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. Ruty

    It sure didn't make your brain any stronger, George.

    May 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Clay

    How strong will your marriage be Mr. Bush when your in jail, and Laura starts dating again!

    May 29, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. nanie

    It is so great see President Bush in the news again. He is a great patriot and really saved the U.S. from additional terrorist attacks. I really miss him as President because he imparted dignity to the office. It is so good to see this feature on President Bush's trip to MI. I am surprized you devoted so much space to him, since CNN is so liberal and biased in favor of the Democrats. Those of us who are conservative Republicans love to hear about the leaders we admire, like President Bush.

    May 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Steve (the real one) – to answer your question, We, us PROUD liberal Democrats are not the ones saying that we kept America safe like bush and cheyney and every rethuglicans out there is screaming. So once again, 911 happened on bushs' watch, how did he keep us safe? Doesn't matter when it was planned, it's the implementation that counts. Still listening to lush limpaugh huh to get all your talking points.

    May 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Bobblehead

    She is a bobblehead. Anyone ever heard her opinion?

    May 29, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. len Smith

    Wonder where a lot of these people lived for the previous eight years? In La La Land, maybe. Bush has made this once and will be again wonderful country, into something I don't ever wnat to see again. Thank God, for the so called liberals of this country, who made it possible for most, yes, most of the people in this country to be better off and be live better then ever. Thank God, for Obama who will build this country back to the greatness it once was, when government built the most important things in our country. Thank God, for the federal government.

    May 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. American for Truth

    This man kept Americans safe for 8 years. Thank you president Bush. Do you hear that????? It's that famous 3:00 am phone call ringing as N. Korea defies and tests this new rookie administration. We'll see if Hillary was right after all.

    OBAMA = less safe America

    May 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dave the Truth Teller

    Did you accrue your racism over time, or is it an inbred trait carried over from generation to generation?

    May 29, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. Bill

    It's amazing how many Bush haters still feel compelled to vent their rage against this man. He was President for 8 years and Gov. of Texas for 5 years but his critics always feel the need to imply he's "an idiot". I would love to see how many people would carry themselves during 9/11, two wars, Hurricane Katrina, etc. Eitherway, he served our county for longer than most peopole and deserves our respect regardless of what you think of the man.

    President Obama is just now staring to learn that is easier to campaign than it is to govern. His inexperience showed during his flip flopping several issues including what to do with Guantanamo. Frankly how Obama handles the escalating of nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran will likely define his presidency. Unfortunately for Obama he can't blame Bush for North Korea's missle stunts.

    May 29, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Trevor

    It must be hard being president when you have no idea whats going on or simply on vacation 47% of the time. This man was, and certainly still is a babbling fool. The only people more stupid than bush are the people who voted for him. I can understand, alright, you had a lack of reasoning skills in 2000, but in 2004 people actually voted for him again. I can imagine the lack the intelligence it takes to do something like that. To the people that still think he did a good job, my one question is, What did he do that was good? War profiteering? Torture? Starting illegal wars? Did your husbands, wives, or children die just so haliburton and black water could make billions. I bet if they did you would have a different opinion of bush. Time to wake up people. That man was a puppet and nothing more.

    May 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Josh

    I do not ever want to be the President of the United States for that reason alone. I couldn't handle the pressure and the constant supervision by the press. Especially if you are conservative you are going to be hammered in the media, it is a foregone conclusion. That being said, I know it has to be hard on the Obama family as well.

    Whether you like Bush's politics or not you have to respect a man that was willing to put his whole life out in the open and try to make decisions that he thought were best for the country (I think he did a good job). I have respect for Obama doing the same thing–He is doing what he feels is good for the country and every president deserves to be bashed by the media, only Obama has yet to experience it and it will hurt him when it does and make his hair gray a lot quicker than a normal person's would.

    May 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    @ Really?

    Newsflash: Obama IS following the Constitution. Nothing in it prevents a bailout and case law holds that the gov't can attach whatever strings it wants to money it hands out...the banks didn't have to take it. While your cries of "soshulizm" are entirely misplaced, nothing in the Constitution prevents that either. Nothing in the Constitution requires we adhere to an ideal of a cpitalistic free market either. The reality is, the only people who aren't following the Constitution are those who are seeking to change it by taking away rights or prevent the recognition of them...things like the right of choice or to equal treatment as loving couples or to freedom of religion by claiming that despite the Frist Amendment we are a "krischun nashun." You conservatives see the Constotitution as an impediment to your agenda because the GOP has used religious wedge issue for so long, they're entire strategy is mired in it and they think that by fighting to turn our founding document into the King James Constitution, they can win themselves a free ride to permanent power.

