Laura Lane Bush (Welch) MP

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Location: Washington D.C., United States
Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Midland, Texas, United States
Occupation: First Lady of the United States 2001-2009, First Lady of the United States, First Lady
Managed by: Jocelynn Elaine Oakes
Last Updated:

About Laura Lane Bush (Welch)

Laura Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care, and human rights. In March 2005, Mrs. Bush made an historic trip to Afghanistan, witnessing firsthand the inspirational progress achieved by the Afghan people after the fall of the Taliban regime. She visited the Women's Teacher Training Institute in Kabul, which is training women to lead classrooms that girls were once forbidden to enter. She also met with President Hamid Karzai and expressed America's continued support for Afghanistan's new democracy, which ensures equal rights for women and men. Mrs. Bush's involvement in Afghanistan began in 2001, when she became the first wife of a president ever to deliver the president's weekly radio address. She used the opportunity to call attention to the plight of women suffering under the Taliban.

Mrs. Bush is Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade, serving as an international spokesperson for efforts to educate people throughout the world, especially women and girls.

As the leader of President Bush's Helping America's Youth initiative, Mrs. Bush is listening to the concerns of young people, parents, and community leaders throughout the country and drawing attention to programs that help children avoid risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, early sexual activity, and violence. She's highlighting the need of every child to have a caring adult role model in his or her life - whether that adult is a parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, or mentor.

One of Mrs. Bush's first priorities in the White House was to convene the Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development. Prominent scholars and educators shared research on the best ways for parents and caregivers to prepare children for lifelong learning. Because children also need excellent teachers, Mrs. Bush works with teacher recruitment programs like Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and Troops to Teachers.

Laura Bush is passionate about the importance and pleasures of reading, and she joined with the Library of Congress to launch the first National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., in September 2001. The 2004 National Book Festival drew 85,000 book-lovers from across the nation.

In honor of her mother, a breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Bush supports education campaigns for breast cancer and heart disease. She is a partner with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in publicizing The Heart Truth, which is that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America. Mrs. Bush educates women about their risks and emphasizes the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and preventive screenings.

A hiking and camping enthusiast, Mrs. Bush helped to start Preserve America, a national initiative to protect our cultural and natural heritage. She highlights preservation efforts across the country and encourages Americans to get involved in preserving main streets, parks, and community heritage treasures.

Laura Bush was born on November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas, to Harold and Jenna Welch. Inspired by her second grade teacher, she earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Southern Methodist University in 1968. She taught in public schools in Dallas and Houston. In 1973, she earned a master of library science degree from the University of Texas and worked as a public school librarian. In 1977, she met and married George Walker Bush. They are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, who are named for their grandmothers.

--------------------

Laura Lane Welch Bush (born November 4, 1946) is the wife of the forty-third President of the United States, George W. Bush, and was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009.

Mrs. Bush has had a love for books and reading since childhood, and her life and education have reflected that interest. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 with a Bachelor's degree in education, and soon took a job as a second grade school teacher. After attaining her Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Texas at Austin, she was employed as a librarian. She met George Walker Bush in 1977, and they were married later that year; in 1981, the couple had twin daughters.

Bush's political involvement began with her marriage. She campaigned in her husband's unsuccessful 1978 run for the United States Congress and later his successful Texas gubernatorial campaign. As First Lady of Texas, Bush implemented many initiatives focused on health, education, and literacy. In 1999, she aided her husband in campaigning for the presidency of the United States in a number of ways, most notably delivering a keynote address at the 2000 Republican National Convention; this gained her national attention. She became first lady after her husband defeated Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Polled by Gallup as one of the most popular first ladies, Laura Bush was involved in topics of both national and global concern during her tenure. She continued to advance her trademark interests of education and literacy by establishing the annual National Book Festival in 2001 and encouraged education on a worldwide scale. She also advanced women's causes through The Heart Truth and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She represented the United States during her foreign trips, which tended to focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness.

