April 28th, 2010
01:05 PM ET
13 years ago

Laura Bush alleges poisoning in new book

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/28/art.laurabush.0909.gi.jpg caption="Former First Lady Laura Bush suggests in her forthcoming memoir that she, her husband, and several aides were poisoned during a 2007 visit to Germany for the G8 summit."](CNN) – Laura Bush is suggesting she, her husband, and several aides were poisoned during a 2007 visit to Germany for the G8 summit – one of several new details in the former first lady's forthcoming memoir, "Spoken from the Heart."

Due to hit bookshelves May 4 but purchased by CNN at a Washington-area bookstore, Mrs. Bush says she and former President George W. Bush became mysteriously sick on the Germany trip to such a degree that the president became bedridden.

According to Mrs. Bush, doctors and the Secret Service investigated the possibility a poisoning had occurred but were unable to make a definitive conclusion.

News reports filed during the event show the White House did disclose Bush missed a series of morning sessions at the summit because he had contracted an apparent virus, but White House officials did not provide further details at that time.

"Nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken, even George, who started to feel sick during an early morning staff briefing," Mrs. Bush writes. "[O]ne of our military aides had difficulty walking and a White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear. Exceedingly alarmed, the Secret Service went on full alert, combing the resort for potential poisons."

"George felt so ill that he met with [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and did not even stand up to greet him," she continues, adding later, "We never learned if any other delegations became ill, or if ours, mysteriously, was the only one."

Excerpts of the book were first published by the New York Times Tuesday.

The 432-page memoir is both a recount of the unique experience of being a first lady and a reflection of the eight years she spent in the White House as her husband's popularity gradually declined. But among the book's most poignant passages are those that delve into Mrs. Bush's involvement in a tragic 1963 car collision in Midland, Texas that killed her good friend who happened to be driving the other car.

The spotty details surrounding the accident became fodder for Bush's opponents during his first run for the White House and Mrs. Bush rarely addressed the matter in public. Mrs. Bush covers the accident extensively in the new memoir, revealing it occurred after she ran a stop sign in a rush to a drive-in theater. Then 17 years-old, Mrs. Bush was driving a car that collided with that of Mike Douglas, a fellow student at Mrs. Bush's school. Douglas was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.

"In the aftermath, all I felt was guilty, very guilty. In fact, I still do. It is a guilt I will carry for the rest of my life, far more visible to me than the scar etched in the bump of my knee," Mrs. Bush writes.

"The whole time I was praying that the person in the other car was alive. In my mind, I was calling 'Please, God. Please, God. Please, God,' over and over and over again," Bush also writes.

Mrs. Bush writes she and a friend were talking when she ran the stop sign but also says the intersection was highly dangerous, the road was dark, and she could barely see the stop sign.

Guilt-ridden, Bush says she lost her faith for "many, many years."

"It was the first time that I had prayed to God for something, begged him for something, not the simple childhood wishing on a star but humbly begging for another human life. And it was as if no one heard. My begging, to my seventeen-year-old mind, had made no difference. The only answer was the sound of Mrs. Douglas's sobs on the other side of that thin emergency room curtain."

Much of the book's early chapters are devoted to a recounting of family history – with a special emphasis on the tragedies faced by her family as they weathered the Great Depression and her own personal beginnings as a young woman coming of age in Midland, Texas.

Bush writes passionately about the time she spent after college teaching minority students in the large cities of Texas, before she met her future husband.

But Mrs. Bush also reveals that she initially received a cold reception from Barbara Bush after marrying the future president.

"[F]rom the start, she was ferociously tart-tongued. She's never shied away from saying what she thinks," Bush writes. "She's managed to insult nearly all of my friends with one or another perfectly-timed acerbic comment."

The relationship improved, however, when Laura and George moved to Washington to be closer to his parents, she writes.

The memoir covers in detail many of the policy initiatives that the first lady undertook while in office, including her efforts to promote women's rights in Afghanistan and childhood literacy in the United States.

