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A profile of Teresa Heinz Kerry, Laura Bush

Aired October 30, 2004 - 11:00   ET


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Andrea Koppel in Washington. PEOPLE IN THE NEWS is next, but first, here are the stories now in the news.
Palestinian officials say it appears the era of Yasser Arafat is over. Other sources tell CNN not so fast. What is clear is that Yasser Arafat is in Paris for medical treatment and doctors don't yet know conclusively what he is suffering from. Sources tell CNN Arafat is not in complete control of his mental faculties and cannot make important decisions or communicate coherently.

In Iraq, eight U.S. Marines reported killed and nine wounded outside Fallujah as the U.S launches a new assault in and around the city. The military is cracking down on insurgent strongholds. Overnight, U.S air strikes targeted weapons stock piles. Hospital officials report five Iraqis were killed.

And a new tape from Osama bin Laden fuels the presidential campaign. President Bush is balancing security concerns while stopping in the Midwest and Florida today. His Democratic rival, John Kerry, accuses Bush of allowing bin Laden to slip away. With three days left before the presidential election, Kerry is taking his message into Iowa and Ohio.

We'll have more news at the bottom of the hour. Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news; now "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, she's the heiress to a ketchup fortune and head of a billion dollar endowment.


SEN. JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's real. There's nothing that consultants have put together.


ANNOUNCER: Just days away from the election, will this free- speaking, political spouse help or hurt her husband's prospects for the presidency?


DONNA BRAZLLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She makes you look at John Kerry in a different way. I mean this is a woman that has more sauce and more razzmatazz than most people.


ANNOUNCER: From growing up under an African dictatorship to speaking out on the campaign trail...


TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF JOHN KERRY: Well, I think anybody with a brain and a discussion at the dining room table helps shape policy.


ANNOUNCER: ...from tragic loss to new love.


HEINZ KERRY: It's an attraction that's different because you know I was still wounded.


ANNOUNCER: Teresa Heinz Kerry in her own words. Then, she lives at the nation's most prestigious address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and she's hoping to stay another four years.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I'm going to be campaigning for my husband until November 2.


ANNOUNCER: And this soft-spoken advocate is tackling some tough issues.


L. BUSH: The president's policy makes it possible to research and explore the potential of stem cells.


ANNOUNCER: But her No. 1 priority? Standing by her husband.


L. BUSH: I think there's also something about politics and the strength in our marriage.


ANNOUNCER: From small town librarian to United States first lady, Laura Welch Bush. The stories of the women behind the presidential candidates next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. On Tuesday, America decides, Bush or Kerry. Who will win is anybody's guess right now. But in this bitterly contested and extremely close race for the White House, one thing is certain. The candidate's wives are playing key roles. Over the next hour, a look at Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry, their lives, their families and their very different styles. We begin with the contender, Teresa Heinz Kerry who recently sat down with Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the multilingual billionaire ketchup heiress, spirited, sophisticated, and fond of cashmere scarves and Chanel couture. She travels in her own private jet, nicknamed The Flying Squirrel. Heir to the H.J. Heinz Company fortune, she oversees one of the largest philanthropic organizations in America.

BRAZLLE: I think America is ready for Teresa. I think they're ready for her outspokenness. They're ready for her intellect. They're ready because their daughters are ready to see a woman who has her own opinions. And what's wrong with that? This is 2004.

CROWLEY: She's the wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. He is reserved. She is warm, uninhibited and has been known to curse in any one of her five languages.

KERRY: First of all, she's sexy and sassy, and exciting and interesting and fun and challenging and smart. Where do you want me to stop?

CROWLEY: Certainly, not before you get out to outspoken.

HEINZ KERRY: I have to say it's time that women like men who know and have opinions be called smart and well informed and not opinionated.

CROWLEY: Teresa caused a stir on the eve of the Democratic National Convention after confronting a reporter; she claimed to have misquoted her.

DENNIS B. RODDY, REPORTER/COLUMNIST, "PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE": Teresa Heinz came to the country and found freedom of speech and by God she was going to use it.

