tv CNN Special Report Almost President Agony of Defeat CNN September 14, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
thanks so much for watching. the cnn specialreport, really interesting, almost president, the agony of defeat, starts now. the following is a cnn special report. >> my fellow citizens, i present to you the next president of the united states! ♪ >> a lot more fun winning. it hurts to lose an election.
♪ we have come to the end of a long journey. judge although i would rather have won -- >> tomorrow will be the first time in my life i don't have anything to do. >> to be blunt about it, losing sucks. >> everybody wants you and the day that you lose, you're nothing. when they hit that light switch, oh, my god. >> mitt romney. nice to meet you.
>> who are these people? >> it's not a normal thing to want to run for president. >> to risk failing in front of the whole world. >> this is the super bowl. >> who believe they have the grit -- >> i'll ready to go right now. >> that's the kind of america i want to build. >> to lead this country. >> they are people who are willing to go into public and get stripped naked, covered in mud, crawl over broken glass and stand up and say here i am. >> putting themselves out there, over and over again for years. shaking hands, kissing babies. >> quarter pounder without cheese. >> wolfing down junk food, sleeping on planes. there are days when the voters hate you. >> they get up and say, i think you're a jerk. you hear from people.
and then one night they love you. >> you are so struck by how special this country is. thousands and thousands of people. they believe in you. >> let there be no doubt, my friends. we're going to win this election. >> so now you think, it just might happen. >> you believe and you have to. that's the nature of it. >> ladies and gentlemen -- >> i have a privilege given to few americans. >> i accept -- >> i accept -- >> i accept your nomination for president of the united states. this historic date -- >> until one day in november -- >> one of the crucial votes. >> just like that, the end of a hard 22-month campaign. >> the victory of historic proportions. >> it's over. >> you can't go into presidential politics unless you know you're going to run the risk of having your heart
broken. >> when you fall from the top -- >> i don't have any comment today and i thank you for asking. >> it is a long way down. >> remember, ask george mcgovern, how long does it take to get over this? and he said when i get over it, i'll call you. >> what a loser. >> right now donald trump can't even think about losing. >> i love this country and i know you do, too. >> in a few short months, one of them will experience the most spectacular public failure in american life. this is the story of the people who have lived that moment. it is a story you have not heard before about what happens when the dream disappears.
>> thank you, thank you. >> no problem. >> a sense of normalcy. >> we enjoyed every minute of it. >> god bless. >> thank you. >> this is what losing looks like. you go home alone. the secret service, the reporters, the crowds, all gone. >> all of a sudden, you're junk. you're going to costco. >> costco is exactly where the romneys went. >> the refrigerator was bare. >> live goes on. >> you go to the market and get some food. >> there are a lot of tears. >> it's very hard. a real heart-wrenching
experience to say, we didn't get job done. >> tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people and you think, they cared. i wish we would have succeeded for them and for the country. >> in august of 2012, success looked so close. >> when mitt romney took stage of the 2012 republican convention, he had worked years to get here. >> suspending -- >> suffered a crushing defeat in 2008. >> i hate to lose. >> but he was finally just one step away. >> god bless you, god bless the american people and may god bless the united states. >> as he campaigned against barack obama, republicans were giddy about romney. >> i believe he will sweep the midwest. >> the minimum result had been
53-47 romney. >> a romney land slide. >> how are you feeling? >> great, thank you. >> he thought he was going to win. he put everything into it. >> then it happened. >> there was a political earthquake in the presidential race. >> when mitt romney said to big money donors when he didn't think cameras were rolling. >> the kind of snafu that can sink a candidate. it caught romney criticizing almost half the voting public. >> there are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. they believe they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it. >> are you worried you've offended this 47%? >> all hell broke loose. >> what i'm saying is the words that came out were not what i men. >> what should you have said about that 47%? >> the media was relentless.
