WASHINGTON--First Lady Laura Bush talks to ABC News Robin Roberts about life in the White House and the briefing she gave to Michelle Obama-- even covering closet space-- and other items about living in the executive mansion. Bush talks about how the Bush family works with the White House chefs to order food for the family and how her adult twins--Jenna and Barbara--did a bit of bed jumping when they gave a tour of the living quarters to Malia and Sasha Obama.
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release November 26, 2008
INTERVIEW OF THE FIRST LADY
ROBIN ROBERTS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA
7:42 A.M. EST
Q And now we go inside the most private rooms of the White House, with one of our favorite guests, First Lady Laura Bush, and footage from a new History Channel documentary. It's called "The White House: Behind Closed Doors," and these rooms are rarely seen by anyone but Presidents and their families, and we're getting an all access pass. That woman right there, the First Lady, is in the Green Room at the White House. Mrs. Bush, it is always a pleasure to spend time with you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much, Robin; appreciate it.
Q Yes, any time. Before we talk about the documentary, of course our heart goes out to your mother-in-law, the former First Lady, Barbara Bush. We understand that she was hospitalized overnight; she seems to be doing okay. Please tell us the latest on her condition.
MRS. BUSH: Well, she's doing great. George and I talked to both President Bush and Barbara Bush last night while they were in the hospital and they were both doing very well then. And then this morning we didn't call them because we were afraid we got up too early and we'd wake them up too early. But the White House doctor did talk to Barbara Bush's doctor and she's doing very well and so we're really, really thankful.
Q Oh, yes, indeed. Well, give her our best and thank you for sharing that with us.
MRS. BUSH: I sure will.
Q This documentary is something else. You know, the public, we only see what we're allowed to see at the White House. But on the second floor - that's where the family has to have a little, you know, some private time, and that's where you have the living room and the dining room and such. Is that where the family really spends the most time, private time?
MRS. BUSH: That is really where we sit, in front of that beautiful Palladian window down at the end of the cross hall with the west sun coming in, in the late afternoon - especially in the winter, it's such a warm place to sit. And that's the dining room where we have all three meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We host a lot of family dinner parties in there, and also a lot of our friends come and we have friends' dinner parties there.
Just this week we had Prime Minister Olmert and his wife, Aliza, there for a dinner, for our farewell dinner with them. So we use it both for entertaining heads of state and for all of our - just cereal and milk for breakfast.
Q And how do you go about selecting the menu? And do you get to write out a grocery list or anything like that?
MRS. BUSH: Yes, of course, if there's anything I want, I'll make a list. A lot of times when the girls are here they'll ask for special juices or teas or things that they like. And the White House chefs, who are all excellent, make up the menus for the week and then give me a paper with the menus on them -- and then I think if we're not in the mood for some dish or something, I'll check with them and we'll change it. But their food is always great.
Q Oh, I can imagine so. This is a time of course of transition there at the White House. And you and your husband graciously invited the Obamas, and they said how wonderful and gracious you both were in showing them around. We kind of -- Diane and I kind of laughed a little bit when you said that Michelle Obama wanted to know about the closet space there.
MRS. BUSH: Well, she didn't ask me as much about them as I told her about them, because I think people are always interested. I remember sitting with Ann Richards once, Governor Richards -- we had moved into the Governor's Mansion after she lived there. And she and I were sitting on the stage at some event together, and she got her program and drew on it and drew a diagram of the dressing room and said, "I think you can put closets here," and "I think you can put closets there." I think it's just something that women like to be sure they know about before they move somewhere.
Q Yes. Well, let's show a bit of the documentary, because there are some secret closets there at the White House. Let's take a look:
MRS. BUSH: There are a number of what look like secret doors everywhere here. Because of the oval shape that's so common in the White House we end up with these extra spaces in what would be the corner. And so that's what these are used for, these are storage, and this is the china closet.
Q The configuration I would imagine is quite challenging there at the White House. What have you been able to share with Mrs. Obama about making the White House, as you have, home?
MRS. BUSH: Well, we've told her that, you know, it is a home, and I know that's what she wants to do and that's her first priority, is to make sure her little girls have a home. That's what it was when we moved here. The very first rooms I did were the two rooms that were for our girls, who were freshmen in college. I wanted them to be able to have these rooms to move home and come home for holidays and have their own space.
So those are the rooms that Barbara and Jenna showed little Malia and Sasha when they came over to visit. And that was really fun. It was fun for the girls to get to show them not only that room, but the way the big cross hall can be an obstacle course for little kids to run up and down, and the solarium ramp that you can slide down on your bottom. So they showed them all the special tricks.
Q Now, is it true that Sasha and Malia, they were jumping up and down on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom?
MRS. BUSH: We did a little bed jumping, the girls sort of showed them -- it wasn't the Lincoln Bedroom, it was another bedroom with a very tall bed that we usually put a step out for people to step into when they stay in that room. But instead the little girls did the running jump, and Barbara and Jenna of course aided and abetted that jumping.
Q No - (laughter) - I can't believe that they would have done that. (Laughter.)
What is your favorite place there in the White House on the second floor, what's your little sanctuary?
MRS. BUSH: Well, I usually do sit in the cross hall with the light coming in. That is an interior hall, it's a very long hall with no windows, except the beautiful, two Palladian windows at either end. I like to sit there in the afternoon with the sun coming in. My cat loves to sit on one of those chairs in the afternoon because she can sit in a sunny spot.
Also, the beautiful Monet that the White House owns is right across from a chair there, and I think all First Ladies have loved to sit there and look at that beautiful painting.
Q Well, Mrs. Bush, one of my fondest memories is having tea with you there when you invited me last year to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, on the breast cancer mission that you had. I remember having tea there with you and it's something that I will always remember, very thankful for.
MRS. BUSH: Oh, great. Thank you so much, Robin.
Q It's good to see you. Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. Thank you.
MRS. BUSH: Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.
END 7:49 A.M. EST