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. Bethie in TX

    May 29th, 2009 11:58 am ET

    The Bush presidency made America stronger as well. Unfortunately, Obama is rapidly weakening the US both in foreign and domestic matters.

    History will judge Bush much more favorably than Obama.
    (Phoenix 86)
    You are so wrong it isn't even funny. How can you possibly say that we are stronger now? Bush took a thriving economy and borrowed/spent it into shambles on an unnecessary war. He has given our enemies plenty of ammo with abuses & torture of detainees, and by keeping them unlawfully at gitmo. He lied to us about the reasons for going into Iraq-even changing the reasons when no WMDs were found. IMHO, Bush (along with Cheney) will be judged worse than Nixon. At least Nixon's lies didn't lead to the deaths of 4000+ soldiers and untold thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians in a "preemptive" war.

    We don't know yet about Obama, but I highly doubt that he could ruin our country more than the Bush administration already has.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. T

    Phoenix86 you are just talking from the side of your mouth, you need
    To remember 911 happen on Bush watch....history will judge Bush but Chaney was the one giving the orders. How did Bush presidency made America stronger? Obama is not weakening the US. He is turning this MESS (BUSH) INTO A MESSAGE. Get real. One thing I must say I do admire Bush for not bad mouthing the President.

    May 29, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. jim

    @ Rob

    You are such an idiot!!!! No other way to say it, Idiot, idiot, idiot.

    Consevative state you can not judge Bush only history can but yet you make a silly statement like that 125 days into Obama presidency.

    May 29, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Steve (the real one)

    I see the party of "tolerance" is anything but! Your hatred is cause for a name change to the party of tolerant social, leftist, liberals, who only tolerate social, leftist, liberals. Just wait until inflation kicks your social, leftist, liberal behinds, just wait for a VAT (Value Added TAX). You hate Bush so much, then please explain the love for a man who is closely following Bush policies (foreign and domestic), except without the Czar support!!! Still waiting!

    May 29, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Crossbuck

    I believe President Bush made this country safer for doing the interrogations. I also beleive President Obama has been making this country a lot less safe. It's not his fault though, he just hasn't got a clue as to what he is doing on any topic, economy, national defense, healthcare, judges, etc.

    May 29, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Jennifer NY

    The only reason he and Chency are lying about torturing those people is to save their butts from jail and a war crimes trial in The Hague. I can't believe the brainwashed people here who think this guy actually made the country safer....he made us more vulnerable by the Iraq war, torturing, getting our country very deep in debt to China and elsewhere by borrowing to fund the Iraq war and hiding it from the American people, he and Cheney dodged going to war yet they are responsible for over 4,000 soldiers losing their lives and thousands more maimed for life. They sent our National Guard to Iraq, and the deep-water equipment letting New Orleans drown, fired US Attorneys for not prosecuting people in order to gain political advantage, stole two elections and lied about everything, still lying.

    May 29, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Lori

    I'm glad his marriage made him stronger. But his leadership turned this country into a disaster and the laughing stock of the world. This joke caused the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, treated African-Americans in New Orleans like dirt during Hurricane Katrina, sent our brave men and women to die for NO CAUSE, 9/11 happened under his watch, he put the extremely important Israeli/Palestinian conflict on the back burner, etc. etc. But hey, I'm glad him and Laura are making more 'whoopy' in their Texas Ranch.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Kevin B.

    Pushing massive tax cuts for the wealthy, while waging two wars (one of them built upon lies) coupled with unregulated banking led to the economic debacle, thus weakening the US abroad and at home.

    This is the real Bush legacy and he can not escape the truth.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. Proud DHS radical

    The same leftists here whom I'm cetain have rally behind Bush right after 9/11 but later hated him for anything and everything under the sun, would do the same and turn on their golden boy Obama before too long.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  10. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    911 happened on bushs' watch. How did he keep us safe?

