tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN December 1, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PST
she gave george this bible, and i think that poem does reflect george bush's life. "i would be true for there are those who trust me." >> i would be true. >> for there are those who trust me. >> >> i would be pure, for there are those who care. >> those who care. >> our challenges are great. but our will is greater. >> i would be strong for there is much to suffer. >> i would be strong for there is much to suffer. >> i would be dare for there is much to dare. >> i fought more my country.
>> i served. >> for there is much to dare. >> i would be friend to all, the foe, the friendless. >> i would be friend to all, the foe, the friendless. >> i would be giving and forget the gift. >> i am running for president because i honestly deeply believe i can change things. >> i would be humble, for i know my weakness. >> a thousand points of light. >> i would look up and laugh. >> and laugh. >> and love. >> and love. >> and lift. >> when we were first married, i had no idea what my life was going to be. might have scared me if i had known but nobody in the world has ever had the life i've had. i've had none of the
responsibilities and all of the joys of being the wife of george bush. >> i, george herbert walker bush do solemnly swear -- >> george bush took himself lightly and took his responsibilities to help his fellow man seriously. and he's a man of enormous love. >> he achieved the highest office in the land, but he did not abandon any of his principles, any of his decency, any of his caring for his fellow man. >> he would always ask you about your family, no matter who he talked to at the white house, groundskeepers, guy cutting the grass, he knew your name. and he never asked you how's your wife or how's your son. he would call them by name. >> in crucial things, unity. in important things, diversity. in all things, generosity. >> on my twitter profile, i have
one of my grandfather's quotes and it's any definition of a successful life must include service to others. >> when people are giving back, those contributions are what clearly bridges all of us, democrat, republican, independent, and it's fair to say that you couldn't have a better model for that than george h.w. bush. >> i think george bush saw politics as the path to public service. >> you think about his service to us as a nation, to be a war hero, to be an ambassador to china, u.s. representative at the u.n., to be the vice president of the united states, to be the president of the united states, to be the father of a future president. this man has affected this country and served this country in so many ways. >> he could pound his chest and say look at all i've done, but instead, he would always say this is what i believe in.
>> he just has an extraordinary sense of humor. sometimes it catches you off guard. and when he can turn a prank against someone, it's always delicious for him. >> he has a rare humor, loves a good story. can't remember a punchline but loves a good story. >> i really wanted to get it down to the bare essence of just -- i keep hearing that president bush is doing it. did you see, he did it on tv, he did it again. so he actually became pretty good at the impression of himself. >> i have interviewed or known eight presidents, maybe nine, and if i had to drive from boston to st. louis with one of them, the one i would pick to go
with would be george bush senior. >> you can't be around president bush and not come away a better person yourself. it's impossible. he will rub off on you. he's the sort of person that you like being around. he makes you want to be a little bigger, little better. i do believe there are more people like him, the world would be a better place. >> i arrived at andover in 1941 september and we had a system at andover where they did a form of hazing for new boys. they had everyone who was new had to wear a little blue beanie so you couldn't escape it.
