Tony Blair's Wife Recalls Disappointment at Bush's Win

July 7, 2008 - 8:19 PM

London (AP) - The wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said she and her husband watched in distress as George Bush won the U.S. presidential election in 2000, according to extracts of her autobiography published Wednesday.

"I think it's fair to say that our hearts sank when the result was finally ratified," Cherie Blair wrote in "Speaking For Myself," which is being serialized in The Times of London newspaper.

The Blairs were close friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who left the White House when Bush took office after defeating Al Gore in the election. But the British power couple later developed a warm relationship with the new president and his wife, Laura.

"George is actually a very funny, charming man with a quirky sense of humor," the newspaper quoted Blair as writing in her autobiography. "The reason he gets a bad press, he says, is 'because I talk Texan.'"

Blair wrote that she struck a bond with the first lady, who is "a very warm, genuine person."

Blair's husband suffered domestically because of his relationship with Bush, chiefly over the decision to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Critics called the British prime minister "Bush's poodle" and he saw his popularity ratings nose dive.

Bush was set to meet with the former British leader Thursday in Jerusalem to discuss his new work as envoy for the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers _ the U.S., European Union, Russia and United Nations. Blair was to update Bush on progress for improving Palestinian civic institutions and economic conditions.

Cherie Blair also discusses the couple's relationship with the Clintons in her biography, which is being published in Britain by Little, Brown on Thursday.

She says little about her husband's response to Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, but is blunt about her own response. "My reaction was basically, 'Oh Bill, how could you?'" she wrote.

Blair, who is a human rights lawyer, said she admired Hillary Clinton's handling of the situation. "If I had been impressed by Hillary before, I was doubly impressed now," she wrote.


(Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)