Early life and career

Laura Bush was born in Midland, Texas, as the only child of Harold Welch (1912–1995) and Jenna Louise Hawkins Welch (born 1919). Her father was a home builder and later successful real estate developer while her mother worked as the bookkeeper for her father's business. Early on, her parents encouraged her to read, leading to what would become her love of reading. She said, "I learned [how important reading is] at home from my mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me. I have loved books and going to the library ever since. In the summer, I liked to spend afternoons reading in the library. I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie books and Little Women, and many others... Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your life."

She attended James Bowie Elementary School, San Jacinto Junior High School, and Midland Lee High School in Midland. She graduated from Lee in 1964[6] and went on to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in education.

In 1963, Laura ran a stop sign resulting in a fatal car accident that killed her friend in another car. The driver of the other car was her classmate Michael Dutton Douglas. According to the accident report released by the city of Midland, neither driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and no charges were filed. According to Bush's spokesperson, "It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large. To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it."

After graduating from SMU, she began her career as a school teacher of the second grade at Longfellow Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District. She then taught for three years at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, a Houston Independent School District school in Houston, until 1972.

In 1973, Welch attained a Master of Science degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin. She was soon employed as a librarian at the Kashmere Gardens Branch at the Houston Public Library. The following year, she moved back to Austin and took another job as a librarian in the Austin Independent School District school Dawson Elementary until 1977. She reflected upon her employment experiences to a group of children in 2003, saying, "I worked as a teacher and librarian and I learned how important reading is in school and in life."

Marriage and family

She met George W. Bush in 1977 at a backyard barbecue at the home of mutual friends, John and Jan O'Neill. After a three-month courtship, he proposed to her and they were married on November 5 of that year at the First United Methodist Church in Midland, the same church in which she had been baptized. The couple did not have a honeymoon.

Laura and George W. Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush, Kennebunkport, 1990

The year after their marriage, the couple began campaigning for George W. Bush's 1978 Congressional candidacy. After narrowly winning the primary, he lost the general election.

The Bushes had tried to conceive for three years, but pregnancy did not happen easily. On 25 November 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. The twins were born five weeks early by an emergency Caesarian section, as Laura had developed life-threatening pre-eclampsia (toxemia). The twins graduated from high school in 2000 and from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively, in 2004. To date, Laura Bush is the only First Lady to give birth to twins.

George W. Bush credited his wife with his decision to stop drinking in 1986. She is also credited with having a stabilizing effect on his private life. According to People magazine reporter Jane Simms Podesta, "She is the steel in his back. She is a civilizing influence on him. I think she built him, in many ways, into the person he is today."

Several times a year, Laura Bush and her husband travel to their sprawling family estate, the Bush Compound, better known as Walker's Point. Located in Kennebunkport, Maine, the compound is where Bush family gatherings have been held for nearly 100 years.

First Lady of Texas

Laura Bush with husband Governor George W. (right) and father-in-law George H. W. (left) at the dedication of the George Bush Presidential Library, 1997

Bush became the First Lady of Texas when her husband was elected as the Governor of Texas and served as first lady of that state from January 17, 1995, to December 21, 2000. Asked about her interest in politics, she responded, "It doesn't drive me."

Though during her years in the Governor's Mansion, she did not hold a single formal event, Laura worked for women's and children's causes including health, education, and literacy. She implemented four major initiatives: Take Time For Kids, an awareness campaign to educate parents and caregivers on parenting; family literacy, through cooperation with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, she urged Texas communities to establish family literacy programs; Reach Out and Read, a pediatric reading program; and Ready to Read, an early childhood educational program.

She raised money for public libraries through her establishment of the Texas Book Festival, and established the First Lady's Family Literacy Initiative, which encouraged families to read together.[18] Bush further established "Rainbow Rooms" across the state, in an effort to provide emergency services for neglected or abused children. Through this, she promoted the Adopt-a-Caseworker Program to provide support for Child Protective Services. She used her position to advocate Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer awareness as well.

Her husband announced his campaign for President of the United States in mid-1999, something that she agreed to. She did say, however, that she had never dreamed that he would run for office. She had previously told him that she would not give a speech, but reneged on that promise that July as she delivered a keynote address to the delegates at the 2000 Republican National Convention. This speech put her on the national stage. In December 2000, her husband resigned as Governor of Texas to prepare for his inauguration as President of the United States in January 2001.

