tv First Ladies Influence and Image CSPAN November 16, 2015 12:01am-1:36am EST
promoters need to understand more about how there be dust being paid in how the artist is used and compensated. -- mondayonster night night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. history tv is featuring c-span's original series, first ladies, influence and image, 8:00 p.m. easter sunday night throughout the rest of the year. c-span produced the series in cooperation with white house commission. we tell stories of america's 45 first lady. now, nancy reagan. this is about 90 minutes. ♪
>> thank you for your support and the kids for just saying no. thank you. my hope is that the women of the future will feel truly free to follow whatever path their talents and their natures offer them. i think they thought that the white house was so glamorous, and that what you did was so glamorous, and your life was so glamorous. all they saw were the parties and the greeting people. i have got to tell you, i have never worked harder in my life. >> nancy reagan was ronald reagan's fiercest protector. she was active in key staff decisions and in campaigning.
she had a signature white house issue with her "just say no" campaign. welcome to "first ladies: influence and image." let me introduce our two guests. judith woodruff is the coanchor of cbs' news hour. she coproduced a documentary about the first lady. thank you for being with us. he is the washington bureau chief. he is a californian who has been covering national politics since 1984 and cowrote a book with his father, a reagan biography. lou, nice to see you. we looked at hundreds of hours of video about the reagan presidency in the c-span library. we decided to start with the closing chapter. this is footage from the funeral
series, especially in the 20th century, many of the first ladies were political partners with her husbands. was this a particularly special partnership between the two of them? >> it was from the very beginning, from the sacramento days, from the hollywood days. but the partnership we see as nancy pats the coffin, it is heartbreaking. you imagine her patting his shoulder every night for 10 years. every night it was like losing him again. i think nancy got a rough start in this town, and she got a rough start in sacramento. she won everyone over in the 10 years that he had alzheimer's, she took care of him. >> maybe they weren't her words, the people around them called it the longest goodbye. it was 1994 when ronald reagan wrote that letter announcing to
the world that he had alzheimer's. it was not nearly as familiar to us as it is today. he would live another 10 years out of public view, but she was with him. they were in their home in bel-air, in los angeles. and the closeness was with them right up until the end, and you see that in the video. >> the christening of the boat was in 2001, my father and i were both there. it was a cold, blustery day in april. and she said, i have to get back. he is agitated when i am not in the house. she really was his caretaker.
>> let's talk a little bit about what the partnership meant in terms of national politics. what made this a successful quest for the white house? >> we have talked a long time about that. it was a remarkable partnership. it was a strong marriage. they loved each other deeply. it was very much a working partnership. once it was clear that ronald reagan was interested in politics, and it started when he was the spokesman for ge, traveling around the country. he was hired by ge around 1955, somewhere in there, and from that moment on, and when the friends they made decided that ronald reagan would be a great candidate for governor, and went on to be elected governor, that she was the person -- people i talked to call her the personnel
director. she made sure that the people around her husband had his best interest at heart. >> we are going to show a brief clip from "role of a lifetime" the cbs documentary, and she talks about what she brings to the relationship in terms of looking out for him. >> the first lady is another means to keep the president from being isolated. i talk to people. they tell me things. and if something is going to be a problem, i am not above calling a staff person. i make no apologies for looking out for his personal and political welfare. >> your thoughts on the partnership? >> she said she was the personnel director.
