tv Rosalynn Carter Interview CSPAN January 6, 2014 9:00pm-9:56pm EST
an hour. >> rosalynn carter, do you remember when president carter started having conversations about him running for president? >> i do. >> what was that like? what was that conversation? >> it was very interesting. we had a friend that wrote and told jimmy he thought he should run for president. well, we couldn't even say the word, that my husband was running for -- we did not tell anybody. because we kept it quiet. but then once he decided he would do it, that was when -- he could hardly say "i am going to be president." it was not something we never, ever dreamed would happen. but i was excited about it. i had campaigned the whole last year before the governor's race for him.
it was hard. amy was a baby. i didn't like to leave her all the time. but i enjoyed it. i learned so much about our state. we have 159 counties. i knew the capital of every county. i knew -- and issues. that is how i got involved in mental health issues, running the campaign for jimmy. our big mental health facility hospital. there had been a big expose and the mental health systems act had been passed, and this was in 1963. this was 1966 when jimmy first ran for governor. he got beat that time. we got in late because our leading democratic candidate had a heart attack. but they were moving people out
of the hospital because there were like 12,000 people and had room for 3000. it was awful. it was happening all over the country. they were moving them out before they had any facilities for them and no services in the communities. and everybody started to talk to me about, what would your husband do if he was elected governor of georgia? i just learned so much about what was going on. after we lost that election, i worked four years to learn about mental health and then the first month in office he appointed to the governor's commission to improve services to the mentally and emotionally handicap. so when he told me about that, i thought this is giving me a chance to go across the whole country. and it was so much fun to me. i loved going in people's homes when we first started campaigning for president. i went to iowa a lot and florida in the beginning. those were the two primaries. and i had been working in our
farm supply business at home. we got home from the navy, jimmy had me. i didn't work the first year. i started helping him. he only had seasonal labor. i started working for them and said, why don't you keep the office while i visit the farmers? and so i would go into iowa to a tea. there might be six people in somebody's house. i knew the price of fertilizer. i knew how much they could get for their corn. we had a corn mill. i mean, i loved it. it was hard. but i was so excited. i had been able to learn about georgia and i learned about the country. i thought -- i knew he would be a good president. >> mrs. carter, when did you know during that campaign that your husband would be elected president? >> i never doubted it. he never -- we never doubted it.
i don't think anybody in our whole campaign thought we would lose. maybe you have to have that set of mind to win. because we campaigned all the time just like we were going to win. >> what was the peanut brigade? >> the peanut brigade was a lot of our friends. it started out from georgia, people from georgia, but then it just grew and grew and grew. they would campaign all over the country for us. it was really wonderful. they paid their own way. in fact, we had no money. everybody who worked in our campaign had to find a house to stay at, somebody that was a supporter and let them spend the night with them. or either they had to pay for a hotel. that could not happen now. but it was really close, not with money. not with the money you have to have. even to win the nomination.
>> rosalynn carter, january 20, 1977. what do you remember about that day? >> that was inauguration day. we walked down pennsylvania avenue in the cold weather. it was exciting. >> whose idea was it to walk? >> it was jimmy's idea. he did not tell me until the night before. >> why not? >> he didn't tell anybody else except the secret service agents. because we didn't -- well, the secret service agents wanted to to for't want him security. they do not want him to walk at all. but i guess he just thought it was better nobody was anticipating him walking down pennsylvania avenue. i think he thought everything would be different. maybe we shouldn't do it if everybody knew it. anyway, it was really wonderful.
>> so january 20, 1977, you are the first lady of the united states. how do you prepare to become first lady? >> well, becoming first lady -- the hard part was going from the farmer supply business to the governor's mansion. a beautiful governor's mansion. it was new. the outgoing governor had only lived in it for two years. columns on all four sides. authentic furniture all the way through. i went to see the outgoing governor's wife after we won. i asked her who did the cooking. she said, "i do." i said, "who serves the tables"" she said, "i do." everything i asked her, she did. i said, "i would like to see your office." she said, "i do not have one. my office is in the capital with the governor. they handle my correspondence." i said, "do you make speeches,"
and she said, "no, i let the governor's mother do that." i went home and thought, "what have we done?" and all the help in the house were trustees from the prison. the first thing i do is hire a housekeeper. and then we taught the prisoners to cook and to serve tables. i developed a fairly competent staff. we had to hurry. the music club of atlanta had invited me to entertain van cliburn. he was coming to perform in atlanta. on january 30, we actually moved into the governor's mansion on january 12. jimmy had an aunt in this area. and i called her. she was a wonderful person.