>> you are slipping in the polls at this moment. >> after he said it, it was inelegant. >> don't feel mr. romney has been doing himself any favors. >> the worst thing that can happen to you in politics is when you confirm an existing idea. >> people thought he was a rich guy who didn't understand their life. that's what made it really hurt. >> mr. barack obama and governor mitt romney preparing to face off in their first presidential debate. >> then a chance to turn it around. >> it's terrifying. wow! one-on-one. people get to see you in the arena with your opponent, on your own. on the high wire without a net. >> slower than last year and last year slower than the year before? going forward where the status quo won't cut it for the
american people who are struggling today. >> the debate was a home rn for romney. >> it is clear the republicans are very, very happy. >> no one believed more than ann romney. >> no one will work harder. no one will care more and no one will move heaven and earth like mitt romney to make this country a better place to live. >> after two more debates, election day. as the hours passed -- >> polls continue to show a tight race. >> the race for the white house is a dead heat. >> mitt romney began to look worried. >> romney has broken the 200 barrier. he is at 201. the president of the united
states, significantly ahead. >> and then a phone call. >> that's too bad. all those states. wisconsin, michigan, nevada. our only hope is ohio. >> cnn projects barack obama will carry the state of ohio. by carrying ohio, he wins re-election. the president of the united states defeats mitt romney. >> does someone have a number for the president? >> are you over it in. >> losing an election is not fun. i've tried losing. i've tried winning. i like winning better. it was very disappointing on election night and the beaks followed. we thought of all the people that have helped so much, it is very hard even to see them again. to say we wish we would have gotten the job done but we
didn't. >> seven months later, the romneys were still dealing with defeat. >> we feel like we let people down. >> was it harder for you because you thought you were going to win? >> i think so. i really truly felt we were going to win. so i'm glad as i look back that i felt that way. it is the way i had to feel. >> the romneys are unabashed about their devotion to each other and their children. >> it is a very difficult thing for families. a very difficult thing to emotionally invest yourself at that level, at that depth. >> can you give us a word? >> when you lose the presidency, you spend years analyzing. >> what's difficult is going into a campaign and becoming extraordinarily focused day after day, speaking to large groups of people, getting to know individuals one-on-one, learning their experiences. >> dealing with your mistakes. >> that's what's difficult.
one thing that's different from 25, 30 years ago, everything you say is being recorded. >> you try become the perfect candidate. >> everyone says, be spontaneous. don't act like you're being crafty. you have to be very, very careful. >> careful. establishment. insurgent? mitt romney? the republican party has watched amazed as mitt has gone off skrip, way off script to take on donald trump. >> whatever happened to trump airlines? how about trump university? >> for a guy who really let us down. >> then there's trump magazine. you say, wait, wait, wait. isn't he a huge business success? >> he is a sad case. do you know what a choke artist is? >> when my grand kids say what did you do on stop donald trump, i want to be able to say
something. i was not going to stay on the sidelines. >> back in 2014 even before there was a trump, romney talked about running for president a third time. >> it never goes away. you always want to be president. if you wanted to be president one day, you want to be president until the day you die. >> it is a real thrill. an experience we will never forget. and frankly, i would do it again. >> you would? again? >> i would do it again. but it's not my time. >> okay. i'll go with that. >> i would love to do it again. i would love to do and it win. >> up next, can one decision -- >> you can actually see russia from land here in alaska. >> sink a campaign. >> i can see russia from my house. at farmers, we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything.
(announcer vo) americans don't celebrate the good enough canyon. we didn't aim to be second to the moon. verizon doesn't settle for good enough either. so now we're introducing verizon lte advanced. with 50% faster peak speeds in more than 450 cities, coast to coast. so don't settle for an unlimited plan with limits. switch now and get our best deal. 20 gigs of limitless data with four lines for only $160. welcome to the next gen network. now that fedex has helped us we could focus on bigger issues, like our passive aggressive environment. we're not passive aggressive. hey, hey, hey, there are no bad suggestions here... no matter how lame they are. well said, ann. i've always admired how you just say what's in your head, without thinking. very brave. good point ted. you're living proof that looks aren't everything. thank you. welcome.