and that first week, as i was on my way for i think lunch, this guy said okay, i want you to come over with me to my room, i've got a big stuffed chair, i want you to get that chair over to my new room, and i weighed about 105 pounds at that time, and i looked at the chair and i couldn't possibly lift the damn thing, and so i'm now outside and i'm trying to move that chair and finally, i realize can't do it and i say i can't do it, i'm sorry, i cannot move that chair, at which point peter got me in a hammerlock with my right arm behind my back and started to put pressure on, and i remember my phrase was you can break it off, i can't move it. at which point, i heard the words "leave the kid alone." 6
peter dropped me like a hot potato and the next thing i knew, i'm standing there, he's moving the chair back to his dorm and i asked somebody who was standing there also, who the heck was that? and the answer was that was poppy bush. and i said is poppy bush? the answer was he's just the best guy in the school. i learned that poppy bush was a soccer player and he played baseball and starting that fall, whenever there was a home game, i was out there just looking at the guy who kept me from being bullied by that s.o.b., and all i knew is i had a hero that has been a hero for my whole life. >> when i think about my grandfather and the incredible man that he is, i think about this incredible strength that he embodies but it's really a
strength that comes through an amazingly gentle soul. he really is of an older age of thought in american society, and i think that world war ii was a defining time in my grandfather's life. >> you know, he joined the navy at 18. he graduated from high school and had a scholarship at yale, but he elected to go into the service. >> i have asked him, why did you sign up, and he said he remembers sitting in an andover auditorium right after pearl harbor was attacked, and there was this spirit that, you know, he wanted to be a part of. he wanted to go defend america. he wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. he became the youngest naval aviator in the history of the navy at that time to earn his flying wings. i don't think there's a day that goes by my grandfather doesn't think about those two men who were in his plane that shot down those two young boys and they were younger than i am now, and
only one survived. it was my grandfather, and i think part of him has wanted to live a full life in part to honor those two men. >> i remember asking him about that flight where he was hit with heavy flak going in. i said what did you see, why didn't you bail out. he said i had some flame under my wings. i said that's where your fuel tanks are, why didn't you bail out then? and he looked at me for what appeared to be the longest time, and he said i hadn't completed my mission. and that embodied george bush's life. i added a word to his speech that year in which he talked about running for president and he said the words -- >> this is my mission and i will complete it. >> and you always had the feeling with him that whatever he said, he would do. >> i always thought the larger
impact of world war ii on president bush was that he got to know the rest of america. he had grown up in new england in a patrician family, he had anything that you could want as a young man in terms of opportunity and education, and yet he quickly volunteered for service and then when he was in the service, he got to know working class kids from the middle west or he got to know people from the barrios of the southwest. he had to read their mail because as an officer he was censoring what they were sending home. he said at 18 or 19 i learned a lot about the sex drive, for example. and i learned a lot about not having air conditioning when you live in the city. i thought that was probably the most instructive part of world war ii for him in addition to going in harm's way to defend your country. welcome to the place where people go
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george bush came back as a decorated war hero after world war ii and resumed his education at yale. and ended up being captain of the yale baseball team that became champions that year. there's a great photograph of babe ruth just six months before his death coming to be part of a ceremony with george bush, the captain of the yale champs. the president loved the game, even when he was in the white house. i think he recognized how crucial and important it was, and i think part of his extended love of the game is that he felt it was part of the american tradition. >> well, the president enjoyed having sports teams come to the white house just because he was involved in so many sports himself, and he was always inviting teams to come or individuals to come, and the
highlight for me was one day when he invited joe dimaggio and ted williams to come to the white house. >> when i was chief of staff in 1991, which happened to be the year of the 50th anniversary for two great achievements by two of baseball's all-time greats, ted williams being the last batter to hit .400, he hit .406 in 1941, and joe dimaggio also had his 56-game hitting streak. >> i have a confession. i didn't think that i would get to meet royalty so soon after the queen's visit, but nevertheless, here they are. i was 17 years old during their famous 1941 season, and 50 years later, that 41 season just remains the season of dreams. >> my wife rosie and i were invited down to the bush library and museum.
they maintained an apartment at the library which mr. and mrs. bush took us up to see, and in the living room, hanging over the couch, were five photographs. the big picture in the center, the one nobody could possibly miss seeing, was of president bush with ted williams and joe dimaggio in the rose garden, but the thing that struck me was what a marvelous photograph it was of each of the three, and each of the three had signed it. and so i expressed genuine enthusiasm for the photograph. two weeks after rosie and i had returned to boston, a big tube arrived in the mail, and it was the picture, and it's one of our family's treasures now. it was just such a sign of not just the president's generosity, but his natural spirit of friendship.