she came and helped me and we did a beautiful dinner. we put tuxedos on the prisoners, which was new and different for them. anyway, we had a wonderful meeting. and then -- aunt c.c. we called her. i got her to organize to take people through the governor's mansion. when i went the first time, the state patrolmen were in the hallway guiding the tours. and i thought that didn't seem very homey. i got -- aunt c.c. had a list of people that came and helped, came every day. the mansion was open. anyway, i had to learn everything. i had to develop a staff. we learned by trial and error. my assistant helped me and when we entertained, one of the first entertainers we had was a man
who -- we read his biography and his talent and what he did. it sounded perfect. we had a lot of race car drivers. atlanta has a speedway and they were coming to eat dinner with us. so we got him. he stood up. when he stood up to sing, he sang like opera, if you can believe. i slid under the table. after that we learned we had to audition everybody. when i got to the white house, everything was already done. had a social secretary. i didn't have to worry about what we were going to serve or any of those things. she would make out plans for me and bring them to me. i would decide what i wanted to do. it was really quite wonderful. and amy was 3 years old when we moved to the governor's mansion. she had never known anything else. and in the governor's mansion, the only thing i would change is that you couldn't get from the upstairs where we lived to the kitchen without going through
the tourists. and amy learned at 3 years of age to walk through the tourists like this. because everybody would -- "there's the baby, there's the baby." and she got to where she would walk straight through without even seeing them. i remember when we got to the white house and she went to school the first day, there was amy going in like this, which she had been doing all her life. and everybody felt so sorry for her. but it was part of her life. and after that happened on the first day, the press got together and decided not to bother amy anymore. and that was really wonderful. we do not have to worry about that in the white house. >> where did you first meet jimmy carter? >> well, plains, georgia, has a population of 634. i think i knew everybody in town.
there were no girls my age in town. and of course i knew who he was. can i drink some water? i knew him but he was three years older than i am. but his little sister, who is three years younger than i am, would stay in town if we had a basketball game or some event at the school. she would stay with her grandmother who lived in town. we became really close friends. she was my best friend growing up. >> this is ruth. >> this is ruth. but he graduated from high school at 16. we only went 11 grades back then. i was 13. there was no way i ever thought i would go with jimmy carter. and i didn't go with him until he came home before he was a first-classmen, he came home
from the naval academy. i went out with him the night before he was going to leave. but ruth and i plotted to get me out there with him, because i wanted to -- i had fallen in love with his photograph on the wall in her room at home. and so she would call me and say, "he is here." he had a month's leave, and i would go out and he would be gone. and one day -- we had a pond house. jimmy's parents had a pond house. fairly close to the house. and everybody in town used it for church events and school events. one day she called and said that somebody had used the pond house the night before and they were going out there and cleaning it up. she and jimmy. so i spent the day with him. that night i was in a church meeting standing at the door. there was a youth meeting one night during the week.
ruth with her boyfriend and jimmy drove up and he got out of the car and asked me to go to the movie with him. so i went to the movie with him and then i went to the station to see him off the next night and then we started writing letters to each other and at christmastime he asked me to marry him. and i turned him down. i was young and i had promised my father on his deathbed that i would go to college, and i had not finished college. well, i went to annapolis on the weekend of the ring dance. i do not remember what they called the weekend. he asked me again, and i accepted. i was still young. >> it was july 7, 1946. >> that's right. >> you said your father died when you were quite young. >> 13. i was the oldest of four
children. i had two brothers and then my little sister who was 4 years old. my father developed leukemia. i didn't know he was sick and had been wanting to go to a church camp in the summer, and they told me we did not have enough money for it. and then one day i came home from school and my dad asked me if i would still like to go to the camp. i said great. what i didn't know was he was going through at the hospital to see what was wrong. he died maybe -- that was in maybe may and he died in november. >> how did that affect your role as the oldest child? >> everything changed for us. i was the oldest one. my mother had never written a check.
