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. Steve from OH

    Booo booo

    Bush bad Obama good

    May 29, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Idiot

    Speaking of IDIOTS JOHHHNNN, he wasn't even president a year prior to 9/11, oh but I forget, it's his fault for forest fires, tsunami's, common colds, the fact we haven't found the cure for cancer....ummm, what else...?? I'm sure the list goes on. "You people" are pathetic.

    May 29, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Jennifer NY

    We don't care.

    May 29, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. d84000

    I am glad President Bush was my President he was a great President and history will bear witness to this. Bush stood up for America and didn't bow to dictators like the current Administration. America will one day pay the high price for Obama's reign. Over spending, abortion, gay issues, right wing issues, faith in a Christian Nation, not standing for anything and falling for everything. He tries to please the very people that tried to destroy the USA. YAH BUSH!

    May 29, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Greta

    Phoenix66 get your head out of the sand. Look I'm a Democrat voted for Obama and will gladly vote for him in 2012. I knew W would be a disaster as Prez when he was selected, not elected in 2000. Nevertheless, l don't hate Bush. He just should have never been President, his own family thought so and according to this article neither did Laura.

    May 29, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Pauly

    I still agree that history will remember Bush more fondly than 2008 did. Imagine all the information he had to process to which we weren't privy in every decision.

    A lot of people bought the Obama sales pitch because they were frustrated. But look what happens: He gets in office and has to learn and deal with all the classified details of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan etc. And the economy had much more in play than Obama could ever plan for standing outside looking in as he was.

    Perhaps as our current president expands military and lengthens stays and continues to spend tax money on credit (oops! how many Americans fell in to the debt trap without politicians' help?) then people will be willing to take a more un-biased and perhaps more educated look at our last president's tenure.

    Your approval rating at the end may have been low, Bush, but there are at least some of us that will remember your efforts with gratitude.

    May 29, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Scott Stodden

    I would just like to say one thing to President George W. Bush, thank you so much, we are so honored for the mess you got us into, this is all your fault.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport, Il)

    May 29, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Renee

    Bush haters, get over it already. He's ten times the president NObama will ever be.

    May 29, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. pzig98

    Looks like the hate filled liberals beat you to the post. The ringing of their bell is getting really ugly and sickening... The-Most-Closed-Minded folks ever... The worm is turning...

    May 29, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. d84000

    correction to the previous issue "faith in a Christian Nation" ... Obama had not right to indicate that the USA was not under one God with Christian overtones. He is wrong and should be repremanded for such a comment.

    May 29, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. GOP = 21st century dodo

    Wow this guy really wasn't running anything, was he.

    May 29, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Tom Paine

    Bring Bush back. Enough of Obama already.

    May 29, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. jd montgomery

    What a great man....We can only pray for this much integrity going forward.

    May 29, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "How long before the hate-filled liberals start posting about him making all sorts of accusations that aren't true and can't be proven?"

    Give us an example. Almost every single criticism of Bush has been proven true by real facts and real evidence. Iraq DID NOT have WMDs. Bush DID ignore relevant memos and documents indicating an impending Al Qaeda attack. Bush DID create Gitmo and DID torture people and that DOES violate international law, every principle upon which our country was founded and basic human rights. Bush DID engage in extraordinary rendition. Bush DID create a massive wiretapping program that violated the Constitutional privacy rights of every American citizen who was tapped. Bush DID create massive tax cuts for the wealthy based on trickle-down economic theory and it DID continue the trend started by Reagan of the already-wealthy becoming more and more wealthy while the middle-class kept receiving the same salaries. The list goes on and on and NONE of it is debateable no matter how blind you choose to be.

    May 29, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Chi Town

    Minnesotan May 29th, 2009 12:03 pm ET
    "Thanks for all the failed decisions, failed policies, economic catastrophes, rampant corruption, borrow-and-spend waste, cronyism, doubling the national debt, record Pork Barrel Spending, and the steaming pile of manure you left behind, you incompetent fool."

    Sadly... it's all happening again

    May 29, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. kay

    May I vomit now?

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |

    The real question is that the Dems. were all for the war and now they flip flop..[no spine] Pretty sad

    remember Bill Clinton sad there was WMD

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Hannah Stevens

    To phoenix86, how much did they pay you to say that? Every day is a new and better day since President Obama took office. He has been given this horrible mess that the last regime got us into but he is turning this country around. Jobs are coming back, we will get a health care package for everyone. We will be out of the mess in the middle east and get on to alternative fuels. We will take measures to stop global warming, remember bush and co lied and said it wasn't happening. This is a new and wonderful day.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Moris Behar

    This response is towards Susan. "Fooled you twice" ... what made you believe that after fooling you the first time he wouldn't do it again? Its the weak people like yourself that let this country fall into what it is today by voting for him the first time let alone the second time!!!!

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. Bill

    Republican Presidents Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush and CIA supplied weapons to Taliban and other Muslim separatists to Disintegrate USSR in the 1980s and 1990s. These weapons were used in Bloodshed of thousands in Kazakhstan Tajikistan Uzbekistan Azerbaijan So now Russia is supplying weapons to Al Quida to Attack US. Russia is supplying weapons to Somalia Pirates. Russia is supplying nuclear technology to Iran and N. Korea.

    Who is a bigger threat? Russia or these Guantanamo Detainees?

    George W. Bush followed the foot steps of his Father. George W. Bush misled us into Iraq war, where as the actual culprit is Russia and not Timid countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Republicans are Warmongers. Republicans will always have us in War. No more Republicans. Thank you very much. We don't need 650 lbs Gorillas like Rush Limbaugh.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. dave

    No Rob the real jerk is now in office.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. johnny

    @ phoenix86 May 29th, 2009 11:58 am ET

    History will judge Bush much more favorably than Obama.


    IDIOTS will judge Bush much more favorably than Obama.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. SoCal Vet

    I think if we all think about it, liberal and conservative, unbiased we can say that no matter how bad a president we feel GW was (I am one of them), that he had to make some of the most difficult decisions a president has had to make. I don't believe Bush is to blame for all of the mess we are in now, two wars, economic meltdown, housing meltdown, etc., but he could have made decisions or put policies in place that would have prevented much of it.

    At the very least, I will thank George W. Bush for being our president and serving our country, hey AMERICA did elect him twice (I am still dumbfounded by that and I am from Texas), and at least he did not quit or make excuses.

    I think Bush's first mistake and maybe what cost the country the most was picking Cheney as his VP. There should be no doubt that Cheney and his right-wing buddies were running the country and Bush was their puppet.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Candy West Virginia

    Kevin in Ohio – funny how you can't even defend the man, you just harp on us PROUD Liberals. BTW, being called a Liberal is wonderful, wouldn't want to be a conservative if my life depended on it, I have a conscience as well as morals.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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