the 2008 republican presidential nominee should have been on top of the world. >> could i do the job. i was prepared to be commander in chief. >> but john mccain was running against history. barack obama had a clear shot at becoming america's first black president. >> the 200,000 plus crowd confirm his rock star status. >> change has come to america. >> it was picked up by some north vietnamese. >> so you're a bona fide war
he hero. a former prisoner of war. but now you're facing a losing battle. what do you do? >> i have an idea. we can do something different that will maybe give us a shot. what do you want? he's a gambler. he's a pilot. they always take shot. >> take the shot. the perfect title for the story of john mccain's run for the white house. chapter 1. pick a vice president. and he knew exactly who he wanted. >> you can actually see russia from land here in alaska. >> no, not her. him. >> john mccain, our next great president. >> mccain's first love was senator joe lieberman of connecticut. an independent. >> he is honest, decent, he live
his religion and we were close and dear friends. >> so did you want him. >> of course. >> but it was going to cause a problem in the convention because joe lieberman was pro-choice. >> so it was no to joe. quick. find someone fresh. someone new. >> they didn't manage the process well. mccain didn't manage it well. the chock ran out and they were suddenly left with limited choices. and he threw deep. >> she is exactly who i need. >> it was the very definition of a hail mary pass. >> senator sarah palin of the great state of alaska. >> so sarah palin met america. >> i was just your average hockey mom in alaska. >> this is an outside the box pick. for a while it looked brilliant.
for a few weeks. then it went south. >> boy, did it ever! >> the level of ignorance is astounding. >> palin couldn't explain why north and south korea were separate countries. >> which magazines did you regularly read? i'm cure just. >> all of them. >> do you agree the bush doctrine? >> in what respect, charlie? >> comedians like tina faye were relentless. >> this is water and then there's russia. i can see russia from my house. >> even now, john mccain's answer to all of it? give me a brick. >> she did get our base energized. >> i love her. >> she did hold her own against
a 35-year member of the senate, joe biden. >> can i call you joe? >> what i didn't get was how the media just skewered her. she became fodder for everything and i thought that was terribly unfair. >> people in my view are not kind to sarah palin. >> despite the media frenzy, the mccain-palin ticket was holding its own until five weeks before the election. >> we were according to our polls basically running even or slightly ahead the day that the stock market went down 700 points. >> crisis on wall street. one of the biggest failures in u.s. history. >> september 29, 2008. >> the credit crisis worsened overnight. >> economic panic. >> this is absolutely stunning. >> big banks were failing. >> the house rejects the financial bailout plan. >> at the end of that today we
were 7 points down. as americans watched their 401(k)s disappear before their eyes. >> for the second time in his campaign, john mccain threw a hail mary. >> i'll suspend my campaign and return to washington. >> i'm an old navy pilot and i know when a crisis calls. all hands on deck. >> reporters and analysts were skeptical. >> the market appears to be melting down. threatening to bring john mccain's campaign with it. >> i would point out that barack obama came back to washington, too. >> he didn't say he suspended -- >> he didn't say it. >> after a series of intense meetings, nothing was resolved. but now mccain was losing ground. >> i knew that we were in serious trouble. >> he had one last chance. the presidential debates. and he struggled against obama. >> my old buddy joe joe the
plumber is out there. if you don't document the health care plan that senator obama mandates, he will fine you. >> i'm happy to talk to you, joe, if you're out there. here's your fine. zero. >> zero? >> zero. because as i said in our last debate, and i'll repeat, john, i except small businesses. >> i was not on my game and i have to admit that. i have no real excuse for it. it was doubly inexcusable because i had been through so many debates before. >> do you know when you mess up? you get in the car and your staff is like -- >> yes. >> oh, my god. do you sort of sit around blaming yourself? >> unfortunately, that's one of my character flaws. that do i sometime sit around and say why did i do that? >> mccain believes he understands what his biggest mistake was.
there is a tug-of-war every candidate shares, between being true to yourself and sticking to a carefully calibrated message. >> you can't become almost totally scripted so that there's no mistake and as you know, my greatest strength is extemporaneous. >> but sometimes there is a moment. >> i will respect him and i want -- no, no. >> as there was during one town hall where we saw the real mccain. >> i can't trust obama. he is an arab. no? >> no, ma'am. he is a decent family man, a citizen that i happen to have disagreements on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. >> the inevitable happened. >> an african-american has broken the barrier as old as the
republic. >> john mccain conceded graciously. >> i call on all americans to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe always in the promise and greatness of america. >> i've never heard a finer speech out of him, ever. that told me in so many different levels, it told the world what this country was about. >> i loved it. i look forward to it. i love the campaigning. my second favorite state new hampshire. the town hall meetings, in people's living rooms, the interaction. >> the bus. >> yeah, riding around with jerks like you on the bus. i mean, to think really that you could be competitive for president of the united states. it is incredible that sometimes i would literally pinch myself.