>> i would be pure -- >> for there are those -- >> those who care. >> i think the most famous trademark was his note writing and his thoughtfulness. >> the guy wrote thousands of handwritten notes to people all around the country. >> no matter what was going on, no matter what controversy was swirling, he would write that note, he would make that phone call in the middle of absolute pandemonium. >> the best stuff is when he leaves a message on your phone. hey, mike, this is george bush 41 down here in houston. 903 games. wow, no one has ever done that before. >> go to a hotel as president of the united states and the doormen open the door for him, would help him, he would write the guy a note. >> how good is that? that's president bush. >> there are those who care. >> time of my life when i was really at my lowest, i was just rock bottom in terms of people i had let down and of course, in
gampy in his classic way, he would send me a note and give me the perspective that someone's always got my back. >> president bush does not have a bad temper. >> the president never raised his voice. >> but there would be a look in his eye that everybody understood. >> the eyes narrow just a little bit and the head tilts forward. >> then he will start chewing on his cheek. >> he would just give this just sort of kind of -- >> and the only thing to do at that point was run. >> i saw it once only. and it wasn't for me. dad gave this unnamed famous person the look. >> oh, yeah. i said the great gift of his is unconditional love but i tested the unconditionality part of it. >> there is something about my father. there's a boundary that you don't go across. mom has the rules, dad has the standards. dad only enforces the rules by being such a great dad that you wouldn't want to disappoint him.
>> the summer after i graduated from college, i was in kennebunkport, maine, i went to lunch with my grandfather on the boat. the one material possession he really cares about is his speed boat. he calls it fidelity. he's had five editions of it now. >> he's a natural captain. >> the president, that's his passion. he loved driving his boat. >> my dad has two speeds when he's in his boat, neutral and all out. the rougher the seas, the better for him. >> nobody in my family touches fidelity because they know how much he values it. >> we pulled back in and the tide was very low, and my grandfather said, you know, pierce, why don't you take it out for me. this is an amazing moment to be asked to take the boat to the mooring is a huge amount of responsibility and he hasn't really offered it to me so i felt really special. as fate would have it, the boat
ended up on the rocks. did not make it to the mooring. i would like to say it was not my fault but because i was the man at the helm, it was my fault and i felt terrible about it. >> i saw it from my office window and it was just so shocking to see fidelity up on those rocks, and unfortunately, it sat there for a very long time, because they had to wait for the tide to come in and to keep it from shattering on the rocks, a bunch of guys volunteers, pierce, of course, some off-duty secret service agents, they held on to the boat with ropes just to try to keep it as stable as possible. it was not a good day. >> i was so down in the dumps about it. to add insult to injury, the next day, my grandmother's a little bit more of a rules person than my grandfather, and one of her rules is you cannot take her smart car without asking her permission. well, she had just had double
knee surgery and i thought she's not going to be driving her car, and i don't want to wake her up from a nap so i'm going to take my cousin robert to a movie. long story short, i returned home, i was down in the dumps about the boat. gave me an ass chewing is probably the only way to really describe it about taking her car without asking her. i literally, i was 22 at the time. i like broke into tears and had to run off the room like a little kid, and really, i literally could not have done more harm in my opinion at this time, and i looked on my bed and there was this note sitting on my bed and it was addressed to my man pierce. it was my grandfather's very distinct handwriting. it said this. it said pierce, i remember days when i felt i could do nothing right, but then the sun would come up and a bright day would embrace me. do not worry about the boat or car incidents.
you are a good man who got a bad bounce, but all is well. believe me, i hate to see you worrying in doubt. you brighten my life so forget yesterday and today's little and he underlined little incidents. you da man, and i love you. gammy does too. gampy. he has this amazing ability to sense when somebody's down and has this amazing ability in his own unique way to lift that person up. in hindsight, i'm glad the boat crashing incident happened because i'll have this note for the rest of my life, and every time i'm down on something, i will pull it up and you know, my grandfather's words will lift me up. when you buy one of the latest sumsung phones you get a free 50" samsung 4k tv. seriously, no! [announcer]seriously! t-mobile is giving you a free 50" tv.
