    May 29, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. michelle

    One last comment or I will have to forsake the internet reading of comments. No more comments.

    May 29, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I thought the Globe said she was leaving him. Ha!

    May 29, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. lou

    His legacy speaks for it self. He is by far the worst president we ever had...

    May 29, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Dillie

    One things for sure...We can thank the Bush Administration for the fall of the Republican party...hopefully never to rise again.

    May 29, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Peg

    What???????!!!

    May 29, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Cali J

    The Dems have been in charge since 2006. The Dems also voted for the Iraq war. You Libs can keep blaming Bush, but it is now 2009 and it's time for you lefties to pony up and admit that the problems in our country as well as the economy rest squarely on the shoulders of the democats in the house. I don't see you holding Clinton or Kerry responsible for their votes on the Iraq war. Because your a Dem doesn't make it OK to flip flop when the political winds changes direction.

    May 29, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    "George Bush kept us safe" – except for 9/11, doing a half a$$ed job on the Taliban who are now resurgent in Pakistan, going to war under false pretenses and alienating us from the rest of the world, and if you don't consider the residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to be part of "us".

    May 29, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Steve (the real one)

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA May 29th, 2009 12:41 pm ET
    @ Teleprompter of the U.S.A.
    I'm trying to forget about Dictator George W. Bush. He wasn't the 43rd President of the U.S., he was the 1st dictator of the U.S. He's lucky his wife stands behind him because alot of Americans don't! Ask the people of New Orleans what they think about Dictator Bush. Enough said!
    -------------
    1. Who then is the second dictator?? Ask te people of GM, and Chrysler whatTHEY think about the 2nd dictator! More tah enough said!
    2. A lot of Americans don't stand behind Jesus either! Your point is mute and has been rendered helpless and hopeless.

    May 29, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    @FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    I dare you to show proof he lied. That's the normal play book. Half the world thought he had WMD's it's been proven that Iraq worked hard to make the world think they had WMDs.....well guess what Iraq's plan worked and the world thought they did...hell it's been proven that at one time Iraq did have WMDs the real problem is....no one knows what he did with all of those weapons...maybe you do.

    May 29, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    @FORMER republican, NEVER again! May 29th, 2009 12:16 pm ET

    911 happened on bushs' watch. How did he keep us safe?
    -------------
    It's been proven that 911 started before Bush and that your hero Bill, between getting tail in the white house allowed it to happen...he missed several chances to put a stop to it...so 911's failures belong to you crazy dems.....how do you sleep at night knowing it's all your fault?

    May 29, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Fla.

    Pschology of the nation concerned Bush?? Give me a break. He was one the worst, most divisive presidents ever at a time when our great nation needed a leader for ALL Americans.

    May 29, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. JZ, Omaha, NE

    Thank goodness for great people like George W. Bush. He is a man of integrity and loves his country. Maybe Barack OSAMA should take a lesson. He is leading us to a nation of socialism. Who we are going to bailout next?

    Obama is seeing how difficult this job really is. Socialized medicine, higher taxes and foreign policies that makes the U.S. look like whimps (i.e. North Korea). The events happening in North Korea shows Obama's lack of character and willingness to play hard ball. Bush would of flipped the switch!

    May 29, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. jwn in south carolina

    He is still stupid.

    May 29, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. elliott

    A great American. A patriot. Unlike the nadless girl who is now president...

    May 29, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. smartest FL voter

    WOW, it never ceases to amaze me how completely oblivious (nice way of saying as DUMB AS THEY COME) some people really are!

    Take the comment by phoenix86 for instance.

    Really!? You've got to be pulling our legs right?! Repubtards like these are the reason we had to endure the full 8 long years of the worst leadership this country has ever seen!!!

    PLEASE! Pass a law that requires an IQ test before one earns the RIGHT to vote. We would weed out a great number of those that really dont have a clue and save ourselves the disastrous effects of them actually having a say in our future.

    May 29, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. John M in NoHo CA

    One of you said "History will favor Bush better than Obama" ???

    Talk about close-minded... you're comparing one's 8 years with the other's 4 months, and yet you already handed the verdict...

    Obama gets another 7-1/2 years, so get used to it.

    May 29, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Ex-RepublicanTX

    yeah...who else is going to put up with you lying drinking idiotic self. She deserves to put up with you...you, cheney, rush and newt all going to die of cancer, kidney disease and heart failure respectfully...and you cant take you dishonest money with you to the grave.

    May 29, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    @TTBALA

    Man you desm cannot let it go...Under EVERY.....and let me say that again real slow for you....EVERY recount ased for Bush won. When the media tried to make headlines by doing the recount themselves Under EVERY recount Bush won....again you Dems cry unfair but then you forget facts......but I understand facts have never been something you cared about.

    May 29, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. Simmy

    Your White House failures has caused hardships and created problems in many marriages.......You and Cheney, sir, did a 'heck' of a job.......

    May 29, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. GOPer

    Good for you – Your marriage is stronger, we have 3000 plus dead Americans in our home land, over 4000 dead Americans over seas, Bin Laden has made you a fool of the Western Hemisphere, Al Quaida is stronger than they were before you took office, the US economy is not flat, its dead and you presided over an unregulated banking system because you thought greedy wealthy donors were capable of self regulation, we were launched into socialism and the best you could do is dance like Fred Astaire and laugh when the economy was melting faster than candle wax before you eyes. What did you do as a leader? Same thing you did prior to 911, take vacation. You wrecked our party and leave scraps like Dick Cheney around to espouse and vouch for your ill character and practices. Good luck choking on all that money you made. If you need help, don't call me. Thank God for Omaba! And I'm A Member Of the GOP

    May 29, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Darth Vadik, CA

    Isn't this what people say just before they get divorced?

    May 29, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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