]First Lady of the United States

As First Lady, Laura Bush was involved in issues of concern to children and women, both nationally and internationally. Her major initiatives included education and women's health.

Education and children

Romanian children greet President and Mrs. Bush upon their landing in Bucharest, 2002

The First Lady shares a laugh with fifth graders in Des Moines, Iowa, 2005

Early into the administration, Bush made it known that she would focus much of her attention on education. This included recruiting highly qualified teachers to ensure that young children would be taught well. She also focused on early child development. In 2001, to promote reading and education, she partnered with the Library of Congress to launch the annual National Book Festival. To promote American patriotic heritage in schools, she helped launch the National Anthem Project.

Immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks; Bush spoke regarding America's children:

"[W]e need to reassure our children that they are safe in their homes and schools. We need to reassure them that many people love them and care for them, and that while there are some bad people in the world, there are many more good people."

The following day, she composed open letters to America's families, focusing on elementary and middle school students, which she distributed through state education officials. She took an interest in mitigating the emotional effects of the attacks on children, particularly the disturbing images repeatedly replayed on television. On the one-year anniversary, she encouraged parents to instead read to their children, and perhaps light a candle in memoriam, saying, "Don't let your children see the images, especially on September 11, when you know it'll probably be on television again and again — the plane hitting the building or the buildings falling."

Later in her tenure, she was honored by the United Nations, as the body named her honorary ambassador for the United Nation's Decade of Literacy. In this position, she announced that she would host a Conference on Global Literacy. The conference, held in September 2006, encouraged a constant effort to promote literacy and highlighted many successful literacy programs.[28] She coordinated this as a result of her many trips abroad where she witnessed how literacy benefited children in poorer nations.

Women's health

Another of her signature issues were those relating to the health and well being of women. She established the Women's Health and Wellness Initiative and became involved with two major campaigns.

Laura Bush attends a Heart Truth event, February 15, 2006

She first became involved with The Heart Truth awareness campaign in 2003. It is an organization established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to raise awareness about heart disease in women, and how to prevent the condition.[30] She serves in the honorary position of ambassador for the program leading the federal government's effort to give women a "wake up call" about the risk of heart disease. She commented on the disease: "Like many women, I assumed heart disease was a man's disease and cancer was what we would fear the most. Yet heart disease kills more women in our country than all forms of cancer combined. When it comes to heart disease, education, prevention, and even a little red dress can save lives." She has undertaken a signature personal element of traveling around the country and talking to women at hospital and community events featuring the experiences of women who live, or had lived, with the condition. This outreach was credited with saving the life of one woman who went to the hospital after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

With her predecessor, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Bush dedicated the First Ladies Red Dress Collection at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in May 2005. It is an exhibit containing red suits worn by former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush meant to raise awareness by highlighting America's first ladies. She has participated in fashion shows displaying red dresses worn on celebrities as well.

Bush's mother, Jenna Welch, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 78. She endured surgery and currently has no further signs of cancer. Laura Bush has become a breast cancer activist on her mother's behalf through her involvement in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She applauded the foundation's efforts in eliminating cancer and said, "A few short years ago, a diagnosis of breast cancer left little hope of recovery. But thanks to the work of the Komen Foundation... more women and men are beating breast cancer and beating the odds." She used her position to gain international support for the foundation through the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas, an initiative that unites experts from the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico.[34]

In November 2001, she became the first person other than a president to deliver the weekly presidential radio address. She used the opportunity to discuss the plight of women in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, saying, "The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists." In May 2002, she made a speech to the people of Afghanistan through Radio Liberty, a radio station in Prague, Czech Republic.

[edit]Popularity and style

Laura's husband, President George W. Bush, is sworn into a second term on January 20, 2005 by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, as Laura Bush and daughters Barbara and Jenna look on.

Laura Bush's approval ratings have consistently ranked very high. In January 2006, a USA Today/CBS/Gallup poll recorded her approval rating at 82 percent and disapproval at 13 percent. That places Bush as one of the most popular first ladies. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, "She is more popular, and more welcome, in many parts of the country than the president... In races where the moderates are in the most trouble, Laura Bush is the one who can do the most good."

