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. 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 |
  2. Marcus, VT

    When your own Vice President says you "basically knew everything that was going on" you know there's a problem. Most thinking Americans realize that the president should know EVERYTHING that's going on. GW was asleep in the backseat, while his VP drove this country into the ground. End of story.

    May 29, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Luke Brown

    Exactly whose lives is he talking about having saved?

    The only American lives at stake were the ones he sent over there on a reckless and ill-advised military adventure. Bush's failure to provide adequate body armor and other reasonable protections for our soldiers killed far more people than torture saved.

    Is Bush saying that if we tortured more people, we could have saved even more lives?

    It will be a couple of generations before the Muslim world will view Americans as people with values and principles. They hate us mostly because we allowed a man like Bush to lead us into a stupid war with senseless death and destruction. Not one Iraq family has not suffered because of Bush.

    May 29, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Karla

    Rob " May 29th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

    Idiot liberals is more like it…godless, you "owe me" morons. obama will go down as the worst president in history when its all said and done. you voted for him…so go to hell with him


    May 29, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Clinton Fringer

    Why aren't you right-wing Bush lovers in Iraq right now fighing his lie of a war? Well? Let's hear the excuses……I mean, the reasons….

    The question should be......why aren't you? The military traditionally votes Republican so many of his supporters ARE fighting that war.........and the one in Afganistan and now the one in Pakistan and hanging out waiting in Korea too. The reason/excuse is that they do it so you don't have to. So next time you see a soldier, thank them for giving up their time and lives and families so you can so easily critize and do nothing about it.

    May 29, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. norb

    The guy lives in a neighborhood where the homes go up to 15 million. He could care less about the middle class that he and his administration destroyed. He should be selling shoes!

    May 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. tony

    This idiot killed more than 5000 of his soldiers in Iraq in retaliation for 3000 the bad guys killed in New york and spent trillions of dollar fighting that war.Two wrongs cannot make a right my friends.Its a pity that the GOP still defend this idiot.If he had made friends and use the power of diplomacy,those bastards would have been arrested. Some fools have argued that he kept America safe since 911.What was he doing nine months before 911.I thought he sweared to protect and defend American from the day he took office or was it after 911he took the oat.?

    May 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Yeah! Made the marriage stronger and our country weaker and less relevant all at the same time! What a guy! Go back to Crawford and shut your pie hole I think we've all had just about enough of you! Maybe you should pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV sometime! In your so called conversation with God about going to war with Iraq, did he happen to mention what an incompetent and complete failure you would turn out to be as our President? If God is so all knowing and all powerful (as you Christians claim) than it would stand to reason that maybe God somehow would have mentioned that! Am I wrong?

    May 29, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. Glennis

    Even with all Bush's faults and misjudgements, by the time Obama is done with this country, Bush will look like a saint.

    May 29, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    @ Teleprompter of the U.S.A.

    I'm trying to forget about Dictator George W. Bush. He wasn't the 43rd President of the U.S., he was the 1st dictator of the U.S. He's lucky his wife stands behind him because alot of Americans don't! Ask the people of New Orleans what they think about Dictator Bush. Enough said!

    May 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. meg

    you people have no respect at all for anyone other than your liberal hippy friends. Plain and simple. Obama is a joke. He thinks the world would be a better place if we talk to the terrorists? Um...ok...i guess then china and russia can have their long awaited field day

    May 29, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Allison

    Laura was almost unseen and hidden during the White House years unless she was walking almost behind her husband.

    I am sure she obeyed her husband well during the years as she did very well covering for him and making excuses anytime she appeared on any shows. My personal opinion always was the Bush family was a very dysfunction family.

    Now they come out of hiding with the hopes of gaining support so Jeb can run for president. First out comes Cheney spewing his bad rhetoric and now comes Bush softening things..ya know like bad cop –good cop brainwashing. Wasn't 8 years enough of these people!!

    May 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Liberal and Proud of It dot com

    Teleprompter of the U.S.A.: "...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?"

    Weapons of mass destruction

    Dick Cheney


    $5 trilliion added to national debt

    Treated returning veterans like crap

    Only took me five seconds.

    May 29, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Simpliticus

    One may as well had a pretty young looking journalist in the press pool asking questions of how the president can sustain his day in day out routine by his beliefs in his religion but I remember that being asked of him when he was president and such people were in the press pool asking those thinly veiled attempts at softball questioning! It is all well and good that George W. Bush had and has a wonderful wife who helped sustain his daily situation but I for one would not have wanted to have paid or have belabored going to an event to simply hear this drivel come forth from the past leader! People who went to this event and did not hear anything substantial other than listening to the above would have been disappointed to have gone to this event in the first place because nothing of value was elicited in this supposed first place!

    May 29, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. DJJ

    Sounds like his preamble to his opening defense argument of his war crimes trial......

    May 29, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Shari, NY

    His policies were not my cup of tea but I admire his family values.

    May 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Sigh

    I'm from the South. I get the whole thing about sharing cute stories. But in politics it really just sounds like an easy way to not really get to the truth. "Talk about strong marriage, talk about religion, talk about your new house, but let's just skip over that whole 9/11 thing and the country not liking me bit." And Cheney didn't distance himself from Bush because Cheney was working Bush like a puppet. Bush not watching the news reminds me of what Sarah Palin would be like as President. Denial, denial, denial, and trying to look "peachy clean American" and smile and wink.

    May 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Don't you people get it? Bush and Cheney did EXACTLY what bin Laden wanted them to do when they they tossed everything we stand for out the window like a highway diaper. Bin Laden sought and seeks the destruction of America...and what better way to get that to happen than convince America itself to not be America anymore, to abandon its ideals out of fear, cowardice and convenience? Patriotism is NEVER abandoning your beliefs or your identity as a nation NO MATTER WHAT...not in the face of threats or danger and even if it means your death. That chimp in the picture above is a COWARD and history will NEVER record him as a patriot.

    May 29, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. portland

    I wish we could have him back for another 8 years.

    The best prez will will ever see.

    George kept us safe.

    God bless you George

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Mo

    How does he know she voted for him?

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Republicans are the socialists: they evenly distributed the poverty.

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |

    For those who think that this president should not be attacked, I only have to say that you are not paying attention to the mess that this country was in after 8 years of Cheney/Bush. We are less safe whether you refuse to accept it or not. Cheney never would have been elected president of this country, and so he ruled through Bush. With any attacks on Cheney/Bush, my answer is a big fat SO! One other thing, Laura seems like a very reasonable, rational individual who, I believe, may not possibly have voted for her husband. Who really knows?

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Dave, the truth teller

    Oh oh, the Lib monkeys are throwing their poop again. Libs: eat your monkey chow, listen to some soothing words from your liar-in-chief, run around and throw a few sticks, and you will feel better. By the way, the Bush's had a lot of class unlike the rejects from Planet of the Apes that occupy the Whitehouse now. Come on Lib monkeys, cry and shout – I feed on your anger....

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Joe

    Nice guy personally, but shallow as a dried-up creek bed in hot August in terms of political savvy.

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. tony

    clap for him. I thought the pressure in the white house would have u a stronger president.No it is all about u.this idiot is so full of himself.Americans must waterboard this idiot so that he will tell us what he knew before 911 and after 911.

    May 29, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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