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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 20, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

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best. one of the things we were really proud of in a chaotic and difficult period was the very sincere and thorough effort to make sure that the transition was going to go well with whoever was going to win the election and then when senator obama won the election to be as tightly knit as possible while protecting the candidate. we didn't want to put him in a position where hi had to play his hand on consequential decisions that we were making because we did not want to hamstring him. we wanted to make sure we were doing everything so they could be informed. so that on january 20, you were will prepared to take the reins on that difficult series. we are very proud of that.
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i try to know exactly the type of information you are sharing at that time. i did all the economic talk. i was relatively -- i was old to be a deputy white house press secretary, and i don't know that i knew at the time the amount of energy it was going to take to do it. i don't know if i would have done it. when i went to the white house from treasury in 2006, i was 40 years old which is really, really old to be a deputy in the white house, certainly in the white house press office because the hours are insane and the work load is pretty crazy. >> what time would you go in the morning? did you come in for senior staff around 7:00? >> well, before -- i would wake up at 4:00 and dana, especially, when she was the principal
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deputy and then press secretary she and i were on email with each other at 4:30, 4:45 in the morning every day. i would have four a and b sections of newspapers read before i even got to the white house at 5:30 in the morning. i would pull up to starbucks on pennsylvania avenue they would have two coffees waiting for me a quad epress sor -- esuppresso and a grande dark. the national security meeting at 6:30, the press conference and meeting at 7:15. senior staff at 7:30. communications meeting at 8:00. in the early days we were getting ready for the gaggle. >> gaggle was an informal group of those of us who come to the white house every day, there from 5:30 to 6:00 a.m. for those of us who had to be live on the
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air at 7:00. so the broadcasters -- >> public, tv to -- public tv, cable. >> talk radio, all needed information currently that morning. that's glamorous part of the white house, being in there getting up at 4:00 every morning. >> the irony when tony snow recruletted me from, i'd been at treasury from the beginning of the administration, first as director then deputy assistant secretary then secretary for public affairs. i loved the work at treasury, all the issues were issues i enjoyed working on. and really loved that building and loved working with everyone there. and tony snow, this was in 2006, recruited the me to come to the white house, ironically, because the economy was doing so well, and the feeling was they don't have anybody who can talk about the economy and how well the economy is doing. a year later it was clearly not
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doing well and tragically a whole lot worse, the irony, i was there to talk about a great economy. the benefit was, i think both for me personally and professionally and for the white house, i was in the right place at the right time to talk about an economy in crisis and recession and you know, was able to be useful while i was there. >> let me follow up on that before we open up to your questions and say, tony, was there a kind of a worst day or a best day at the white house in your recollection? that kind of de-- and kind of describe it so everyone can understand the kind of pressure cooker you were in inside the west wing. >> the worst day for me, personally, it was a lesson i learned. it's a lesson i love to tell anyone who is ever -- these are life lessons in whatever you do in life but also if you happen to be standing in front of a
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president and giving advice, it seems to be more consequential. early in my time at the white house, i should have known better and understood it better, and this moment is even embarrassing for me. early at my time in the white house, i was standing in the oval office with president bush and it was me -- and i will not say the other two senior economic advisers to the president who were standing next to me -- there is no need to. there was a discussion of what was going on in credit markets at that time and it was really early on. it was before there was broad understanding. >> early signs of instability? >> yeah, tightness and some real credit drying up, and so the president asked the question,
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you know what's this i'm hearing from some people about problems in credit markets, what's going on with this? one of his advisers said, i do not think it is really a big deal. we are not seeing a lot. not hearing a lot. it left an impression on the president that it was not a big worry right now. what i knew, especially having come from treasury, there was a problem there. and this particular economic advisor, his experience was not with markets. i knew this and i choked. i choked. i should have said something and i didn't because i thought well, i am kind of -- i am not as senior as him.
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he is the economic advisor. as much as i know about economics, that's not what i'm paid to do. the stuff that you're paid to do is give advice and look out for people and help them when they're missing things. i went back to my desk and thought about it some more and what happened was the president was going to do an interview, he was asked about it. he said on the record that it's not a big concern. i was aghast. i was embarrassed. it was not a big deal when you look at the record and probably do not even notice it. i noticed it. that was the moment i said to myself that i will never ever do that again. i will never ever not speak up and say something to avoid hurting somebody else's feelings because i thought i had information. that was an awful day for me.
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i went home really troubled. you can't be that -- you have to have the courage and bull headedness to speak up. >> can i ask anita the same question were there times either in the campaign leading up to, or the year that you were communications director, where lesson learned the hard way? >> i was fortunate and learned tony's lesson when i was in intern at the white house. i worked for the late hamilton jurgen, white house chief of staff. one of the most brilliant political minds of the 20th century, easily. he was an extraordinary person. he was not as organized in his personal life as perhaps he was in terms of his brilliance in his political life. i was an intern, so i was below the bottom of the food
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chain. there was a huge summit at camp david and the entire senior staff of the white house was up there. they were up there for about one week, 10 days actually. the president came out, but hamilton cease car had a flat tire and he had left it parked on pennsylvania avenue two blocks from the white house, with a flat tire. a very recognizable car with georgia plates. everyone knew it was his car. it's sitting there with a flat tire in a do not park zone. i'm just an intern but i was like, don't you think this is a problem? it's getting a pile of tickets. every day i'm looking at it. and the woman i worked for, one of the women i worked for, said don't war rir about it, it's not a big deal. next morning, it was on the front page of "the washington post."
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the picture of the car with the georgia plates and the tickets, getting towed. as a kind of example of how the administration was spinning out of control disorganized. you do not want to give those people that idea. that was a lesson to me. if you think strongly that there is a problem, you open to -- you owe it to everybody to push that feeling hard. i'm with tony. what you owe the president of the united states or the senator you work for or the principal you work for you owe them your best advice and your best knowledge. you don't know -- you don't owe them miss congeniality, i'm going to get along with everybody in the room. there are ways to deliver messages that are less offensive than others, but you owe them honesty. if there's a problem you're not doing them any favors by not telling them about it.
