May 29th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
6 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. dan

    Worst president in American History

    May 29, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. minnie

    We are all wishing for Bush back. Obama is sending us nothing but trouble. He needs to go back to Chicago with his kind of people.

    May 29, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. pat

    Public opinion would be a lot more favorable toward President Bush, if the people had to stand in his shoes for just one week of his term.

    What most do not understand, is he inheirited the terriorist that the previous president allowed into our country. He inheirited the economic crisis that went totally unchecked and even promoted under the previous president.

    When people are making money, they put blinders on and can not see that the bubble was going to burst in the worst way. Too bad for the ones with the blinders on.

    May 29, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. minnie

    Several people think Scott Stodden is an idiot so do I.

    May 29, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. wowser!

    Where's the "HOPE"? Where is the "CHANGE"? All I see is Hate!!

    Despite the "Messiah's" Change, it sure appears as if the foolish mind sets and blame games continue. Keep up the good work!

    May 29, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Skip, a black man

    You will change your mind ....Bush did alot off goods things for our country.....people will see down the road what a great man he is!

    May 29, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Jefe

    d84000 – I am a Christian (not a war-loving, gay-hating, greed-monger Christian from the South, but the old-school kind, you know, the Jesus-follower type – I know, that's crazy in these days of Neoconservative Fascism). Anyhow, I am offended by your Anti-American comment.

    The nation I live in (The USA), was founded largely based on Freedom of Religion, and as citizens of a SECULAR-GOVERNED NATION, I have no problem calling Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, even sects of Christianity who act in ways I consider very non-Christian (i.e. Neocons), Athiests, etc., fellow Citizens.

    Anyone who doesn't like it should move to a Fundamentalist Theocracy. Iran would be perfect for such Anti-Constitution, Anti-USA zealots.

    May 29, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Pearlie

    Phoenix86, are you losing your mind. You actually believe that the country was stronger and better when Bush was president. Do you live in this United States are what. Bush and his cronies have left our county in a horriable mess. Look at the many lives that have been lost over a war that should never have happened. Look at our economy and the thousand of peoples that have lost their jobs and homes. There are also, thousand of people that are homeless and have no way of getting another and the number of people that has apply for a little stubance from our wellfare department. When that runs out what will they do. I am so very happy that he is out of office and good riddence to him and Chaney. We finally have a President that is for the people and he listens to the people and understand what they need. Also, the white house is now open to the people and I for one thank God everyday for our new President and first Lady.

    May 29, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I can't tellyou how thrilled I am that your presidency had a positive effect on someone seeing how it totally screwed the rest of us. Thanks for sharing.

    May 29, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. sick and tired

    This is completely off subject but I am sick and tired of this same sex crap. I'm not a hater but everytime I look, this crap is on the web sights and cable new, enough already!!!

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Maggie, OH

    Well, after all the damage that he caused, the only thing he's happy about is HIS MARRIAGE IS STRONGER. He's a strange man and a small man in my eyes.

    Thank goodness he will never be known as a good president. He was horrible.

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  12. rodlang

    Amazing the amount of liberal hate and vitriol. Bush says something benign and harmless and the liberals just react with vitriol. Some of you folks need counseling to deal with your anger.

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. just saying

    Politics aside, I think Laura Bush held up well under the circumstances and deserves a lot of credit. She was a very likeable and graceful First Lady who earned, and deserves our respect for representing us so well. Any marraige, at times, can be tough enough; even without being the President and First Lady. The fact that Presidential marraiges survive, after the 24/7/365 scrutiny they had to endure for 4 to 8 years, is commendable.

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Clinton Fringer

    Worst president in American History
    __________________________________

    Actually, that was Jimmy Carter.........

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. vet in texas

    if I purchase a house and the previous owner sits down with me there and tells me, "watch that back fence, the dog next door comes in all the time and is vicious", and I don't do anything about it, then the dog comes in the fence and mauls my children, whose at fault.....me or the previous owner for not fixing the fence.....

