September 7th, 2009
04:36 PM ET
5 years ago

Laura Bush defends Obama school speech

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former first lady Laura Bush is defending President Obama's decision to address the nation's school children, telling CNN Monday that it is "really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States."

"I think that there is a place for the President of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children, and I think there are a lot of people that should do the same," she told CNN's Zain Verjee, in an interview set to air Monday on The Situation Room. "And that is encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to try to achieve the dream that they have."

The former first lady said she believed criticism of the speech had arisen because of the accompanying lesson plans. If parents are opposed to the address, said Bush, "That's their right. You know that certainly is the right of parents to choose what they want their children to hear in school… (But) I think it's also really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States."

Does she think it's fair to criticize Obama, as some have, by labeling him a socialist? "I'd have no idea whether it's fair, do you think I thought it was fair when President Bush was criticized - not really. So, I guess not," she responded.

Bush said that she thought "really safe congressional districts" had contributed to political polarization. "That's just a fact of life in American politics and …I'm sure President Obama didn't expect it to be that way. But you know - it is that way, and I think all of us need to do what we can to come together on issues."

The former first lady added that she thought both Obama and her successor, Michelle Obama, had done good jobs since moving into the White House.

But she also said former Vice President Cheney, who has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's security policy, "has every right to speak out, and I appreciate that he is defending the Bush administration and his administration."

"But George as a former president chose not to speak out," she added. "He thinks the president deserves the respect and the no second-guessing on the part of the former president… he didn't like it when he was criticized by former presidents and that's what he has chosen to do."

She said her husband and his former vice president still speak "occasionally."

Both Bushes have been working on their memoirs. Bush said her husband has also spent a lot of time mountain biking.

Related: Laura Bush praises Obama, bemoans excessive partisanship


Filed under: Laura Bush
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. victim of republican greed

    Laura will be blasted by Fox entertainment, Rush and Glenn Beck for her anti American views.

    If you want to get republican support for heath care reform, tell them that the U.S. will not start any more wars or illegally invade any more countries until all Americans have affordabe health care.

    September 7, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Danny E. Gonzalez

    it is so difficult now days to have a serious debate when you have Gov. Pawlenty and others spew so much contempt and hatred; after the put in the seeds then they try to back off the statements they made; the white house released the speech and I have read it and I think it is a wonderful speech that will motivate our youth regardless of their parents political motivations. talk about superlative sensitivity in the part of some. I'm Glad the former first lady is showing such class; I'm also very encourage by the stance former pres. Bush has also taken.

    September 7, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. g terry

    I want to thank Mrs. Bush for her kind words.

    September 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Proud American

    Wow, a Republican with a brain. I won't hold it against her that she's married to a complete Idiot, she's still a class act.

    September 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Bertina

    I'm waiting for that guy who claimed he didn't want any poilitcian to say anything about education to kids to say that to Laura Bush.

    September 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Obama sucks

    Why does Obama need to tell people's children to wash their hands or not to "disappoint" him? He's not the parent of my children. Go away.

    September 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Albo58

    Laura Bush is a class act. Note how she gives a straight answer to a politically-motivated question. Even the lib loons have to admit that both President Bushs married very well.

    September 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Finally....a voice of samity coming from the Republicans. The more they pursue these whackadoo stunts like condemning a speech about staying in school, the more they only more thoroughly marginalize themselves with the American voters.

    September 7, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. victim of republican greed

    The right wing nuts are so easily mislead by those wealthy lobbyists, the health insurance industry, and the paid bloggers and tea partiers from Fox entertainment.

    September 7, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Laura

    Very classy move from a very classy lady. Why can't Republicans act more like the Bushes?

    September 7, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Mark Allen

    Thank you Mrs. Bush for showing those in the right wing of the Republican party (and the rest of us, frankly) the responsible and adult way to handle issues in our country. Not to long ago, civil discourse was still a value considered on the same level as "moral values". In fact it was a moral value. Sounds like an application of the "Golden Rule". All involved on both sides of the current public debate would be wise to apply it. Then perhaps we could come to a consensus that we all could abide by!

    September 7, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. BJC

    One classy lady.
    We love you Laura and boy do we miss you.

    September 7, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Richard in California

    Congratulations to former First Lady Laura Bush. Unlike most of her Republican friends, she seems to be at least consistent in her backing of the office of the POTUS. However, her apparently blind loyalty to the office is just as problematic with President Obama as it was under her husband.