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there were certainly point in the campaign, in particular when things were not working as well as they should have, particularly during the primaries when we ran into a very rough six-week period. this was when senator clinton and senator obama, actually at that point were both winning some losing some during a very -- probably the longest primary season we've ever covered. >> we mathematically were going to win the nomination but at the same time we were taking on water. one of the particular political problems we had at the time was the pastor of senator obama's church someone he was quite close to. someone who had inspired him for the title of his book, "the audacity of hope" and someone who baptized his two daughters who had a history of what in the south side of chicago is
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probably not all that unusual for a pastor of a church if anybody has ever been to an african-american church, it's one of the most moving exciting, amazing experiences you can have, but very, very hot rhetoric. senator obama was under pressure to deal with an issue that his pastor had said some things that taken in bits and pieces sounded really really bad. everyone tiptoed around it i think we all did, because it's your minister. it's a very close, personal relationship. but finally we owed it to him and had to go to him and say this is a huge problem. it's not a small problem. it's a huge problem. it was a very painful moment but we weren't doing him any favors by just letting it hang out there. >> we will open in just a moment to questions.
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but let me ask you quickly starting with tony was there a best moment at the white house? >> i almost have too many. honestly i never had -- except for that one day i can't say i had a bad day. not that there weren't trying days and long days and difficult days and days that didn't always go well but it was such a privilege to work there. for me personally, you know, an italian american kid from a working class neighborhood in pittsburgh, the last place i had expected to end up was, you know, standing behind a podium at the white house. so i appreciated every single day that i was there. had a lot of really -- i mean a lot of great, great days. some of them were professionally great, some of them were personally fun like the day that -- the week that the president was going to be throwing out the first pitch at nationals park to open up nationals park that week he said, brad, got to warm me
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up. i'm like yeah, well, bring your glove. i brought my glove. two days that week me and the president on the south lawn, catching balls. a great way to spend an afternoon at the white house. yeah. i made sure that, you know, white house photographer was there getting every moment of it. >> anita, how about you? >> consistently the worst days were the first friday of the month. that was the date that the department of labor releases unemployment statistics. and every friday. it was horrible. i can just say, it was the worst day. >> this was a period in which literally 700,000 people were out of work each month for a short period of time and they had just arrived and it really
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was a nightmare of those reports. >> it was a terrible friday. the first friday of every month, the rate was going up. so many of you may have noticed in the last friday that the rates came down. down to 5.6%, this many jobs were created in the first year of the obama presidency, every friday of the first friday of the month it would be hundreds of thousands of jobs that had been lost. the unemployment rate going up. probably the worst day of the entire -- of 2009 was the day we hit over 10% because it's an easy statistic for the press to grab on to and basically say, ok this shows you just how bad things really are. and things were terrible. things were horrible in this country. it was heartbreaking. the president reads 10 letters a night from citizens who send them in to make sure he actually hears what people are thinking about. it was heartbreaking for him to read those letters, a terrible, terrible time.
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you know, i think probably my best day in the white house was not a day when i was still working the white house but it's a day i still feel a great deal of ownership of -- >> you're always part of the white house. >> believe me, you're always part of the white house. it was the day that the affordable care act was signed into law. it's hard to describe. those of us in the democratic party far long time i was on capitol hill in the clinton administration, working for a member of the senate finance committee, when we tried to get health care passed in 1993-1994. i worked with senator bill bradley when he put out a comprehensive, very good plan for overall health reform that of course he didn't get leblingted, that didn't happen. that moment of actually getting it done after presidents had tried to do it for 70 years, it's really hard to describe. so as many mistakes as we made
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and i made in terms of that law that was without a doubt the most moving moment. >> let us open the microphones to your questions. i know we are limited on time, so if you can introduce yourself and address if you want to ask one or the other of your panelists here. we will try to make the answers as succinct to get to as many questions as possible. >> hello, my name is eric anderson, go to drake university. my question is, we recently heard from cheryl akerson and other speakers talking about the lack of transparency within the white house. for the sake of discussion, what would be your response? >> let's start with tony on that. >> look, they definitely have talked about transparency in the obama white house.
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more than others. but they complain about us more than they did about clinton as well. i think in the case of both of our white houses, though, what you have, you can call it lack of transparency, in some cases maybe it is. it's actually just a lot more discipline than there was in the clinton administration, what was relatively like, wild west. lots of people talking all over. sort of chaotic. we looked at that and said, we need to be more disciplined as to who is talkinged to the media and why and when. with -- what this morphed into in the bush administration was this notion that we never had any disagreements on things. there were never any arguments. the president wasn't hearing counter views. and -- which is completely untrue. i think it will be borne out in
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lots of books, when a lot of information on the white house is out publicly, you'll see a lot of this. i thought even late in the administration a lot of policy meetings and deputies' meetings and there was a lot of robust debate on direction and what we should do on issues. what we were not very interested in doing was having that debate in front of reporters. so that's not appropriate doesn't inspire confidence. it's not -- it allows outside politics to infect what ought to be a clearheaded debate over complex issues. and so that's the way we felt it made sense to be done.
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we could open up a lot more, i wish white houses would open up a lot more. if i ever go back, which i won't, i would encourage more of that. >> anita? >> question asked for the number of complaints we get about lack of transparency because in the campaign this 2008, at one point, unguardedly said that perhaps the health care negotiations, when we got to the bill should be televised on c-span. hello, c-span audience. that was one of those things you wish you could take back in retrospect. but having said that, the obama administration have done some things that no previous administration has done. for instance if you want to go and you want to see how many times somebody has visited the white house, whether it's a donor, whether it's a lobbyist whether it's a policy person, you can go online and see that. that's never been done in an administration before.