she went to college for two years and had a teacher's certificate but she never taught. back then in plains you ordered your groceries and the company you brought your clothing and things and they would send the gross as to the house and my daddy paid for it all. when he was on his deathbed, he called us all in and told my mother that she wanted him to sell the farm if she had to so that we could go to school. and i think we sold -- i do not know. the next year her mother died. she was an only child. and mama died not even, we had no idea she was sick. my grandfather went out to live at a farmhouse out of town. he went out to milk the cows. when he came back in, she was leaning over, tying her shoe. dead in the chair.
and somebody called my mother 11 months after my daddy died, and we had been depending on them so much and said, "your mother died this morning." you cannot imagine anybody doing that. i was getting ready to go to school and i heard her screaming in the hall, where the telephone was. and it was tough. my mother went to school. she worked in a grocery store. then she worked in the school lunchroom. then when i was still in high school, she got a job in the post office and worked there until she had to retire. she had to retire at age 70. it was the law. i was campaigning. this was 1975. christmas. her birthday is christmas eve. on her birthday she had to retire. so i was campaigning. i went campaigning after christmas. i came back home and my brother said "call me" as soon as i got home.
and i went to see mother. she cried all week long. i went to see her. i said, mother. she had to get up every morning at 7:00. then she had to come back late in the afternoon. but my grandfather came to live with us when my grandmother died. and so my mother had flexible hours because the post master didn't want to get up early. and he didn't want to stay late. but anyway. i said, "mother, don't you enjoy just being able to sleep in?" she said, "it is not that. it is just that nobody thinks i can do good work anymore." so that made an impression on me. when jimmy was president, i did work with aging. i became interested in working with mental illnesses, too, because there were no doctors to care for people with mental illness. and actually no geriatric doctors. he passed an age discrimination law people where people in the federal government could work as
long as they wanted to and people outside could work until they were 75. >> rosalynn carter, you have always been a political partner to your husband. is that a fair statement? >> i have been a partner. i would call it a partner. he was in the navy for seven years. after we got married we had three boys. the first two years -- after the first year, i had one baby and he was gone for two years. he was on battle ships. back then you had to serve two years before you go to the air force or submarines. and he was gone from monday to thursday every week and he had duty one night. i had to take care of everything. and then when we got home, i began working in the farm supply business. i knew more in books very soon then he did. i think that is when we developed this good partnership. i can say, "don't buy corn anymore. we are losing money on it." i could advise him. it just developed into a
wonderful partnership. and so -- i did not campaign when he ran for the senate. i kept the business while he campaigned. but then i campaigned when he ran for governor, was the first time i had campaigned. but then when he got in the governor's race, i learned all the issues and campaigned and enjoyed it and did the same thing when he was running for president. i think it was the first time -- i know that lady bird had come through plains on a train. i think it was the first time people, that the women had campaigned. i got in the car with a friend when jimmy started to run for president. and i wanted to know if i could campaign in other states like i did in georgia. we went to florida and stayed 10 or 12 days. we would just stop along the way
in the towns and pass out brochures and looked up the radio stations. we started working and going toward antennas because they were radio stations. you would go in. this might be a music station where they play music. they would have no idea. i would say, "my husband is running for president and i would like you to interview me"" they would say, "president of what?" "president of the united states." "you have got to be kidding." i said, "no, i am not kidding." and they would have no idea what to ask me. before the first day was over, i had five or six questions, the things that i wanted people to know about jimmy. and i came home and said, "i can do it." what i learned is everybody is the same. they want good families, good places, good things for their families. they want a church. usually they wanted a place to worship.