    May 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Roger

    SEMINAR ON SOCIALISM

    Ladies and Gentlemen:
    Now, Professor and Philosopher of Howard University, Department of Political Science and Nobel Prize Winner Prof. Rush Limbaugh will Define and Explain the Meaning of the Word, “Socialism”; Concepts of Socialism and its applicability to Obama Administration..…
    …….Applause !! :|

    PROF. Rush Limbaugh:
    Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for Inviting me to speak about Socialism in USA. I thank the Nobel Committee for awarding me the Nobel prize for my research about Socialism…… My Definition of Socialism is:
    ****Whosoever is not a Republican is a Socialist****……
    …….Applause !! :P

    May 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Deborah, Bronx

    This man really have No Shame OR Conscience after ALL the things he has done to this Country!! I really don't know what Hole he resurected from!!, please tell him, go right back in (and take Rush, Cheney, Condi, Rowe, Rummey and with him). Hi Mrs. Bush!!, I raise my hat to yu, to have the heart to STAY with this man!! (if it's REALLY not for the Family Name/Money).

    May 29, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Ricky

    Okay–you're back for a moment...now, go back under your rock and stay there.

    May 29, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. gt

    u that blame bush for 911 must blame , lincoln , fdr, truman , and kenny for the other wars.............morons,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    May 29, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. nanie

    To add to my previous comment:
    Thank you President Bush and Mrs. Bush for your dedicated service to our country and years as President and First Lady. We Republicans certainly miss seeing you on a daily basis on the news and in the White House. You have our most sincere appreciation and gratitude.

    May 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Corey

    Why is it asserted by several on this chat that liberals are uneducated, slovenly individuals whom live off the work of others? It is well known by both parties that higher educated individuals tend to vote Democratic. Moreover, professionals tend to vote Democrat.

    The primary conservative argument is that this is due to universities being "liberal", some going so far to say that universities have been "indoctrinated" with left ideology. Do you know that is EXACTLY what the NAZIs said about Universities in Germany, save they also added the Zionist plot element. To take this a little further, the GOP are right-wing nationalists: so were the NAZIs.

    As for the economic beliefs of conservatives, you should read up on an Italian economist named Pareto, whom endorsed and was endorsed by Fascists. They really resemble current GOP thought.

    May 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Mr. Bush did you keep American safe on 9/11? Have you a detailed account of the contracts following the invasion of Iraq? You have blood in your hands!

    May 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Hey Meg: Actually having a clue is a wonderful thing! You should give it a try sometime! MORON!

    May 29, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Republican for the Good of the US

    He was a good president. Kept us safe in a time when terrorists wanted to kill us. I thank him for that.

    Liberals would rather save a tree then fight for our freedom. President Bush did what was necessary and should be commended.

    May 29, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. Erin martin

    What's done is done. Just like the business cycle of expansion and recession, another administration in the future will also make mistakes. The Dems will rule and then another re-alignemnt will occur when they get too powerful. Then, like clockwork, the Republicans will get too powerful and it will keep repeating. This is good and healthy. I think everyone should move on and realize that in 10 years you will be blogging about Obama or the president after Obama and how they screwed something up. The leaders we choose are all trying to do the best thing for our country. I believe that Obama and Bush have the best interest of the citizens truly at heart. They have different thoughts on the best way to move forward, but neither is evil or trying to move America back. We cannot ever know what really happens behind the scenes at the White House with terriosm or the ecomomy. I am sure that if many of the bloggers on this site had the task of running the country they could not do any better. If they feel they could, then go out and run for office and give it a try.

    May 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. morris diehl

    Who shined the light on the rats. First that great American patriot Dick, I'm too busy to fight in Viet Nam, Chaney comes out and now another war criminal shows his head. The only thing that will make me happy is if all of the R.N.'s in the rightwingers party where sent to the gallows for war crimes.

    May 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    @ Bill, who said "Unfortunately for Obama he can't blame Bush for North Korea's missle stunts."

    Right, because what Bush did with them worked so incredibly well, they've stopped pulling any stunts. Oh wait...

    Bush's chest-thumping threaten-and-sanction sans diplomacy strategery only made NK and Iran WANT NUKES MORE. It's what's been tried for the past century and IT HAS NEVER WORKED. The only way to stop them from trying is to get them not to want to. That may or may not be possible at this point, but I can guarantee you that continuing the traditional strong arm approach will get us NOWHERE...it ALWAYS results in rebound like we're seeing now.

    May 29, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Operation Crush Rush

    Some of these neocons would praise Charles Manson and call for his release also.Watch "The Right: Feeling Wronged",an HBO special that aired some time ago.You will see the nut jobs that still back Bush.Have a towel near by ,you will both laugh and cry.

    May 29, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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