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you can see who has been in and out of the white house and who they went to visit, except for people who because of national security reasons won't show up. you can't do that for a member of congress or a senator. you can't get any public record listing of who they're meeting with and why they're meeting with that person but you can do that for the executive office of the presidency. so i think there's some significant moving in transparency. but the real tension and i totally agree with tony which is that private discussions in order for them to be genuinely good in order for people to be able to give the president their best bluntest, unvanished advice, aren't going to be carried out in public so that that person can become the target of a vicious twitter campaign because they actually said something that might be a little controversial. you're going to be able to give the president advice, you have to know that it's going to be advice to the president and the president has to have some
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degree of confidence that he or she can have those honest conversations as well. the other thing that has happened during the obama administration, during the year he is has been president that has, i think led to some ill feelings between the press corps and the -- that covers the white house and the white house itself is that the technological changes in communication and how people consume their news means that a white house communications operation that used to be solely geared toward communicating to the american public through the press corps is driven by tech nothing to communicate to people where they're getting their information system of there's a huge amount of direct communication that goes on and continual evolution of resources in the white house. geared toward communication -- communicating directly to voters, not through the filters as we used to. so -- as we used to so fondly
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call reporters. because of that, there's a feeling amongst the press corps i think absolutely justified, that the white house is bypassing them a lot of the time. they see it as bypassing. the white house seeing it as evolving to be able to actually do what you're supposed to do, communicate with the american public. it's not that the press corps is less important it's that there's a lot of things that are added. >> let's keep going with questions as quickly as we can. good morning. >> could you please clarify the difference in function between the press secretary's office thndea communications office? is there any overlap or is that the same? do you work in the same place? >> i would say that they are offices that basically work together very closely. if you think about the offices -- the communications office, it is the office that is in charge
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of the broader world of communication for the administration. in many ways, marketing a lot of proposals, putting together coordinated plans. the press secretary's office is on the line, talking to reporters, answering questions, really doing the day-to-day communication on behalf of the administration to the press corps. the communications office is going to be doing much broader work with the cabinet agencies, with overall initiatives to the administration, with longer term planning and with some -- a lot of these direct communications the digital units, for instance video units, all of that, sunday communications at least in the obama white house. >> i think that is right. the press secretary office is much more tactical and day-to-day. they deal with short-term immediate things. that does not mean we do not get involved in planning and strategies, but really
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communications office -- to think about strategy and tactics, strategy, planning, long-term, thematic is short -- is communications. short-term day-to-day, hand-to-hand combat with reporters -- >> but shared office space. no daylight. >> we are talking all day long. >> good question. >> my question is, president obama has been known to embrace the media on platform like twitter, facebook, and most recently tumblr and instagram. can you caulk tabt how you were able to deal with this and how effective it has been during the administration? >> that is a great question. when tony left the white house and we came in, the white house computer system did not let me -- didn't let you access facebook. think about that for a second. didn't let you access facebook
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because it was seen as a kind of personal social network that people were just going to waste time on. >> but we didn't have a law. >> it was a policy, not a law. >> we hadn't cleared how to handle presidential records on social networks that were brand new. the law wasn't clear on how you would treat white house communications on those things. there were other things going on too. >> as a veteran of the 2008 campaign facebook in 2008 was not the communications tool that it was by 2012 and certainly not today. back then it was more people were staying in touch with each other. it was not an integral part of our campaign communication. twitter was almost nonexist innocent 2008. and really -- nonexistent in 2008. we started seing the white house press corps and other people using twitter for the first time
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in 2009 and starting seeing social media used as a tool to influence reporters in 2009 for the first time. the changes are amazing. one third of millennial's, which is you get most of your television -- you've cut the cord. 60% of you get either d.v.d. or on demand or online or mobile. you're not sitting in front of a television, right? ok. many of you i say the majority of you, don't watch network news broadcasts right? and there's nothing that is growing faster than visual images on the web. buzzfeed, huge. if you're a white house communications operation you need to retool to the extent you can, because you have limited resources in the white house it's not like we have gigantic
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staffs. in 2008 we had gigantic staff on the campaign, got to the white house, tiny staff. but you have to continually look at your resources. i think one of the things this white house is always doing is taking a step back and saying, what has changed since two months ago in terms of how people are consuming news? and looking for different ways to do it. whether it is you know, through facebook instagram, i think pete's flickr account which he set up in 2009 is easily one of the most popular things out there. doing the kind of content people are actually looking at, as opposed to saying ok, now we're going to stand behind a podium one more time. how do we actually get people to listen to what we're saying? and part of it is the delivery mechanism. it's a huge priority. and the next i keep thinking about the next white house and what is this landscape going to look like for them because even
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since 2012 the landscape has change sod dramatically. it's a really interesting question. >> great question. let's go right here. >> james from central michigan university. talking about the president's message, she talked about the prns of the press conference, solo press conference for the president. to say that each of the succeeding presidents from clinton to bush, i just want to know if you are directly involved in it, was there a particular strategy for the solo press campaign or the conference, i mean or the joint press conference that you all voiced? >> start with tony. >> i think the joint press conferences, and i think there's one in about 40 min os so or 35 minutes, you get a chance to watch one. there -- it's a function, if you
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have a had of -- head of state answer the questions, when do you decide you should do one or should not do one, it's negotiated between the other head of state, whether they want to do one. and then whether it's for, especially for -- for both countries, whether there's a need, a messaging goal you're trying to achieve at that time. the -- our bias was always toward doing one, we knew it was generally helpful for the other head of state to be stand there with the president of the united states and it was good for them domestically so we're always happy to do it. we also have a bias toward it. sometimes they didn't want to do it for one reason or another. in the case of a lot of them, they're really shared goals, i think, you know, the u.k. prime minister and president obama today will have a lot of important messaging on terrorism