they want to make a living and have a good life. i mean, everybody wants the same thing. regions have different other things. but just in general, people want to be happy and have a good home and a good family. >> in your book "first lady from plains," you write that you are more political than your husband. what did you mean by that? >> he says what he thinks no matter what it is and sometimes i would get after him. i think you have to be political in a certain way. you have to be honest and you have to say the same things. but still, you have to cater to people sometimes i think and know what they want and need to be able to influence them to vote for you. it is not being dishonest. it is finding out what they want and letting them know how you are going to help them with
those problems were things that they want and the government. just being political. but jimmy thinks it's something needs to be done, it needs to be done now. and when he was in office. when he was president, i do not think he ever did anything that wasn't controversial. that bothers me sometimes. i didn't like the controversy all the time. >> rosalynn carter, in the white house you held press conferences, traveled solo, acted as the president's emissary. how did you develop the issues that you wanted to talk about or became expert in? >> i worked on mental health. i worked on problems of elderly and a lot of that came from seeing what happened to my mother, because that was in the campaign. but also in campaigning, they
took me where there were a lot of democrats. and so i went to a lot of nursing homes, facilities for older people. and saw what great needs there were in that area. so that influenced my work. i have worked on immunization in georgia. i had a good immunization program. and dale bumpers, later a senator -- he was a senator when jimmy was elected. but he was governor at the same time jimmy was. and at governor's conferences, they would get together. and he work with us at the center for disease control and developed a good immunization program. she talked me into doing it at home. and so after we got to the white house, she called me. of course i was ready to work on
immunization in the white house. that was when my great victories. immunization was required by school-age in only 15 states. there was a little bit about argument about whether it was 15 or 17. the first year we were working with the secretary of hhs and we got it in all 50 states. that was exciting. we had this big meeting in washington -- i go from one subject to another. we have this big meeting in washington to celebrate at people from all over the country. the next day there was not one word in the paper about it. i was so upset. so i called joe califano. i said, "i know there was a camera there." he said it was ours. but nobody was interested in immunization. i got upset with the press. they covered my mental health work, my first few meetings i had.
and then they never showed up anymore. one of things i wanted to do was bring attention to the issue and how terrible it was and what few services there were. and thinking just getting it out in the public. that is what i did in georgia, developed a good program in georgia, by the way. but they did not come. one day i was walking in the white house and met this woman who was one of the press people. and i said, nobody ever covers my meetings. she said, ms. carter, mental health is not a sexy issue. that i did not like. but it never did get very much coverage for it. but we toured the country and find out what was needed, developed legislation and past passed the mental health systems act of 1980. it passed through congress one
month before jimmy as he says was involuntarily retired from the white house and the incoming president put it on the shelf and never implemented it. one of the greatest disappointments of my life. and now we had a mental health symposium at the carter center. i have a great mental health program here. last week and one of the people who work with me in the white house -- the subject was the affordable care act. and he did a comparison of what we did in 1980 with what the affordable care act, and it is almost identical. we just passed parity. it was announced here. the final regulations. i had parity in the 1980 system, mental health systems act. things do not move very fast in the mental health field. but i am so thrilled now that we have parity and the affordable
care act covers parity and we also had integration in the 1980 legislation by combining mental health and substitute behavior health. >> and you and betty ford worked on that together. >> that is right. after we left the white house, betty nine would go to washington. she would get republicans and i would get democrats. we made some progress. >> did you and betty ford have the same relationship? >> we were we went to the funeral after we left the white house. that is when jimmy and gerald ford began talking a lot of times and saw how much each one they thought similarly.
and then betty and i started working and we developed a wonderful relationship. >> there are several first lady still living. is there a sorority of first ladies, in a sense? >> i had a good relationship with betty ford and lady bird, as long as she was alive. that is about it. there has never been -- we see each other at events and a library dedications. but there is never been a closeness that i had with betty ford and lady bird. >> when you are first lady, unity weekly luncheon with your husband. what was the purpose of that?
>> well, there are always things i wanted to ask him and some was about the family and finances and things going on back home. we also talked about issues. i would say it was more family and personal things that were going on. that gave us time to do that. after we were there until about august, jimmy stayed at the oval office a good bit in the daytime and did not go back much at night. but in august he started calling me about 4:30 in the afternoon. my office was in the east wing.
but he started calling me and said, let's go do something. and i wanted to be home when amy got home from school. so i stopped scheduling anything in that part of the afternoon. we would jog or exercise, swim and sit on the truman doctrine and talk about what he yet done during the day and what i had done during the day and we had a good relationship. what i learned in the white house was that there is no way to know what is happened because of the press. you cannot learn from newspapers or from two minutes of tv. we didn't have computers. we have a big mainframes still in the white house. i don't think he got those activated. this was a long time ago. 30 years ago. but i couldn't tell. he said every day he stepped off the elevator upstairs, i would ask -- i had to know.
