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Laura Bush Praises Clinton, Defends Michelle Obama

By Dan Eggen
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- First Lady Laura Bush made an unusual foray into the U.S. presidential campaign here today, praising Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for her "grit and strength" and coming to the defense of Michelle Obama, the wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Bush, who joined her husband in Slovenia today after an unannounced weekend trip to Afghanistan, was asked about the candidacy of Clinton, who conceded the Democratic nomination on Saturday to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Bush told ABC News that she would prefer the first female president "to be a Republican woman." But, she added, "I will say I watched the campaign and admired Hillary's grit and strength.

"I know what it's like to run those campaigns, and so I'll have to say I have a lot of admiration for her endurance," Bush said.

The first lady also suggested that Obama's wife, Michelle, probably did not intend to say, as she did in February, that she was proud of America for "the first time" because of her husband's candidacy.

"I think she probably meant I'm more proud, you know, is what she really meant," Bush said. "You have to be really careful in what you say, because everything you say is looked at and, in many cases, misconstrued."

Michelle Obama later clarified the remark, saying she was always proud of America.

Bush's remarks were unusual for a White House that has often ducked questions about the presidential campaign, although President Bush regularly says that he supports the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Bush and the first lady are beginning a weeklong farewell tour of Europe here in tiny Slovenia, which is hosting the annual U.S.-European Union summit. They will continue on to Berlin, Rome, Paris and London.

The trip is not expected to engender the massive protests of previous Bush journeys to Europe. The competitive U.S. presidential race has captured attention here, where popular opposition to Bush is widespread.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 9, 2008; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , Hillary Rodham Clinton , Republican Party  
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