Thursday, January 23, 2003

Presidential adviser tells of balancing work and family

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Between Afghanistan, where she toured Kabul this week to see how U.S. aid is helping rebuild the city, and Washington, where she will be today to refine President Bush's State of the Union speech, Karen Hughes stopped by the Aronoff Center for the Arts Wednesday night to talk about balancing career and family.

[photo] Karen Hughes no longer works in Washington, although she travels there and stays for a day or two, about once every two weeks.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
Hughes was Counselor to The President for Mr. Bush's first 18 months in office before leaving the job to move her family back to Texas. Hughes said she brought a "mom's perspective" to Washington.

She still does, serving as a long-distance advisor to the president.

"I feel blessed to have done what is right for my family and to still be able to advise the president," said Hughes, who will stay in Washington through the weekend to help analyze the report from weapons inspectors in Iraq.

Being a mom has paid off in practical ter in countless White House power-broker meetings, she said.

"I remember being in a meeting in the Rosavelt Room with a bunch of people talking about energy regulations," Hughes said.

"We were talking about how the regulations would affect the price of a washing machine. They all knew way more about energy regulations than me. But I remember thinking: I bet I'm the only person here who regularly uses a washing machine."

Hughes is a longtime ally of the president, dating back to his first run for governor in Texas. She served as communications director for both of his gubernatorial campaigns before becoming a crucial advisor in the president's inner circle. She managed the Offices of Press Secretary, Media Affairs, Speechwriting and Communications at the White House, and led the international communications during the early months of the war against terror.

Hughes said she never felt pressured to soften her opinions after moving to Washington.

"Early on, I was given a block of unvarnished wood with the presidential seal on one side," Hughes said. "I still have it. It was a constant reminder that the President needs my unvarnished opinion."

The Smart Talk Women's Lecture Series continues March 10 with Julie Nixon Eisenhower; May 22 with Mia Farrow; and June 9 with Ann Richards.

Tickets are still available for all three lectures.


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