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so the question is how do he end up getting to be president of the united states, because the idea is somehow public service precludes nice people. >> my friends and yes, i do mean friends, in the loyal opposition and yes, i mean loyal, i put out my hand, i'm putting out my hand to you, mr. speaker, i'm putting out my hand to you, mr. majority leader, for this is the thing. this is the age of the offered hand. >> a lot of people don't remember when my dad was elected president, the democrats controlled the congress and so working in a bipartisan way was essential to get things done. and from the inauguration all the way through his four years as president, in spite of an increasing harshness of the political debate, he did what he could to build consensus. >> i think george bush understood and still understands that the way we judge our
presidents is on the basis of what elements of their program they get passed through the congress, and implemented into law. >> the american people await action. they didn't send us here to bicker. they asked us to rise above the merely partisan. >> if you go back and look at the four years that george bush was president, you will see more substantive, comprehensive bipartisan pieces of legislation passed than perhaps any four years in a long time. >> he got a clean air act, the civil rights bill of 1990. he worked hard to get the americans with disabilities act passed. people do remember the budget agreement and that budget agreement was much more significant than people realize. it forced the congress that worked with his successor, bill clinton, to come up with balanced budgets, which really made a huge difference in the economy. >> he had earned a lot of
respect and trust from governors, republicans and democrats around the country, and it was an invitation for civil dialogue. >> the agreement that we get won't be the best deal possible but in my judgment, it will be the best deal possible with this congress. >> he loved to invite people to be part of the solution, regardless of their philosophical or partisan persuasion. >> his method of friendship and legislating was person to person. didn't matter how liberal they were or conservative they were, if they had to do with doing something for america, he was pushing for it. >> quietly, george bush senior has taken on a lot of very hard jobs. he, throughout his life, has shown great courage. jim baker told me a great story. when bush was a young congressman, the open housing
vote was coming up in congress. >> you know, i was a southerner. i knew how important that open housing thing was. he was one of these new republican congressmen from texas and he voted for it. >> i was at the time still a nominal democrat, as most everybody was in texas, particularly lawyers, and i remember it was a very, very difficult vote for him because it ran totally contrary to the wishes of many of his backers. >> george bush got a lot of flack from his district. there was still a lot of bigotry and a lot of discrimination in texas and the south, because people wanted to be able to exclude people from neighborhoods if they were not of their same race or their same creed, and this law was going to abolish that and make that illegal. and he just said i'm going to support it regardless of the fallout.
>> baker said he went to a school gymnasium with bush, and bush walked through the gymnasium, people were screaming no, no, no, booing him, and he got in front of that crowd and he said these men fought with me in the pacific and they have a right to live wherever they want to live. >> you know, we were so proud of him for doing it, but some major donors pulled out and got very angry. but as in so many cases in his life, he had the courage to do what he thought was right, regardless of the public opinion. these folks, they don't have time to go to the post office they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use stamps.com
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the president in making his decisions made decisions not just for the moment, but for the future. fall of the berlin wall is another case where the president didn't take advantage of what could have been very popular, but did the right thing. >> the berlin wall is still standing, but its significance as a barrier to freedom has crumbled. >> the day the berlin wall came down is one that's indelibly etched in my memory. we quickly got ourselves together and went over to the oval office and talked the president through what was happening there. >> i thought you know, mr. president, we probably ought to have a press conference or you need to have some kind of statement for the press just to put this in historical perspective and say how you feel. and his first reaction was no, i don't want to do that. >> so we said to him mr. president, you have to go to berlin, you have to go for kennedy, you have to go for truman, you have to go for
reagan, all of whom were associated with monumental events in berlin's history. and he very quietly just said what would i do if i went to berlin, dance on the wall? this is a german moment, not an american moment. and we need to make it so. >> marvin fitzwater called and told the president we can't hold off any longer. you've got to make some kind of a comment to the press. so the president asked the press delegation to come into his office. >> they were shouting and screaming, you would think it was a birthday celebration, and leslie stahl goes right up to the edge of the president's desk and leslie has this long arm, and pointed finger, she was pointing at the president, mr. president, what do you think about this? >> you don't seem elated. i'm wondering if you're thinking of the problems -- >> i'm not an emotional kind of guy. i'm very pleased. i have been very pleased with a