in september of 1980, when they started to hit a rocky road, and the campaign was in a little bit of trouble, it was nancy who said where stu spencer? he was only back in the campaign because nancy had helped bring about. there was one person he asked, is it ok? and that was nancy. nancy said it was her idea. >> we will have more time to talk about the white house years. we are going to go back and talk about the nancy reagan biography. before that we will talk about how you can be involved. your questions make it so much more interesting for us so we can take the conversation in the direction of your interest. you can see us on facebook and
find c-span's page. there is already a discussion going. you can also tweet is at first ladies. you can also use the good old phone. we will get the calls and probably about 10 minutes or so. let's go back to where she was born, in 1981. her early days were not easy. >> it was not the smoothest childhood. her mother was an actress. her father was a salesman. the marriage between edith and kenneth did not last long. nancy was around two years old when they divorced. her mother really wanted her acting career, and she wanted a
safe place for nancy. so she had nancy, until she was remarried, with nancy's aunt outside of washington. nancy lived in what was then a suburban neighborhood. the woman who was described as very different from her mother. her mother was very outgoing, was the life of the party, was in the middle of every conversation. her aunt was much more quiet. the rules were fairly strict. nancy herself talk about it. she talked in the interview in the documentary about how she missed her mother, and she would be thrilled with her mother came to visit. so it was rocky for a few years. >> what changed for nancy when her mother remarried to a chicago physician? >> there was money.
he was successful. she went to smith college. he was the doting parent she had lacked. for most of her life, that is the man she called her father. they gave her an idea of what a family could be. from that day forward, she had an idea of what she would like to be, and what she wanted out of life. and she wanted to build a family that was the family she didn't have. that was something that she and reagan had in common. she went to hollywood. she went to the theater, and then she went back to hollywood. she was typecast. she was cast as the steady woman. that is what she was. >> did nancy reagan and barbara bush know each other as students at smith college? >> i would have to ask. do you know?
i think nancy was leaving as barbara bush was coming in. >> she was only there a year or two, so i don't think so. that is a good question. >> we know that nancy went to new york to try acting right out of smith. she was in new york for two years before she went to hollywood. she had a contract at mgm studios. >> a question about her stepfather and the influence on her politics. dr. davis was very active in conservative politics. did that influence her? >> he was a republican. i think that did influence her. she married ronald reagan, and on their first date, reagan was discussing politics. and he's talking about
communism. he didn't like communism. she was receptive to his message. >> how did they meet? >> it is an interesting story. this is hollywood in the late 1940's when there was the communist scare. it was after the end of world war ii. people were named for being somehow associated with the communist party. nancy davis, which was her name at the time, showed up on a "blacklist." she knew that that was not she. and that was as someone who was in hollywood that was part of the communist party. she wanted to get her name off. she told her good friend, who i believe was a producer, she said how can i get this done? they said ronald reagan as the president of the screen actor's guild.
she said, as soon as i knew that, i knew who ronald reagan was. i said, absolutely, call him up. and i would be glad to meet with him. he said he would be glad to talk to her about this. and then one thing led to another. there was a meeting. then it became dinner. she really tells a funny story about how they both agreed to go to dinner but insisted it had to be an early evening because they had an early call, which neither one of the actually did. >> if the date doesn't work out, you can ended in a civil way, right? but they didn't ended early because they didn't have anywhere to be the next morning. >> that was 1941. >> when did they marry? >> 1952. >> so they had a three-year courtship. you will be seeing some video of people telling the story of
nancy and ronald reagan. this is about their early relationship and the love letters they shared. >> nancy was asked if it was love at first sight. she said, it might not have been, but it was pretty darn close. she was a very sentimental woman. she kept mementos of the relationship. all of the artifacts are on display in the museum, and a document how important they were to each other. one of the things that we have in here, which is very symbolic of their intense relationship, is a letter the president reagan wrote to his wife in 1953 when he was in new york, and he wrote a very charming letter to her. he wrote it as if she had actually joined him at dinner.
you can see how creative you was. the final page of the letter is very touching. let's take a look at that page, along with some of the other artifacts in the collection. this is that fourth page of the letter. it is where president reagan expresses his heartfelt feelings to his wife. this was written in 1953, about 1.5 years after they were married. he says, i suppose some people would find it unusual that you and i can so easily stand 3000 miles. but in truth, it comes very naturally. man cannot live without a heart, and you are my heart. you are the nicest thing about me and so very necessary. there would be no life without you, nor would i want anybody. signed, the eastern half of us. recently, mrs. reagan given us this little box that held precious keepsakes of
hers. when nancy reagan received her own dressing room when she was under contract to mgm, ronald reagan went to a jeweler and had a special key made for her. it had an image of a thespian on the front and on the back. she thought that was such a nice idea that two years later, after they were married and they bought their first home, she had keys made for their first home. and there is little house on the top. and they're both engraved with their initials. on his key, right above his initials it says, " our first." >> what were the early married years like?