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and standing with the french. it's a timely and important opportunity for them to come out and speak and show solidarity. so that's one reason why you would do it. >> one of the most interesting things i have read lately, president john kennedy holds the record for the most number of press conferences per days in office. he had a televised press conference an average of every, i think, five or six days. and the reason he did it, though was because he was using television as a tool to go around his white house press corps which i think is hilarious. that this was a way for him to use the new technology because in 1960, television was a very new technology, and he was really good at it: and he enjoyed it. and it was extremely helpful. back then there were three networks and everyone watched it. it was an extraordinarily
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efficient way to reach the american people and for the american people to hear from him directly. now it is not carried by the broadcast networks by and large. i mean, i think in 2009, we had a primetime press conference that was carried live by the broadcast networks. now unless it is a huge announcement, they're not going to want to carry it because it costs a huge amount of money and may not have as much news value as they would like to see from it. and it is one tool to communicate and certainly a useful thing to do in terms of the white house press corps getting immediate access, but you only have so much time and so many resources and you have so many people getting their news from different ways. so it's one of many ways to communicate. whereas for john kennedy, it was the way and the west bay. >> let me button this by saying i can say from firsthand experience with both the bush administration and obama administration, the president
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has reached out and done more one-on-one interviews with local reporters, network reporters, significant newspaper and print reporters, it is a technique that i've seen both of these presidents use and the president can much better control a one-on-one interview and get his points across than he can by fielding questions coming kind of randomly from 15, 20 reporters. >> one note on this, too. if you can pick up -- maybe you guys don't know, but some of the worst events or difficult questions that have been answered by presidents at the press conference, the first half of the press conference usually goes just fine. all the questions are predictable. the responses are, you know, you can prepare for. it's like -- it's the last questions in a press conference that end up completely up ending whatever message you were trying to get out and whatever news the
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early questioners were trying to get at that was important. and you have no control over it. i always thought about it like, when you're putting microwave popcorn, right. you know, after you get to the end and the pops are like too far apart, like pull out, take it out of the microwave. only bad things can happen after that. there's a point in time it's like, cut it off and move on. >> and reporters love that last question including president obama was asked about the black harvard professor arrested by a white cambridge, massachusetts, police officers and that last question of the press conference led to the beer summit. >> nobody remembers another moment from that press conference. right? >> and from a white house communications standpoint that press conference was designed to talk about health care which was most of the press conference. it is -- it's an interesting format. >> next question. we'll try to get to all of those who are already standing for
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questions. good morning. >> good morning. >> i am from stanford university and my question is for you. could you describe what it was like being on air force one on september 11, someone? >> there's a pool system covering the white house, since 50 or 60 of us can't be at the elbow of the president every day. every day there's a list of one television reporters, one radio one newspaper, one from each of the wire services, one camera crew, two or three still photographers and on september 11 2001, i happened to be the -- it was my day to be with the president all day and i was standing in the classroom in florida where he was listening to second graders do their raiding drills and their vocabulary drills when i saw the president's chief of staff walk in and whisper to the president and i was shocked. i wrote it down in my reporte's
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notebook. andy card whispered 9:07 a.m. because nobody would interrupt the president even in front of a classroom of second graders. what then began to snowball is we standing in the classroom 12 reporters in the pool, didn't know about the plane crashes, we heard there had been one plane crash, i went to the side of the room and with my hand caught andy card's eye and made the sign of a plane going down, he nodded and put up two fingers. at that moment i knew one plane crash would be a tragedy, two was real trouble. we were, the president stopped and made a statement to the school saying there was an apparent terrorist attack, he had to return to washington, we scrambled aboard air force one. the door shut, we thought we were taking off for washington and then the pentagon was hit. and i know president bush got some grief for not going
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straight back to washington, but frankly, if now, a terrorist attack has been named -- aimed not just at the financial center of the united states and world trade centers, but now has hit washington, d.c. and we don't know how many other planes might be out there, it was clearly for me as a reporter who at that point had covered the white house for more than 20 years, i saw a doomsday scenario open. not a secret service plan. it's a military plan. and it wasn't to protect george w. bush. it was to protect the constitutionally elected government of a democracy and those next in line of the succession of pow fer that would ever need to be. it was to watch a very well oiled plan come into effect. it's amazing to me onboard air force one, where we flew around for hours, couldn't land, couldn't go anywhere. the extent how little we knew on the plane.
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president bush, as i recall, had three secure telephone line, heckeds talk to the white house he could talk to mayor giuliani, but he couldn't really get much of a feel for it. there are television sets embedded into the front bulkhead wall of each cabin on air force one and they -- the communications deck was able to pull up a very weak tv signal from the ground. and that's where we could see for those of us on the plane, the first tower fall and then the second and it was a very frightening thing. we finally landed once in louisiana because basically air force one crew told me they were out of fuel. they had only had enough fuel to get back to washington. we landed and at that point, i made the argument to ari fleischer, the white house press secretary and andy card, the chief of staff that you can't bump the press off the plane.
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at a time of crisis, you need to have that independent voice who can assure not only the american people but the world that they -- that the federal government hasn't been crippled by this. to their credit, ari fleischer and andy card allowed me to stay on as the only broadcast reporter and then one print reporter was also allowed to stay on. we spent 10 hours with the president. we were assured that wherever he goes, that the press, the few remaining core group of us would stay with him. i was allowed to use my cell phone to call in what the president was doing but there was nobody at the white house that i could call. they'd been evacuated. so i called abc news and they would put me on the air live with peter jennings who was anchoring nonstop. and i knew that every word i spoke and every -- the kind of sense and the tone that i used would help to describe what the commander in chief and the leader of the free world was
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doing at that moment. hours and hours later, the president -- we landed in omaha nebraska he was able to go underground to a bunker where he actually did have closed circuit communications and held a national security council meeting with video connections back to the white house, to the pentagon, to new york, and the president decided that he wanted to go back to washington. and i thought it was critically important, he knew he had to show that the government hadn't been crippled and he wanted to address the american people from the white house, from the oval office that night. as i recall, i wasn't in washington, i was with him, but i think members of congress gathered on the steps of the capitol to sing "god bless america" and it was a real test of how the american government under any president, under any unimaginable circumstance, how the government is protected and how it will continue to move forward. thank you for asking.