CROWLEY: But early on, Democratic strategists were not always sure she was a campaign asset. In a now infamous 2002 interview with "The Washington Post," Teresa spoke adoringly and frequently about her late husband. Elsewhere she talked about her Botox injections and a prenuptial agreement with John Kerry causing a whirlwind of press.

JULIA REED, SENIOR WRITER, "VOGUE": We've been so conditioned to these careful politicians and politicians' wives; we're not used to people just sort of passionately speaking out.

HEINZ KERRY: Well, if he doesn't become a curmudgeon... CROWLEY: Yet to perfect the Stepford political wife's adoring gaze, Teresa has been known to fidget and look bored when her husband talks. She doesn't always look like she wants to be where she is. Certainly, becoming first lady was not on her radar screen when she married John Kerry.

HEINZ KERRY: If John had told me 10 years ago, "I am going to run for president one day," I would have said, "Hello, not with me you're not."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teresa Heinz Kerry.

CROWLEY: Now, often campaigning on her own, 66-year-old Teresa Heinz Kerry crisscrosses America entertaining audiences with her unscripted style.

HEINZ KERRY: I'm not good at just saying something. You have to ask me something.

CROWLEY: She is a long way from home.

HEINZ KERRY: Never did I ever think hanging from a tree upside down in Africa that I would be -- I did a lot -- that I would one day be doing this.

CROWLEY: Maria Teresa Thierston Simeos-Ferreira was born in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Her family was part after privileged colonial class. Her father a prominent Portuguese doctor, her mother worked at home raising Teresa and her brother and sister.

HEINZ KERRY: It was a dream. I had a wonderful mom and dad, family, beautiful nature, wonderful trees and fruits and I climbed trees all day. And I had, I guess, in the sense a very old fashioned, would you call it, Latin home where there was a lot of order, a lot of affection, a lot of nice food, a lot of music.

CROWLEY: As a teenager, Teresa would go with her father on the weekends traveling into the bush to treat villagers.

HEINZ KERRY: Saturday morning, he would have clinic, mothers and babies and just seeing a sea of them. I had one little beautiful girl die in my arms.

CROWLEY: Always adventurous, Teresa roamed around the African Savannah watching for crocodiles as she and her sister swam in the rivers near home. Her love of nature would later grow into a passion to protect the environment.

HEINZ KERRY: I always will have a longing for that and for those days. They were simple, beautiful days.

CROWLEY: But the simple, beautiful days she recalls were shadowed by a colonial dictatorship. Teresa witnessed the legacy of oppression.

HEINZ KERRY: I began to understand that I couldn't speak about politics outside of your home dining room table and only with your family. And if you were against the dictatorship you better not speak about them.

CROWLEY: In 1956, Teresa left Mozambique to attend college at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She would join in the movement against efforts to separate blacks and white in South African schools.

HEINZ KERRY: Now, protests were very mild protests. We walked in the streets of Johannesburg. We just basically stood at gates at the Higher Education of Apartheid Act, which was a pending bill, which passed in the last -- two weeks before I graduated and that was a terrible thing. That separated students forever.

CROWLEY: Graduating from college, Teresa left South Africa as she found it divided but her social conscience had taken root. Curious to learn about different cultures and languages, 22-year-old Teresa headed to Switzerland to study at the interpreter school at the University of Geneva. Here, she would meet the love of her life.

HEINZ KERRY: My first love, my first love and my guy. He was my man, you know.

CROWLEY: Coming up, a great love, a great loss.

DIANA WALKER, FRIEND: I despaired for Teresa. We all watched her carefully. We didn't want to leave her alone for a moment.





CROWLEY (voice-over): By 1960, Teresa had left behind the turmoil of South Africa for graduate studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She would learn to ski, master five languages and fall in love. Henry John Heinz III was a Harvard graduate student and sole heir to one of the largest fortunes in America. His great grandfather was Henry J. Heinz founder of the Global Soup and Ketchup Company. John had taken a summer job working at a Swiss bank to learn about international business.