lot of other developments. >> the press were jumping all over him about not showing any emotion when the berlin wall came down because we had won the cold war. >> the image of east germans dancing on top of the berlin wall is a welcome sight in washington but the bush administration is taking a cautious approach. >> the president said look, i got bigger things, more important things, to do. he was absolutely right. we still had a lot of stuff we needed to do with the leaders of the soviet union, and he didn't have to wait long, actually, because he met with gorbachev a summit meeting the month after the wall came down. >> we had prepared a very long opening statement in which president bush was going to talk about the great events unfolding and the responsibilities of the united states and the soviet union for the peaceful end of the hostilities between the two countries, and it was i thought quite eloquent since i had personally prepared it, but george bush put the paper aside
and he said they've prepared all of this for me to say. i just want to talk to you about the responsibility and the opportunity that we have before us. i thought wow, that was really something. and gorbachev relaxed and you could see the weight come from his shoulders, too, and then they just talked. >> i'm especially glad we had this meeting, and we did gain a deeper understanding of each other's views. we set the stage for progress across a broad range of issues. >> he understood the pressures on mikhail gorbachev, both culturally, from members of his party and government there, members of the communist party, and that he had to work as president of the united states to allow these changes to take place in a way that did not make gorbachev feel like he was losing, and i think that's one of the great talents and arts that george bush displayed as
president of the united states. >> both sides committed themselves instead to achieving a strong effective treaty. >> democracy had prevailed. nato had prevailed. the united states values had prevailed. this was a time when any normal average person would have gloated and said we did it, we're number one, we're this, we're that. but president bush did not do that. >> i remember at the time recalling something that churchill wrote. he wrote it becoming prime minister, he felt at the moment he became prime minister that all his life had been a preparation for that moment. i think as the soviet union trembled on the brink of collapsing, george bush's experience, george bush's background, george bush's nature, george bush's instinct and george bush's capacity to bring things together, to enable something to happen, were crucial to helping bring that about.
he truthfully might have said of that event that all his life had been a preparation for that moment. >> what i like to remind people is that there is no precedent in history for the collapse of a great empire without a major war. and the period 1989 to 1991 was one of the most momentous historically i think since world war ii, and that some day george bush will get the credit he deserves for having managed that. >> bush developed a very close relationship with gorbachev. >> he always made gorbachev feel the equal. >> and in the end, gorbachev was essentially removed from office when the country was dissolved and the first phone call he made was to george bush.
>> i said to president bush, i said what was this conversation? this is extraordinary that in the last waning moments of the soviet union, gorbachev called you. and typical of george bush, he hadn't thought much of it. he's such a humble man that he had really not seen the significance of that. >> gorbachev called him to say good-bye and to say how much it meant to him that they had had this relationship over the last couple of years, and offered to help in any way, and president bush said my horseshoe pit is always open, mikhail. come any time you want. ...and i found out that i'm from the big toe of that sexy italian boot! so this holiday season it's ancestrydna per tutti! order your kit now at ancestry.com
i would be humble -- >> for i know my weakness. >> he is truly one of the most modest people i know. >> he would always tell me how his mother pounded into him ever since he was a young child, do not gloat. >> when he scored a soccer goal, she said don't tell me how you scored, how did the team do, george. >> he always says don't gloat. people will know that you're good. so he always tried to be humble. but he was humble with strength. >> when my dad was at the united nations, i lived in the waldorf with my parents, which is where the united states ambassador's residence was. and it was like eloise at the plaza but it was dora at the waldorf. >> i got to know president bush when he was the ambassador to the united nations. my admiration for him grew out
of the fact that we came from such different backgrounds. he's the patrician, the w.a.s.p., i'm the little jewish boy from the bronx who became temporarily notorious for my exploits as a reporter in new york. back in the early '70s, a smartass reporter wrote a piece for "new york" magazine in which he listed the ten most overrated men in new york. on the list were the president and myself, and what the bushes decided was they would invite all these guys on the list to a party. >> so dad, in his typical way, sent out a letter and the letter began dear mr. overrated so and so, i want to invite you to my house so we can look you over and see why you're so overrated.