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>> i will give you one footnote to that because you are all college students, toward the end of the day my little phone came to life and i got a voice mail message, it was from my daughter annie, who was, this voice said, mom my how come you had time to tell peter jennings you're all right and didn't have time to call me. she was a freshman at s.m.u. in dallas first time living away from home. when i got back to the white house that night, i had two sons at vanderbilt irk got back and i opened my email, when i got back to the white house at 7:30 that night and the first email was from my sons at vanderbilt who said mom our fraternity brother ted adderly was on the 93rd floor of the first tower. at that moment, the day that had been a doomsday scenario and crashing steel and national security suddenly had a human face and it was a handsome young college student, college intern
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who didn't survive the day, never knew what hit him. and so the impact that people feel from that day is very personal and very deep. please. >> i feel badly asking my question after that. i was wonderling, i'm beverly lennox from harvard university extension school, because we have both press and white house communications here, i'd like to ask, kind of if you would discuss the difference in responsibility that you personally feel to guarding the president's image and his message and a consistent voice coming out of the white house versus the informing the press and transparency to the people. >> i always -- i understand the way you phrased it, like guarding the president, there is some of that that goes on but there is a sort of almost car ka tur or overplayed theme that any
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president is bunkered in the white house and it's all -- what we are there to do is to keep ann and the press away and be a barrier and to be, you know, in between and protecting and defensive. i never really thought that way. i think actually, even though you're in the place where you've got, you know, the world's biggest mega phone, which is the voice of the president of the united states, it's the loudest most important voice in the world, you're still fighting for attention to get heard and to find opportunities to break through to audiences and to get through, to get through whatever the news of the day is, to get your point through and it is so hard to do the idea of protecting and obstacles and blocking never the frame of mind that i had. it was always, let's go out and try to find ways to get out and get information out and get a
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point of view out and get our arguments and facts that you're struggling with get through in a really loud place and so it was almost the opposite for me. and so i always saw the press actually as -- i have great relationships with the press because i wap always wanted more communication, more openness, more sitting down and explaining. i think everyone in the white house press corps knew that my door they could come to my door, sit down and talk for as long as they needed to get through anything that i could help them with. and always happy to do it. not just happy, i was like, please come and see me, let's talk and spend a lot of time talking. because it's really hard to break through. >> and i would add to that that when you're working on a campaign you're trying to win, you're forcing voters to a voice. you're trying to win an argument. but when you're working for the
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president or for a senator or any part of the government, you're actually in public service and the mission is different. yes, of course you want your boss to look good and you want them to be able to communicate effectively. but especially when you're in the white house, the issues are so much bigger that you are communicating about than whether or not your boss looks good. it is jobs and national security and america under attack and people's lives and it is -- so it's a very different kind of communication than a campaign is. because a campaign is definitely about presenting a very narrow set of facts and sort of image to people to help drive them to a choice where governing is a much broader kind of communication that is about trying to communicate to a very broad public information that will help build support for
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proposal. and also to educate around issues and tell them what's going on. i think ann's story about 9/11 is a perfect sexample of that. on 9/11, nobody was worried about george bush's image. what they needed to do, when they got him back to the oval office was to reassure the american public as only the president of the united states can do there's only one person at a time like that who can actually communicate broadly to the american public and reassure them, and it's the president. >> anything that happens in the world. anything that happens. anything of any consequence that happens in the world what is the president of the united states saying about it? what is the white house saying about it? but no other person in the world, something happens, it's not like what's putin going to say? what is any other world leader going to say? it's -- unless it's immediate to them. but any major event of
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consequence, they need to know what is the president of the united states saying about it. >> in the very few minutes i got left, i'll do quickly the last four questioners just a lightning round. >> i'm from miami-dade honors college and my question goes directly to ms. dunn, since you have been part of the obama administration being closer, i want to -- although he has had a somewhat successful relationship with the press by the use of technology and twitter can you mention one occasion that you remember he could have done better or he could have admit head did something wrong, he did something -- that you can recall? >> i don't know if it's something he could have done better, i think that in retrospect, when we first came to the white house and threw out -- and throughout the administration it's true what ann said about this president
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having done more one-on-one interviews than any president and having been extremely accessible to the press in retrospect, i don't think it would have been a bad idea for him to have done more of the kind of just casual walking into the press room taking a few questions on a pretty regular basis, doesn't have to stay there for long, but having been more accessible to the white house press corps. i think that -- who often feels he's accessible to every kind of press except for them. i think that's the one thing that in retrospect i might have done differently. >> i'm going to interrupt here and do the last two questions real quick, we're almost out of time. good morning. >> natalie from honors college at miami david. you mentioned ms. dunn you mentioned that if you think there's a problem, you should voice your opinion. as citizens what's the best way to voice our opinion? how do you suggest we do that? >> to voice your opinion?
