September 7th, 2009
04:36 PM ET
13 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. jersey girl

    I am so pleased to read this message from Mrs. Bush. As a parent, grand parent and former high school teacher, I applaud the message of staying in school and studying which the President has said he will deliver tomorrow. We are all Americans and he is our President. I hope that the children will listen attentively to his message and that they will hold dear the right to vote for whomever they choose when they become adults.

    September 7, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Len (Colorado)

    Thank you Mrs. Bush. President Bush the 1st spoke to our children about saying NO to Drugs. That was a wonderful speech and important that our president showed tremendous concern about our youth.

    President Obama is doing the same. He knows the importance of education. He believes, as we all should, the importance of education for the future of our country. He is a family man who dearly loves his children and wants all students in our country to be successful.

    I am very proud of President Obama and President Bush for their leadership to our youth!!!!

    September 7, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. AJ

    Laura Bush is one very classy lady.

    September 7, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  4. Claus Gehner

    Bravo, Mrs. Bush. With all the disconcerting, irrational hype and fear-mongering coming from the right, your's is a welcome voice of reason, rationality, and patriotism.

    September 7, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  5. Robert

    Stay classy, Mrs. Bush!

    September 7, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. Judith Dibble

    Goodness gracious....a civil and thoughtful mind in the midst of demagoguery. And from a Republican no less?

    September 7, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. Len (Colorado)

    Continued: I am a retired teacher, white, democrat and I really cannot understand why people are reacting this way. Please do not always beleive what you read on the internet and talk radio. Please use your own intelligence.

    September 7, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  8. Shannon

    Finally someone from the Republican Party with intelligence makes a stand for the "right thing to do".....Show respect for our President. Given President Obama's background he is the perfect person to encourage our children to stay in school and make smart choices for their future....

    September 7, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    it was very kind of Mrs.Bush to say the things she did in support and respect of President Obama, but from reading some, NOT many, but some of the post here by far right Obama haters she still didn't get through. I never once voted for her husband, but i DID respect him for being the president of our country and really thought as a person he was not a bad guy. Too bad so many on the right seem blinded by hate and lead by other forces that they can not feel the same way.

    September 7, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. Tracy

    This is a perfect example of people who let politics cloud good judgment or their common sense. I do not claim any party and have voted for the past 26 years based on who I think will do the best job. If the commander in chief of our country wants to make kids more accountable for their own educations, then so be it. I think it will be a good message. By the way, I did not vote for Obama, but as an American I will stand behind his decisions on all levels. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army and believe that we need to be united to sustain our place in this world. It's the only way for us to survive.

    September 7, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. mother knows best

    Well Laura Bush's approval rating just soared~

    September 7, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. Nancy G

    Laura Bush you have class. They should put you in charge of the GOP, Maybe then I'd consider voting for your party.

    September 7, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. Miranda

    Lesson plans are used to measure oral comprehension skills. You know, one of those skills necessary for anyone to get anywhere in life, like reading comprehension skills. I guess the Republicans don't want any of that for their children, the kids might start to think for themselves.

    September 7, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. center left

    Thank you Mrs. Bush for you support for President Obama education speech. The Republican party has fallen off the deep end of polictics. The moderates Republicans are bully by Foxs News and the right wing fringe. What a shame.

    September 7, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  15. Pat

    I admire Mrs. Bush for her class and respectful nature. I sure wish others would follow in her stead....My son is 10 and I am wondering what Mr. Obama has to say to the children of this nation. Him and I talked about it tonight. I explained that in the US we have the right to disagree. Just because the President said does not make it right but you need to respect him just the same. I explained to my son that he has a right to make his own decisions and have his own thoughts. We will discuss tomorrow what was said in the speech. To help my son make the right decisions for him. I do not agree with everything Mr. Obama has said or done, since he is human and has made mistakes but he is in charge of this country and time will tell if he can do a better job then those in the past. We have to give him a chance..Maybe if parents took the time to teach their children the difference in people and what we can stand for as people then maybe this nation could turn around. I see many children that have no interaction with parents it is sad.

