| Laura Bush participates in a live online chat from her White House office on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Washington, July 2 (Reuters): Under gentle grilling over the Internet yesterday, US First Lady Laura Bush let slip a secret — she has planned a surprise 57th birthday party for her husband at the White House this week.
But whether or not President George W. Bush snores is still classified information.
That question was among hundreds pouring into the White House for Laura Bush’s first appearance on a new online forum in which anyone can “Ask the White House” anything. It went unanswered.
Sitting at a polished desk in her spacious East Wing corner office overlooking the First Lady’s garden, the former teacher and librarian flipped through printouts, selected photographs, culled questions and carefully composed answers to 15 questions for almost 45 minutes.
She revealed that she would feel “proud and anxious” if her 21-year-old twin daughters were serving in Iraq right now. The First Lady rarely discusses Barbara and Jenna, college students whose photographs were prominently displayed alongside her husband’s on a shelf stocked with children’s books and other mementos.
“I know the family members of our servicemen and women who are serving in Iraq and other places around the world are proud of their loved ones and hoping for their safe return home,” she replied to Elva from West Virginia.
Eight-year-old William from Dayton, Ohio, where the President will make a Fourth of July speech, invited the Bushes to his dad’s cookout and asked: “Can you come'”
“We wish we could,” the First Lady replied.
“But I’ll be at the White House so I can surprise President Bush when he gets home with his birthday party.”
“I’ve invited friends for his party and to watch the fireworks from the Truman Balcony.” Bush turns 57 on Sunday.
He and the First lady leave the next day on a quick trip to Africa where Laura Bush said she would visit hospitals to talk about HIV/AIDS and her husband’s plans to combat the disease.
A safari is on the agenda during their five-day tour of Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Botswana and Nigeria.
“We’ll also visit an animal preserve and see some of the most fabulous animals in the world,” she wrote.
In responding to Stuart from the UK, Bush jumped the gun a bit on a trip later this year that the White House has not yet formally announced.
“President Bush and I are both looking forward to our visit to the UK this autumn,” she wrote.