>> they were married in 1952, and their daughter was born in 1952. she'd been getting some roles fairly steadily. and his career was the one that was stalling out at that point. then the ge offer came along. she became a homemaker. she did a few television roles in the first decade of the marriage. she was his wife, and the mother of patty, and i think years later ron junior was born. her family was her life, and she devoted all of her time to that. there is great story that once he went to work for ge, ge had an all electric house built for them, which had every imaginable special feature in it.
drape closures. the kind of things that we wouldn't think was a big deal today. but it was a big deal then. she became much closer to the wives who were influential. >> and ronald reagan brought two children to the marriage, maureen and michael reagan. by the time they came onto the national stage, first as governor of california, and then, of course, in the white house years, there were tensions between the kids. one of our viewers refers to this. they ask, what is the relationship between the kids and stepson now? we have a documentary that talks about the reagan partnership and
the effect on children. let's listen to ron reagan talk about life inside the ronald reagan household from his perspective. >> we were conscious, i think, growing up. i was. there were really two sets of people, to definite and distinct sets of people involved in the family. there was my mother and father, and there was everybody else. and while we were all part of the family, when push came to shove, there was a distinction to be made. it wasn't like, be seen and not heard, but it was -- you know, we were expected to put ourselves in second place to whatever they were doing. >> what can you add to this part of the story? >> ron reagan junior, the family
calls him skipper, and he tells the story about emotional distance. there's a kind who looks out the window and sees a kid playing football, and has to go and join the game, and there's the kind that goes back to his work. as he went on he said his dad was the kind who came out and played with the kids. you find yourself wondering, what was there beef? you keep hearing about this emotional distance that reagan had with his children. but he played ball with all of them. he was very involved. in his own mind he was a family man first. he separated hollywood people into those who had multiple marriages and family people. jim eyman left him, so he didn't want to be divorced. michael writes about it years
later when michael admits he was abused by camp counselor. he said the guy felt his pain, and reagan's eyes kind of glazed over. there was this emotional distance that was subtle that everybody talks about. sometimes people would blame nancy. but nancy, she once told my dad, after they left the white house, you can get so far with ronnie, and then something happens. it took him a long time to trust me. >> on twitter there is this question, today's hollywood is decidedly liberal. was ronald and nancy's
conservatism unusual in 1950's hollywood? >> i do not know that i am the right person to ask. there were other conservative women in the community. but those that supported ronald reagan and in his candidacy, were people not in the movie industry per se. >> there was jimmy stewart and people like that. >> i would not say that the conservatives were necessarily in the extreme minority, but they probably were not the majority. >> most of the people in hollywood were democrats. there is an interesting story about that. when reagan runs against pat brown, a popular two-term governor, pat thought it would be wise to run. he would say, he is an actor,
the way he would say, he's an idiot. people would say, why is this a winning strategy? but the people were from northern california. but in southern california people were proud of the movie industry. people were criticizing him for being an actor, and jack palance was there. they said, you can criticize this guy, but don't make fun of them because he is an actor. they said, he is one of us. and they were proud of him. >> we will take phone calls and then learn more about the governor's mansion in california. phil is watching in northern hollywood, ca. you are our first caller
tonight. >> i was at the reagan library, and i recommend it to everybody, whether you agree with their politics or not. i was struck by the omission. i was wondering what the dynamic was between the reagans and jane. i thought it was odd that there was one little line. it said, oh, yes, jane wyman, he was married to. obviously, mrs. reagan was in control of the presidential library. i was wondering if you had any insight on that. i really appreciate the program. >> thank you so much. >> i do not think we know very much about that. jane wyman was his first wife. and they were part of the family
after ronald and jane wyman divorced. but there was never any discussion that i heard of jane wyman. >> reagan felt hurt by what it happened in a marriage. but jane wyman never gave interviews. i think she was just as well to not be made a spectacle of. she was not part of their political story. she was part of their personal story. >> keith is in illinois. hi, keith. you are on. >> thank you for taking my call. i heard somewhere that nancy was really into astrology, and things of that sort. is it true that she held séances in the white house? >> that would be mary todd lincoln.
