Teresa Heinz Kerry apparently ignored Mrs Bush’s former job as a teacher and librarian. The remark, in an interview with the USA Today newspaper yesterday, sparked an angry reaction from President George Bush’s campaign team.
Karen Hughes, an adviser to Mr Bush, criticised Mrs Heinz Kerry’s remarks as “indicative of an unfortunate mindset that seeks to divide women based on who works at home and who works outside the home.”
In a bid to prevent a full-blown row, Mrs Heinz Kerry said sorry within hours of the publication of the interview.
“I had forgotten that Mrs Bush had worked as a schoolteacher and librarian, and there couldn’t be a more important job than teaching our children,” she said in a statement.
“As someone who has been both a full-time mom and full-time in the workforce, I know we all have valuable experiences that shape who we are.
“I appreciate and honour Mrs Bush’s service to the country as First Lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past.” Mrs Heinz Kerry, 66, is one of America’s richest women and heir to the Heinz foods empire.
She said in the interview: “I don’t know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don’t know that she’s ever had a real job, I mean, since she’s been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things.”
Mrs Bush, 57, worked in the Texas school system from 1968 until she met and married Mr Bush in 1977.