By Joe Milicia
The Associated Press
ASHLAND, Ohio - Former first lady Barbara Bush had a quick answer when asked about the government official she admired most.
The remark drew laughter Friday from an audience of 850 people at Ashland University's John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner.
Mrs. Bush, wearing a bright blue dress and her trademark pearls, spoke briefly about the war in Iraq, but kept her speech light with stories about the two presidents in her life.
"As I watch him guide our country through this very difficult time, I can't help but wonder: 'Is this the same kid I used to spank?' "she said of her son, President George W. Bush.
She opened her remarks on a more serious tone.
"Quite frankly it's a relief for me to be out of the house and away from the television set," she said.
"Like everyone around the world, we are praying fervently for the safety of our troops, for the people in Iraq and our president."
She said as parents it's difficult for her and her husband, George H.W. Bush, to hear criticism of their children.
"We're hearing some very good things about my boys these days," she said, drawing applause from the heavily Republican crowd.
President Bush has done well by surrounding himself with good people, she said.
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