She disagreed with Fox News' Chris Wallace in 2006 when Wallace asked why the American people were beginning to lose confidence in President Bush, saying, "Well, I don't think they are. And I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country, I see people, I see their response to my husband, I see their response to me. There are a lot of difficult challenges right now in the United States... All of those decisions that the President has to make surrounding each one of these very difficult challenges are hard. They're hard decisions to make. And of course some people are unhappy about what some of those decisions are. But I think people know that he is doing what he thinks is right for the United States, that he's doing what he — especially in the war on terror, what he thinks he is obligated to do for the people in the United States, and that is to protect them... When his polls were really high they weren't on the front page."

During the January 2005 second inauguration ceremonies for her husband, Laura Bush was looked highly upon by People magazine, The Washington Post, and others for her elegance and fashion sense. At the inauguration she wore a winter white cashmere dress and matching coat designed by Oscar de la Renta.] Following the inauguration were the inaugural galas, to which Bush wore a pale, aqua lace gown, sprinkled with crystals, with long sleeves in a silver blue mist. The tulle gown was also designed for her by de la Renta. According to The Washington Post, "[I]t made her look radiant and glamorous."

Foreign trips

Laura Bush talks with Raphael Lungo of Zambia as a part of her 2007 African trip

Laura Bush with her husband and several other dignitaries from around the world at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

During President George W. Bush's second term, Laura was more involved in foreign matters. She traveled to numerous countries as a representative of the United States.

As First Lady, she took five goodwill trips to Africa.[42] The purpose of these has mostly been to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and malaria, but Bush has also stressed the need for education and greater opportunities for women. She has taken many other trips to other countries to promote and gain support for President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief;[44] these countries include Zambia (2007), Mozambique (2007), Mali (2007), Senegal (2007), and Haiti (2008).

In mid-2007, she took a trip to Burma where she spoke out in support of the pro-democracy movement, and urged Burmese soldiers and militias to refrain from violence. Later that October, she ventured to the Middle East. Bush said she was in the region in an attempt to improve America's image by highlighting concern for women's health, specifically promoting her breast cancer awareness work with the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.[ She defined the trip as successful, saying that stereotypes were broken on both sides.

Views on policy

Bush is a Republican and has identified herself with that party since her marriage. Her views on matters are generally conservative.[verification needed]

When asked about abortion in 2000, Bush said she doesn't believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. She did not comment on whether women had the right to an abortion. She did say, however, that the country should do "what we can to limit the number of abortions, to try to reduce the number of abortions in a lot of ways, and that is, by talking about responsibility with girls and boys, by teaching abstinence, having abstinence classes everywhere in schools and in churches and in Sunday school."

Bush responded to a question during a 2006 interview concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment by calling for elected leaders not to politicize same-sex marriage: "I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously. It requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue... a lot of sensitivity."

On July 12, 2005, while in South Africa, Bush suggested her husband replace retiring Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor with another woman. On October 2, during a private dinner at the White House with Laura, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace O'Connor. Later that month, after Miers had faced intense criticism, Laura Bush questioned whether the charges were sexist in nature.

Awards and honors

During her tenure as the First Lady, Laura Bush received a number of awards and honors. In October 2002, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity honored her in recognition of her efforts on behalf of education[55] and the American Library Association honored her for her years of support to America's libraries and librarians in April 2005. The Progressive Librarians Guild opposed her being honored, because of her support of the USA PATRIOT Act and her cancellation of a poetry forum due to concern that some of the poets would express opposition to the war in Iraq.

She received an award in honor of her dedication to help improve the living conditions and education of children around the world, from the Kuwait-American Foundation in March 2006. She accepted The Nichols-Chancellor's Medal on behalf of disaster relief workers around the world in May 2006 from Vanderbilt University.

Three learning facilities have been named for her: the Laura Welch Bush Elementary School in Houston, Texas, the Laura W. Bush Elementary School in the Leander ISD just outside Austin, Texas, and the Laura Bush Education Center at Camp Bondsteel, a U.S. military base in Kosovo. She was awarded the 2008 Christian Freedom International Freedom Award.