The first lady also acknowledges a misstep made by her twin daughters, who were caught trying to order alcoholic drinks in Austin, Texas before their 21st birthday.

"That night in Austin was just dumb, in the way that so many nineteen-year-olds are dumb," Bush writes.

"But what bothered me long after the incident was over was the image left behind in the public mind, that Barbara and Jenna were party girls."

Much as she did during her time as first lady, Bush for the most part avoids commenting on politics, but does point to the 1992 presidential campaign of Bush senior as being particularly nasty. Bush writes that during the campaign, critics created "the most hideous caricatures of George H.W. Bush until I barely recognized my own father-in-law."

Bush also criticizes former presidential candidate John Kerry for mentioning the sexual orientation of Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter during a 2004 debate, calling the move "cheap and tawdry" and suggests that the campaign opened the door to a more hostile atmosphere for political candidates and their families.

"The strategy of making Mary Cheney's private life an issue failed with the voters in November of 2004," Bush writes. "But in the years since, it has become acceptable to mock candidates and their families, and other elected officeholders, in highly personal ways; David Letterman feels free to ridicule Sarah Palin's teenage daughters, and the audience laughs. That is the legacy of the 2004 campaign."

Mrs. Bush also uses the memoir to air a few gripes against her husband's most vocal congressional critics, specifically Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Reid once called Bush a "loser," while Pelosi said he was an "incompetent leader."

"The comments were uncalled for and graceless," Bush writes. "While a president's political opponents, as well as his supporters, are entitled to make what they see as legitimate criticisms, and while our national debates should be spirited, these particular worlds revealed the petty and parochial nature of some who serve in Congress."

"George, as president, would never have used such language about them," she adds.

President George W. Bush's own memoir entitled "Decision Points" is set for a November 2010 release.

Updated at 6:40 p.m.

Filed under: Laura Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. doug

    This would seem on par with the way Democrats think and act, thank god that President Obama does not have to encounter the same kind of hate that President Bush did.

    April 28, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Must've been a bad knockwurst. Have a nice day!

    April 28, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    If that is true then I am guessing it was the Russians since they are known to poison people. I am glad it wasn't serious or else dick cheney would have been... president!! Wow, im getting nightmares just thinking about it.

    April 28, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Bill from GA

    Maybe "Putie" didn't like his nickname.

    April 28, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. j

    i did realize she was that paranoid.

    April 28, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Steph

    Oh, it would have been best if she would have stayed quiet. I actually had respect for her at one point.

    Poisoned? Tests showed you had a virus. People in the real world get viruses. Take some time out of your protected little bubble you baby!

    Blaming your car accident on the darkness, a "small" stop sign and the type of car the boy who died was driving equals admitting no responsibility what so ever! I don't believe she never drove that stretch of road in her small town ever before. I grew up in a small town. Everyone knows where the stop signs are...even the really tiny ones.

    April 28, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Bill from GA

    And, gee, Pelosi said he was an "incompetent leader." What is the proper way to address the worst president in history, who nearly destroyed the American economy, dragging down the world economy, preemptively invading another country, lying to our allies, destroying middle income America. And he dropped good ol Barney; that is really going too far.

    April 28, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. barryg

    Great, the Bushes are making a splash with two books out this year!
    Guess they had time on their hands!

    April 28, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Steve from California

    Harry Reid will soon be a "loser" himself after Nevada voters send him packing.

    April 28, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. kmp

    Seriously, you were poisioned? While I wasn't a fan of your husband but thought highly of you, really you are going to claim this. I am betting you all had food poisioning since nothing was found. I am glad you two are okay.

    April 28, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Tam

    Pelosi said he was an "incompetent leader."

    That was the truth!

    Laura Bush is an intelligent woman. Much more so than her husband. What Pelosi said was true, and then some!

