Laura Bush has slept in the Lincoln bedroom and in the queen’s bedroom as a guest at the White House, but she came to the executive mansion on Monday for the first time as its future hostess.
The next U.S. first lady said she had some familiarity with the mansion from the years when her father-in-law, George Bush, was president and she and her husband came to visit, spending the night in at least two of its 132 rooms.
“I sort of know it from staying here with President Bush,” Mrs. Bush told reporters as she and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton held hands and posed for photographers before heading inside for a walk-through and a chat over a cup of tea.
“I have slept in the Lincoln bedroom,” she said in reply to a question, adding with a smile: “And the queen’s bedroom.” The queen’s bedroom was given its name because it has been used by royal visitors to the White House.
The wife of President-elect George W. Bush rolled up to the White House several minutes late for her appointment with Mrs. Clinton, and she sat in the limousine a few minutes more because of jammed door.
“Hello,” Mrs. Clinton said with a giggle as Mrs. Bush finally emerged with some assistance. “I’m glad to see you.”
Mrs. Clinton, who has been house hunting in Washington, took Mrs. Bush on a tour of the second and third floors where the first family lives before they sat down to tea in the second floor’s Yellow Oval Room overlooking the South Lawn.
The second floor contains the residence’s main bedrooms while the third has a solarium, an exercise room and a room stuffed with President Bill Clinton’s CD collection, saxophone and music memorabilia.
Mrs. Clinton waited about seven minutes for Mrs. Bush to arrive at the mansion, peeking out through a glass door and bobbing her head from side to side as she mugged for the cluster of cameras gathered to record the moment.
The first lady’s spokeswoman Lissa Muscatine described the roughly one-hour visit as “a very friendly meeting.”
The meeting between the incoming and outgoing first ladies is one of a series of Washington traditions as the nation’s capital prepares for the transfer of power on Jan. 20.