HEINZ KERRY: I used to go play tennis every day with my Japanese girlfriend with whom I had roomed. And one day she calls me up and she said, "Teresa you've got to call your friend. He plays tennis with so and so and you got to meet him. He got blue eyes, black hair." Yes, yes, yes. I said, "OK, I'll see what I can do."

CROWLEY: John Heinz, Jack to his friends, was young, athletic and handsome. Teresa was smitten but the summer was short.

HEINZ KERRY: I fell in love with him in Geneva when I was in graduate school but then he left. You know he left after three or four weeks. He had gone back to Harvard and I went back to my studies. And then my sister was killed in a car crash in July. Interestingly, my sister's last words to me, she said, "You're going to marry Jack" before she walked out of the house.

CROWLEY: It was to be a long distance relationship but it endured. Teresa eventually moved to New York working as an interpreter with the United Nations. Two years later, John Heinz proposed. Their 1966 wedding was the talk of Pittsburgh. The couple settled outside of the city moving on to the Heinz family's 100-acre estate, Rosemont Farm. They had three sons, John, Andre, and Christopher. The young family loved to ski together and ride horses.

WALKER: Jack Heinz was a lot of fun. He was a really nice person. She just loved him. Teresa just added to his zest for life with hers and with these wonderful boys that they had together. The boys running around all over the place. They had a terrific life together.

CROWLEY: It was a life of wealth and privilege traveling the world, spending holidays at the family's vacation homes in Idaho and Nantucket.

RODDY: To be a Heinz in Pittsburgh was to be someone whose name didn't have to be explained.

CROWLEY: Teresa became a U.S. citizen at 33 and dedicated herself to raising their three sons while her husband taught at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh. Heinz had been groomed to take over the family business but surprised everyone by choosing a life in government. Teresa was in shock.

HEINZ KERRY: I was only married a couple years. I had a little baby. I was in a new city and a new country and all of a sudden somebody said, "You should run for Congress" and suddenly I said, "Oh, please, don't do that." So finally, our Congressman just had a heart attack and died. So there was a 10-day window for him to run for primary. And he did and he won.

HENRY JOHN HEINZ III, FORMER HUSBAND: And it is a tremendous win and I thank you.

CROWLEY: He would become one of the most popular politicians in Pennsylvania, winning six elections for the House and Senate between 1971 and 1988. He was a passionate supporter of the environment and the elderly. As a newly political wife, Teresa took an active role in civic causes, organizing the National Council for Children and Television and campaigning for fellow Republicans. As the family adjusted to life in Washington, Teresa often found herself alone with her children. But she came to enjoy her role as the wife of a senator.

WALKER: He would engage with her in these conversations, you know, and sometimes he'd say, "Now, dear, I think you're wrong about that. And you've got to think about this a little bit more or that a little bit more." And they would sort of temper each other. CROWLEY: Teresa also helped her husband with the Heinz family philanthropic endowment in Pittsburgh, working together on issues concerning healthcare and the environment.

In 1991, John Heinz was aboard his twin engine plane headed to Philadelphia when it collided with a helicopter over a city schoolyard. Everyone onboard both aircraft was killed. Teresa was inconsolable. The man she had loved for 25 years as gone.

WALKER: She was at a loss for quite a while. She had been very, very much in love with her husband. And he had been taken like that out of the blue.

HEINZ KERRY: I became a grown-up. I became a woman with him, you know, a mother, a wife.

RODDY: Teresa Heinz didn't just become a widow; she became a widow in a horrible and public way.

CROWLEY: Coming up, Teresa's difficult year and the possibility of love again.

WALKER: All of a sudden, there was this spark again, and there she was.





CROWLEY (voice-over): After almost 25 years of marriage, at 52, Teresa Heinz was a widow. The loss of her husband, Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz sank Teresa into depression.

HEINZ KERRY: Missing him, missing him as my mate, it was also hard because it was at a time when all of the kids left home. So all of a sudden I went from having, you know, a house with people to nobody. It was a lot of tough pains.

WALKER: Nobody wanted to let go of Teresa and the boys. They were just terribly important to all of us.

RODDY: After John Heinz's death, she became a Pittsburgh icon because of the way in which she bore this loss. She bore it in a very public way. She bore it in a very dignified way.

