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. shucks

    To the Bush supporters on here hoping for his return and declaring how great a president he was, only have to look as far as the voting booth to realize that they were the minority when it came to supporting the previous president and his agenda, and still are a very small minority who think he did a good job. I like calling the right wing republican evangelicals the minority. Minority, minority, minority.

    May 29, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. DJ Drummond

    ** Sigh **

    I wonder how many people spew hatred without once thinking about what they are building up in their own heart.

    Karma and balance, there is no place for demons.

    May 29, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Waylon

    You may dissagree with his policies but try and remember people that Bush did what he did under good faith of protecting our country. His heart was in the right place.

    With that said

    I didnt vote for Bush either time cause I thought he was over his head, Cheney and Rove didnt help either. Cheney should be in Jail

    May 29, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Corey

    One fact: a $10+ trillion dollar war (and counting) based on unfounded causes, and in violation of international law. Moreover, it destabilized the region, because Iraq and Iran were fervent ENEMIES: Iran couldn't do much, without worrying about Iraq. US forces are drawn thin, and are currently unable to engage in a "true" war if one arises. Finally, thousands of AMERICANS have died, in addition to an untold number of Iraqis.

    No President in three decades has done anything close to this travesty.

    It is irrefutable that George W. Bush was a horrible president.

    May 29, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. PhillyNERus

    TOTUS, in answer to your question, rob posted 7 minutes after your initial, first post question. That's how long it takes some of these degenerates to actually read through and bash, bash, bash.

    May 29, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. Mark

    Bush is such a good, decent man. I miss him in the Oval Office.

    May 29, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Bruce Harris

    And all it cost was one little destryed city and two trashed countries. Ain't love grand.

    May 29, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Stepford wives are the best

    She is the best little stepford.A role model for young girls everywhere.Their motto is shutup and do what your told and never question me.

    May 29, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. Clinton Fringer

    Obama is working like a mad man to stabilize the economy, ending the war and to create a better image around the world
    _______________________________________________

    Can you present these facts please? We aren't out of Iraq and the new word is that we will at least be there a decade...the "peace force" even longer......we are still in Afganistan with people dying and deploying daily......... we have now moved into Pakistan and under Obama in the first week of office ordered attacks that killed many innocents with more dying each day. N. Korea is threatening us and the personnel that have been stationed there for 50 years and and lives there will be lost . Our economy is in the toilet, unemployment and foreclosues are up, businesses are failing, CA is bankruptand the Europeans are turing against him. I hate to burst your bubble.........but the time to stop blaming a former administration has come. He needs to present his promised change.

    May 29, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. pete at the beach

    One day maybe one day a republican will take responsibility for their failures–probably tomorrow because tomorrow never comes!

    May 29, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. PhillyNERus

    Former Republican, show me the proof he "lied." That he intentionally deceived the public? Please, stop making up bs. You know nothing about intelligence gathering and what it entails.

    May 29, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. Had It

    I'm sure he thinks the wives, kids, and parents of the dead and maimed soldiers are stronger too.

    What an idiot.

    May 29, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Curious G

    It's a bit disturbing that W did not read any editorials, because he thought they were "predictable". Was that using the same clairvoyant power he had when he looked int Putin's eyes and saw his soul? He is saying that he deliberately created his own bubble beyond even the standard one of the White House. Perhaps it shielded him from having to think too hard. Now the GOP is in about the same shape as the country. Is the country and the party better off after his 8 years?

    May 29, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. pzig98

    You liberals can't see 2 inches in front of your nose... Your hate is the ugliest thing I have seen in the country ever. Comparing what you say about Bush to the fact that you said it, put Bush ten notches above you on the scale of morals, honor etc...

    Obama has changed nothing except labels...

    May 29, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. dominican mama 4 Obama

    @trish May 29th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

    He shouldn't be so certain that she DID vote for him!

    Trish i laughed when I read this till i cried! Thanks!!

    May 29, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Polar Bears Against Palen

    Oh, dry up, Brian.

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  17. Mike from C-bus

    Could I ask that the conservatives please stop assuming every nasty, angry comment is from a liberal. I happen to know plenty of angry people that supported this president and his policies. So please stop telling people, liberal or caonservative, how to deal with their anger. Because this is possibly their way.

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. LIP

    God bless George W Bush and thank you for sticking your neck out for us and thank you for taking all the crap from the die hard liberals that did all they could to bring you and fellow Republicans down. It is a shame that you bear the blame for people like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd for not doing their jobs as they were hired to do. Republicans will return after people have once again had all they can stomach of the Democrats and their liberalism.

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Diane M of Los Angeles, CA

    Good for you Former Pres Bush! FL Laura Bush is a graciou woman. He is one lucky dude!

    Although I did not vote for him, and I did not support his policies, I'm happy for him to be relieved from the highest office in the land!

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Steph

    @don't blame me

    "As for me, them most intelligent idiot that we have ever had as president is in office right now."

    What??? "Them most intelligent idiot..." Huh? I really don't think you should be allowed to comment on anyone's intelligence.

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. Al Mellen

    George should remember all of the vacations that he enjoyed, probably more than any other president. He undoubtedly had more working time at Crawford than in the white house. It seemed to me that he was always clearing brush,,,,must of had a lot of it. Riding and falling off his bicycle. Vacationing in Maine,,,,,fishing with his father. Many weekends at Camp David. I feel compelled to mention his vacationing while New Orleans was being flooded. I guess Crawford Texas did NOT yet have TV. What a wonderful legacy you have left for us. Please tell me, Jebb will NOT run for president.

    May 29, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Jane

    People have forgotten that Bush was elected by the people to be President of the United States just like Obama was. Apparently people have no class or respect for American people's opinion. Just like there are people that did not like Bush; there are people that do not like Obama. I think it is a sad day in history and human mankind when people are hateful and disrespectful. It will be interesting to see how people react to Obama when he is no longer "popular" with the people. I just think that people need to react to the present–not the past and get over it.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. SD,Michigan

    How many millions you made with the Iraq war? Was it worth it?

    May 29, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. The Shrub’s Legacy: Now, that we have booted the inebriated driver from behind the wheel, why would we listen to any of the passengers that were drinking at the same bar for the last 8 years???

    Save all the "he kept us safe for 7 years" talking points. The truth is he was in Crawford vacationing and cutting brush in August of 2001 when the daily briefing hit his desk and it was entitled "bin Laden Determined to strike U.S.", if he had been working instead of vacationing MAYBE 3,000 innocent Americans would be alive today!

    This "too drunk" to remember the entire month of August and whether he served in the National Guard and the 5 time draft dodger dick, are the parasites that have killed and maimed thousands of American soldiers all the the name of empire building and securing a steady supply of oil.

    You limbaugh lemmings can spin it anyway you want to make yourselves feel better for voting for the previous clown-in-chief.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Really

    Dawn in PA said "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."

    Explain to me how the rich is taking from the poor. I suppose you will argue the profit that is made on products sold to the poor but that is what creates the economy. The poor do not pay taxes nor are they forced to buy from the evil rich. Typical comment from the left, the government should take care of you. It is not the individuals fault they live in poverty. Get off your rear and make a difference for the poor and quit expecting the government to do everything for you.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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