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    I love these conservatives saying "history will prove, blah, blah, blah". Ha, the fact is they don't read history; even recent history. They don't read Presidential Daily Briefings, they don't pay attention to anything but how to make a buck on war, lies, and deceit. I feel sorry for Laura Bush.

    May 29, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. From Terry, Who Is Right

    Conservatives want this administration to fail so they can regain power. Conservatism has no beliefs, no ideology, no vision. Conservatism is only a marketing strategy. It describes how to bring down an administration that might otherwise be successful, so they can increase their own power and wealth.

    Therefore, they will oppose anything and everything, block, delay, prevent, stall, exaggerate, and defame while pretending to adhere to imaginary principles. Those principles, by the way, mean nothing to them when they ARE in power. During the Reagan, Bush, and Bush years, did we get smaller government, a preference for local control, a flag burning amendment, a gay marriage amendment, lower taxes on the middle class, or anything else they promised? I rest my case.

    May 29, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. From Terry

    Conservatives want this administration to fail so they can regain power. Conservatism has no beliefs, no ideology, no vision. Conservatism is only a marketing strategy. It describes how to bring down an administration that might otherwise be successful, so they can increase their own power and wealth.

    Therefore, they will oppose anything and everything, block, delay, prevent, stall, exaggerate, and defame while pretending to adhere to imaginary principles. Those principles, by the way, mean nothing to them when they ARE in power. During the Reagan, Bush, and Bush years, did we get smaller government, a preference for local control, a flag burning amendment, a gay marriage amendment, lower taxes on the middle class, or anything else they promised? I rest my case.

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

    I'm glad that something got stronger for Bush. It wasn't America, it wasn't the level of respect for us from the rest of the world, and it certainly wasn't the fabric of peace, civility, and morality.

    A failed presidency, proving once again that just because anyone can become president, not everyone should.

    May 29, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Rick CT

    Bethie in TX needs a history lesson. Bush inherited an economy that was sinking into recession as a result of the dot-com bust, etc. As it turned out, the recession was very mild under Bush's watch.

    As for whether we are stronger or safer, the verdict is certainly still out on that one. Yes, 911 was on Bush's watch – but planning of that attack started well before 1-20-01 and was instigated by events that occured well before1-20-01.

    All we've seen so far is that Obama's world apology tour has thrilled the Euros, but if anything, has resulted in more threats from rogue states such as Iran (their missle test in response to Obama's kind words) and North Korea (more threatening actions and words than ever before).

    May 29, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Obama 2.0

    It is also time for the POTUS to not use Bush's name to push forward. The golden rule!

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. lou

    Glad something got stronger...everything else you touch got weaker... I just wish we can persecute him for crimes against humanity.

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. bcords

    who says she voted for u this time! she might have been smarter than all of the hypocrit jesus freaks and old people that u scared into voting for u the second time around(remember all of the heightened security awareness threats before the election and haven't had one since). she knows you're an idiot and probably hoped the rest of the country knew the same.

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. KTX

    What a class act. . .I think when things calm down, we'll end up with a very different view of his presidency then we are being force-fed right now. Obama is showing signs of being blown about by the same forces that bedeviled the Bush administration, and every day seems to bring forth new vindication for the Bush administration, as Obama's initial attempts at economic stimulus and foreign policy fail dramatically one after another.

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Dawn in Pa

    To phoenix86;

    I like to know what planet you are on, how can Bush keep America stronger, when the whole world was not going to back us in anything.
    North Korea is a product of him saying at the State of the Union, the axis of Evil. They don't take kindly to insults. Bush left the Presidency with lowest rating of any President, that includes Nixon and Carter.

    You right wing nuts calls President Obama Robin Hood? Well Bush and any Republican who takes from the poor to give to the filthy rich. Do you live in a well to do area, or someplace where there is poverty.

    If anyone likes to have some good laughs, google Bushisms.
    it would make you chuckle.

    May 29, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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