CROWLEY: She retreated from public life. But two years after John died; Pennsylvania Republicans began courting Teresa to run for his Senate seat. She considered it but decided against running. In a press conference announcing her decision, Teresa took aim at a conservative Republican who was vying for the Senate seat calling him Forest Gump with attitude.

HEINZ KERRY: I would have to say that Rick Sanatorium is the antithesis of John Heinz.

CROWLEY: With that, Teresa stepped out of the political fray to be with her family and oversee the Heinz family's philanthropic activities.

HEINZ KERRY: It was something actually he and I were working on, it was my last conversation with him, was about that. It was a continuation of work we had cared about together.

CROWLEY: As chairman of the Howard Heinz Endowment and Heinz family philanthropies, Teresa Heinz Kerry oversaw more than $70 million in grants last year. Her passions run from environmental conservation to the arts to early childhood education. Her work with the Heinz Endowment engaged Teresa's mind but there was a void in her life.

Years earlier, her late husband had introduced Teresa to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts at an Earth Day rally in Washington. A year after John Heinz's death, Teresa ran into John Kerry at a 1992 Earth Day Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: She was quite impressed with this man. And like John Heinz, they had much in common and they began to see one another.

CROWLEY: Senator Kerry had been a bachelor for more than 10 years. His first marriage had ended in divorce. Over time, Teresa and John's relationship grew.

HEINZ KERRY: It's an attraction that's different because, you know, I was still wounded. And you are lonely still, also, you know. So at that age, I think, what you look for is some comfort, some friendship, some understanding.

WALKER: I'll never forget it. Teresa was in the kitchen and she was whistling. Now this is new. This was Teresa coming out from under and it was John Kerry.

KERRY: She's a full woman, fascinating, unbelievably engaging, loves fun, loves dance, loves music, loves the arts, loves the world, loves the environment, loves people, loves life. And she's full of it, life.

CROWLEY: After dating for three years, Teresa Heinz married John Kerry in May of 1995 at her family's vacation home on Nantucket.

HEINZ KERRY: Finally, we decided to just, you know, we didn't like it when we weren't around and so we finally tied the knot.

HEYMAN: When you see them together, you realize how much fire there really is between this couple. He really loves her and there's a real connection between the two of them.

CROWLEY: Actively campaigning for her husband for almost a year now, Teresa speaks to audiences in her own spirited style. HEINZ KERRY: Shape policy, well, I think anybody with a brain and a discussion at the dining room table helps shape policy, informally always, but not formally, no.

BRAZLLE: She makes you look at John Kerry in a different way. I mean this is a woman that has more sauce and more razzmatazz than most people.

CROWLEY: Still early campaign days were not easy. That infamous "Washington Post" interview with the couple rattled the Kerry camp.

WEYMAN: She talked about her late husband, John Heinz. She seemed to interrupt her husband, John Kerry, and they seemed to bicker a little bit in front of the reporter. And you know some people thought that the theme of the article was she didn't think John Kerry was quite the man that her first husband was.

BRAZLLE: Well, there's no question that when "The Washington Post" and when the beltway insiders took a look at not just her resume but also some of her previous statements, their hair caught on fire.

CROWLEY: Critics took aim at Teresa for her name. After eight years of marriage she remained Teresa Heinz, only last year did she become Teresa Heinz Kerry. She also took heat for switching her party affiliation. The lifelong Republican became a registered Democrat in 2003.

Now, there is the matter of her day job. Teresa's estimated worth has grown to a billion dollars according to a recent analysis by "The L.A. Times." She has said publicly that she will continue to run the Heinz Endowments should she become first lady.

TERRY SCANLON, PRESIDENT, CAPITAL RESEARCH CENTER: We're concerned because she is a liberal activist in the environmental area. We think she would probably play a vital role with -- particularly with appointments to the Environmental Protection Agency. She would be in charge of a $1.2 billion in monies to be given away. And I just don't think that's the role of a first lady.

