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Asked if she’s more relaxed and has more press availability than she did three years ago, when fashion-related questions were prohibited from one WWD interview, the First Lady straightens her posture and says, “I think I have a lot of press availability, I do. There might be more interest [now].
“When there’s another spouse of a candidate, there’s a little bit of equal time…that’s kind of showing up,” Bush adds, a reference to the Chanel- and pashmina-wearing Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the presumptive Democratic presidential challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.
At the very least, she looks more relaxed and trim, wearing a coffee-colored Oscar de la Renta suit. With legs crossed, she occasionally swings the toe of her pointy crocodile-type slingback. Ever the candidate’s wife, she denies her apparent increased visibility is part of a campaign strategy.
“I already have campaigned a lot for my husband and I will continue to. It’s not new. I mean, it’s something I’ve done for years, really. From that very first campaign in 1978 when he promised I wouldn’t have to give a political speech,” says Bush, laughing at the long-forgotten broken vow made before her husband’s failed first Congressional race, when they spent their “honeymoon year” crisscrossing the Lone Star State in a convertible.
And while she isn’t fond of the First Lady title, Bush clearly understands she has a role to play in her husband’s political appeal. “Politics is really a people business. It’s for people who like other people,” she says, seated on the only couch in the room, a cream-colored one with a faint celadon floral pattern. “Successful politicians connect and like other people, and I think my husband certainly has that quality. And I like people. It’s also a family business. You know, if you’re married to somebody who wants to be in politics, then the whole family’s involved.”