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. Darth Vadik, CA

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

    May 29, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. A President of Courage

    Dear Mr. Bush

    I would like to make this one request...

    That the true indication of your Patriotism and courage is and will always be.....

    To step forward and reveal everyting, all of it, release documents, memos and e-mails.

    Tell the American People why you did it, and if it is judged that you broke the law in defending your country so be it.....tell em they know where youre at and they can pick you up any time....

    And if they the gallows you can recite the words of many a courgeous American....."I regret that I have but one life to give for my country"

    and go with honor and go with God.

    If they dont arrest you, then you are now a subject of, not just of American history, but world history.

    Either way you win if you reveal the truth now.

    The S. Korean leader who commited suicide in regret of his betrayal has more courage and heart and honor than anyone in your admin so far, Sir.

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

    I Have to laugh at the people who thank Bush for keeping us safe. really they must have forgotton 911! 911 happened 8 Months after Bush took office, not to mention the 1000s of People that Died in a War Bush and Cheney Lied to get us into WOW I MEAN WOW I cant Believe how Gulliable some of my Fellow Americans are!

    May 29, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. R in Maine

    He is a liar and a drug addict. Why would we expect him to tell the truth this time. His marriage got stronger because he was afraid that his wife might tell the truth about him. The reason that he never had a USAF separation physical is that he could not clear the narcotics from his system fast enough.

    May 29, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. chuck

    While his marriage was made stronger during his time in office, he degraded the relationships of millions of gay Americans and gay citizens of this planet by pushing for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Luckily, level heads prevailed and this bible thumpers' messages from the heavens did not come into play except to get him reelected. The voters of 2004 said they voted for moral issues when they voted for Bush, but that was code for anti-gay marriage. Bush has a lot of years left to see gay marriage become law and history will frown on this pitiful little trivial man.

    May 29, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Scott the Independent

    Laura – I sincerely feel for you

    May 29, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. al

    I am no fan of George Bush but I certainly respect the fact that he was the president and did a job that I would never even consider doing.

    Being in government service of most any kind is always a losing proposition. No matter what decision you make there will be those that agree with it and those that don't. All you can do is what you think is right.

    Unfortunately for President Bush he made too many decisions not as much as what he believed was right, but what he believed would give him more power and would benefit the smallest segments of society, namely the wealthy few. He did not create more or new wealth while president. He oversaw the lowest rate of job growth in this country since the great depression and the GDP rose at the smallest rate of any time since that statistic has been kept.

    I believe he had a lot of bad advice from people like Cheney and Rove and he chose to follow it rather than what he thought was right.

    May 29, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Jason

    that's because both you and your wife are DINGBATS!

    May 29, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Steve (the real one)

    FORMER republican, NEVER again! May 29th, 2009 12:57 pm ET
    Steve (the real one) – to answer your question, We, us PROUD liberal Democrats are not the ones saying that we kept America safe like bush and cheyney and every rethuglicans out there is screaming. So once again, 911 happened on bushs' watch, how did he keep us safe? Doesn't matter when it was planned, it's the implementation that counts. Still listening to lush limpaugh huh to get all your talking points.
    Still picking and choosing what you want to reply to, eh? So it doesn't matter when 9-11 was planned. I see you are still allergic to responsibility! Why the name calling. I thought you were tolerant! If Clinton went after Bin Laden when he was offered up, 9-11 may not have happened but you would find some to blame on Bush anyway! By the way you DID NOT answer my question! Stil diverting like Matthews and the lot!

    May 29, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. riaz

    GOOD (Marriage)
    BAD (WAR) &
    UGLY (ECONOMY) !!!

    We MISS You ??!!!

    May 29, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Scott the Independent

    @ BILL – might I suggest a lower dosage of medication. As Gov. of Texas he ruined the economic base of the state and increased the death penalty as well as the number of people falsely prosecuted for crimes they didn't commit. As President he started both wars, blow 1.5 trillion dollars in surplus left by the previous administration. Never included the cost of both wars in the annual budget to fudge the numbers and requested omnibus bill after omnibus bill to fund these wars – both of which were optional. Afghanistan could and should have been done in the form of surgical strikes at Bin Laden; whom by the way he never caught. Our financial structure was in melt down and our infrastructure was in free fall, including bridges under federal control. Our education system was trashed and our global image all but in the toilet. Please Bill see your doctor about the side effect of your medication you are delusional.