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well if you're upset with something in the government or you just want to voice an opinion there is on whitehouse.gov, you can get people together to do a petition. one of the things we put into this -- that the obama administration put into place is if you can get 100,000 people to sign an online petition asking the white house to respond to an issue, they'll respond to it. if you want to force them to talk to you about an issue, you can help -- you can organize an online community, which is not, as you know, as hard as it sounds put a cute cat picture on it, i know that's not -- but that's one way to make your voice heard. one of the so extremely exciting things about being alive right now is that supreme more ways than ever before to make their voices heard through social media networks you know, i like to say there are 310 million people in this country every
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single one of them is a journalist now. postingings, your social networks, organize -- postings your social networks, oorg nicing with other people a lot of voices are amplified louder than just one. but being active. unless you're speaking nobody will hear what you have to say. then there's the question of using the tools. >> in the less than 50 seconds we have left. >> and vote. >> good morning, my name is jess chasm i'm a student at the honors college at miami-dade, and i'm aware ware the press secretary must be a credible source but during a press conference trks if a question is asked and there's no answer to it, how do the -- how does the press secretary answer the question by keeping his or her credible source title? >> tony, i'll let you do that. >> it's an easy question. you say, i don't know. i'll get back to you on that
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one. any other answer, any trying to make something up, there's bull something, i won't say it on your taping but there's -- it is pointless to try to, you no, i, spin the press that way. i've been asked this question a different way, what do you do when you have to lie to the press. i've never in my life ever, ever lied to the press and never would. so your credibility is everything. the trust that you develop is everything. and so when i -- sometimes i say, sometimes i know the answer what if you know the answer and can't tell them. i say, that's nothing something i can share with you right now. just be honest, straightforward transparent and say, that's not something i can share with you. >> not something we're prepared to discuss. >> yeah. that's the only way to do it. >> great questions. great program. thank you for letting us be here
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with you. anita dunn, tony fratto. thank you all. [applause] >> in about two hours pths obama delivers his state of the union address to a joint -- president obama delivers his state of the union address to a joint session of congress. we'll have a preview program starting about 8:00 p.m. eastern with the speech delivered at 9:00 after that the republican response given by iowa freshman senator joanierness. plus we'll open up the phone line and take your tweets. earlier today on the house floor, minority leader nancy pelosi previewed tonight's speech. here's a look. the speaker pro tempore: without oeconth gentledy is recognized. ms. pelothk you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, this weekend we observe the celebration of the life of the reverend martin luther king jr.. he talked about engagement for, engagement for the american people, for jobs, for justice,
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for peace, and that is -- it was pretty exciting to see the response across the country at a time when all of these issues are in the forefront. tonight we will hear from the president of the united states. from what i hear about what he will present it will reflect what we have seen across the country in terms of what he said last year, when women succeed, america succeeds. about college affordability, about childcare, about sick leave, all the kinds of issues that enable families, not just when the families to succeed, and to hopefully it will reflect what we talked about on opening day. better infrastructure, bigger paychecks. as we all know despite all of the economic gains and all the indicators that tell us that progress has been made in our economy, indeed it has, it isn't reflected in the paychecks of america's working families.
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so what we hear tonight i know will be in furtherance of increasing that paycheck. starting from the middle. starting from benefits -- when i say benefits, initiatives that benefit the middle class and those who aspire to it. all of it a reflection of the american people thinking, all of it about engagement for what the reverend martin luther king talked about. all of it hopefully that we are able to do in a bipartisan way. let us find the areas in which we have common ground. let us work together to get that done. build confidence, between us in this body, among the american people. and make -- keep america number one in education innovation, and justice and a >> minority leader nancy pelosi previewing tonight's state of the union address. just rae minder that tonight's
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preview show starts live tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern with the president's address at 9:00. >> tomorrow on "washington journal" a review of the state of the union address with three members of congress, we'll start the show with georgia congressman and budget chair tom price who will also discuss the house republican agenda. then new york representative joseph crowley on the house democrat's legislative priorities. finally mississippi senator roger wicker who serves as the national republican senatorall chair who will look at the senatorial compare who will look at the republican focus in the senate. that's "washington journal." every morning at 7:00 a.m. >> up next a look at the process of how the president writes his state of the union address. from "washington journal" this is an hour.
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www.c-span.org. joining us now to talk about the state of the union, two former speech writers from various administration. we first hear from all orzulak -- paul orzulak, writer for george clinton and mary kate cary, writer for george w. bush. -- george h.w. bush. can you start off with what he hopes to achieve tonight? guest: it is two things. it is a chance to form your policies. and you say this is what i'm going to be about this year. and then to set the terms of the debate going forward. it is one of the few chances the president has to speak to the nation without a media filter
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to present his ideas directly. it is the bane of every speechwriter, because they invariably turn it into what people call laundry lists. but if done right, it can help make a case for your plants -- plasns. hopefully we will hear what the next two years is going to be about. guest: i would agree with all of that. paul is right, it's a chance to make her case to the american people. -- to make the case to the american people. and to say washington really can do things, they really do have a plan, and then to try to convince people there is lamenting for positive change in the u.s. host: you said it was the bane of every writer's existence. give us a little bit about what it's like trying to run a speech for george w. bush. guest: it was such a great
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experience. i was a 25 euros b treader -- 25-year-old speech writer. i won all kinds of writing awards and was the national spelling bee winner, and i would 10 times rather write a speech like that than the state of the union address. that one, you were guaranteed to be on the nightly news and no one said that was a terrible speech. the state of the union, a tremendous amount of work, months and months of work. and what was the last time you ever heard anybody quote from the state of the union? it is not known as a memorable speech. it is important, but not a fun speech to write. host: i suppose the response from the president is something you looked forward to with trepidation as well. guest: right, the worst response to get from any president, i believe, is an -- a giant x
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across the page. that is when you know you've gone off track and lost the intention and you've got to get back on track. the best responses when they slip one word and writing in the margins, and then you have sparked a thought. that is what you want as a speechwriter. host: tell us about your process writing for resident clinton. guest: i, too, was a back entrance speechwriter. i did not write a lot of things that would be carved in marble. nobody likes the state of the union. it's a huge process, as mary kate said. and the chief ben is sort of a steward of -- the chief pen is sort of a steward of the process. and this white house as we reach out to ceos and other sectors, you are getting a massive amount of information
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trying to fit it into something attic, something -- some thematic, narrative position. people start out trying to get rid of the laundry list of the state of the union but process doesn't lend itself to that. at the end of the day mar >> this is theio prose and the work of government. and bill clinton relished these moments. what he did better than anybody is explaining these things
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>> you may have questions about the process the state of the union. a lot of the papers are saying the major themes have been telegraphed by the president.
