W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 4, 2001 -- — Before they sat down for their formal interview, the President and Mrs. Bush gave Barbara Walters a tour of the White House and its Christmas decorations. Following is a transcript of the tour.
BARBARA WALTERS, ABCNEWS Oh, I can already see how beautiful it looks.
FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH Isn't it beautiful?
WALTERS Will you be spending Christmas day here?
MRS. BUSH No, we'll be, we'll be at Camp David for Christmas day with all the Bush family and my mother, which will be a lot of fun.
WALTERS And the dogs.
MRS. BUSH And the dogs, of course; and the cat. We even take the cat. (OFF-MIKE)
WALTERS This is absolutely…
MRS. BUSH (Overlap) Isn't it just beautiful?
WALTERS …magnificent. How many trees?
MRS. BUSH I think there are 49 trees in the whole house, just decorated with snow and tinsel and bright lights. But isn't it beautiful?
WALTERS It is exquisite.
MRS. BUSH And when the (Inaudible) are up and the lights reflect in the marble floors, that is particularly beautiful.
WALTERS This Christmas, obviously, is a very special Christmas; and the White House is closed to the public.
MRS. BUSH That's right.
WALTERS And some of our viewers wrote in and said, "You ask us to live a normal life, and you close the White House to the public."
MRS. BUSH Well, we just had to be responsible for the safety of everybody that lives here and works here — including the press, who as you know work in the West Wing. So it's just a balance — which is also traditional — the Christmas tours of the White House, with the reality of what happened on Sept. 11th.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH (Overlap/Inaudible) The White House is a target.
PRESIDENT BUSH …So therefore it's hard to have normalcy when you know the White House is a target. And I hope people understand this. This is a decision that we wish wasn't made.
MRS. BUSH Uh-huh.
PRESIDENT BUSH We urged the Secret Service to be more open minded; but they convinced us that the security risk is such that we cannot jeopardize the lives of others.
WALTERS We haven't…
MRS. BUSH That's part of our Christmas tradition. When the girls get home from school, we'll be able to do that, drink the hot chocolate together. Of course, as you know, the trees are already decorated.