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Former first lady Barbara Bush: ‘I'm tired now of the elections'

By Melanie Warner

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush said on Thursday that she's ready to move beyond this year's campaign season, in comments that came at an Austin conference the week after President Barack Obama's re-election.

"I'm tired now of the elections," Bush, who had endorsed Republican Mitt Romney, said at a forum on America's first ladies. "People spoke. Move on, get on with it. I want to do other things and not to be ugly."

Bush, sporting a double strand of her signature pearls, joined former first lady Laura Bush on a panel for the Enduring Legacies of America's First Ladies conference at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.

The first ladies avoided offering political opinions, but Barbara Bush did issue a stern warning to both Republicans and Democrats.

"They are going to have to compromise," said Barbara Bush, the wife of former President George H.W. Bush. "It's not a dirty word."

Both first ladies reminisced about spectacular Christmases at the White House and cited family time spent at Camp David as the setting of some of their favorite memories.

When asked what was the biggest misconception about her husband, former President George W. Bush, during his time in office, Laura Bush said, "That he was a heedless cowboy character."

Moderator Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ library, asked the women if one ever can be prepared to be the first lady and without hesitation, both answered yes.

"If you are the wife of a governor or the wife of a vice president, I think you can be prepared for it," said Barbara Bush.

"Or if your mother-in-law was the first lady and you watched her," Laura Bush said. "I feel I really had a huge advantage."

Earlier in the day, during a panel featuring presidential children, Jenna Bush Hager, one of Laura and George W. Bush's twin daughters, revealed that her grandmother Barbara Bush's family nickname is "The Enforcer." Hager also divulged the tidbit that her mother, a fan of reggae superstar Bob Marley, is a "secret Rastafarian."

Hager joined sister Barbara Pierce Bush as well as Steve Ford, a son of Betty and President Gerald Ford, and Lynda Johnson Robb, a daughter of Lady Bird and President Lyndon Johnson.

Steve Ford recalled that because his father became president not after an election but because President Richard Nixon had resigned, it was several days before the Fords moved into the White House.

He remembered his mother being in the kitchen, saying, "Jerry, something's wrong here. You just became president of the United States and I'm still cooking."

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Eric walsh)

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