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Niger Man

    Teleprompter of the USA. The way you think and write is what is tearing America apart. Are you saying that all conservatives agreed with 43? The office of the presidency is bigger than its occupant. When an accusation is made, do not assume that the accusations are personal. 44 has only been in office for a few months, and your type has already made over one million accusations of him. Grow up, you don;t own America; its for the people and its people speak freely. When all is said and done, most americans love their former presidents. I've always liked 43 as a human being, but not some of his policies.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. jt

    Mr. Bush you spent 2/3 of your Presedency on vacation, which is true, and Obama is working like a mad man to stabilize the economy, ending the war and to create a better image around the world. I don't know how history will judge you, but failed Mr. Presedent.

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

    Despite the little regard I have for him, I have to concede that George W. Bush has expressed a truth that most Americans never think about; that is, the difficulty of the Presidency on the immediate family members of the President. We all imagine how great it must be to live in the White House, but none of us truly contemplates how awful it can also be.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Polar Bears Against Palen

    Bush should be waterboarded.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh George. You are at your best when you don't talk. Do us all a favor please and slip quietly away into oblivion.

    May 29, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Does security make everyone who attends his speaches go barefoot? I can't tell you how much I'd like to throw a shoe at this guy's face. It should become a national past hotdogs at a baseball game or sticking our noses in other sovereign nations' business.

    May 29, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. franco

    President Bush: Thank you so much for keeping us safe for seven years! You are a good man; thank you for serving our country, you did your best. Don't let the loons on the left get you down.

    May 29, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. JLS

    Well we all know that Bush's predecessor can't possible say his presidency made his marriage stronger, now can he???
    What say you, Billy Boy??

    May 29, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    When one takes the presidency as seriously as ownership of a baseball team, I guess it isn't very hard to be president.
    And when one creates a legacy of constitutional abuse, trampling civil rights, cynical defiance of international law, selling out to Big Industry, nonchalance in the face of natural disasters, rampant corruption, scientific ignorance, and national financial ruin, then yes, maybe it IS harder to be a relative.

    May 29, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. JR

    Bush: 'The information we got saved lives'

    Really, where?
    Did it save any of the 4000 dead Americans in Iraq?
    Did it save any of the 200,000 dead Iraqi's?
    Did it save one single life in the US?

    Just repeating your "torture saved lives" mantra doesn't make it true.

    May 29, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Judy

    Spoiled little rich son had the family pay his way the presidency. What a joke for a president. Laura should have left him a long time ago, but thenagain, who is Laura really. Glad he is gone and I never want to see a Bush in charge of anything in the United States again. The only reason we went to war was because Sadam was trying to take out Bush Senior and Bush Jr said that he would get Sadam for that, At What Cost to the American people and the world. Bush is an idiot

    May 29, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Crossbuck

    Scott Stodden, you ought to do some research before you speak. Most of the mess came from the liberal democrats.

    May 29, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. Cindy

    I'm just glad that George W is no longer our President. I like him much better when he isnt the President. haaa!

    May 29, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Michael

    When one takes the Presidency of the USA as seriously as one does ownership of a baseball team, then maybe it isn't so hard to be President.
    And when one creates a legacy of constitutional abuse, trampling civil rights, cynical defiance of international law, selling out to Big Industry, rampant corruption, the destruction of the middle class, nonchalance in the face of natural disaster, scientific ignorance and national financial ruin...then maybe it IS harder to be a relative.

    May 29, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Jeff

    Thank you Mr. President for not bowing down to your political detractors. You kept this nation safe and I hope the best for you and your family. Also, what a great display of class in not criticizing the current administration. You have shown integrity and true leadership. Your decision to lead our nation to war to fight a hate-filled enemy was a just decision. Moder day liberals cannot understand that freedom is often purchased with a price, and that price is the human capital that it takes in times of war. These liberals running congress today would have even opposed FDR when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They truly are pathetic. So, God bless you Mr. Preisdent and God bless your family.

    May 29, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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