Laura Bush, the woman Republicans hope will be America's next first lady, launched herself on to the national stage with a plea for literacy and a vow that her husband would 'uphold the honour' of the presidency. Quiet and dignified compared to her husband's more garrulous demeanour, Mrs Bush's address on the opening day of the Republican Party's national convention was one she had pledged never to make - she married 'Dubya' only after a promise that she would never have to make a political speech on his behalf. Looking slightly stiff and nervous at times, she nevertheless won thumping applause from an audience of party faithful with a message rooted in her years as a school librarian and her love of literature - a contrast to George W. Bush's image, which is more baseball than bookish. Her message - of the importance of more expansive early educational opportunities for all Americans - was one which, like several planned for the convention, may make some hardline conservatives bristle as Mr Bush seeks the widest possible appeal. Mrs Bush, 53, appeared cautious to couch her demands in terms of improving the quality of teachers and individual family responsibility. She constantly brought things back home to Texas, where as Governor, Mr Bush has given poor parents the chance of moving children out of poorly performing schools. 'Reading is interesting, entertaining and important,' she said. 'George's opponent has been visiting schools lately and sometimes when he does, he spends the night before at the home of a teacher . . . Well, George spends every night with a teacher.' A mother of two twin daughters in their late teens, family friends say Mrs Bush played a big role in getting her husband to stop drinking 14 years ago. Mrs Bush implied she would play a more traditional role as first lady compared to Hillary Clinton, who offered a 'two for the price of one' leadership package, involving herself in several policy issues. Using 'he' rather than 'we', Mrs Bush said her husband would 'set great goals and work tirelessly to achieve them'. She said: 'His core values will not change with the whims of the polls or politics or fortune or misfortune.'