    April 28, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Jeff in Houston

    There is nothing more to be said. Stop denying the fact that he was the second worst thing that has ever happened to this country, with 9/11 being the first. Nothing less than a series of trials for him and the creators of his regin of arrogance, greed, and ignorance will restore my faith in government. He has done us that much damage.

    i wish for justice for the American people, and the WORLD, every day, but i doubt i will live to see it.

    April 28, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. phoenix86

    I don't think Bush was poisoned, but I think the US population was drugged in mass in 2008. How else can one explain the election of Obama?

    April 28, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Brickell Princess

    They weren't that special!

    April 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. Rayshaun

    The comments of Harry Reid And Nancy Pelosi about Bush were spot on, frankly I think they were kind considering the person. Laura needs to accept the fact their right about her idiot ex president husband.

    April 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  16. EricTheRuler

    That's messed up I'm no Bush fan by any means but if this is true someone should pay for this. I'm not talking a 3rd or 4th war if you count the war on terrorism. The President of the United States is just that and there may be mockers that say too bad they didn't get him. But the office is bigger than the man. Like him or not he was the President of All Americans even those of us who think he's dumb as a box of rocks. Just imagine a few years of President Dick. I'm so glad they didn't get him if this actually happened. I mean Laura could be crazy. Or looking for attention or on the bottle.

    April 28, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. American Patriot -- a "real" tea partier

    I doubt it. Bush 2 did the same thing Bush 1 did - he had a vice president that NO ONE wanted in the president's seat.

    No one wanted Quayle as president, no one wanted Cheney anywhere near Washington.

    As far as what Pelosi said - she was only telling the truth. Why is Laura Bush upset about that? She can't be so naive as to think George was competent in any way. Besides, if she has issues with people saying the truth about Bush, then why isn't she up in arms about the lies the GOP say about Obama?

    April 28, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Beverly- NYC

    Dear Mrs. Bush:

    Such speculation is beneath you. What 's next blaming the pretzel industry, since you husband was able to render himself unconsious while consuming the snack? Your husband used American soldiers to settle a grudge against Saddam Husein because he tried to kill his Daddy, another unfounded accusation. I guess we narrowily averted WWIII over this "poisioning" incident. You Bushes sure are delicate flowers, his Daddy threw up on the Japanese premier and no one there wrote a book about it.

    April 28, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Dave

    Mrs. Bush also takes aim at some of the former president's most vocal congressional critics, specifically Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Reid once called Bush a "loser" while Pelosi said he was an "incompetent leader."

    "The comments were uncalled for and graceless," Bush writes. "


    Are you kidding me?!?!?! These comments are nothing compared to the insults thrown at Obama on what seems like an hourly basis. The reality that Bush is a loser (in addition to being a bumbling idiot and a serial liar) and will go down as the President that brought this country to the brink of economic collapse as a result of his greed and ineptitude. Sorry if the truth hurts.

    April 28, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. kilo charlie

    this is so bush. so they never found out if they were the only ones to get sick and whether they were poisoned?so the man with the largest medical team in the world couldn't determine if they were poisoned. O.K. so what happened to the privaleged laura bush when she killed someone on the road. nothing? lastly, laura, your husband is a loser and was an incompitent leader and by proxy, that makes you a loser.

    April 28, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Sniffit

    Yes, Bush most certainly was poisoned....by all those paint chips he ate as a child. Everyone knows lead poisoning causes brain damage, a drop in IQ and behavioral problems.

    April 28, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Larry

    Some people will say anything to sell a book.

    April 28, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Speaker Pelosi got it right Laura. That was a legitimate criticism. George Bush was an "incompetant leader." I think his reaction to Hurricane Katrina proves his incompetence.

    April 28, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. ThinkAgain

    "We never learned if any other delegations became ill, or if ours, mysteriously, was the only one," Mrs. Bush writes in the new book.

    Sounds a little paranoid to me! Maybe they all just contracted garden-variety food poisoning from the innocent mishandling of food on Air Force One.

    April 28, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Rickster

    excuses, excuses, excuses. laura has done gone around the bend.

    April 28, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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