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Candidate’s family warms the stage

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PHILADELPHIA — Admitting a little nervousness, the wife of Gov. George W. Bush said Monday she hopes to give some insights into her husband in a speech welcoming delegates to the Republican convention that will nominate him for president.

"I think I have an opportunity to say things about George that other people don't know about him or can't tell about him," Laura Bush said on NBC's Today show.

A former librarian and schoolteacher said, Mrs. Bush said she also will focus her remarks Monday night to the convention's delegates and TV audience on education and literacy. Later in the week, Mrs. Bush will be saluted at a luncheon.

She said Monday that she views her "calm personality" as being an aid to her husband but added that "at the same time his energy really brings a lot of excitement to me and my life."

"I don't see myself as one of his advisers; I'm his wife. I think that's a different kind of relationship," she said. "But I give him advice on personalities. We talk about issues, we talk about people."

At a campaign stop in Ohio Sunday, Bush proudly told crowds about his wife's role.

"Tomorrow our convention starts," Bush said. "Guess who's kicking off the convention?"

The candidate's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will serve as a stand-in for George W., who is wrapping up a few more days of campaigning before winding his way here.

Jeb Bush will be "very actively engaged as a surrogate speaker," said convention Chairman Andrew Card.

On Thursday, he will address a breakfast for the Michigan delegation.

And Jeb's son George P. Bush plans to keep a particularly visible presence this week. His calendar is filled with convention-related appearances, culminating with a floor speech Thursday evening.

On Sunday, the 24-year-old nephew — who is seen as a lightning rod to attract young and Hispanic voters — greeted youth activists painting signs for the convention and attended a clean-up project at a park across from the convention center.

"I consider myself a minor player in the whole process," said George P., who is the son of Jeb and his Mexican-born wife. But he said he's taking this opportunity "to add a personal touch to politics," by touring the country on behalf of his uncle.

Though not fully bilingual, his speech will "be peppered with phrases in Spanish," the young Bush said.

His prominence is in marked contrast to Bush's twin daughters — Jenna and Barbara — who have kept a low profile throughout his campaign and are likely to do the same in the coming days.

The 18-year-old daughters "will not have much of a public schedule during the convention," Card said, although they will be on hand to watch both their mother and father speak.

Bush's other siblings, who are not as prominent in the family business of politics, plan to rouse support and enthusiasm among convention attendees in the days leading up to his Thursday speech.

Doro, Bush's sister and wife of a Washington lobbyist, plans to attend some delegation meetings to "energize the delegates and volunteers for convention activities," Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan said.

Neil, a business consultant, and Marvin, a venture capitalist, also are expected to be "part of a caucus pool of activists" who will be speaking daily to state delegations, Card said.

President Bush and Barbara Bush are expected to arrive Monday afternoon, according to Sullivan. While the former chief executive will be feted in a tribute to past GOP presidents, he isn't likely to make any remarks and the pair may avoid the spotlight this week.

In a magazine interview, President Bush insisted that his son's run is not about his legacy.

"This is not about my legacy here. It's certainly not about vindication," he says in the forthcoming issue of Newsweek. "We feel the pride any mother and father would feel if their kid was a candidate for president. It's mind boggling."