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Laura Bush to Speak at Republican National Convention - 2004-08-20

August 30 to September 3, Republicans will be holding their National Convention in New York City, to formally nominate President George W. Bush for a second term. One of the speakers at the convention, will be President Bush's wife, Laura.

"I am ready for it. I'm reading my schedule right now," Mrs. Bush said.

From traveling around the U.S. speaking on behalf of her husband, President George W. Bush, to attending events about issues she cares about, her work as First Lady is never done.

While there is no specified role in law or the constitution for the spouse of the President, first ladies have traditionally been advocates for issues close to their hearts.

Mrs. Bush is passionate about education and literacy. A former teacher and librarian, she hosts the National Book Festival with the Library of Congress, as well as numerous outreach events for literature and teachers.

"We want teachers with diverse academic backgrounds," she said.

After September 11, 2001, she helped calm the nation and advised parents on how to talk to their children about terrorism. She supports women's health issues including increased awareness for heart disease. "They want to remind us that women everywhere are at risk," the first lady said.

But this life as the first lady is a long way from her middle-class upbringing in Texas.

Laura Welch Bush was born in 1946 in Midland, Texas. She worked as a teacher and librarian from the late 1960's into the 1970's. She met George W. Bush in 1977 and they got married later that year. They became the parents of twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, in 1981. She was the first lady of Texas, when President Bush was governor of that state from 1995 to 2000.

Mrs. Bush projects a soft-spoken, shy public demeanor, and denies having influence over President Bush's decisions. But there is no doubt that she may have an influence on voters, especially women.

"She will play to those moderate Republican women who are concerned about terror but also who are not social conservatives," said Allida Black, a professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Professor Black has studied the role of modern first ladies and says Mrs. Bush can have an impact in this close presidential election. "This election will be so tight that Laura Bush could be one of the two deciding factors, in the elections. Can she in fact, convince those undecideds, the moderate undecideds, the ones who are not affiliated with either party, that her husband is really not as conservative as he seems, without alienating the conservative base," professor Black said. "She could be the tipping point in the election."

Mrs. Bush has come to the defense of President Bush many times during the campaign trail, defending his policies, military service record and his character as President.