our caller made the same mistake. but nancy did consult an astrologer after ronald reagan was shot. she did so because she was desperate for anything, anything she could have. she did not have much to control of the schedule, so she consulted an astrologer. this came out in don's book, and that came out. it was a mild embarrassment. many people thought that she was so traumatized that if she wanted to consult astrologer she was well within her rights. >> jordan is in pennsylvania. hi, jordan. >> my grandmother has the same birth day as nancy reagan. she was born july 6, 1920. she was one of my favorite first
ladies. did her mother live to be almost 100 when she was in the white house? >> i do not remember. >> do remember if she was around for the inauguration? >> 1921 was actually her birth date. sorry to pop your balloon there. >> i am looking it up. >> this helps us with the transition from the ge years, to politics, and ultimately, to the governorship of california. did nancy personally like politics, or did she learn to like it is she loved ronnie? >> she did not love politics, and she was not built for politics. it was on the job training, and it wasn't always easy.
she didn't like the town, and the town reciprocated. she was asked to move into the governor's mansion, which was a victorian structure downtown, if i remember. i think it was 16th street. nancy called it a fire trap. it was the second floor bedroom, and the screen was rusted shut. how does he get out in case of fire? he was supposed to ram a dresser into the window, pop up the screen, and climbed on a rope ladder. he was 8. nancy decided they were going to live there, and they moved to east sacramento. >> i have an answer to jordan's question. edith died in 1987, shoes to was
alive for most of that time , so she was alive for most of that time in the white house. >> i wrote a couple bullet points down. she was criticized for not wanting to live in the governor's mansion. she was critical of ronald reagan, governor reagan's staff. she was criticized by the press for her glamorous friends and expensive lifestyle. and she had a number of issues, including veterans. those were many of the same things. >> interesting, isn't it? she developed a thick skin during those years. she didn't like the criticism. she is specially didn't like the criticism of her husband, and
she talked about that. she knew it was not going to be easy, but she underestimated how much the press -- and it does everywhere going to be critical of politicians everywhere. she had to develop an even thicker skin. they looked at her choice of causes. and she and the press had a testy relationship. >> she shopped in beverly hills, and sacramento did not have stores like that. she was used to cool breezes. sacramento gets hot. and mostly, she hated the "sacramento bee." it was a very democratic newspaper. they were relentless in their criticism of reagan. she canceled the subscription. people asked reagan about this. he said, it is ok, i get it in my office.
she took care of him in washington. in those years, she was a little bit brittle. there was a very her story that made fun of the gaze, you know we all talked about that. it was an adoring gaze that she gave reagan. they thought it was phony. we learned over the years that it was not phony. it might've been annoying, but it was genuine. reagan protected her in this time. she treated the staff like servants. all of these things, i think, in those years, she had the rough edges. reagan had to smooth them off. >> she learned how to be a political spouse. she learned that there were
great moments when you feel terrific and appreciated. then there are the really tough moments. it prepared her for the presidency. >> she also had these causes. there was a lecture series, i guess it was in 1994. i watched it recently. he found her interested in drugs and youth as early as 1967. you mentioned veterans. she helped get reagan interested in pows. the other thing about sacramento that you notice were the crowds that came up in washington. >> she had to do it a lot because the children and grandchildren of her friends were starting to have these issues, and she saw that when her husband was governor of california.