She is portrayed by Elizabeth Banks in Oliver Stone's film W.Curtis Sittenfeld's bestseller novel "American Wife" is based on much of Laura Bush's life.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

WALTER G. ASHWORTH 7TH COUSIN TO PRESIDENT GEO. BUSH -------------------- Laura Lane Welch Bush (born November 4, 1946) is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in education and soon took a job as a second grade school teacher. After attaining her Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Texas at Austin, she was employed as a librarian. She met George Walker Bush in 1977 and they were married later that year. The couple had twin daughters born to them in 1981. Bush's political involvement began with her marriage. She campaigned during her husband's unsuccessful 1978 run for the United States Congress and later his successful Texas gubernatorial campaign. As First Lady of Texas, Bush implemented many initiatives focused on health, education, and literacy. In 1999, she aided her husband in campaigning for the presidency of the United States in a number of ways, most notably delivering a keynote address at the 2000 Republican National Convention, which gained her national attention. She became first lady of the United States after her husband defeated Democrat Al Gore in the controversial 2000 election. Polled by Gallup as one of the most popular first ladies,[1] Laura Bush was involved in topics of both national and global concern during her tenure. She continued to advance her trademark interests of education and literacy by establishing the semi-annual National Book Festival in 2001 and encouraged education on a worldwide scale. She also advanced women's causes through The Heart Truth and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She represented the United States during her foreign trips, which tended to focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness. In May 2010, Bush released her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, in conjunction with a national tour. -------------------- Laura Bush

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laura Lane Welch Bush (born November 4, 1946) is the wife of the forty-third President of the United States, George W. Bush, and was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2009.

Mrs. Bush has had a love for books and reading since childhood, and her life and education have reflected that interest. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 with a Bachelor's degree in education, and soon took a job as a second grade school teacher. After attaining her Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Texas at Austin, she was employed as a librarian. She met George Walker Bush in 1977, and they were married later that year. In 1981, the couple had twin daughters.

Bush's political involvement began with her marriage. She campaigned in her husband's unsuccessful 1978 run for the United States Congress and later his successful Texas gubernatorial campaign. As First Lady of Texas, Bush implemented many initiatives focused on health, education, and literacy. In 1999, she aided her husband in campaigning for the presidency of the United States in a number of ways, most notably delivering a keynote address at the 2000 Republican National Convention; this gained her national attention. She became first lady after her husband defeated Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Polled by Gallup as one of the most popular first ladies,[1] Laura Bush was involved in topics of both national and global concern during her tenure. She continued to advance her trademark interests of education and literacy by establishing the annual National Book Festival in 2001 and encouraged education on a worldwide scale. She also advanced women's causes through The Heart Truth and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She represented the United States during her foreign trips, which tended to focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness.

Early life and career

Laura Bush was born in Midland, Texas, as the only child of Harold Welch (1912–1995) and Jenna Louise Hawkins Welch (born 1919).[2] Her father was a home builder and later successful real estate developer[3] while her mother worked as the bookkeeper for her father's business.[2] Early on, her parents encouraged her to read, leading to what would become her love of reading.[2] She said, "I learned [how important reading is] at home from my mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would read stories to me. I have loved books and going to the library ever since. In the summer, I liked to spend afternoons reading in the library. I enjoyed the Little House on the Prairie books and Little Women, and many others... Reading gives you enjoyment throughout your life."[4]

She attended James Bowie Elementary School, San Jacinto Junior High School, and Midland Lee High School in Midland.[5] She graduated from Lee in 1964[6] and went on to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.[7] She graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in education.

In 1963, Laura ran a stop sign resulting in a fatal car accident that killed her friend in another car.[8][9] The driver of the other car was her classmate Michael Dutton Douglas. According to the accident report released by the city of Midland, neither driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and no charges were filed.[10] According to Bush's spokesperson, "It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large. To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it."[10] A widely commented and controversial Dec. 7, 2008 episode of Family Guy referred to the incident by repeatedly stating that "Laura Bush killed a guy".[11]

After graduating from SMU, she began her career as a school teacher of the second grade at Longfellow Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District.[7] She then taught for three years at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, a Houston Independent School District school in Houston, until 1972.