i was touring the country had press conferences and i needed to know. in february, one day he stepped off the elevator he said, why don't you come to cabinet meetings and then you'll know how we do things? i sat around --cabinet meetings have staff around the room. i sat by. max cleveland was in a wheelchair. he was head of veterans affairs. i set by him next to the door. i went by and every time i could the cabinet met. i thought it was necessary for me to know what was going on. so that i could explain to people in the country as i toured around. >> did you received criticism for attending those meetings and for being the president's emissary?
>> i do not think i ever received criticism from the west wing. they knew how close we were. and how interested i was. but there was all kind of criticism. i learned while jimmy was in the state senate. that is the hardest because you know everybody criticizes you. then you expect when you become governor. when i went to the governor i knew it was coming. you have to accept that. i think you almost have to in public life. you have to know what your husband does, if what he thinks is the best possible thing for our country. what i am doing i think is the best possible thing for this country.
he sat me down and said, if you don't think i am doing the best job i can do, then worry about it. you have to just accept that. my feeling was if they reported things in a way we did not like, is because they did not know or were ignorant about what was going on. lots of times it is true. if they know why you are doing it and so forth. and today with today's decision, there is no way to know what is happening. there is talk every day and we were so confused by the time we had our meeting. we had people here who knew what was in the room, which was so good for us. and then to have the regulations. we found out the day before kathleen sebelius was going to
announce the final regulation. passed the law in 2008. i have been talking to her about it. she's a good friend. her mother is a good friend. i've been talking about the regulations. i am sure her hands were tied by the white house. as soon as i heard it i started shaking. this is 33 years after i wanted. pretty exciting. it was emotional. >> was it possible to have a private life in the white house? did the white house feel like home? >> it felt like to home to us almost immediately. we were together.
not all of us -- i had two of my sons and amy in there. we had meals together. we had to make a rule that if you're not going to be there for a meal, you have to check off a little thing so we knew who would be there. and amy and i was there almost every day when she came over from school and i helped her with her lessons and took her to her file and classes -- violin classes. and then jimmy and i would jog and swim. if it was raining we would go to the bowling alley and amy like that. we had a fairly good family life. i think it was so precious because we were gone traveling
for two years. >> does the white house affect a marriage? >> i think it could. i do not think -- it did not affect ours. we have been partners working together for so long. and i could see if the first lady was not particularly interested in the issues, i think it would be difficult. but jimmy could talk to me about all that and i think it happens that way more and more with first ladies. some of the early first ladies were very active but others were not. >> when you look back at previous first ladies, who did you admire? who did you emulate? who did you learn from? >> the closest person i had and only first lady was lady bird. she came to georgia at helping
with the highway beautification program. i just knew her. the main thing she tell me was if i would ask you something she would say enjoy, enjoy because it is not going to last long. just enjoy it. she did help me a lot. everybody looks back at eleanor roosevelt, who was quite wonderful. one person that had a big impact was margaret mead. i decided i was going to work on mental health issue and she came to georgia to see me. we developed this wonderful relationship. she would give me advice and went to canada for a mental health meeting.
she was just the neatest -- to meet her was emotional for me. i would like to have met eleanor . >> your husband in 2010 published his white house diaries. did you keep a diary or journal during the white house years? >> i kept them at different times. i didn't do very much in the beginning. and i started having my secretary put spaces between events and i have a desk in my bedroom and i would go to the event and put what was happening and who would be there. that would start writing notes about what happened at that event. and i did that pretty readily for a while. i have a really good diary about camp david. i kept those notes all the time. from the first day. >> are those public? >> no. [laughter] >> if and when will it be public? >> i just went through them and edited them.
i didn't edit anything. i struck out a few passages. >> why? >> i might not want you to know what i called some of them just who were not cooperating with jimmy. it was just my personal thoughts along with what was happening. i did not sit in in any of the meetings but i was there the whole time. as soon as they would come out of the meeting i was there to see what was going on. it was incredible. it was from the heights of excitement that was going to happen to the depths of despair that it was not. i came home one day. we did know we were going to be there 13 days. and so the last few days i had to go into town to do some events for jimmy and some for me.