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michael dukakis loves this neighborhood. he's lived here for 50 years. he is 82 now. every morning he takes a two-mile walk. >> let me tell you. it is the best exercise there is. nothing better than this. >> and he picks up garbage along his route. >> i can't stand living in a dirty city. >> the same civic minded man who now stoops to pick up trash -- >> i don't know why people do this. >> -- once soared almost to the top of american politics. 1988 was the year michael
dukakis took a run at the white house. >> we're going to win this race. we're going to win this race. >> when he first began campaigning -- >> mike dukakis, how are you? >> do you know this book? i can take a bath? >> the governor of massachusetts had almost no national profile. >> when i came out here 10 or 11 months ago, nobody knew what a dukakis was. >> in just a year he went from national nobody to the democratic nominee. with a big post convention lead over vice president george bush. >> a new nbc news "wall street journal" poll shows dukakis leading george bush. >> how do you blow a lead that big? >> it was an election that could have been won, should have been won and i didn't win it.
>> how do you lose to a guy labeled a wimp? >> i made a decision which turned out to be maybe the dumbest decision. i simply would not respond to the bush campaign. i said no, i won't do it. >> in a move almost unthinkable today, dukakis decided to go positive in one of the dirtiest and nastiest campaigns in modern history. >> you'd better be ready for the attacks and you'd better have a carefully thought-out plan for dealing with them. >> the first attack, rumors metly unfounded, that dukakis suffered from depression. >> any medication taken for anything like that? >> do you think you're fit to govern by having medical records made public? >> i'm not going to pick on an invalid. >> my doctor will be happy to give you his full opinion on my
condition and he will tell you that i am a very healthy guy. >> he dropped 8 points in one week. and then he handed the bush campaign a gift. he took a ride in an m-1 tank. >> when they said, sir, would you like to ride in one of the tanks, the advance person, someone should have said, no, he doesn't want to do that. >> the mocking by the press began. even before the ride was over. >> oh no! >> a horrific mistake. >> oh, come on. >> he looked like one of those bobble head dolls that you put in front of you in a car. >> i never wear a hat at all.
>> a helmet. >> it was ridiculous. >> what do you think? did i look like i belonged up there? >> the bush campaign didn't think so. they made an ad out of the tank ad. >> michael dukakis has opposed virtually every defense system we developed. >> it ran before an audience of millions during the world series. >> now he wants to be our commander-in-chief. america can't afford that risk. >> perhaps the toughest blow was the now infamous willy horton ad. >> willy horton who murdered a boy. >> horton was a convicted murder here got a weekend if you are low under a program sponsored by michael dukakis. while out of jail, he committed a vicious rape. the sub text of the horton ad was race. >> what about this racism thing this. >> the oldest racial symbol in
the book. a black man raping a white woman. the most liberal furlough program in america in 1988 was the furlough program under the reagan-bush administration. and i never said that. >> why? >> because i wasn't going to respond to the attack. which in retrospect sounds crazy, doesn't it? >> despite all of it, bush hadn't knocked dukakis out. as they entered the final presidential debate, bush was only slightly ahead in the polls. >> the first question goes to governor dukakis. >> right out of the gate, bernie shaw threw a grenade. >> governor, if kitty dukakis were raped and murdered. >> would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer? >> no, i don't. and i think you know that i opposed the death penalty all of my life. i don't see any evidence that it is a deterrent.