>> we have answered that question. let's move to a phone call. this is duncan in ohio. >> thank you. ronald reagan was a member of the bohemian grove. did nancy reagan express any feelings about that? >> it was a club. george schultz belonged to it. >> it is men only. we should say that. >> they walked in the redwoods naked, and did all kinds of things. there was a call between nancy and schultz, and the papers are being released.
i am inferring that she didn't mind. >> this is a much too long and political story to be told about ronald reagan's career, mounting his presidential talents one year later. what was nancy's role in encouraging ronald reagan to seek the challenge against gerald ford? >> there was a group of influential republican men, and nancy was very close friends with their wives. i am simplifying it, to some extent. there was a larger circle of people. it wasn't just this group of men who had their eye on ronald reagan. there were people around the country who thought he would be an effective spokesperson of the conservative cause, as the ge spokesman.
ronald reagan gave a much commented on speech. that was the big coming-out speech for ronald reagan. all of those disparate forces came together while he was still in the governor's office. and they jelled more or less, in that you're after, when gerald ford was running for election, and he had, of course, succeeded richard nixon, ronald reagan was on the public consciousness as a very appealing conservative challenge to gerald ford. >> remember, he had run a in 1968 for president. i have a story about nancy in the earliest presidential conversation. maureen was writing her dad
letters. there were all these letters back and forth. she's is trying to encourage him to run for governor. it says, you could be governor. he said, if we want to talk about what i could be, i could be president. this was in 1964 or 1965. he hasn't run for anything. so they decided to do this intervention. they were telling him to run for governor first. nancy was on the side of her stepdaughter. reagan said something like, it is two against one. they are against me. that is how involved nancy was in the earliest conversations. >> that was unsuccessful. there was a discussion of a candidacy that went nowhere. how did they spend the next years till the campaign?
>> they organize for the serious run. that one popped up spontaneously, but after 1976, when ronald reagan showed that he had substantial support in the republican party, from then on it was an all-out effort to win the nomination in 1982 when the white house. that doesn't meant he would be a shoe in. there were other republicans running. some people were saying he was too conservative. some were saying he was a warmonger. i remember people said he had very strong anti-sovet view. i covered the carter white
house, in those years. people said, he is the one who has his finger on the bomb. there was a lot of this rhetoric flying around. this was, by no means, a walk-in for him. he had the people. he had the money. >> they were out in california. and he was the nominee in waiting for four years. the only thing that is remotely like it is like what is going on with hillary clinton, to be honest with you. they are not just going to hand it to her, but he had the money. he had the support. the republican party was in transition. and it was going to be ronald reagan's party. nancy that it was true, and she turn out to be right. >> let's fast-forward here. >> are we going to slowly? >> it was a landslide against jimmy carter. 489-49 for the sitting president.
much of that was colored by the iranian hostage situation. that was coming to a close on inauguration day. would you spend just a minute talking about that unbelievable inauguration day, when the country was waiting for the hostages to come home, and it happened right then? >> it was extraordinary time, and i tell this from the perspective of the carter white house. i covered jimmy carter, and they had a painful final year of presidency. they had been taken into tehran and were being held by iranian extremists. jimmy carter and his administration did everything they could. we know, among other things, about the commission where the helicopter went down. it was a humiliating episode in the carter presidency. no doubt it was not the only reason jimmy carter lost the election, but it was a factor.
>> what was the mood in the country about the change in leadership? >> on inauguration day reagan came up with a plan, and the plan was, remember the hostages were being released. if they were being released by -- >> this was being done deliberately by the iranians to spite jimmy carter. >> they thought they would be in airspace while reagan was still speaking, and the plan that they agreed on was that reagan would call carter up to the lectern. but that would only be of the hostages were released, and they would announce it together. i asked, what did nancy think of this? she had a good theatrical sense too. and she was all for it. it didn't happen. but it was not carter or reagan's fault.