some that i had planned. i got back one day and this was toward the end. jimmy and hamilton jordan and jody powell, staff people, were in the swimming pool at camp david. they said it is over. and they thought it was. and it was a bad evening. and when jimmy left, when i left on sunday, the day they came back, jimmy said is either today or not. we're just going to have to end it. and we had -- we opened the white house -- we had pbs did our events for a while. and i cannot remember who was there that day i had to come in. i had to come in and introduce them. i got a call about halfway through it or something.
about halfway through the concert. and jimmy told me he thought they had the budget not tell anybody. he didn't know for sure. that was interesting. when they came in that night, the helicopter landed. it was dark. dusk or dark. they came in and mrs. begin and i were standing in the blue room when they came in and prime minister begin went straight to her. "mama, we're going to go down in history for this." it was really thrilling. >> do you think we will see rosalynn carter camp david accords diary book sometime? >> we might. there is actually, i guess it is all right for me to tell us. there is going to be a play in washington. opening in a theater in washington in camp david. early next year, i think. >> will you be there for it?
>> i will be there for it. >> another issue that i wanted to ask you about, mrs. carter, the iranian hostage crisis. did you keep notes? what were you feelings throughout the whole crisis? how did that affect you as a person? >> it was awful. i look back now and i have memories of just waiting for the the press conference and iran to say what happened on that day. because we had no idea what was going on. the only way we knew what was going on was when they would come on and announce it. and thinking about -- we met with the families all along and thinking about the people whose family members were there and what it was doing to jimmy's presidency.
it was awful. it was awful. and i would go out and campaign. i had found out earlier that -- when a president goes out, he's so surrounded. he speaks to them to say hello and so forth, but he doesn't get close enough for people to have conversations normally like you would otherwise about what their hopes and dreams are and what they thought about and what i was doing what jimmy was doing. anything we could help them. i had learned that early during his presidency. but i would go out and everybody would say, tell the president to do something. and tell him he has to do something. i would come home and i would say, why don't you do something? and he would say, what do you want me to do? you want me to mind the harbors? that is what a lot of people were talking about. he said and then have them bring
out one prisoner every day and hang them in public? well, maybe not. not the best thing to do. but, you know, i wanted it over. of course he did, too. everybody did. every night on the program started on tv and nobody got over it at all, could get over it. just think about it. it was every day, every night. it was awful. i kept up with what i was doing. i never stopped doing the things i was doing. >> by the time four of years or were over, how tired wereyou? >> you know it you lose the election in november and that is depressing. it was depressing for me. but then you are therefore until january the 20th, november, december, january. i just wanted to go home. and then when i got home, i do not know that i was tired. i guess i was tired.
i just remember coming home, boxes to the ceiling. we lived on the edge of the woods. we have been gone 10 years because jimmy was governor four, the campaign, two. the woods had come up around our house. the vines and things. we both had agreed to write books. it was overwhelming. i didn't have time to really worry about it, to really mourn it. i think i mourned it before i left the white house. i know i used to walk around the house i think, there is my mental health legislation. i think i realize how important it is for the president to have a second term, although jimmy carter would not have changed anyway.
he would not have changed anything. >> in your book "first lady from plains," you close by saying, i would be out on the campaign trail today if jimmy carter would run again. >> all the time after he lost the election i thought there is no way he is going to run again. i would have been there. >> you have a grandson who just announced for governor of georgia. >> i am thrilled. i will do whatever he asked me to do. he's a great young man. he graduated from duke university and went to the peace corps, came home and went to law school. he is in a law firm now and has two terms as a state senator. >> rosalynn carter, you have had 33 years post-presidency, the
longest in history now. and you and president carter have been very active. what do you think your legacy as first lady is? or what would you like it to be? >> i hope my legacy continues more than just first lady. the carter center has been an integral part of our lives and our motto is waging peace, fighting disease and building hope. and i hope that i have contributed something to mental health issues. and help to improve a little bit the lives of people living with mental illnesses. but i also hope -- i have had great opportunities for so long now. and to go through africa -- we have programs in 70 countries. we go to africa two or three times a year. and to go to those villages and now things are coming to fruition. we have almost eradicated guinea worm.
