Laura Bush on Life After the White House

Nearly a year after leaving the White House, former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura are still adjusting to life after Washington.

"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez recently sat down with the former first lady to talk about their new life and new home in Dallas.

So now that the couple is back home in Texas, does it feel like a million miles away from Washington?

Bush told Rodriguez, "It really does. ... There truly is -- not that I ever felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, or that George did when I lived there -- but when it was gone, I could notice it.

Rodriguez asked, "Because you feel lighter?"

Laura agreed, saying, "And there's a great feeling of freedom."

Photos: Farewell to Bush

Laura may be a former first lady, but she's still as busy as ever. She's writing her memoir, giving speeches, and acting as chairwoman of the Dallas Performing Arts Center.

But what was the first morning like when she returned to Texas?

Laura said, "Well, I remembered the first night that we arrived at the ranch and we could tell things were different, when George was out in the garage putting away the -- everything that came off the cars -- you know, we no longer had the people that were helping do that."

She added the next morning the former first couple made their own coffee and did things for themselves they hadn't done.

"But it's really, you know, it's terrific," she said.

In addition to her work with the new, state-of-the-art performance center, Laura continues to be involved in a variety of causes.

Rodriguez said, "I know that you're still very passionate about education and women's health. Do you find that it's more difficult now to promote those, as a former first lady?"

Laura said, "Well, certainly the formers don't have quite the podium that the first lady does, but I still have a podium. I was the honorary chairman of the (Susan G.) Komen Race for the Cure that was here in Dallas."

As for the new first lady, Michelle Obama, Laura said she's using her podium for causes "very well."

"I noticed she was hula hooping. I saw that on television," Laura said. "And I think she's got some really good messages that she can get out -- to young people, and to women everywhere. And I know she will learn, if she doesn't already know -- what a really big podium she has."

And when the former first couple isn't working or planning the George W. Bush Presidential Library, Laura told Rodriguez they're trying to enjoy life as ordinary citizens.

Laura said she and her husband are both "a lot more relaxed."

Rodriguez asked, "Do you and President Bush watch the news together?"

"We watch some news, we do a little bit," she said. "We talk about the news now. We both have BlackBerrys. Maybe people would be surprised about that."

The former President is also keeping up on the economy and war, according to Laura.

"But does he ever say, 'I'm so glad that's not my problem anymore?'" Rodriguez asked.

"I never heard him say that," Laura said.

As for the leaving the pressure of the White House, she said it's been a "great relief" for George after serving for eight years.

Rodriguez pointed out that the Obama Administration says things about the Bush Administration were negative.

Why doesn't Mr. Bush say anything in response?

"Well, he just thinks that that isn't -- isn't his role," Laura said, "that he doesn't want to second guess the president.

However, Laura said she doesn't like when her husband is blamed for everything.

"I think that really, the President of the United States -- needs to remember the duty that he has and the obligation he has to -- the responsibility he has to the office," she said.

Laura elaborated, saying, "(The responsibility) is, of course, to treat it with respect and with dignity."

So, Rodriguez asked, does she think that when you say negative things about a former president that it's not dignified?

Laura said, "Well, I don't -- I think that's probably not a really -- you know, great thing to do especially -- this is coming from the wife of the former (president) -- so, surely you understand, Maggie."

As for former Vice President Dick Cheney's opposition to new policies in Washington, Laura said, he has the right to speak up.

"This is a free country," she said. "And -- I think it's important for people to express what they think."

As for the future, Rodriguez asked Laura what she expects her life to be like in 10 years.

Laura said she hopes the couple will have the Bush Library and Institute built and be involved in issues and programs there.

"I think it'll be really fun," she said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to a partnership with women in Afghanistan and women across the Middle East."

Rodriguez said, "It sounds like you have no plans of slowing down."

Laura said, "I don't think I'll slow down too much, but maybe I will."
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