>> john hinckley attempted ronald reagan's life at the washington hilton. we had an interview with nancy reagan in 1999 at the reagan library, and she spoke to us about that day. >> we got downstairs. i said, i'm going to the hospital. he said, it is not necessary. he hasn't been hurt. i said, george, you either get the car or i'm going to walk. we went to the hospital. and mike met me at the hospital and said, he has been shot.
and there were police all around. and there was a lot of noise. and they put me a little, small room. there was one desk and one chair. that was it. i kept wanting to see ronnie. and they kept saying, well, he is all right. but you can't see him. and i kept saying, if he is all right, why can't i see them? finally, they let me in. he had that thing on his face to help him breathe. he lifted it up and said, honey, i forgot to duck. >> how did this impact a brand- new presidency?
>> i was there that ronald reagan was shot. i was a part of the press pool that day. it was a time i will never ever forget. she was all ready completely focused on him and his safety, but after this, it was her sole purpose, you could argue. at one point, she said something like, when he left to go somewhere, i wasn't able to breathe deeply until he came back. >> that was in the movie. >> it was something she said in the documentary to us. it made her much more -- you have spoken about the astrology, she was looking for any which way she could. she was grilling people around him to make sure that he was always doing whatever was the safest possible thing. it made her even more determined to keep them healthy.
>> just one comment about that line, honey, i forgot to duck, that nancy said. that was a famous line. it was the line that jack dempsey used after he lost the heavyweight championship. his face was all battered. and he says, honey, i forgot to duck. the line was reported in the newspapers, at the time. it may dempsey the hero he had not been in the public's mind, until that time. he was bigger when he lost because of that. i think the same thing is true of reagan. that line was reported in the press here. americans really admired reagan for it, because they realized what he was trying to do, which was reassure his wife. >> ronald reagan really endeared himself to the american public.
some said it was a difficult debut for the first lady. her approval ratings were 26%. what were some of the reasons why it was a challenging first year? >> as in california, where she found a governor's home, a governor's mentioned that she felt was unsafe, she felt that the white house was in disrepair. she felt there were repairs that needed to be done. she said the furnishings were shabby. she wanted a complete renovation and refurbishing. she wanted new drapes and new upholstery. raised private money to get this done. she said often, i loved entertaining. i thought that was an important
part of being a white house. it was a way to connect with people. she said, we didn't even have the right china. she raise the money to buy a set of china. she was also very interested in style and fashion. she was a woman who cared about her appearance. she got a new set of china. and there was a publicity about her clothes, and it was the image of a woman who cared more about things that did not matter. and it did not go over well. that contributed to the public view. >> what was the difference between jacqueline kennedy coming in wearing fashionable, european desiged clothes and nancy reagan doing it, not that long after? >> that is a fair question.
>> that is a fair question. nancy thought it would be a fair new start for her, but it was déjà vu all over again. they criticized her for going shopping at bloomingdale's. look, jackie was a special case. there is an edgy website. i don't frequent it very often. it is called nerve.com. it is about sex and younger people stuff. i was on there recently, in preparation for this show, to see they ranked the sexiest first lady's in history. nancy reagan ranks very high. i was very surprised that this hip, young website up that. jacqueline kennedy was #1, and they don't even need explain it. they just showed her picture. jackie did things that no one else could do. >> do have a comment on the difference?
>> it was a different time. it was the 1960's. it was camelot. there is a difference in age. there is a difference in appearance. a lot of people were very divisive between john f. kennedy and richard nixon. that was a time when a lot of americans were excited. it was a different time. it was 20 years later. the country was getting a little cynical. they had gone through watergate. the press corps was not as willing to just follow and accept whatever the president and first lady were doing. >> a call from michael in pennsylvania. you are on. >> thank you. great show. was there a position or ideology that they sometimes disagreed
upon, or that the staff disagreed upon? >> thank you. were there any issues at the reagans did not see eye to eye on? >> not that i know of. but the staff, absolutely. there was open warfare on many issues. the most important issue: iran contra. nancy would push. nancy at a point of view, and she would push. on the soviet union, she believed strongly in negotiating with mikhail gorbachev. she pushed back against staffers who did not have his agenda at heart. you have to think about this. there were differences. nancy knew her reagan was. he was there in 1976.