to go to a village where there's no longer guinea worm, it is a celebration. one of the good things about the carter center is we do not give money to the government. we send people in to teach to help people in that country how to do something. and we work with the people in the villages. and the health department does and we work with them. and they do the work. just to go to a village and explain to them about guinea worm. if you can get their chief to do. if they see or hear about it from another country, they are so happy you are there. just to see, to go back when it has gone from a village and the hope it gives to them. most of the time it is the first thing they have ever seen that was successful. it is just so wonderful, just to see the hope that something good is happening.
i didn't mean to get emotional. >> rosalynn carter, we are here in atlanta at the carter center for this interview. how much time do you spend in atlanta, plains? >> we schedule one week a month a year ahead of time to be here. most the time we have to come back more than that. i was here three days for my mental health conference. that was last week and yet this is my weekend. this week is my weekend. and we have to come back more than that. and we schedule that so we can plan our travels around it. and we travel almost too much. this year i will be interested to see how long we have been gone. maybe not half but most of the time it is -- is not half of the time most the time but getting pretty close. the only thing -- to go to
africa, something wonderful happens if you go there from the carter center. because everybody -- let me tell you one funny story. we put mobile 2000 in africa because we found out if the heads of state get credit for what they do, if somebody has gets rid of guinea worm, there is a wheat field crop has grown three times as much as they used to. so they get so excited, the head of state does. my agriculture program. the word gets around. one time we were in a village. there was a farmer who led the who had been named the farmer of the year.
we went to this village. this might've been -- they were pulling these plush chairs. they put some blue tarpaulin over. the whole village came. there was a little girl about halfway through what jimmy was saying, she held up the sign that said, go away, guinea worm, jimmy carter is coming. [laughter] so word gets around and people know it. and so when we get to that village, to other countries may be, the word is already around. the carter center just works some magic sometimes. it gives hope to people who have never had any hope of their lives being better. it is exciting. >> what is your advice to future first ladies or first husband? >> well, in a first place i would say enjoy, which is what lady bird told me.
but i think i have learned that you can do anything you want to. they used to ask me about if the if i thought the first lady should be paid. then i have to do what first lady is supposed to do. but you can do anything you want to. it is such a great soapbox. it is such a great opportunity. so i would advise any first lady to do what she wanted to do. if she doesn't -- you're going to be criticized no matter what you do. i could have stayed in the white house, poured tea, had receptions. and i would have been criticized as much as i was criticized outside. for what i did. and i got a lot of criticism.
but you learn to live with it. you just live with it. you expect it and you live with it. and never let it influence me. but i would just tell her also, just to enjoy and do what she wanted to do. i know another first lady will have things that she wants to do because women have changed in time. what women do now change from what they did when i grew up. i could be a secretary or school teacher, librarian, a few things. but now women, most women are more active. so do what you want to do and do not worry about the criticism. >> thank you. series, weof her also spoke with steve ford. hour he will half
discuss growing up in the ford family, the white house, and the struggles with substance abuse. >> we are with steve ford. son of betty and gerald ford. your mother is one of the -- she is in our trailer. she's one of the inspirations and actually you turn around and she is our artwork for the series. she represents somebody who had influence and image. as a mother, talk to us about what she was like. >> mom -- i give her so much credit. you can say that about so many congressional wives. while their husbands were out in public and dad was at that time, the majority -- he was a house minority leader in the republican party. dad was on the road, maybe 200 nights a year out campaigning for other republicans trying to get a majority in congress.
and mom to her credit, she was no one like many wives, she was back home making sure we got to the dentist and we got our homework done and got to football practice, wrestling practice. the glue that held the kids together while her dad was out to be a public servant. it was later in the presidency that she finally had a chance to blossom or shine and get her chance in the spotlight. during dad's time being a congressman, she drove the family. it is interesting because -- in every family there would be a blowup and one of us would get in trouble and we would get in trouble a lot. it would be, wait until your father gets home. we knew by the time he got home, the storm would blow over. he wanted to come home and be the good guy.