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what was it like by the time you were arriving? guest: go into the president and going to be talking about the budget deal and list of topics and got him to the speech writers and up to you how you were going to weave it together and make it interesting. so the speech themes were decided well in advance by people with bigger paychecks.
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last two years when legacy is a much bigger issue like president obama, framing the progress, talking about the resurgence is real and created more jobs in a month since the 1990's or unemployment is down. framing the last six years and giving a sense where the next two years are going to close but with an eye forward as well as an eye back and the change you have driven. host: job performance numbers. >> the president's approval rating is up ninth points. the economy is doing better but not doing for everybody and the president is going to address
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tonight. the focus is on middle class and tax relief and community college. those things that help the middle class. guest: i think that the list of topics that i have seen that are going to be in tonight, if you look at the latest polls of what are the top priorities to american voters, the economy is the top one but that has declined. and what is surging up according to pew this morning, terrorism, the deficit and the military and i don't think we will hear many of that. that is a strategic mistake. people want to hear about that. but i think if i were him i would have a lot more foreign policy in his speech. >> he has laid out a lot of
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cybersecurity, terrorism programs. k he will address terror is there are some big issues >> i'm focused on helping the
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middle class succeed providing opportunity and let's have our discussions about everything else the next two years from that sort of position.
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and talk about some of the things you are saying. that's why politically for his legacy and has to start worrying
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about that. last year's speech he did not sound like a man building his legacy. guest: we have made real progress, but we have a long way to go. we have had the sort of dichotomy, the message hasn't had a lot of good news. and all these things that were bad news. the rest of the world has especially developed world has had unprecedented growth and for the first time in 15 years now, there is a sense that our economy is righting itself and back on track.
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>> i'm hoping there is a change in tone by tonight from the last two weeks where he can take the things on where to build and move forward. republicans are in favor of an earned income tax credit and not through big programs and big bureaucracies. mark rubio. i don't know why he is using that against republicans. there is plenty of togetherness. guest: if you are on the defensive. and it's not necessarily the president putting you on the defensive, but the position of your own. republican path to growth and middle class opportunity has been different. but the president is doing defining a democratic vision
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going forward recognizing that for any progress to be made and americans see divided government we have to figure out ways to work together. it is setting the terms going forward today. and if republicans feel defensive, it's because so far from what their agenda.
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owe state of the union address gets a lot of criticism of sometimes feel good prodigy that draws a lot of applause but don't have a clear sort of path forward. in is one of those and i think a lot of work has to happen on this issue and others which congress has overruled the district over the last district. guest: democrats line.
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caller: i think any responsible american needs to hear both sides and listen to the state of the union address, which is always important because it does outline the presidential plans and direction. and then they need to listen to the rebutals from the republicans. a lot of republicans should this time around get on board with those things they agree with, minimum wage increase, voters' rights. i think those people, the republican side, more than some of the democrats that are blocking some of these issues as they come to the floor, they are leaving themselves open for a real embarrassment. some of them ought to be put on trial for crimes against humanity because of their
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extremely conservative ideals. guest: a country with a lot of different people. close to 50-50-. and i don't doubt that people that are conservative and believe what they believe believe as strongly as i do. so i don't think we should cast aspersions. but i would agree with the caller that minimum wage increase, voting rights, those are issues we should be behind this country.
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>> small business woman from the state of washington, congresswoman from washington state and she did a great job. she was showing the alternative view, which is the party of private sector versus the party of big government and the people need to hear both. and invited legislators to join us in our agenda and i look forward to tonight. i hope people stay tuned. guest: you can hear it, our coverage overall starting at 8:00. as far as responses are concerned, do the persons themselves write the speech. who is responsible?
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guest: the year, the republican is in office the head of the national democratic committee is going to decide. bill clinton was the president, barber was the head of the speech writer and he put on loan to governor christie and certainly everything she wanted to say and make sure i tweaked it that hillary. guest: there are some people that former virginia senators jim webb. responses to state of the union. he wrote it himself and writer. other people use staff. some use outside writers. it is for the entire party to get the party forward and it's
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hard. my first boss in politics was the governor that preceded senator erns tmp, senator harkin. hard to follow the president when you are staring into the cameras. when senator rubio gave the response and very human things like needing a drink of water becomes a national story.
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guest: the examples that the caller gave, president lincoln wrote the gettysburg address. george washington gave the first say to the union address to congress. thomas jefferson helped him write it. projecting your ideas doesn't mean that you have the only pen. leaders in these positions 10 to hear -- tend to hear other people. we used to describe ourselves as people united in the delusion that we could write a speech better for president clinton that he could write for himself if he had the time. while the president is out running the free world the white house is receiving memos and proposals from dozens and
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dozens of different cabinet agencies and ceos. those ideas are brought in and the president puts his stamp on what he wants to talk about. it's our job to go off and come up with a draft. it gets presented to him. if he likes a draft he sketches it. the current speechwriter has done a magnificent job. it started really strong out of that process. the president just made line edits working up to the address. host: mr. obama refers to him as hemingway. guest: to riches concern the
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reason the president or any of the fortune 500 eeo's or any of our clients that we have had over the years, there are a couple of reasons. these people tend to be at that level in a bubble and needed somebody who is the eyes and ears picking up stories or statistics or grabbing the cocktail crasher. you have a statistic so good it makes you drop your drink. you also have a duty to do all of the fact checking. you have a research office that helps. factual inaccuracies are the greatest way to destroy a speech. you instantly lose that ability. you have to have somebody who is paying attention to the consistency. you are not flip-flopping and getting into trouble for saying something different than you have said in the past. what paul is saying, there is a
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time versus money versus power factor. is this a good use of the president's time to be flipping through jokes when he is the leader of the free world? it's an honor and a privilege for us to do it anonymously. we are team players. we are there because we believe in the same priorities as the president and the client that we work for. guest: every president takes an active role in the state of the union. president clinton rewrote huge parts to the point to he realized a lot of his speeches ran long. during those editing sessions, he would figure out how many words he cut and then write the number of words on the bottom of each page. he would add back 2000 words.