gerald ford called reagan up to the stage. what does he talk about? nuclear war. armageddon. she knew that that was what reagan wanted, and she pushed in that direction. she pushed against those who did not know what reagan wanted. >> i think she was a moderating influence on him. she wanted him to be the best man he could be and that the best legacy. they didn't disagree. there is no question that she worked very hard behind-the- scenes with the secretary of state to make sure that president reagan was listening to those who were on his side. >> aids is an issue that has
come up, and there were people in the white house who thought he should speak out. early on, there were people who didn't want him to speak out. nancy was on the side of those who wanted him to talk about it. he talked about it in 1985 and 1986. nancy did not trust that the white house policy shot would say what he wanted to say. she had someone who would come back and write the speeches. she would say, this is how she wants it. that was nancy reagan. >> the first lady was having trouble with her image in the press corps. and there were approaches to help change that. one of those came in 1982, with an event in washington dc.
nancy reagan. and it was a game changer. we will listen to her talking about that in a 1988 interview with journalist heather smith. she will talk about her parody and why she approached the issues this way. >> secondhand clothes, they are all the rage at the spring fashion shows. there were for collars that ronnie bought for $.10 on the dollar. second hand gowns. old hand-me-downs. the china is the only thing that is new. even though they tell me i'm no longer queen, did ronnie have to buy me the new sewing machine, secondhand clothes, secondhand
clothes. sews. ♪pe ed meese [laughter] i came around to, ok, well, we will try. it could not be worse than it was. she said, originally, they thought that i would make fun of the press. and i said, no. no. no. i am not going to do that. the only way we can do this is if i make fun of myself, if i make fun of myself. then maybe i will have a 50-50 chance here. as you well know, that first year was not, nobody was really crazy about me.
and i don't think i would have been crazy about me, reading what i did about me. >> the press was rough. >> the press was rough. and i really don't know why because it started before he got here. they did not know me. i never did quite figure out why. i didn't know, until i read in your book, that they were having meetings about me over the west wing, that i was a liability and everything like that. i guess maybe i was. i was pretty gun shy. it had been rough. and your inclination is to run and hide in a closet and lock
yourself in. you tend to pull back. i do, anyway, when it is that rough. that is the wrong thing to do. you shouldn't do that, but i do. >> she was very self aware there. >> her instincts were exactly right on. she had self-deprecating humor. she made fun of her self. the press ate it up. it turned an important corner for her. >> another thing that nancy reagan did was the anti-drug campaign, which became the "just say no" campaign. how political was this? >> first ladies are supposed to have a signature issue, and this was something she cared about and knew about. this was a phrase in the anti- drug movement among psychologist, "just say no", and then seized on it and popularized it. they criticized her because it
was simplistic. she said, if it saves one life, it is worth it. >> the numbers suggested that over their 8 years in the white house drug use amongst young people did decline. i do not know if it was a result of this campaign. she also had other recognition in the united nations. she was the first lady to do that. she was the first first lady recognized by the president in a state of the union address. in 1986, the two of them, this was another first, sat down to talk about the antidrug effort. we will talk about the use of television to connect the american public. let's watch. >> to those watching and listening, i have a personal message for you.
there is a big, wonderful world out there for you that belongs to you. it is exciting and stimulating. don't cheat yourself out of this promise. our country needs you to be clear eyed and clear minded. i recently read one teenager's story. she is now determined to stay clean, but was once strong out on several drugs. what she remembers about her recovery is that after her treatment she was able to see colors again. open your eyes to life. see the vivid colors that god gave us as gift to his children to enjoy life to the fullest and to make it count. say yes to your life.