Thursday, December 11, 2003

White House chat links lovers

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - A Cincinnati woman named Marisa accepted a marriage proposal in a most unlikely way Tuesday: in an online chat with first lady Laura Bush.

But that was only appropriate. Her fiance, Steve of Cleveland, had proposed in an earlier White House online chat.

It all started Friday during an Ask the White House chat, in which Americans can post questions for White House officials.

The Friday chat was supposed to be about economics because it was with the president's economic adviser, Greg Mankiw.

But that's not what "Steve from Cleveland" wanted to talk about. In fact, he was just using Mankiw to reach his Cincinnati girlfriend, Marisa.

"Hey Mr. Mankiw. Help me out," he wrote in his posting. "I told my girlfriend to watch today's Ask the White House. She's never seen it before, but she promised me she would log on."

"Anyway, I want to ask her a question. Marisa, I love you. I would move to Cincinnati if you marry me (but I will never be a Bengals fan). Please e-mail Greg your response."

Mankiw wished him good luck but offered this piece of advice: "I suggest you avoid using Ask the White House to negotiate future marital issues. But please do continue to tune in."

That seemed to be the end of it. Then Tuesday, first lady Laura Bush was the Ask the White House guest.

Her last question came from "Marisa from Ohio."

"Hello Mrs. Bush, It is an honor to speak with you. The other day my boyfriend proposed to me on Ask the White House. ... I didn't believe it until he sent me an e-mail and told me to check it out. Needless to say, I was unbelievably shocked to see it. And furthermore, I was very surprised to see that a lot of media covered it.

"I love Steve and I said yes. Thought you all would want to know about it. (I think you are a lovely first lady, by the way). Happy Holidays. Marisa."

Laura Bush congratulated Marisa, and noted that in the White House alone, more than a half-dozen staffers had met their spouses while working there.

"President Bush is quite the matchmaker," she wrote. "So, I am pleased that Steve used the White House Web site for his proposal. Congratulations to both of you and very best wishes."

White House spokesman Jim Morrell said they didn't have e-mail addresses for either Marisa or Steve; chatters just post their name and hometown or state.

But Morrell did know this: Since the White House launched the Ask the White House chats in April, "that was our first marriage proposal in Ask the White House history."


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