Laura Bush shares White House tips with Michelle Obama

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:47pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - First lady Laura Bush shared some tips with Michelle Obama on how to survive in the White House -- particularly with young daughters -- and gave her successor a tour of the mansion that will soon become her home.

Less than one week after Barack Obama won a historic election to succeed President George W. Bush on January 20, the Obamas paid a visit to the White House on Monday.

After the two couples greeted with kisses and handshakes at the executive mansion's South Portico, they went briefly inside for a look around together before heading off in opposite directions.

Obama stepped into the Oval Office, ushered in by Bush. He later described the center of American power as "a really nice office."

"It was a bit of a momentous day," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on a flight from Washington to Chicago. "I don't know that I would characterize him awe struck."

While their husbands sat down in the Oval Office, Mrs. Bush took Mrs. Obama on a tour of the first family residence on the second and third levels of the mansion.

They visited every room, said Mrs. Bush's spokeswoman, Sally McDonough.

She said the women, who were meeting each other for the first time, spent time in the rooms that would likely become the bedrooms of the younger Obamas: 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha.

"They did talk about their children and how the first lady can change the decor of any of the rooms in the private residence," said McDonough.

The women also spoke about how best to handle having daughters grow up in the fishbowl of the White House. The Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, spent part of their teenage years in the White House. Though the Bushes tried to make sure their daughters were kept out of the news, they did make headlines a few times for under-age drinking.

"I think Mrs. Bush is giving her some really good advice on that and how they can truly have a home here at the White House, enjoy all that Washington, D.C., has to offer, and raise their family here," McDonough said on Fox News.

Gibbs said Bush also showed Obama some of the main attractions of the White House. They went to the Lincoln Bedroom, saw the private workspace for the president in the residence and visited one area close to the heart of both men -- the gym.

When questioned if there was some tension in the room, partly because Obama got so much mileage during the campaign by vowing to bring a change from "the failed policies of George W. Bush," Gibbs said the encounter with Bush was cordial and pleasant.

"I don't think he tried that line out again to see how it would work," Gibbs said with a laugh.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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