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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Children's Christmas

Aired December 8, 2003 - 14:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to hold off and take viewers to the president of the United States, introducing his wife there, the first lady. This is an annual tradition, where children from all over the country gather for a viewing of "The Nutcracker."
Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope you've had fun today. I made sure the guards are watching that you didn't eat pieces of the gingerbread house.

(LAUGHTER)

Christmas is a time for all of us to be joyful and to be really thankful for our blessings.

And one of the great blessings of America is the fact that we're free. And we love our freedom, and we're blessed with brave people like your moms and dads who are working to make sure we are free.

And so today we want to celebrate the moms and dads who aren't with us. We want to thank you for being brave just like they're being brave. We want to thank you for saying a prayer for them just like Laura and I are.

I know it's hard to be away from someone you love during the Christmas period, but I want you to know that your loved one is on a really honorable mission, and for that all Americans thank you a lot.

Our nation is proud of our courageous military, and we're thankful for the families, too.

We wish your loved ones all the very best and we want you to have a great Christmas.

G. BUSH: And one way to make sure that you know we want you to have a great Christmas is to invite you right here to the White House to celebrate a special afternoon with us. And the person who is responsible for making sure this event went well wasn't me...

(LAUGHTER)

... it was First Lady Laura Bush, my wife. And so would you welcome Laura? She's going to have some comments to make.

(APPLAUSE)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Thank you all so much. I'm so glad you're here.

I hope you've had fun already with Frosty and the children's choir. And I think you saw that big gingerbread house; I hope Roland, the pastry chef, showed it to you and you got to see what it was like.

But I'm so glad that you're here today. We're going to have a very special performance. The members of the Washington Ballet are going to dance a little bit of the "Nutcracker" with us.

I don't know if you've ever seen it before, but the "Nutcracker" was actually the story about a little girl; it was a book by a man named E.T.A. Hoffman. And it was the story of the little girl Claire, and she gets a nutcracker for Christmas. And then it takes on magical properties -- maybe it's like a dream that she has. We're going to see that in just a second.

If you were out in the cross hall, you saw those giant nutcrackers -- did you see the really big nutcrackers that are out there? Well, we're not going to have any giant nutcrackers in the ballet, but we're going to have some big people and some children are going to be dancing, too. I think you'll know the mice and the rats are little children. So I think you'll love seeing them.

So, I especially want to introduce Septime Webre -- is he here right with us? -- who's the director of the Washington Ballet, and he'll be giving you all a little story to tell you what's happening.

PHILLIPS: First lady Laura Bush, the president by her side, also the head of the Washington Ballet, getting ready to begin a bit of "The Nutcracker" performance for young boys and girls whose parents are serving right now in Operation Iraqi Freedom overseas. The president pointing out that the kids are just as brave as their parents this holiday season, trying to do something special there for the kids that won't be able to be with mom and dad because they're serving overseas.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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