>> it was christmastime and they invited all the guys on the list to the party. the bushes were very gracious. they served us champagne and the future president stood up on these red velvet chairs and offered a toast to all those present. >> dad got up on the chair at the party and did sort of a dramatic reading of the actual article. >> we had a nice gathering and the russian ambassador was there, he was overheard to say what is this overrated thing. it was very difficult to explain to him why we're having a party cheering the overrated. >> i got a flavor of the sense of humor. he was a guy applauding an article that more sensitive souls might feel bashed him, and he took it as a badge of honor.
i have a card here that he gave me at one point when he was vice president. "gabe, few recall that you and i won that distinct honor in 1972. yes, we were two of the ten most overrated new yorkers. i was lucky but you earned it. all the best, george bush." >> george bush was the quintessentially perfect vice president for ronald reagan. he knew what the role of a vice president should be. he knew you didn't get out there and talk a lot and find yourself juxtaposed against the president. >> i remember how contentious the campaign was in 1980 and he and dad were not friends particularly. >> president reagan didn't want
to pick ambassador bush to be his vice presidential nominee, and you will remember at the 1980 convention, all the machinations about maybe getting former president ford to become the vice presidential nominee. >> how weird that was, that a former president would be considered. how would that work? >> but the fact of the matter is, those of us in the bush suite at the hotel, we watched all this happening on television, we sort of thought it was over. in terms of whether we had a chance of being picked for the number two slot. >> finally george came out and he said bar and i are going to bed. i just want to say it's been a wonderful evening and sorry it didn't work out. so we go out the door and at that moment, jim baker, the campaign manager, said these deathless words in my memory. "it's not over yet."
>> i answered the phone in the suite that night when reagan called. george took the phone and started talking and after awhile he said yes, sir, i could. yes, sir, i will. yes, sir, i could. then he went like this to us. >> i have asked and i am recommending to this convention that tomorrow, when the session reconvenes, that george bush -- [ cheering ] -- be nominated. >> he and president reagan became very, very good friends. and president reagan depended upon him quite a bit. >> he was very loyal as a vice president and that was a great signal to all of us who were on the president's staff. if the vice president who ran against ronald reagan for the presidency could demonstrate the kind of loyalty that he showed, we should be doing the same as well. a drug-free blend of botanicals with melatonin
a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! i was with president bush when he was the vice president. i was in charge of his protective detail. we were in boise, idaho, a restaurant in the downtown area. the whole front of the restaurant is glass.
and over the radio, we saw a person in the parking lot with a sawed off shotgun. so very quickly, the agents took the vice president and put him under the table, the tablecloth coming down on the side, and there's two of them under the table with him, one on each side, and between the two of them, covering his entire body. and the one was covering his head very closely and his face was right in the agent's armpit. and the agent was telling him play by play what was happening. okay, mr. vice president, it's been resolved they've got the guy in custody. the next day on the airplane as they're traveling, here comes the vice president back through the plane with a big can of deodorant spray. and he said yours wasn't bad, but i think this was better. please use this from now on. >> that's pretty typical of george h.w. bush. he loves a good joke. when he needled, he never
needled for harm or hurt. he needled to enliven and to enhance the spirit. >> the university of michigan won the national championship. we thought we would try to do something different. so i had a basketball court set up in the rose garden. the president came out to check it out. and the president played basketball terribly. he was a terrible basketball player. so i thought to myself, well, we're not giving him the ball. the event transpires and the president says to rubio rumiel robinson, who had made the final second free throw that won the game for michigan, and he says okay, rumiel, now you're at the white house. this is real pressure. >> right here, we have a little demonstration. >> there's all this buzz about oh, this is kind of fun. and he very dramatically takes off his coat.
walks to the free-throw line, he dribbles a few times, he stops. dribbles a few times more, he stops. then cool as a cucumber he throws the ball up. then what was not in the script was rumiel robinson takes the ball and turns to president bush and says your turn. i'm sure my face went white because now the president is going to try to make a free throw. it was one of the most ungamely free throw attempts i have ever seen. >> it was a snapshot into this, like, boyish enthusiasm for competition and games and this playfulness you almost don't know how to react to it at times. and it's hilarious.