i think there are better ask more effective ways to deal with violent crime. >> the candidate treated it like a policy question. not a personal one. >> you didn't seem to have a natural human impulse. >> i've been answered it a thousand times. the answer is i would like the kill the guy. i don't think there's any doubt about how i feel about my wife. >> finally, at the end of the campaign, he started to punch back. >> friends, this is garbage. this is political garbage. >> but it was too late. >> a good chance. >> the man who had once been up by 18 points lost 40 states. >> nbc news now projects that george bush is president-elect of the united states. >> how do you get over it? >> to be blunt about it, losing sucks. i've had both experiences. winning is a much, much better
condition. there is nothing great about losing. >> we're talking about evaluation -- >> dukakis is now a college professor, happily out of the arena, teaching students what it is like to be in it. >> legislators can't handle certain different messages. when you run for the presidency, with all of its ups and downs, you are so struck by how special this country is. and about the thousands and thousands of people who are willing to just pour themselves into this effort. because they believe in you and your values and so forth. it is pretty overwhelming. and i've never forgotten that.
now that fedex has helped us we could focus on bigger issues, like our passive aggressive environment. we're not passive aggressive. hey, hey, hey, there are no bad suggestions here... no matter how lame they are. well said, ann. i've always admired how you just say what's in your head, without thinking. very brave. good point ted. you're living proof that looks aren't everything. thank you. welcome. so, fedex helped simplify our e-commerce business and this is not a passive aggressive environment. i just wanted to say, you guys are doing a great job. what's that supposed to mean? fedex. helping small business simplify e-commerce.
you tell me. you ask -- >> al gore lost to george w. bush in 2000. a simple statement of fact, right? gore lost. >> he won the election. okay. he won the national vote. he won. >> i will never give up. i will always fight. >> when it comes to the 2000 presidential election, nothing is simple. it is very hard to believe that you have been elected president but you won't be inaugurated. >> the fact is al gore did get more votes. over 500,000 more votes.
but bush won florida and therefore, he won the electoral college. it is how bush won florida that drives democrats crazy. >> waiting for the florida result -- >> it began with one very long and messy election night. first, there was this. >> all together -- >> excuse me one second. mike, you know i wouldn't do this if it weren't big. >> florida goes for al gore. >> then, two hours later, this. >> stand by. stand by. cnn right now is moving our earlier declaration of florida back to the too close to call column. >> again, all the networks followed. >> now we're putting it back into the undecided column. >> for hours, television journalists waited. >> this is the answer. get it right.
>> finally, around 2:00 in the morning, everyone called the race. >> george bush, governor of texas, will become the 43rd president of the united states. >> al gore who had been waiting in a hotel room in nashville, tennessee, called george bush to concede. at 3:00 a.m., he went to the war memorial in nashville to publicly concede. >> it was total chaos as we were trying to get into the war memorial, pouring rain, the vice president and lieberman's family and that whole group had gone in. everybody was out there. >> i got on the phone with bill daly and he said what's up, mike? and i said billy, we haven't lost. this will be an automatic recampus. this is too close to call. >> grab the vice president, get him into a holding room with joe lieberman. do not let anyone go out.
everybody freeze. >> the numbers were so screwed up that no one was sure who had won. so the battle began. for 36 days, a furious legal struggle. the democrats fought for a recount while republicans fought to stop it. finally, bush appealed to the supreme court. the ruling stopped the counting. it was over. >> this is america and we put country before party. we will stand together behind our new president. >> so what happens when you lose an election but you don't really? al gore has rarely spoken about it. in 2002, he talked to larry king about the way he ran the race. >> oh, i made a lot of mistakes.
i take full responsibility. >> i think one of the things i've learned from the campaign is that it is always a mistake to hold back in any way. let it rip and let the chips fall where they may. >> like so many others who lost the presidency, gore had trouble being himself. >> teddy kennedy was a natural politician. bill clinton is a natural politician. i think for al gore, it was a learned art. >> bill clinton looked better missing the shot than al gore looked making the shot. >> he was sometimes criticized as a tech nocrat. translation, a smarty pants. like when he debated george w. bush and sigh in the exasperation at bush's answers. when he used the word lock box -- >> i will put medicare and social security in a lock box and protect. lock box.
