Mock Convention kicks off 2024 cycle


Kevin Remington

Former First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara Bush have a discussion with Ramsay Trask ’24 and Carly Snyder ’24 in University Chapel.

Shauna Muckle, Editor-in-Chief

Mock Convention kicked off its 2024 roster of speakers with former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Barbara during Parents Weekend 2022.

The mother-daughter duo talked about life before, during and after the Bush presidency, as well as what they’re doing now, in a 45-minute conversation led by Mock Convention’s general chair, Ramsey Trask, ’24, and Carly Snyder, ’24, director of operations.

The talk took place on Friday afternoon, Sept. 30 in the University Chapel. General admission tickets, which were $30 each, had sold out within hours. Some attendees purchased $1,500 VIP tickets, which bought them access to an exclusive reception after the talk and pictures with the Bushes.

Mock Convention’s 2024 cycle will bring more Republican speakers to campus, as the organization aims to correctly predict the GOP presidential nominee in 2024.

During the last mock Republican nomination in 2016, the convention brought in an array of high-profile speakers, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and political commentator Ann Coulter, among others.

During their talk, the Bush women at-tested to the challenges and advantages of spending their lives constantly in the political limelight.

Barbara Bush spoke tearfully of her grandparents, particularly her grandmother, whose name she shares. While she has embraced her name now, the younger Bush said as an attention-shy teenager, she had a tough time sharing her name.

“I was very uncomfortable having the name Barbara Bush growing up,” she said. “I would call Domino’s and they’d hang up on me.”

George W. Bush was elected to office when Barbara Bush and her sister, Jenna, were teenagers. She said after watching the trials of her grandfather’s presidency, she wasn’t elated when her father told her he too would run for president.

“We both simultaneously burst into tears when he told us he was going to run,” she said. “We also told him he was going to lose. Like all 16-year-olds, we wanted a normal life.”

Years after spending the latter part of her teens in the White House and attending Yale University, Barbara Bush now leads the Global Health Corps, a nonprofit she founded that provides young health professionals with positions to advance global health equity.She said as a leader herself, it’s rare for people to self-identify as such. Nevertheless, channeling her father’s words, Barbara Bush advised young leaders in the room to buck what’s popular.

“Dad never really cared about being popular, and that let him lead on his values,” she said.

Meanwhile, Laura Bush discussed how she transformed from a teacher and librarian in Texas to a political figure alongside her husband.

“Teaching is very difficult, but with that many personalities in a room, it’s never boring,” she said. “It was great experience when George became governor, because education is such an important part of state government.”

Unlike most first ladies, Laura Bush had significant experience with White House politics before stepping into the role herself. She and George W. were prepared by George H.W. for their White House entry, Laura Bush said.

“We knew everything,” she said. “We’d slept in the Lincoln Bedroom. We’d slept in the Queen’s Bedroom. And we also knew, because we watched him, how you’re criticized.”

Students who attended the talk said they were struck by the Bushes’ stage presence.

Connor McNamara, ’24 described the event as a “light and fun hour of conversation.”

“They came off as much more person-able and charismatic than I falsely expected,” he said. “It was moving seeing a former First Lady and her daughter at Parents Weekend talking about family relationships.”

Jake Winston, ’24, added that the Bushes led with strong anecdotes.

“I found them to be very relatable,” he said. “I was genuinely entertained.”