Laura Bush said Thursday that Teresa Heinz Kerry didn’t need to apologize for saying she couldn’t remember whether the first lady had ever had “a real job.”
“She apologized but she didn’t even really need to apologize,” Mrs. Bush told reporters at a coffee shop before attending a rally for President Bush. “I know how tough it is and actually I know those trick questions.”
USA Today had asked Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic candidate John Kerry, if she would be different from Mrs. Bush as a first lady.
“Well, you know, I don’t know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good,” Heinz Kerry said in the interview published Wednesday. “But I don’t know that she’s ever had a real job — I mean, since she’s been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things.”
Heinz Kerry later said she had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a teacher and librarian. “There couldn’t be a more important job than teaching our children,” she said in a statement. “As someone who has been both a full-time mom and full-time in work force, I know we all have valuable experiences that shape who we are. I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush’s service to the country as first lady and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past.”
Bush adviser Karen Hughes later criticized Heinz Kerry twice — first for remarks “indicative of an unfortunate mind-set that seeks to divide women based on who works at home and who works outside the home” and later for an apology she called “worse because she left out the very important real job of a mother.”