lock box. >> over and over again. >> that was partly my fault. >> it was? >> i said we have to make sure that you get lock box thing in there. i didn't think he would do it five or six times and i knew that saturday night hive would satirize it. >> i would put in it what i call a lock box. the lock box. lock box. >> after it was all over, gore began a whole new career. he began his passion for the environment and made the film, an invent truthful. >> we are causing global warming. >> in 2007 he won the nobel prize. >> maybe gore, all these guys who might be less defined by politics than most, i'm not sure. a very -- i think he is a
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former vice president walter mondale is just plain fed up with the mess in washington. >> we can't get anything done. it's hurting our country. it's the heart of whether we could regain our strength. surely politicians should talk about how they want to solve that. how are you going to get it done? what are the numbers? >> it has been 32 years since he lost the presidency to ronald reagan. >> i am ready to be president. >> at 88, mondale may be the last truly honest man in politics. he refused lie or even fudge a little. >> mr. reagan, will raise taxes and so will i. he won't tell you. i just did.
>> he was calling for mourning in america and i was calling for a root canal. >> the problem was, reagan's optimism plagued better than mondale's root canal. >> the hollywood idea that everything is fine. >> in 1976, mondale went to the white house as jimmy carter's vice president. admired as one of the most substantive vice presidents in history, he knew how the white house worked so he hoped he could wow the voters in his crucial first debate against reagan. >> when i left the dressing room where i was, walked 50 feet to the platform, that's the longest walk i ever took in my life. >> and he came out swinging.
>> we've got to deal with this problem. >> reagan stumbled badly. >> the system is still where it was with regard to -- the -- with regard -- >> he seemed confused and tired. he was grabbing on to that lectern and i was very worried about him. >> even then there were whispers about alzheimer's, but mondale refused hit reagan on his memory. >> i wouldn't do it, that's not my kind of politics. >> but then in the next debate, reagan rebounded and was funny, the oldest man ever to run for president hit the age issue out of the park. >> i will not make age an issue of this campaign. i'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.
>> and what are you thinking? >> i was laughing while i was crying. you know, i knew he -- it hit home. >> dondale had hoped he could grab voters within historic presidential choice. >> my name is geraldeen feraro. >> the late congresswoman from queens was the first woman ever on a major presidential ticket. feraro helped briefly, but then the polls just kept sinking. >> it hurts. you're tired, you're emotionally exhausted. your poor family's been put through the ringer. >> could you see it in the crowds? >> the crowds were very friendly. they cheered but if you looked in their eyes, they know it's not going well. >> right now, the numbers as we have them, the electoral vote -- look what ronald reagan has, 522
electoral votes. >> it was the biggest margin of defeat in american history. like most runners up, he's still haunted by what might have been. >> remember i asked george mcgo doct vern how long does it take to get over this, and when i get over, this i'll call you. you never get over it. >> you never get over it. still for walter mondale, no regrets. >> you would do it all again? >> yes. >> so you don't regret that you ran? >> no, no, i'm glad i ran. i'm proud of it. healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine.
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running for president is not the deal. it's having a chance to be. that's the deal. >> and it changes who you are? >> it changes who you are and changes everything. >> richard ben kramer, the late poet of american politics wrote that presidential candidates start out more or less the same with huge ambition, strong will, and faith in themselves. they're winners used to winning. >> i hate to lose. >> then you want to win again. >> they're willing to suspend everything. >> it's a whole different ball game when you run for presidency, and the scrutiny. >> and they're willing to taking
any. >> the exposure, the attacks. >> it hurts. you're tired, you're emotionally exhausted. >> and they savage you. >> finally, they're willing to lose in what kramer called a great national fire ball of failure. >> we just didn't get the job done. >> i don't have any comment. >> pure agony. it's an elite club, these runners up, but even with all of their regrets, they're wishing that mistakes could be undone. the men who were almost president, would do it all again. >> you are so struck by how special this country is. it's a real thrill and an experience that we will never forget. >> and to think that you could come in second for president of the united states, it's incredible.
♪ 55 days to go and it is neck-and-neck. the latest polls giving us a snapshot and the doctors giving us a look at the candidates themselves. this is cnn i'm don lemon. donald trump is making strides in our latest cnn/orc poll. trump holds a narrow lead over hillary clinton in ohio. the rivals locked in it near-even contest in florida. and in the statistical dead heat nationally in the latest quinnipiac poll, meanwhile, hillary clinton recovering from pneumon pneumonia, releases a doctors letter that reveals new details about her diagnosis and her overall health and donald trump addresses