HEINZ KERRY: First of all, the very big endowments, the Heinz Endowments are mostly focused in Pennsylvania. The one I chair is totally focused in Pennsylvania. Everything that we do is on the Web site, is transparent in terms of monies, where it goes to, et cetera, completely.

REED: I mean that foundation is her life. That's who she is. You know it's a more concrete version of what first ladies have traditionally done forever.

CROWLEY: But is America ready for a foreign born billionaire first lady? It is not, her husband insists, as exotic as it may seem.

KERRY: In the White House, I think she'd be stunning because she is so caring and down to earth about everyday problems of real people. I mean she gets it. CROWLEY: And for all the ways she would be different, Teresa Heinz Kerry is surprisingly traditional. Ask her what kind of first lady she would be and she says that she admires the way Laura Bush has handled the job.

HEINZ KERRY: I think a spouse in this situation has got to be really the rock for the other spouse. Remember who you are. Remember what you stand for. Remember why you came here. Remember we love you. I think the most successful people are the ones who have a good spouse that's honest and reminds them of who they are.


ZAHN: Teresa Heinz Kerry recently caused a bit of a stir when she suggested in an interview that Laura Bush never had a real job. But quickly, she apologized, saying she -- quote -- "forgot the first lady ever worked for 10 years as a teacher and librarian."

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, the life story of Laura Bush. She's been the soft spoken women behind the president. Now, she's turning up the volume in his reelection campaign.


L. BUSH: My husband believes that we should all have an equal opportunity to achieve our dreams and he has three strong women at home who won't let him forget it.


ANNOUNCER: The first lady speaks out when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.


KOPPEL: Hello, I'm Andrea Koppel in Washington. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues in a moment, but first here is a quick check of the stories now in the news. Eight U.S. Marines were killed in fighting in Iraq today. They were involved in increased security operations in the Al Anbar Province. Nine other Marines were wounded in the action.

In other fighting, U.S. forces launched fresh assaults on insurgents in Fallujah targeting weapons cache.

French doctors examining Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat say the results they have seen exclude leukemia from the problems he is suffering. Sources have said his Palestinian doctors believed he was suffering from dementia and leukemia. There is a power struggle under way. And some officials say other Palestinian leaders are working to split up the many hats that Yasser Arafat has worn. Other Palestinian officials say no such decisions have been made.

We'll have more news for you at the top of the hour with "CNN LIVE SATURDAY". "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" continues right now. ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. If there's one person President Bush turns to more than any other for support, it's his wife, Laura. Quiet, reserved, Laura Bush is the president's confidante and one of his strongest assets on the campaign trail. Here's Kyra Philips.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome Mrs. Laura Bush.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First lady Laura Bush looking picture perfect on the campaign trail.

L. BUSH: And I'm really proud to be here to ask you to help us reelect George W. Bush as president.

PHILLIPS: In contrast to more outspoken political spouses, she's reserved and soft spoken, a supportive wife who finds strength in her 27-year marriage to George W. Bush.

L. BUSH: I think there's also something about politics that has strengthened our marriage for sure and, you know, really made us that much more appreciative of each other and appreciative of the fact that we do have a strong marriage.

J.D. HEYMAN, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Laura Bush presents an image that's sort of the ideal first lady. She says the right things. She's always presentable.

ANN GERHART, BIOGRAPHER: And she is the perfect wife. She knows exactly how to calibrate her public appearance and her public pronouncements. She does nothing but enhance his image.

PHILLIPS: But as the 2004 presidential campaign reaches its pitch, Laura Bush has found her own voice.

L. BUSH: President Bush and the United States Congress are investing more money in education.

PHILLIPS: In contrast to the 2000 presidential race, she has emerged as a powerful ally in her husband's bid for reelection, campaigning solo across the country and raising more than $5 million to date.

GERHART: Laura Bush is key to her husband's reelection efforts. Women are much more likely to support Democratic candidates than men are, and Laura Bush is the figure who stands there and says to the American people, I'm a strong woman too. I may be quiet, but I'm independent.

PHILLIPS: She has also taken on one of the most controversial issues of the campaign, defending the limits her husband has imposed on federally funded embryonic stem cell research in contrast to another first lady.

