PANAMA CITY, Panama, Nov. 21, 2008 — -- First lady Laura Bush said today that Michelle Obama did not ask for advice when she visited the White House recently with her two daughters.
Instead they discussed closets.
"[What] we talked about was what any women would talk about as one is moving out of a home and somebody is moving in," the first lady told "Nightline."
The White House, she noted, has great closets.
Traveling to Panama for her last solo foreign trip as first lady, Laura Bush gave her only television interview to "Nightline." In a candid and wide-ranging interview to air Monday night, she talked about a range of issues, including her meeting with Michelle Obama and her daughters, Malia and Shasha.
One of Mrs. Bush's twin daughters, Barbara, accompanied her mother on the trip to Panama and also agreed to a rare interview.
"It was great," said Barbara Bush of the Obama girls visit. "They're really sweet, and they're excited, but they also have the same concerns that we had when we were 18 when our dad became president.
"I mean, it's a huge adjustment, and they're not used to Secret Service, and they're not -- and they're switching schools, and they have to make new friends. I mean, we felt ... people feel like that regardless of how old they are. So it was really fun to get to meet them and to get to see them being excited about their move, and to get to talk to them about the same things that we had to deal with, regardless of age."
Barbara said she and her sister, Jenna, showed the Obama girls the bedrooms they occupied as first daughters.
She and Mrs. Bush both said they imagined the Obama girls would select the same rooms that the Bush girls had chosen for themselves. They were the "obvious" children's rooms, said Mrs. Bush.
Asked what her advice to the Obama girls would be, Barbara Bush said, "I think my advice to them is just when they move, just make really good friends and surround themselves with people that will protect them because they love them, regardless."
"We were lucky," she continued. "We had great friends in Texas, and we were talking with them, and Malia has really good friends that are in fifth grade with her and at home, so they're going to come visit her. I mean, they'll be fine. They're really cute, smart girls. "
Laura Bush's Advice to Michelle Obama
Mrs. Bush reflected on her own children's lives.
"We really wanted Barbara and Jenna to be able to have a totally normal life, to not take advantage of the so-called podium that they might have, because we wanted them to get to be high school, college-age kids, which they were when we moved there," she said.
"So it's, you know, it's really a balance as you work through the whole idea of how your family can accommodate the publicity and the klieg lights that are on the president of the United States."
Mrs. Bush said if she was asked for advice, she would urge anyone occupying the White House with children to "err on the side of privacy for children. I think it lets children grow up and make childish mistakes, which, of course, they will out of the limelight. And I think that's really the best."
Watch Cynthia McFadden's interview with first lady Laura Bush Monday on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.