    I believe this to be the source of many if not most of the problems that currently exist in US politics. An informed and educated public is the sunshine that will rid us of the cloud of ignorance that leads to shouting in the dark.

    September 7, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. John

    These are welcomed comments from the former First Lady. People have a right to express their feelings and to disagree, but it should be done with regard to the other person with some degree of respect. The former First Lady is a class act. Our former President deserves credit also for giving respect to the current President. Because of the rantings of former VP Cheney, I have gained a new attitude toward our former President, more and more I am thinking that he was surrounded by bad people who gave bad advice. I do not believe that our former President is a bad person, just a person who entertained and acted on bad advice from greedy and unethical people because he is such a loyal person. Loyal to a fault.

    September 7, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Concerned

    President G W Bush and his First Lady Laura is not at all bad people. They are as concerned about people as an average person.

    I find the grave mistake he made was to appoint Richard Cheney and Cheney's group of far right NeoCons. They in turn cause Bush who was weak to lead in a distructive manner.

    It was only during his second term, he came to grip with himself and stopped listening to the NeoCons.

    Laura, you are right! Every child should listen and listen well. They should endevor to do their very best in school. Tomorrow's challenges will be greater than today's.

    September 7, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. Pa independent but fiscally responsible

    Laura Bush, always a first class woman. I assume she is a good Christian woman also that she is capable of turning the other cheek while her husband is disrespected by the current pres.
    I have always respected the pres, even thru the Vietnam war and I have been around many years. Unfortunately, I cannot support nor respect this pres for his underhanded means to get elected, his hidden associations and his unspoken agenda. Too much too fast!
    No pres has ever polarizied a country as deeply nor as quickly as Obama.

    September 7, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. Shorn

    When I was in high school they took us to see Reagan speak. It was a very important event and I'm glad the school did it. We learned a lot and it stuck because here was the real President of the United States giving a speech. No one was trying push their agenda (accept Reagan), it was just a great civics lesson.

    September 7, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Two for T.

    Sensible lady with an emphasis on the word "lady".
    Thanks for your civility. I wish that the so-called republican
    leadership would behave in a similar fashion.
    The republican leadership share the blame for allowing the terrible negative and hateful things occurring at town hall meetings surrounding the health care effort. We should thank Mr. Obama for trying to address this crisis.

    Many republican are directly to blame for supporting the hate
    on the lips of these conservative talk-show hosts.
    The name-calling and hate directed towards a democratically elected president by most on the right indicate that they do not believe in the constitution and theyhave no love for this nation.

    September 7, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. Jkay - KCMO

    It is very sad that more Republicans do not have the class and grace this woman has. I respect her stepping up and be honest about her opinions regarding President Obama.

    September 7, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. Two for T.

    Sensible lady with an emphasis on the word "lady".
    Thanks for your civility. I wish that the so-called republican
    leadership would behave in a similar fashion.
    The republican leadership share the blame for allowing the terrible negative and hateful things occurring at town hall meetings surrounding the health care effort. We should thank Mr. Obama for trying to address this crisis.

    Many republicans are directly to blame for supporting the hate
    on the lips of these conservative talk-show hosts.
    The name-calling and hate directed towards a democratically elected president by most on the right indicate that they do not believe in the constitution and they have no love for this nation.

    September 7, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Candice

    A republican speaking with common sense....what a concept. Good for her.

    September 7, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Wendy in socal

    The voice of reason, but then again she is an educated, well-spoken individual who truly cares about our children doing well in school. Politics should stay out of our schools and teaching our children to respect our President and the democratic process should always be paramount.

    September 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. vic nashville , Tn

    She is Good first lady

    Some Republicans want president to fail for that they are ready to do anything but it will back fire

    My friend is republican on this issue he didn’t like his party because he don’t want to tell his son don’t watch president speech . he said when ever I say NO to his kids I give the reason why they shouldn’t do it
    On this issue he doesn’t have reason He doesn’t know what to say
    Republicans lost his vote

    September 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. Zellye

    I just love Laura Bush, I hope the parents may realize that their over sensitivity are what be ultimately bad for their children who are being expose to all sort of things that their radar is inactive about. God bless you Laura, you are a beautiful human being coming to President Obama's defense even when his campaign was so critical of her husband.

    September 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. pat

    She's a class act.

    September 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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