Laura Bush: an entirely safe choice as first lady

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The Independent US

When a would-be Congressman, George W Bush, asked alibrarian and primary schoolteacher, Laura Welch, to be his wife, he promised she would never have to give a political speech. As his campaign patter goes, it was the only promise he has broken.

When a would-be Congressman, George W Bush, asked alibrarian and primary schoolteacher, Laura Welch, to be his wife, he promised she would never have to give a political speech. As his campaign patter goes, it was the only promise he has broken.

Now, after six years as first lady of Texas, Mrs Bush may not be a firebrand or even especially comfortable with delivering political speeches, but she is competent and certainly no liability to her husband when she steps on to a platform.

Mrs Bush is a native of Midland, Texas, the oil town where her husband grew up, went into business then politics, and she still has a pronounced Texan twang. Before her marriage in 1977, she taught in public (state) schools for almost 10 years. She had their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, named after the two grandmothers, four years later.

As wife of the Texas Governor, Mrs Bush has been a first lady of a traditional stamp, quiet and self-effacing, conservatively dressed, a non-controversial lady bountiful, giving her time to early learning and reading projects. If her husband were elected, she would be no Hillary Clinton, and no Lynne Cheney (the wife of Mr Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney).

She is seen as tough, with the strength of mind to have turned her husband 20 years ago from fun-loving, beer-swilling fraternity boy into a responsible father, teetotal Methodist and possible president. Some of her strength, as well as her relatively late marriage, may stem from a personal tragedy in her school-leaving year. The car she was driving hit the car of her boyfriend and killed him. The crash was judged a no-blame accident.

Since her husband's presidential nomination became a certain earlier this year, she has spruced up her wardrobe, restyled and recoloured her hair and adjusted her make-up to the demands of television. The fixed smile she wore in interviews this week betrays intensive TV training, too.

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