In 1973, Welch attained a Master of Science degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin.[7] She was soon employed as a librarian at the Kashmere Gardens Branch at the Houston Public Library. The following year, she moved back to Austin and took another job as a librarian in the Austin Independent School District school Dawson Elementary until 1977. She reflected upon her employment experiences to a group of children in 2003, saying, "I worked as a teacher and librarian and I learned how important reading is in school and in life."[4]

[edit]Marriage and family

She met George W. Bush in 1977 at a backyard barbecue at the home of mutual friends, John and Jan O'Neill.[7] After a three-month courtship, he proposed to her and they were married on November 5 of that year[12] at the First United Methodist Church in Midland, the same church in which she had been baptized.[13] The couple did not have a honeymoon.

The year after their marriage, the couple began campaigning for George W. Bush's 1978 Congressional candidacy. After narrowly winning the primary, he lost the general election.[12]

The Bushes had tried to conceive for three years, but pregnancy did not happen easily. On 25 November 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.[13] The twins were born five weeks early by an emergency Caesarian section, as Laura had developed life-threatening pre-eclampsia (toxemia).[12] The twins graduated from high school in 2000 and from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin, respectively, in 2004. To date, Laura Bush is the only First Lady to give birth to twins.

George W. Bush credited his wife with his decision to stop drinking in 1986.[7][14] She is also credited with having a stabilizing effect on his private life.[12] According to People magazine reporter Jane Simms Podesta, "She is the steel in his back. She is a civilizing influence on him. I think she built him, in many ways, into the person he is today."[12]

Several times a year, Laura Bush and her husband travel to their sprawling family estate, the Bush Compound, better known as Walker's Point. Located in Kennebunkport, Maine, the compound is where Bush family gatherings have been held for nearly 100 years.

[edit]First Lady of Texas

Bush became the First Lady of Texas when her husband was elected as the Governor of Texas and served as first lady of that state from January 17, 1995, to December 21, 2000.[15] Asked about her interest in politics, she responded, "It doesn't drive me."[16]

Though during her years in the Governor's Mansion, she did not hold a single formal event,[17] Laura worked for women's and children's causes including health, education, and literacy.[15] She implemented four major initiatives: Take Time For Kids, an awareness campaign to educate parents and caregivers on parenting; family literacy, through cooperation with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, she urged Texas communities to establish family literacy programs; Reach Out and Read, a pediatric reading program; and Ready to Read, an early childhood educational program.[15]

She raised money for public libraries through her establishment of the Texas Book Festival,[15] and established the First Lady's Family Literacy Initiative, which encouraged families to read together.[18] Bush further established "Rainbow Rooms" across the state, in an effort to provide emergency services for neglected or abused children.[15] Through this, she promoted the Adopt-a-Caseworker Program to provide support for Child Protective Services.[15] She used her position to advocate Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer awareness as well.[15]

Her husband announced his campaign for President of the United States in mid-1999, something that she agreed to. She did say, however, that she had never dreamed that he would run for office.[16] She had previously told him that she would not give a speech,[3] but reneged on that promise that July as she delivered a keynote address to the delegates at the 2000 Republican National Convention.[19][20] This speech put her on the national stage.[19] In December 2000, her husband resigned as Governor of Texas to prepare for his inauguration as President of the United States in January 2001.

[edit]First Lady of the United States

As First Lady, Laura Bush was involved in issues of concern to children and women, both nationally and internationally.[21] Her major initiatives included education and women's health.[21]

[edit]Education and children

Early into the administration, Bush made it known that she would focus much of her attention on education. This included recruiting highly qualified teachers to ensure that young children would be taught well.[22] She also focused on early child development.[22] In 2001, to promote reading and education, she partnered with the Library of Congress to launch the annual National Book Festival. To promote American patriotic heritage in schools, she helped launch the National Anthem Project.

Immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks; Bush spoke regarding America's children:

"[W]e need to reassure our children that they are safe in their homes and schools. We need to reassure them that many people love them and care for them, and that while there are some bad people in the world, there are many more good people."[23]

The following day, she composed open letters to America's families, focusing on elementary and middle school students, which she distributed through state education officials.[24][25] She took an interest in mitigating the emotional effects of the attacks on children, particularly the disturbing images repeatedly replayed on television.[26] On the one-year anniversary, she encouraged parents to instead read to their children, and perhaps light a candle in memoriam, saying, "Don't let your children see the images, especially on September 11, when you know it'll probably be on television again and again — the plane hitting the building or the buildings falling."[26]

Later in her tenure, she was honored by the United Nations, as the body named her honorary ambassador for the United Nation's Decade of Literacy. In this position, she announced that she would host a Conference on Global Literacy.[27] The conference, held in September 2006, encouraged a constant effort to promote literacy and highlighted many successful literacy programs.[28] She coordinated this as a result of her many trips abroad where she witnessed how literacy benefited children in poorer nations.[28]

[edit]Women's health

Another of her signature issues were those relating to the health and well being of women. She established the Women's Health and Wellness Initiative and became involved with two major campaigns.

She first became involved with The Heart Truth awareness campaign in 2003.[29] It is an organization established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to raise awareness about heart disease in women, and how to prevent the condition.[30] She serves in the honorary position of ambassador for the program[29] leading the federal government's effort to give women a "wake up call" about the risk of heart disease.[29] She commented on the disease: "Like many women, I assumed heart disease was a man's disease and cancer was what we would fear the most. Yet heart disease kills more women in our country than all forms of cancer combined. When it comes to heart disease, education, prevention, and even a little red dress can save lives."[29] She has undertaken a signature personal element of traveling around the country and talking to women at hospital and community events featuring the experiences of women who live, or had lived, with the condition.[29] This outreach was credited with saving the life of one woman who went to the hospital after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.[29]

With her predecessor, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Bush dedicated the First Ladies Red Dress Collection at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in May 2005. It is an exhibit containing red suits worn by former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush meant to raise awareness by highlighting America's first ladies.[31] She has participated in fashion shows displaying red dresses worn on celebrities as well.[32]

Bush's mother, Jenna Welch, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 78. She endured surgery and currently has no further signs of cancer. Laura Bush has become a breast cancer activist on her mother's behalf[33] through her involvement in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She applauded the foundation's efforts in eliminating cancer and said, "A few short years ago, a diagnosis of breast cancer left little hope of recovery. But thanks to the work of the Komen Foundation... more women and men are beating breast cancer and beating the odds."[33] She used her position to gain international support for the foundation through the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas, an initiative that unites experts from the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico.[34]

In November 2001, she became the first person other than a president to deliver the weekly presidential radio address. She used the opportunity to discuss the plight of women in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, saying, "The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists."[35] In May 2002, she made a speech to the people of Afghanistan through Radio Liberty, a radio station in Prague, Czech Republic.

[edit]Popularity and style

Laura Bush's approval ratings have consistently ranked very high.[36] In January 2006, a USA Today/CBS/Gallup poll recorded her approval rating at 82 percent and disapproval at 13 percent.[1][37][38] That places Bush as one of the most popular first ladies.[1] Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, "She is more popular, and more welcome, in many parts of the country than the president... In races where the moderates are in the most trouble, Laura Bush is the one who can do the most good."[37]

She disagreed with Fox News' Chris Wallace in 2006 when Wallace asked why the American people were beginning to lose confidence in President Bush, saying, "Well, I don't think they are. And I don't really believe those polls. I travel around the country, I see people, I see their response to my husband, I see their response to me. There are a lot of difficult challenges right now in the United States... All of those decisions that the President has to make surrounding each one of these very difficult challenges are hard. They're hard decisions to make. And of course some people are unhappy about what some of those decisions are. But I think people know that he is doing what he thinks is right for the United States, that he's doing what he — especially in the war on terror, what he thinks he is obligated to do for the people in the United States, and that is to protect them... When his polls were really high they weren't on the front page."[39]

During the January 2005 second inauguration ceremonies for her husband, Laura Bush was looked highly upon by People magazine, The Washington Post, and others for her elegance and fashion sense.[40] At the inauguration she wore a winter white cashmere dress and matching coat designed by Oscar de la Renta.[41] Following the inauguration were the inaugural galas, to which Bush wore a pale, aqua lace gown, sprinkled with crystals, with long sleeves in a silver blue mist.[41] The tulle gown was also designed for her by de la Renta. According to The Washington Post, "[I]t made her look radiant and glamorous."[41]

[edit]Foreign trips

During President George W. Bush's second term, Laura was more involved in foreign matters. She traveled to numerous countries as a representative of the United States.

