Laura Bush, a woman thrust into the center of American life through the ambitions of her husband, the new US President-elect George W. Bush, surmounted apparently without too much effort her distaste for the spotlight.
A Texas native, happy to call herself a "traditional woman," and who speaks of her 23-year marriage as a partnership, Laura Bush was considered by many Republican supporters of her husband as his secret weapon during his bid for the White House.
A woman with whom many American women can identify, Laura Bush was always going to be, according to her husband, a "a fabulous first lady."
The 53-year-old blue-eyed brunette made her political debut in July at the Republican convention which nominated her husband for president, giving a speech filled with humorous comments and homey references to family and the big sky of Texas, the state her husband governs.
Laura's role in the ensuing campaign for her husband's bid for the presidency became more active from that point. She attended rallies aimed at women voters and answering questions from Republican sympathizers, all the time touting Bush's human qualities.
But she made it clear the line would be drawn at policy-making in any vein resembling that of the current first lady, Hillary Clinton.
"I am not George's adviser. I'm his wife. I don't advise him about policy but we do talk about issues and personalities," Laura Bush said.
The former schoolteacher and librarian who, according to her husband, made him promise before they got married that she would never have to give a speech, now says she is very comfortable with campaigning.
"That's how it goes with political promises," she said.
Laura Bush, who abandoned her career as a schoolteacher and librarian after her marriage in 1977, had made it known before her husband was elected Texas governor in 1994 that she had no intention of taking an active public role.
She said she preferred to stay at home reading books and taking care of her twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, both now 18.
All that now looks set to change -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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