    May 29, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Karl Rove

    Bush doesn't have to worry what they write about him since he doesn't read!

    May 29, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. Faceshooter

    It;s no wonder, since Laura is one of the few people that would believe W's Bull. He thought he was above the law, never was wrong and should be put in prison with Dick Chaney. 9/11 happened on their watch...never forget!

    May 29, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Kimberly

    @Bill~Um you just made our point, the man completely screwed everything he touched!!!! He was NOT in con trol, the world knows it was cheney, and he is proving it every day. ALSO, his daddy got him the governorship, make no mistake. the ONLy REASON this idiot was president was because of his blood line and no other. he is and always will be a JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Faceshooter

    Hey Teleprompter and many of the other blind to Bush lovers and Obama haters. We gave W pleanty of time to prove himself. The proof is in his failed administration. This silver spoon ducked Viet Nam and oh yes, 9/11 happened on his watch...he was told, but as usual the Decider decided not to listen.

    May 29, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Sharon-NY

    So many people surround me have terribly missed George and Laura Bush. Sadly, America has now the President and the Administration of ABORTION in USA which is Christian nation of 84%. We should give up trying to hear prayers and dignity, but rhetorical lie from the White House. Indubitably, I believe that history will vindicate what George Bush had done for American safe life than Obama has worked for spreading of ABORTION and being too much friendly some Terrorist .

    May 29, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    Well good for your marriage, your presidency tore this country a part!

    May 29, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Kelby In Houston, TX

    He left the country in shambles but, HEY! His marriage is doing great!
    That's really good to know ;|

    May 29, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Shibumi

    If Bush is dumb, then BoBo is brain dead.

    May 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. JP

    @ Trevor May 29th, 2009 1:00 pm ET

    I'll also bet that if you had family members die at the WTC, your opinion would also be different. You haters need to release some of that pent up stress.......make love to your whatever, get more exercise, drink or do drugs....anything to make you a less bitter person.

    P.S. – Please tell your president that the election is over. He needs to stop campaigning and start governing.

    May 29, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. @BigMisterC

    I do not think that Bush is an idiot. Not in the least.

    I think that he was an inept leader that insulated himself from reasonable advice by surrounding himself with like-minded people. I think he governed more on instinct than reason and based his decisions more on idealism than reality. His administration was oppurtunistic and power-hungry and distrorted our Constitution and tarnished out image around the world.

    He is undoubtably the worst president in modern history. But an idiot? No.

    May 29, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. beachgirl


    Don't pretend to say your lady is fine, that your marriage is Ok

    Mr. Bush..........pleeeease go away!!!! We are fine WITHOUT YOU!!!

    May 29, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Byne

    Hellow CNN,
    I've posted same following article to ABC, FOXNEWS, NBC and CNN, but only CNN has right away deleted my post. I really, truly, highly and
    deeply want to know the reason. As a American citizen, tax payer who i am not like tax-cheaters, Tim Geithner, Charle Rangel (D-Manhattan Distric), i have a right to know the reason. Please e-mail me ASAP.

    So many people surround me have terribly missed George and Laura Bush. Sadly, America has now the President and the Administration of ABORTION in USA which is Christian nation of 84%. We should give up trying to hear prayers and dignity, but rhetorical lie from the White House. Indubitably, I believe that history will vindicate what George Bush had done for American safe life than Obama has worked for spreading of ABORTION and being too much friendly with some Muslim countries.

    May 29, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. History will judge Bush much more favorably than Obama

    I hope not for both of their sakes

    Bush will be at or near the very bottom, if Obama squeezes underneath Bushes rating, that will put both in the presidential sewer of history

    Obama can't do worse than nightmare Bush

    he has caused such damage to this country, our families marriages, drove us into recession, lied us into two wars, spied on Americans, tortured thus endangering our troops, outted a CIA operative making them less secure...

    one gets tired typing all the damage Bush did

    May 29, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Nathan,

    The end of your presidency was a great for the rest of us as well.

    May 29, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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