Magazine article Newsweek

The Reluctant Campaigner; First Lady Laura Bush, Making Her Peace with Politics

Magazine article Newsweek

The Reluctant Campaigner; First Lady Laura Bush, Making Her Peace with Politics

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamara Lipper and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Laura Bush has always sought ways to preserve her privacy in a very public family. One way has been to get as far away from them as possible. Each summer the First Lady and a group of childhood friends from Midland, Texas, go on a wilderness camping trip, where Laura can shed her formal, president's-wife persona and relax. One year the group hiked up and out of the Grand Canyon. Another, they roughed it in Yosemite. This summer the friends headed to Glacier National Park in Montana to spend six days hiking in the mountains and swimming in frigid snow-melt lakes. "You let out quite a yell when you hit that water," says her friend Regan Gammon. "I'm sure it's alarming for the Secret Service." Laura urged the agent protecting her--a woman--to jump in and join the fun.

Back east, Mrs. Bush schedules plenty of personal time to discreetly get around town and, in the words of one staffer, "maintain some semblance of a private, ordinary life." She goes antiquing with friends in Georgetown, takes in operas at the Kennedy Center and dined with her daughters at Nobu, the New York hot spot. One indulgence: designer clothes from Carolina Herrera. As one former aide puts it, "She's more Dallas than she is Crawford." To minimize disruption, her Secret Service agents do not close the roads along her motorcade route; she even obeys the stoplights.

The quiet, inward librarian from Texas knew what to expect when she married into the loud, opinionated Bush clan. George W. got into politics soon after the two met. But she has been careful not to let the politics of the family--or the nation--consume her. She is devoted to her husband and proud of the various causes she promotes as First Lady, most having to do with education. But she has no love of public speaking, and would just as soon stay home than appear before a large crowd. …

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