L. BUSH: The president's policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research.

HEYMAN: Certainly in this election, we've seen more and more of Mrs. Bush being used strategically by the administration on the campaign trail. She's somebody who presents an image that is not off putting to those who are to the left of Mr. Bush in terms of his policies and his core beliefs.

PHILLIPS: But after almost four years as first lady, America is just getting to know the one-time librarian from Midland, Texas. Showing her lighter side, Laura Bush appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. When asked if she had gambled or watched a Chippendale show in Las Vegas, she was quick with a joke.

L. BUSH: Jay, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.


PHILLIPS: Though she appears more comfortable in public, the 57- year-old first lady is an admitted introvert whose favorite past time is simply reading. Her reluctant life in politics began with a little fanfare, with a blind date 27 years ago.

L. BUSH: What I liked about George when I first met him was I liked his personality. I liked that he gave me a lot of energy because of the energy of his personality.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time.

L. BUSH: Not all of them.


PHILLIPS: Far from the nation's capitol in a simple time, Laura Welch Bush was raised as an only child. The Welches lived in the small west Texas oil town of Midland. Her father built houses while her mother kept the company books and the home, 2500 Humble Street.

L. BUSH: I remember the big sky. Midland has a huge sky. But mostly I think I remember feeling of being really sheltered. You were free in Midland to ride your bike anywhere and go all around town by yourself, and I think that was good. I think that was also a lot of security for all of us that grew up there.

PHILLIPS: The only child also found security in a group of girlfriends, friends that are still close today.

JANE SIMMS PODESTA, WASHINGTON BUREAU, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: They used to cruise Midland and smoke Kents in the back seat and go get Coke floats at the corner stand. She had a very '50s childhood with her friends.

REGAN GAMMON, FRIEND: She is my closest friend. We would listen to 45 records all the time. We loved to dance around in our socks. I mean, just like in -- you know, you see in the movies. As we got older, it was a lot like the movie "American Graffiti."

PHILLIPS: Music wasn't Laura's only escape. She was just as likely to have her nose in a good book.

L. BUSH: I loved all the "Little House on the Prairie" books. The main character in those books is Laura, so I really identified with Laura, who had brown hair.

PHILLIPS: If Laura Welch's childhood was idyllic, sheltered, and safe, her late teens were tempered by tragedy. On November 5, 1963, at the age of 17, Laura Welch drove through an intersection and hit an oncoming car driven by a close friend. He died. No charges were brought against Laura.

PODESTA: I think she was terribly saddened by the death of her friend when she was in high school, and I do think that it had an impact. But that's one area that she doesn't really like to talk about.

PHILLIPS: Laura soon left Midland for Dallas, earning a bachelor's degree in education. She became a public school teacher and librarian. Former colleagues at Dawson Elementary in Austin remember her concern for underprivileged students.

MARIE VELLIQUETTE, TEACHER: Laura made sure that we had books in the library that these children could relate to.

JONI HENDERSON, TEACHER: I recall a student who was transitioning from Spanish to English, and Laura would take the time, extra time, to seek out materials that might be important to him or be able to help him with that transition.

PHILLIPS: When the story of Laura Welch Bush continues, how George W. Bush would change her life and how she would change his.

G.W. BUSH: I think it's a well documented that I drank too much.





PHILLIPS (voice-over): The year, 1977. Jimmy Carter was president. The cold war was still hot. Unemployment had reached double digits. And Laura Welch was 30 years old, smart and single. But that was about to change.

Laura Welch and George Walker Bush had actually lived just miles apart as children. They even attended the same junior high school for a year. Twenty years later, a friend's barbecue in Midland brought them back together.

GAMMON: She came back and she said, "Well, I had dinner with George Bush." She said, "He's really a cute guy, you know, and I think he likes me."

L. BUSH: He was funny, and we laughed a lot, and both of us love to laugh.

G.W. BUSH: I was smitten, I was. And it didn't take me long to propose, and fortunately she said yes.

