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. dem4obama

    man, i tell you what there is so much hate in this country, it is so pitiful that grown folks can go over and over about obama this and obama that. there have been past presidents that have spoke to school kids and there wasn't all this hoopla about them. but our president now decides to address our children on something encouraging and good. and all hell breaks loose. you people need to just grow up. my guess would be is your kids probably wouldn't even mind their president giving them some good advice on how to succed in life.some really ignorant parents out there! show some respect for our president , and if you can't say anything nice don't say nothing at all.that is what a good parent teaches their kids. atleast ms. bush agrees with what our president wants to do is something good. one good republican out of how many???

    September 7, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. dave

    I think if some of you people dont what the president to talk to your kids well turn the Tv Set off I am sure he didnt pay for it so what the fuss is all about, no one is forcing to to keep it on.

    September 7, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Jake (Vermont)

    very classy lady!

    September 7, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Paul

    I am at a complete loss over this issue. The office of the President should be respected, no matter how you feel about the office holder. And what would be wrong with students finding ways to help the president achieve a goal of staying in school. doing well, and studying hard? Those are admirable goals, every single person in this country should get behind. Quality education for everyone should be one of the primary goals of this nation. Do settle for anything less damages this nation.

    September 7, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. valwayne

    Good for Laura Bush! She's absolutely right! As long as Obama keeps the focus on education and what we all can agree is good for the nation, rather than his own agenda, the President is a role model. He should remind the indoctrinators in his administration, who put together that original follow up lesson plan, so we don't have to go through this on other issues!

    September 7, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Kentucky

    Dear, Laura! One of the few members of the GOP with any sense! I guess now she will be attacked by Rush

    September 7, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. TN for Obama

    #1. A lesson plan is optional.
    #2. The biggest outcry was about "the letter" students were to write. Did Bush say he wanted students to write to him and say how the students could help him (Bush)?

    I believe the attacks were nothing more than the extreme right getting out in front of the event to give Obama negative press. If Bush did ask students to write him a letter, the Dept. of Ed. should NEVER have taken it out of the lesson plan. It should have stayed and teachers/parents should have been told, "You have a brain! Use it if it suits your needs or leave it out if it doesn't."

    Backbone, Dems, BACKBONE !

    September 7, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. tlp

    Mrs.Laura Bush you are one class act.. You were the finest First Lady the White House had seen in years.

    September 7, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Fan of Common Sense

    Mrs. Bush is just saying what most everyone has been saying all along. It's not the speech that was the problem......IT WAS THE NORTH KOREAN-STYLE INDOCTRINATION PLAN that was to accompany it.

    September 7, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Florida Resident

    Bravo to Laura Bush. I also believe that the office of the President should be respected. What are these parents who are going crazy showing their children? They are showing their ignorance and hatred of Obama pure and simple. There is no valid reason to oppose the speech of a man who came from such humble beginnings, took advantage of the educational opportunities available and worked as hard as he could. He is an example to students in this country of all religions, race and economic circumstance. I am ashamed of those who are railing against this talk to our students and trying to advance their political agendas – e.g. Obama born in Kenya, Obama is a terrorist, Obama is a socialist, etc etc.

    You go Laura – make me proud of Republican women at last.

    September 7, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. Bill

    Why is is that the First Ladies are always more reasonable than their husbands?

    September 7, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. lysh

    For as much flak as Bush got during his presidency, I sure don't remember any Democrats criticizing his speech to our kids in school. And let's not forget he was promoting his policies (no child left behind). The fringe-right's opposition to President Obama on this issue are further proof that they are completely and emotionally driven by hate.

    September 7, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Jose

    I respect Laura and these statements. She is far more qualified to be President than Palin will ever be and Laura is far more intelligent because she thinks before she speaks.

    September 7, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. steve fielder

    It's nice to know that there is still one Republican who understands what "civility" means! Thank You for your support, Mrs. Bush.

    September 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. REA

    I have read the speech, it is wonderful and every student should hear it. Thank you President Obama for such a motivated speech. also thank you Mrs. Bush for your sensible statements.

    September 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Lee S. Downie

    Tell 'em, Laura !!! It is a good thing and perfectly natural for school children to hear from the President of the United States. It just might make them feel that they have a part in Something Big... their country.

    –Lee S. Downie
    Henrico, NC 27842

    September 7, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Winston

    Very well put, Mrs. Bush. I am amazed how many people dislike President Obama and use that to attack him for any and everything he tries to do. At the very least, give him a chance. I didn't vote for him, but he is my President. Pity that so many have forgotten "United we stand, divided we fall."

    September 7, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Dex Houston TX

    God bless Laura Bush. I've always said she is a class act....

    So what if the president is utulizing his speech to create a lesson plan. It's not like the president is telling the kids to walk into traffic or hate other races....we'll leave that type of ignorance up to those conservative parents who have chosen to take their kids out of school on Tuesday!

    Although I never voted for your husband....Love you Laura Bush

    September 7, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Proud American

    Thank you Mrs. Bush for your kind words. President Obama, keep doing what you're doing. Forget the envangelical christian hypocrites. They're bunch of idiots.

    September 7, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Catherine Berryhill

    I just don't trust Obama. He should stay out of classrooms. Parents should be in more control over the children that they have. Parents ought to be the ones telling their children, "to stay in school"!

    September 7, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. dick delson

    Good for you Mrs. Bush. This is the first time I've agreed with anything you said.*

    September 7, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Thank you for a down to earth, respectful and realistic share of her views!

    September 7, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Linda

    I couldn't stand President Bush but I have always liked and respected her.

    September 7, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Paul

    There are many of us smart Republicians. Ms. Laura Bush is, and always has been, a class act! And yes, finally a Republician that is willing to stand up to the Fox/Rush mouth-offs. We should ALL, regardless of party, have respect for the President. I used to watch Fox, but can hardly handle it anymore. It's owned by a foreigner anyway, that is intent on meddling in our politics. I've had enough of it. Our President is OURS, Republician and Democrat alike! I'm tired of foreigners influencing our political process this way. How revolting! It's time ALL AMERICANS said ENOUGH OF THIS BS! It is tearing our country apart! As good American's it is OUR DUTY to not let it happen! As good Americans it is OUR DUTY to NOT TOLERATE it anymore!

    September 7, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Fred

    Mrs. Bush is a class act. Respect is one of the fundamentals of teaching to our children – I'm glad she is reiterating the importance of it. How can we as parents teach our children respect when we act so disrespectfully toward each other? We all have our rights, Republican or Democrat, let's exercise tolerance for a change – that will be a good lesson to learn.

    September 7, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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