- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2008


First lady Laura Bush soon will no longer live in the country’s most famous mansion or be able to get away to the coveted Camp David presidential retreat. But beyond the perks, she says what she will miss most about being first lady are the staff and friends who surround her.

“I’ll miss all the people that are around us all the time, from the ushers and butlers who are there for every president … to our own staff, of course, that we love to laugh with and talk with and solve problems with,” she said in a televised interview broadcast Sunday. “So I’ll miss the people the most.”

President Bush‘s tenure ends Jan. 20, when President-elect Barack Obama takes office. The Bushes plan to return to Texas, where they will likely spend their weeks in Dallas and weekends at their secluded ranch in Crawford.

The first lady has given advice to Michelle Obama about making the White House a warm, family home. The Bushes’ grown daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have given some playful tips about having fun in the executive mansion to the Obamas’ young daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Mrs. Bush recalled in the interview that she met the Obamas a few years ago at a reception for freshman senators; Mr. Obama had just been elected as an Illinois senator. Asked whether she viewed them back then as a prospective president and first lady, Mrs. Bush said: “I don’t know if I would say that. But I certainly saw somebody who was very ambitious and accomplished - in both of them.”

She jokingly referred to the start of her post-White House years as “the afterlife.”

The first lady spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in a taped interview that focused largely on her advocacy for women and girls in Afghanistan. She encouraged Americans not to forget about Afghanistan, particularly as the militant Taliban, which brutally represses women, is fighting to re-establish itself.

“Our tendency in the United States is to become isolationist, become protectionist,” she said. “I hope people in the United States will look outside of our life here in the United States and do what they can both financially, to be able to support the people of Afghanistan, and then every other way.”

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