By Melanie Warner
AUSTIN, Texas, Nov 15 (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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Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison, was the first First Lady to formally associate herself with a cause, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=4" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org</a>. Madison helped found an orphanage for young girls in Washington, D.C., and maintained a lifelong connection to the organization.
Although she was the niece of bachelor President James Buchanan and not his wife, Harriet Lane was nevertheless considered the First Lady of the Buchanan White House, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=16" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org.</a> But, similar to other benevolent wives of our presidents, Harriet committed herself to two underserved populations that needed help -- Native Americans and children.
Ellen Axson Wilson
Ellen Axson Wilson, the first wife of Woodrow Wilson, died young, but made a big impact during her short life, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=28" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org</a>. She joined a campaign to get rid of the slums in the Washington, D.C. area, and advocated for improved housing and child labor laws.
When President Warren Harding was first elected to the U.S. Senate, his wife began advocating for the rights of returning World War I veterans. <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=30" target="_hplink">According to Firstladies.org</a>, Florence Harding launched the "Lest We Forget" Week to encourage donations of books and clothing to returning soldiers. She was also known to pick up wounded veterans on the street who needed a ride.
First Lady Grace Coolidge, the wife of President Calvin Coolidge, had always been interested in education -- especially for the deaf. During her husband's presidency, Grace became a trustee for the Clarke School for the Deaf, and was also involved with the American Red Cross during World War I, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=31" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org</a>.
Lou Henry Hoover
Before becoming First Lady, Lou Henry Hoover worked as an organizer for the American Red Cross' Canteen Escort Service, which transported wounded soldiers home during World War I. Her support for the troops was honored by King Albert I of Belgium, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=32" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org</a>.
During World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt supported the troops by volunteering with the American Red Cross, where she handed out cups of coffee, newspapers, sandwiches, candy, and cigarettes to soldiers heading out to army camps and ports, according to the <a href="http://www.redcross.org/museum/history/eleanorR.asp" target="_hplink">American Red Cross.</a> "I loved it," the organization quoted her having said. "I simply ate it up."
After her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, First Lady Barbara Bush began championing the cause when she founded the <a href="http://www.barbarabushfoundation.com/site/c.jhLSK2PALmF/b.4344531/k.BD31/Home.htm" target="_hplink">Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy</a>, according to <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=42" target="_hplink">Firstladies.org</a>.
While serving as First Lady, now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton led the effort on the Foster Care Independence Bill, which helped older unadopted kids transition successfully into adulthood, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=43" target="_hplink">according to Firstladies.org</a>.
Still enjoying her role as First Lady to President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama has been vocal about three issues during her husband's administration: Helping working mothers, providing support to military families, and encouraging voluntarism, <a href="http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=45" target="_hplink">according to firstladies.org</a>.