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
She was the only good thing about the Bush administration in 8 years.
We need more Republicans like Laura Bush to speak out. You are out there and are appreciated by lots and lots of Democrats. Your party has been hoodwinked by irrational and fearful people. May other Republicans of distinction let their words be heard.
Classy Lady, that is all I have to say!!!
Laura Bush is one of the few remaining Republicans that are classy. If the rest of the members of the party would act more like she does, we'd all be a whole lot better off.
Thanks Mrs. Bush for giving me hope that there are some smart republicans out there!
Thank God, there is one smart Republican in the bunch! As a librarian and teacher, former First Lady got it right in her defence of President Obama's school speech!
It should be mandatory that every student listen to what the President has to say. Quit being so narrow minded. It is no wonder the United States is close to the bottom of the educational scale. They are homeschooling children and they are NOT getting the education in most cases needed to compete in the Global workplace.
Thank you Laura Bush for your stance!
This uproar over Obama's address to school children would barely warrant a mention in the news if he were white. The right-wing conservatives simply cannot handle the fact that we have a black President, pure and simple. I'm a white man, and I'm proud our President is black and I proudly support him. I respect and admire Laura Bush for speaking out against this insanity.
Laura is and has always been fabulous. She is an educator herself and just a great American. I agree with her and respect her very much.
I'm so happy Laura spoke about this issue. She's classy and has such dignity. I really don't understand why parents would keep their kids out of school. Really, is that the way you teach kids to have respect for people to disagree? if we set an example to impress selective respect on people we like then that's not respect at all. This spew of hatred from people especially from people who claim beliefs really annoys me because they're supposed to set standards in respect not display such banal behavior.
In most cases I would love our children to listen to the President of the United States, except for both Bush's and Obama. Bush's put us in debt and Obama has finished up destroying our future. Mrs. Bush needed to talk to her husband and her father-in-law a long time ago. Children are very impressionable and I don't want my grandkids to believe in this idiot of a socialist President
Please, let's respect the FORMER President of the US as well. He also did his best and brought us through one of the worst times in our history with 9/11.
It is kind of Laura to come out in support of Obama's talk to students, but it shouldn't be necessary. I am wondering what kind of a message those parents are sending to their children when they tell them not to listen to the President of the United States. But I also think this has been blown way out of proportion of course due to the internet and the right wing talk show people who will pick up on anything that will do harm to President Obama. We are so fortunate to have this young intelligent thoughtful man running our country and it is very disturbing when the extreme right does everything they can to try to make him fail. But if he fails, so does America.
Nothing wrong with the lesson plans either. Get real. Helping the president helps the country – that can't be hard to understand.
Laura and George Bush are truly classy, intelligent, and fair. It would serve us all well to imitate our former President and respect our current one – no matter what – it's right to teach children to respect the President of our country. My parents taught me to be patriotic and we should teach our children the same. I'm shocked at the parents I see on the news – crying!! – over a speech from the President to study hard in school. And so what if the President wants a letter, we've had others ask for one's from kids in the past. In fact, schools used to teach kids to write letters to our leaders as part of civics/history class. This whole "fear monger" attitude needs to stop, the world is laughing at us and with good reason.
We have one intelligent Republican left. I know she will be criticized for what she said. I believe that she can hold her own. I'm hoping that the republicans will growup and be just like Mrs. Laura Bush . She is a Class Act.
I am a 60 year old retired teacher. I cannot imagine people being upset about a speech that encourages young people to stay in school. I am afraid that extemists are taking over this country. Remember Tim McVeigh and Okalahoma City.
Kudos to Mrs. Bush.. I agree with others about what a Class Act.. Especially after listening to all the critisim of Pres. Bush from then Sen. Obama...(during Campaign) She sees it and calls it just like it is.. You can tell she loves America..
Kudos to Laura Bush who has the good sense to speak respectfully about Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America. She sees absolutely nothing wrong with the President speech to the students of this country. C'mon folks of the extreme right wing, tea partiers and the rest of the silly people of the Republican Party, TAKE YOUR CUE FROM LAURA BUSH AND BEHAVE YOURSELVES AND START GETTING RATIONAL.
Laura Bush is an intelligent, sensitive woman. She believes in our country and in supporting its elected leaders. I have always admired her and would expect her, especially as a teacher, to take this stand publicly. Bless you, Laura!
Laura is a classy lady with credibility. To heck with the Grand Obstructionist Party!
Now,that's just what this situation called for. Thank you Laura for you common sense statements.
Yea Mrs. Bush.
A voice of reason in an unreasonable political climate.
She's a classy lady.
Finally we hear from an adult....
Hands Clapping Loudly!!
If more republicans/conservatives could show this kind of intelligence and grace, then I might learn to respect them again.
I am not a George Bush fan, but this is a class act by Laura Bush. Heck, she was a Democrat until she married George, so I'm not surprised that she is not "Republican Blind" as so many in the GOP are today!