Barbara Bush Campaigns for Son in NH

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

New London, NH ( - While her son stumps through Iowa, hoping to fight off a growing threat from publisher Steve Forbes, former First Lady and possibly the nation's future First Mother, Barbara Bush, is campaigning in New Hampshire this week on George W's behalf.

Mrs. Bush made several stops on Thursday and Friday, including New London, Portsmouth and Manchester, all in an effort to convince Granite State voters that her son will be "a fine president."

Greeted by more than 100 people at the nearby Lebanon, NH, Airport on Thursday, the former first lady drew more 200 people to town hall in this small community, located near the Vermont border.

Voters listened while Mrs. Bush extolled the virtues of her son, including his role as governor of Texas, where she said he did right by public education, cut taxes, pared the welfare rolls and brought reform to the juvenile justice system.

Mrs. Bush also insisted that her son has the right character to lead the nation. "He will help Washington return to a climate of mutual respect instead of one of personal distrust. Above all, he will keep his word."

Asked about her son's reaction to her decision to return to the campaign trail, Mrs. Bush responded, "I think George W was very nervous. I think that he thinks I'm some kind if a loose cannon."

Mrs. Bush then referred to a rhyme that she made in 1984, concerning then vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, when she said the former New York Congresswoman reminded her "of something that rhymed with rich." Mrs. Bush added, "I'm no longer making rhymes."

Here, as elsewhere in the state, Mrs. Bush delighted her audiences as she recalled the experiences that she and the former president have shared during a 55-year marriage. She said that marriage, over half a century, included "four wars, three dress sizes, two parachute jumps and now two governors." Her son, Jeb, is chief executive of the state of Florida.

Referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton's decision to seek the New York Senate seat, Mrs. Bush wondered aloud if she should run. "I thought of New Jersey...but I am a native New Yorker."

Asked what advice she has given George W in his quest for the Oval Office, Mrs. Bush responded, "Just be yourself."

Mrs. Bush also said her daughter-in-law, Laura, George W's wife, would make a fine First Lady. "She's quiet. She's strong. She's bright. She's funny. She'd be a wonderful first lady at his side, supporting him in every way."

Characterizing Arizona Senator John McCain as "a nice man," Mrs. Bush added, "I like John McCain. He's fine. But I think George W Bush is going to win."

When asked why McCain leads her son in New Hampshire, the former First Lady said McCain is ahead because "he's lived here for the last two months."

Mrs. Bush isn't the only surrogate traveling this first-in-the nation primary state. A group of former National Basketball Association stars, including former Boston Celtics' greats Bill Russell and KC Jones, were here on behalf of former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, who is also in Iowa.

Commerce Secretary William Daley was scheduled to appear for Vice President Al Gore, but the visit was canceled due to a snowstorm in Washington, DC.