As First Lady, she took five goodwill trips to Africa.[42] The purpose of these has mostly been to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and malaria, but Bush has also stressed the need for education and greater opportunities for women.[43] She has taken many other trips to other countries to promote and gain support for President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief;[44] these countries include Zambia (2007),[45] Mozambique (2007),[46] Mali (2007),[47] Senegal (2007),[48] and Haiti (2008).[44]

In mid-2007, she took a trip to Burma where she spoke out in support of the pro-democracy movement, and urged Burmese soldiers and militias to refrain from violence.[49] Later that October, she ventured to the Middle East. Bush said she was in the region in an attempt to improve America's image by highlighting concern for women's health, specifically promoting her breast cancer awareness work with the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research.[49][50] She defined the trip as successful, saying that stereotypes were broken on both sides.[49]

[edit]Views on policy

Bush is a Republican and has identified herself with that party since her marriage. Her views on matters are generally conservative.[verification needed]

When asked about abortion in 2000, Bush said she doesn't believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. She did not comment on whether women had the right to an abortion.[51] She did say, however, that the country should do "what we can to limit the number of abortions, to try to reduce the number of abortions in a lot of ways, and that is, by talking about responsibility with girls and boys, by teaching abstinence, having abstinence classes everywhere in schools and in churches and in Sunday school."[51]

Bush responded to a question during a 2006 interview concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment by calling for elected leaders not to politicize same-sex marriage: "I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously. It requires a lot of sensitivity to just talk about the issue... a lot of sensitivity."[52]

On July 12, 2005, while in South Africa, Bush suggested her husband replace retiring Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor with another woman. On October 2, during a private dinner at the White House with Laura, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to replace O'Connor.[53] Later that month, after Miers had faced intense criticism, Laura Bush questioned whether the charges were sexist in nature.[54]

[edit]Awards and honors

During her tenure as the First Lady, Laura Bush received a number of awards and honors. In October 2002, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity honored her in recognition of her efforts on behalf of education[55] and the American Library Association honored her for her years of support to America's libraries and librarians in April 2005.[56] The Progressive Librarians Guild opposed her being honored, because of her support of the USA PATRIOT Act and her cancellation of a poetry forum due to concern that some of the poets would express opposition to the war in Iraq.[57]

She received an award in honor of her dedication to help improve the living conditions and education of children around the world, from the Kuwait-American Foundation in March 2006.[58] She accepted The Nichols-Chancellor's Medal on behalf of disaster relief workers around the world in May 2006 from Vanderbilt University.

Three learning facilities have been named for her: the Laura Welch Bush Elementary School in Houston, Texas,[59] the Laura W. Bush Elementary School in the Leander ISD just outside Austin, Texas,[60] and the Laura Bush Education Center at Camp Bondsteel, a U.S. military base in Kosovo.[61] She was awarded the 2008 Christian Freedom International Freedom Award.[62]

She is portrayed by Elizabeth Banks in Oliver Stone's film W.[63]

Curtis Sittenfeld's bestseller novel "American Wife" is based on much of Laura Bush's life.[64]

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Laura Bush (Welch), First Lady's Timeline

1946
November 4, 1946
Midland, Texas, United States
1977
November 5, 1977
Age 31
Glass Memorial Chapel, First United Methodist Church, Midland, Texas, United States
1981
November 25, 1981
Age 35
Dallas, Texas, United States
November 25, 1981
Age 35
Dallas, Texas, United States
????
- 1968
Dallas, Texas, United States
????
- present
Austin, Texas, United States
????
- present
Midland, Texas, United States
????
- present
Midland, Texas, United States
????
First Lady of Texas, First Lady of Unitied States of America
????
- 1964
Midland, Texas, United States