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)

    Great blame George for all your failures in your life.

    BO is killing people[women, kids] no big deal.

    double standard

    the dems. voted for the war too

    bill clinton said there was WMD

    May 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Steph

    My dear, don't talk about respect and then bash the President of the United States in the next sentence. Do you know anything about respect?

    May 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Susan, Nebraska

    Those who hate President Bush so much are blinded by that hate. Look at what is happening right now in this country. We cannot speak our mind about anything without being called a bigot, homophobe, neocon, religious zealot, and the list goes on. The middle class is disappearing before our very eyes as the government takes over banks, car companies, etc., ridiculous bailouts, a joke of an economic stimulus package, and spending tax dollars like there is no tomorrow. Now trying to rush through universal healthcare for all that will bankrupt this country. We need LESS government and we need to have term limits in Congress. The Senate and House of Representatives are really stinking up the country! Uninformed voters also bear some responsibility for the current situation.

    May 29, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Brian

    God bless Bush he was a great president and a real American HERO!!!!
    Palin/J.Bush 2012

    May 29, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Bruce, TX


    You're right, you are sick.

    May 29, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    @ Clinton Fringer, who said "we have now moved into Pakistan...the Europeans are turning against him..."

    And you were criticizing someone for not having facts?

    May 29, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Bubba

    Teleprompter, it's not an article about bush. It's an article about Bush. I've got no problem with bush. I've always liked bush, and bush has always liked me. I've had many great experiences with bush, and I hope to have many more, IF you get my drift.
    Bush, on the other hand, was the Worst President Ever.

    May 29, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |

    @ Dave, @phoenix86, @Texas, @rob,

    The onky thing you can say now to save face is History will judge him favorably, you guys are all delusional in denial that your man the stupis idiot GW first stole the presidency YES HE STOLE THE PRESIDENCY he was never elected by the people, then he proceded to ruin this country, and you guys are still the same idiots who voted for him and are blaming Obama and the democrats, I didn't knoe that God can create such idiots, but then again see who you voted for!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. HSNP

    He says he hasn't stopped at a traffic light in 8 years. Since he's living in Dallas he should know that stopping at traffic lights is optional there, along with observing all of the other rules of the road. Dallas has the worst drivers ever!

    May 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. S Callahan

    Glad this wasn't a nasty article....and was just about relationships...Laura should carry Saint status (lol aren't we all saints?)....
    The office is surely hard on any family....nothing is private.

    May 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. Roy (SAN ANTONIO, TX)

    @Brian May 29th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

    God bless Bush he was a great president and a real American HERO!!!!
    Palin/J.Bush 2012
    ========================> dude you're lost.

    May 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. Matt

    The stupidity of this country is amazing to me, NOT ONE person on this post knows what Bush had or didn't have in front of him when making a decision. I do know that the word "liberal" has become synonymous with "anti-Bush." Obama saw the opportunity and played the dems like a freaking harp. Conservatives are stupid?? Please, the brainwashing happened with Obama's campaign and you hippies all bought into it. He's laughing in the White House now with a 400K salary and when he was in the Senate, he only voted in 18% of the votes. He was busy being built up by the rest of the Dem Party and preparing his anti-Bush speeches that this whole country ate like candy from his hand. Over 50% of the people who voted for Obama didn't know anything about him, you just hated Bush. And as for the state of the economy, I go to work everyday and pay my bills and don't expect anything from any one of you, the sooner this country learns personal responsiblity and accountability, the sooner we'll be prosperous again. If you make 40K a year, DON'T buy a 250K house!!! Morons

    May 29, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  13. Really?

    When will our Presidenct decide that it is time to follow our national Constiution. Does anyone realize that nationalizing the bank system is not the job of the government, nor is nationalizing the health care system. Our new President also decided we wanted to increase our national deficity 33% over the next two years. We are also going to see the potential for hyperinflatiion b/c of all the dollars he is throwing into the economy. Not to mention the fact that he has no plan to figure out how to cover Social Sec. and Medicaid (which year after year will add $2Trillion to our deficit).

    Our President spoke of Change, he spoke of fixing out economy with a stimulus (def. – something that incites to action or exertion or quickens action, feeling, thought, etc.: ) well a stimulus is something that is suppose to be a "quick fix". What our President did was add a bunch of programs that we will see results from in two to three years (his own words). Thanks for the help. Nice to see your professional background is paying off.

    May 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. michelle

    Looking forward to former President George W. Bush's book about his eight years as President and more words from him. From one person who is thankful to have voted for George Bush two times and would vote for him again. His legacy as he stated in SW Michigan is fully appreciated.

    Will be following the forum in Toronto via the internet. As a matter of fact, I also voted for #41 too.

    May 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. Florence

    I'm sorry to say that Laura in my opinion is a stepford wife. She may be a nice woman, but with no personality. Women like her are the reason for men like Bush.

    May 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Joyce

    Let's not forget the effects of the decisions or indecisions he made. Thanks to the influence of Cheney and company. Or how he ignored the memos that lead to 911.

    People, please as much as we want to feel sorry for Bush – and I actually do – he is the worst President this country had ever had.

    May 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Tim

    It amazes me of how much we depend on the President to be our dictator. Please Mr. Obama, I am lazy and out of work, please feed me. I cannot find a job that pays the same inflated wages I use to have in my liberal state. I am sure that we can tax those that work hard to make my life better.

    Or, maybe I can get off my lazy butt and get more involved in local politics and stop the fraud, waste, and abuse where it makes a difference. Possibly, I can take my money out of one of those Giant Banks and invest locally for my family.

    Yes, MR Bush, thank you for not giving in to Media extremes. Thank you for hiring Mr. Gates. Thank you for safely interrogating our enemies, too bad they can't also play by the rules. Thank you for maintaining your value system with your family.

    May 29, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Karen

    Thank you President Bush for keeping our country safe. God Bless you and Mrs. Bush as you live our your private lives. Wishing you the very best and a long and peaceful life.

    May 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. TStreet

    God Bless George W. Bush and wife, Laura.

    May 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    @ Mo, who said "How does he know she voted for him?"

    Hahaha.... too true.

    May 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. Chi Town


    Highest GNP in US history
    250,000 new jobs in third quarter alone
    DOW/S&P 500 hit all time highs

    Democrats win contoll of congress (you know... law makers)

    All gone in 24 months

    May 29, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Operation Crush Rush

    Bush is getting worried now that the World Court is calling for his head.Rushs head is about to explode,keep up the great work Crushers.Many of his sponsors are not renewing their contracts.Keep the e mails and calls going.

    May 29, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    @ Dave, the truth teller, who said "unlike the rejects from Planet of the Apes that occupy the Whitehouse now."

    Kudos. You win today's racism award.

    May 29, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Matt

    Although in my defense I did forget that my party destroyed America and Bush/Cheney did lead us into an unjustified war.

    Or was that the CIA? I can't say because if the CIA misled us about WMDs then I have to admit Pelosi was right. But if I blame Bush/Cheney then it proves I'm just spewing jibber jabber.

    What to do......

    May 29, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. J-KS

    The Democrats did a good sales job with Obama. People were so disenchanted with Bush and the GOP that they could have won if they'd had Mickey Mouse on the ticket. The White House isn't this country's problem. The House and Senate are lost in the woods on the war, economy, and most social issues. They need more Independent voices that can move away from the Right/Left and focus on governing the other 90% of Americans.

    May 29, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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