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According to Peter and Rochelle Schweizer’s 2004 book, “The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty,” Barbara Bush for years maintained and meticulously curated a network of tens of thousands of contacts and friends that she saved on index cards for social and fund-raising reasons. By the time the Bushes got to the White House and automated the card file, they had a Christmas card list in excess of 10,000 names. – – –. As a political spouse, she contrasted sharply with her predecessor as first lady, Nancy Reagan, who had at times generated unwanted attention with her lavish spending, designer clothes and intrusions into her husband’s administration. Mrs. Bush presented herself as the antithesis of glamour and excess. She endeared herself to many with her droll frankness, boasting about her trademark triple-strand faux pearls and joking about her prematurely white hair.
The two wives were formidable women, protective of their husbands, and their relationship during the Reagan administration was noticeably icy, The Bushes were seldom invited to the Reagan White House’s family quarters, As first lady, Mrs, Bush established the nonprofit ballet shoes for toddlers Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, to which she donated nearly $800,000 in after-tax proceeds from her best-selling “Millie’s Book” (1990), which channeled the voice of her White House pet dog, She also encouraged people to volunteer at homeless shelters and Head Start projects, and she promoted AIDS awareness when the disease was still highly stigmatized and misunderstood..
In 1989, she made front-page headlines when she visited Grandma’s House, a pediatric AIDS care center in the District, and cradled an infant patient at a time when many people mistakenly believed the disease could be contracted through mere proximity to the virus. She attended in 1990 the funeral of Ryan White, the teenager who had fought to return to public school in Indiana after he contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion. (Her husband signed into law what is now the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to help provide services for people with the disease, but AIDS advocates have regarded the program as inadequately funded for years.).
Mrs, Bush sat on the board of the historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta and was reported to have played a role in the selection of her friend Louis Sullivan, the president ballet shoes for toddlers of Morehouse’s medical school, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Despite her preferences for staying behind the scenes, Mrs, Bush wasn’t shy about expressing her own views, At times, Mrs, Bush made public statements that seemed to conflict with her husband’s policies, including his opposition to abortion rights and gun-control measures, But she adamantly resisted being pulled into discussions about personal and controversial topics, dispatching unwanted questions with salty humor or a sharp, “Next question.”..
In a rare misstep while joking with reporters, she referred to Geraldine Ferraro, her husband’s vice-presidential opponent in 1984, as “that $4 million – I can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.’ ” She quickly apologized. The White House staff adopted a nickname bestowed on her by her children – the “Silver Fox” – and took care not to cross her. She was known to stare down aides she thought were not performing up to task for her husband.
In one incident, Mrs, Bush put Craig Fuller, chief of staff to then-Vice President Bush, on notice after friends and supporters complained that he was not returning their calls, As she watched him sift through a stack of messages, she snapped, within her husband’s earshot, “Keep looking, , , , You’ll find a couple from me.”, During four years as first lady, Mrs, Bush consistently ranked among the nation’s most-admired women, with high poll numbers that contrasted with her husband’s tumbling ratings, During the 1992 election, she was often deployed by the ballet shoes for toddlers Bush campaign as a surrogate to humanize a president not known for charisma or the common touch..
She was, many commentators agreed, his most valuable asset in a race against then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, an agile campaigner who pounded Bush on the economy, and wild card candidate Ross Perot, a Texas billionaire running as an independent. Mrs. Bush generally managed to avoid the sorts of intrigues and uproars that perturbed her predecessor as first lady and her eventual successor, Hillary Clinton, a lawyer and activist, who promised to be a partner in her husband’s public life and memorably defended her career by remarking, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”.
In her no-nonsense way, Mrs, Bush rejected the idea of the election being a referendum on dramatic generational change ballet shoes for toddlers and pushed back against polls that said she was better liked by the electorate than her husband, “Nobody is jealous of me,” she told The Washington Post, “I mean, look at me, Who would be? It’s easy to like me, They like George, and they respect him, But he has to say no to people because he has to do what’s right for the country, and that’s hard.”..