Battle of the First Ladies

America's first lady was in Tallahassee Monday to campaign for her husband and to raise money for congressional candidate Bev Kilmer, yet Laura Bush's appearance was scheduled at the same time her sister-in-law, Florida First Lady Columba Bush, hosted an event at the mansion.

Laura Bush used her first visit to Tallahassee since her husband was elected to rally the party faithful around the war in Iraq.

“Thanks to my husband's decisions and America's actions, 50 million people are free from tyranny and oppression,” says First Lady Laura Bush.

Bush was the headliner at a $250-a-plate fundraiser for congressional candidate Bev Kilmer. The luncheon nearly created a protocol nightmare for many of the attendees. It fell on the same day as Florida First Lady Columba Bush's Annual Legislative Spouses Day at the Governor's Mansion.

Tonie Bense says it was a bit of a scramble getting from one to the other, “But I was determined that I had to be in both places, so it worked out really well.”

Although the Governor's Mansion is only a couple of miles away, the first ladies won't see each other today. Columba Bush says it's not a big deal, she sees her famous
sister-in-law often enough.

“In politics, it works that way all the time. Sometimes Jeb has to do his own events and then I do mine, so we're all working together, that's for sure,” says Florida First Lady Columba Bush.

Political scientist Susan McManus says the dueling events created an embarrassment of riches for the GOP.

‘Two major events involving two women of prominence, two Republican women at that, the same day and the same town. For Republicans, it doesn't get much better than that.
The Democrats would love to have the same situation, I'm sure,” says Susan.

Laura Bush did get to visit briefly with her brother-in-law Jeb before heading to the next event. Laura Bush was also in Orlando Monday morning. She spoke at the National School Boards Association annual conference to drum up support for the president's controversial No Child Left Behind act.


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