    September 7, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  16. Karen Crockett

    While I am a lifelong Democrat, I thought it was really very kind of Mrs. Bush to take a position regarding the President's speech. She seems to really be very sincere and while I may not always agree with Repubs, I can still respect the right of others to their opinions.

    I cannot see what all the fuss about concerning this speech. How can we be "One nation under God" if we cannot agree to respect one another? Isn't life about learning from one another?

    September 7, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. Terry from West Texas

    I disagree with Mrs. Bush. Parents do not have the right to determine what their children can hear in school. We have a lot of ignorant parents who think that their opinion on American History, World History, evolution, global warming, education, nutrition, employment, etc. is more valid than the opinions of hundreds of thousands of experts who have spent a lifetime doing research in those fields.

    I don't want naive and ignorant parents determining the content of public education. People who have no idea what socialism is somehow believe that Obama is a socialist. People who cannot define Communism or Marxism or explain the difference between the two think that they should define the curriculum regarding those topics. Parents who think the world is flat or that the earth was created 5219 years ago should not determine what the geology curriculum is. We need to make our children smarter, not dumber, than their parents.

    September 7, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Sam

    As someone who certainly experienced her fair share of POTUS bashing...I commend Mrs. Bush for not being a hypocrite and standing up for our current President. It's this kind of clear thinking that makes me think there is a glimmer of hope in our future. I wish more level-headed Republicans would come forward and be heard on this matter and any in the future. I definitely did my part to bash 'W' in the past and found it incredibly easy to fall into a trap of despising every move he made...I unfortunately believe we are in for the same ride with President Obama. Thanks Laura for being a better person than me.

    September 7, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  19. Cold in Minnesota

    Laura Bush is a classy and intelligent person. It has been a pleasure to have her representing our country and our children as our first lady for the past 8 years. Regardless of how you feel about the speech issue, Laura Bush is a great example of class and reason that more people should follow and emulate. Thank you Laura for your voice of reason.

    September 7, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. mark in atlanta

    Hard not to like Mrs. Bush, whatever you may think about her husband. And yes, I had some hard things to say about him when he was starting unneccessary wars and torture uncharged suspects in secret prisons. I suppose it only makes sense that people on the other sidde are equally upset that Pres. Obama is trying to secure health care for 50 million Americans and encourage kids to stay in school, work hard, and take responsibility for themselves. I suppose stuff like that makes some people see red.

    Anyway, while we may disagree on hot button issues like torture and staying in school, I think we should all be able to agree that the Presiden is the President and we probably ought to teach our children some sort of respect for the office. Also, I think most of us can agree that Laura Bush seems to be a decent and classy person.

    September 7, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. E.C.Coleman

    In the opinion of most, obama's treatment of President Bush has been hateful, unnecessary, and an outrage of disrespect to a former President of the United States.

    Who does obama think he is to AVOID shaking President Bush's hand at the Kennedy Funeral?

    Not only was it a planned afront of disrespect to President Bush, the tap on the shoulder that 'replaced a handshake between men' can only be compared to a pat on the head of a pet.

    obama has not one shred of class or refinement or manners among the educated class.
    obama may be educated with a degree, but there are many areas in which obama obviously refused to become educated and enlightened.

    First on the obama agenda should be a Complete Course in Etiquette and Respect to Others.
    obama is such an elitest egotist that he really believes that he can do no wrong and make no mistakes.

    That 'chosen one' moniker that was planted by Axelrod in the campaign, really did go to the big obama head.
    obama is a Disgrace to this great Nation.

    Mrs. Bush is her own person; however, obama would be the very last person whom I would offer to defend.
    President and Mrs. Bush have always been a Real Class Act.
    Too bad that obama can't learn something about behavior from them.

    September 7, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Steph

    Thank you Mrs. Bush! There are a few level-headed Republicans still out there. Please be courageous and stand up against the horrible things being said about the current President of the USA.

    September 7, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
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