PODESTA: It was like Audrey Hepburn stepping into the animal house. She is an introvert, he's an extrovert. He's impatient, she's patient.

PHILLIPS: These opposites were more than just drawn to each other. Within six weeks, they were engaged, within three months, married.

L. BUSH: It was a small wedding, just about 75 people. It was in the church I had been baptized in as a baby, so it was a -- you know, a really wonderful way to start a new marriage.

PHILLIPS: She knew by marrying the man that she calls "Bushie," there might be sacrifice. Laura Welch was raised a Democrat, but now she was forever tied to a Republican Party dynasty. Her new husband, the grandson of a senator, son of an ambassador who had become vice president and then president of the United States. There would be no honeymoon for these newlyweds.

GEORGE W. BUSH: They're in a city or town, and this whole district that I hadn't been in during the past 12 months.

PHILLIPS: Just one day after they said their I-do's, George W. followed in his family's footsteps and entered politics, running for a congressional seat in Texas.

G.W. BUSH: I'm George Bush.

ANNOUNCER: George Bush, businessman, independent oil and gas producer, and now a candidate for congratulating.

G.W. BUSH: Well, I think that's the thing we need, less government.

PHILLIPS: Bush lost, and after that defeat, George and Laura both agreed to return to a private life and to start a family. So George reentered the gas and oil business. But for Laura, pregnancy did not come quickly.

G.W. BUSH: We did want children, and were in the process of adopting. Laura actually, as I understand it, checked "twins" on the -- we would love to have twins. And in between going to the Gladney Home and being accepted as parents and this -- the final home visit by the caseworker, Laura became pregnant with twins.

PHILLIPS: Five weeks from Laura's expected due date; there was a problem, toxemia, a life-threatening condition for the twins and Laura. Doctors had to perform an emergency C-section. G.W. BUSH: I was in the operating room, and I can remember showing them to Laura, and I'm an emotional person, I got weepy. And then I realized our life had changed forever in a positive way.

L. BUSH: We were thrilled. We had waited a long time to have children, and we wanted children. And so when we got to have two at once, we were especially thrilled.

PHILLIPS: The Bushes had fraternal twin girls, Barbara and Jenna, named for their grandmothers. Laura Bush became a fiercely protective mother, and she was just as watchful over her husband. She was concerned about his drinking. Alcohol had become a problem for George Bush, and Laura was determined to save him from himself.

BILL MINUTAGLIO, AUSTIN BUREAU FHIEF, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: It's very, very clear from talking to their friends that it put an enormous strain on their relationship, and that she essentially laid down the law, and, in essence, said, you know, it's drinking or me.

G.W. BUSH: I think it's well documented that I drank too much and quit drinking, and -- because alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energy level and crowd out my affections.

GERHART: While he says she made him quit drinking, that she said it's me or the Jim Beam, Laura herself says, "Oh, I never said that. He made up that funny story."

PHILLIPS: With his drinking days behind him, George W. Bush helped his father's successful run for the presidency in 1988.


PHILLIPS: The following year, he borrowed $600,000 and bought a share of a baseball team, a move that put George W. squarely in the public eye. All along, Laura Bush demanded that her personal life and the lives of their teenage girls remain in obscurity.

G.W. BUSH: Let's make it official. I'm a candidate for governor of Texas.

PHILLIPS: That was until 1994 when her husband decided he wanted to become the next governor of Texas. And he did, defeating incumbent Ann Richards.

G.W. BUSH: A woman who will be a great first lady of Texas, Laura Bush.

L. BUSH: I would have never guessed. People would say, "Do you think George will get back into politics?" And I used to joke and say, "Yes, maybe when we're 50." And as it turned out, we were pretty close to 50 when he ran for governor.

PHILLIPS: With her husband now the governor of Texas, the most private Laura Bush was now thrust into the public spotlight, whether she liked it or not. G.W. BUSH: My yellow rose of Texas.

PHILLIPS: When we return, a campaign that would test Laura Bush's trademark serenity and a media spotlight that would test her patience.

L. BUSH: I think it's selling magazines and newspaper articles and television at the expense of our children.





G.W. BUSH: Well, this exploratory business is over. I'm running. I'm in and I intend to win.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): As her husband set out to capture the office lost by his father seven years earlier, once again, Laura Welch Bush answered the call, the call of the campaign trail, a tough campaign with a roller coaster finale.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN: The TV networks called this race for Governor Bush. It now appears -- it now appears that their call was premature.

L. BUSH: He gave it 100 percent, and at that point, we just had to see what happened, and we had to -- we were dealt that particular hand, and we -- it just had to be played out.

PHILLIPS: At the end of 36 days of counts, recounts, and court rulings, the hand turned out to be a winning one for George Walker Bush.

G.W. BUSH: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

PODESTA: She is the steel in his back. She is a civilizing influence on him. I think that she has built him in many ways into the person he is today.

PHILLIPS: Laura Bush gracefully embraced her role, standing with her husband on pushing for causes near to her heart.

L. BUSH: I'm going around the country talking about how important teaching is and how important it is for women and men to consider teaching as a career.

PHILLIPS: After just eight months in the White House, Laura Bush would use her trademark grace to reach out to the country. Following the attacks of September 11, she visited hospitals, blood drives and memorial services, calming the nerves of a worried nation. GERHART: After September 11, Laura Bush really transformed herself into a figure who could take a really active role and that was to reach out and be reassuring to people. And she surprised herself in a way. Before that, she hadn't really recognized that she herself had this incredible platform and that people would pay attention to her just because she was the first lady.

PHILLIPS: But not all attention was welcome. At the age of 19, both daughters were cited for alcohol violations. The news generated unwanted publicity for a matter the Bushes preferred to handle privately. Always protective of her daughters, Laura Bush took aim at the media.

L. BUSH: I think that our children ought to be totally left alone and allowed to have a totally private life. They're not public citizens. I think it's selling magazines and newspapers articles and television at the expense of my children. That's what I think it is.

HEYMAN: Laura is very close to Jenna and Barbara and she's fiercely protective of them. When the daughters have had bad press, she's been the first person to circle the wagons.

PHILLIPS: As her husband seeks a second term as president, Laura Bush faces another campaign. One just as challenging but the one time reluctant politician's wife has learned to embrace her role, campaigning across America on her own.

L. BUSH: My husband believes that we should all have an equal opportunity to achieve our dreams and he has three strong women at home who won't let him forget it.

GERHART: People line up to see her and she's gotten a lot more confident standing in front of a crowd. She's still surprised though when she walks into a room and there's a huge round of applause. She still sometimes looks over her shoulder to see who's coming in behind her who these people might be clapping for.

PHILLIPS: Daughters Jenna and Barbara both recent college graduates have also joined the campaign.

L. BUSH: They are young women. Now, this is really the first time in their lives that they've been old enough to work on their father's campaign. When he was elected president, they were in their very first semester of college. And of course, like every other college freshman, they wanted to be able to have -- be anonymous on their campuses and have a private life. Now, they're old enough to work on his campaign.

PHILLIPS: Now in the public eye, Laura Bush keeps close watch over her daughters.

HEYMAN: She has tried very hard to keep them away from the media glare. And she's also talked about disciplining them when they're out of line. But it's all in a sort of vane, protective mother, a loving mother. She really has been criticized, of course, for being indulgent. But there's very little evidence that she's any more indulgent than any other parent.

PHILLIPS: A parent and wife who is devoting herself to her family and supporting the nation through difficult times.

GERHART: And I think that when historians look back on the Bush presidency, they'll find that she was a bedrock and that he could have never managed without her. He really needs his wife and she's been there to perform that function for him.

L. BUSH: Every single day we have the opportunity to meet really great people and see fabulous things that happen all over our country.

PHILLIPS: A role of a lifetime but leaving little time for simple pleasures like curling up with a good book.


ZAHN: Ever the librarian, Laura Bush says to this day, she still arranges her books according to the Dewey Decimal System.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Tom Hanks gets animated in his new movie, "Polar Express." I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us.

ANNOUNCER: And for more people in the news, please pick up a copy of "People" magazine.


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