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that process of reconciling the draft, the president doesn't have time to do that. guest: would you rather have him doing that or negotiating with nato? host: heidi from indiana, you are on with our guests. they are both former presidential speechwriters. caller: hi. i live in indiana. i am going to hop from topic to topic. i think it was good that obama needs to to his horn about his accomplishments more. he has done a lot. is made it easy for people with big student loans and passed the health care bill. it's a start for sure. the whole thing was getting saddam hussein.
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that was fantastic. it made me proud to be an american. my son was active in the campaign. i was active in the hillary clinton campaign. that is the beauty of america. host: what would you like to hear from our guest? caller: there are a few things. they said about obama writing. he is a very articulate person and a very good speechwriter. we need people to edit. host: back to the speechwriter. what is his day like? specifically on this date? guest: we had a role that the speech was in the can. finished. no changes. 48 hours at.
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the president has the right to make changes. he rarely did. he told us a story the first day we were there in office area and he said he had been in a limo with president reagan going to an event. the speechwriter handed reagan his speech cards. vice president bush said, is that the first time you've seen this? and president reagan said yes. they get out of the car. reagan goes up to the podium and knocks it out of the ballpark. president bush tells us the story. he says don't ever think that you can do that to me. i want all speeches 48 hours in advance because i need to practice them. he knew his limitations as a speaker. he put in a lot of practice time.
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this date, he would be in the white house theater with a small group of staff practicing the delivery. textual changes were done by that point. guest: i think his day today will be better than the 15 days he was in a hotel room in hawaii. or the hours he spent in a windowless office. if you are fan of "the west wing.," it's a moment of glory for speechwriters. there's an episode where sam seabourn is announced into the room. he gets big applause. in reality he tells a story that in that room after one of
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these native the unions that was really successful, president clinton introduced him as the guy who typed my speech. cody his earned some time off. the president will go on the road. it is a lonely existence. it is one persons pen that ultimately is responsible for making all of these changes and framing it and comment with the conceptual arc. cody has had that responsibility since before christmas. he probably has a sense of relief. this president locks down of the same way. they are probably rehearsing it but not changing anything. there is a chance he got his first good nights sleep last night. host: do you watch it with other
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people? how does that work? guest: the first year that president bush gave his first state of the union, right before the motorcade took off they asked him if he wanted to ride the president. he said i will go watch it with my kids. i was not a mom yet. i can't believe he just turned that down. i said something to him the next day, i wanted to watch it as 50 million americans watched it. hopefully i will read it again next year and this will show me how everybody else sees it. if i was in that chamber, it's a very different view. he chose to watch it on television with his family. and learn from that. guest: i watched the first four from the floor of the, --
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congress. it's all pageantry. it's remarkable. it's better watched on tv, just like football. you see the way everybody else sees it. somebody different people react in real-time. if you watched some of those dial meter readings, you can see what's connecting. host: bill from florida is on the democrat line. caller: good morning. i wonder how much of speech writing really is spent, it's been my observation that whenever we have a republican -- democrat in office, the deficit goes down. when a republican in the senate the deficit goes up here in the
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deficit is an important part of what people worry about. how you tell people that cutting taxes is going to help lower the deficit when it's never done it? guest: if you offset it does. this administration has reduced two thirds of the deficits that it took office with. this president has proposed tax cuts for the middle class. he is offset it with higher taxes in capital gains. those things will make it pay for itself. speeches are spin in the leaf of a party is spin to somebody. these are what we believe. if these are honest expressions
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of what we are in government to do, there are cases to be made on both sides. i would agree that every republican has cut taxes and the deficit goes up. the republicans famously during president reagan's term said they would run up deficits to the point where we had to cut programs. what seems like partisan politics is motivated by very real passions on both sides. guest: you may recall that the 1990 budget deal, president bush was upset about the deficit. he get democrats to agree to spending caps. he did not want to go for taxes. he wanted to spending cuts in place.
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we know the political price he paid for that decision. because he was not there, he did not get to enjoy the fruits of that agreement. bill clinton was in charge when we had balanced budgets that were mandated by that law. that led to the surpluses that get used to fund the wars after 9/11. we can argue about whether there should have been wars. that is where that money went. i disagree that all republicans purposefully run up deficits. i feel like president bush did the right thing and bill clinton got the credit for. guest: that was a great moment of political courage. host: we are talking about the state of the union. johnny from chicago, you are next. caller: thank you for taking my
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call. i would just like to say two things. i enjoy the show. i'm enjoy listening to the information. i'm a veteran. i was born in mississippi and came to chicago. i never got married, but i had three kids. i adopted three kids. they went to college and all of them have good jobs. they had kids. i have a daughter, one daughter, she is working in georgia for the state. i was at the post office. i was there 32 years. i don't know anything about asking somebody for a handout. i don't know anything about asking for free this or three that. it seems like everything is
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negative to things like that. anytime you have people that are so negative and they degrade other people and then they say an act for other things or other people, jobs to be done. be careful what you ask for. if the good ward -- lord is willing, everyone that has talked negative about what this administration has done, i want to hear what they have to say. guest: thank you for your service and for raising a remarkable family. we have both worked in government. i've worked at every level of government. public employees tend to be a whipping boy and have been for 20 years.
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some of the most committed and hardest working people i know are in the federal government. you're right. there are people who go to work and raise the families and do everything that you said. i think this president will receive a lot more credit as time goes by. i would go so far as to suggest that if a republican was office we would talk about it being morning in america again. that's not the role of the opposition party right now. they have taken an approach that doesn't give the president any credit for anything. the majority leader in the senate claim the economy was in good shape and rebounding just because the republicans won the election and all the change happened since then. that's interesting, but not true. host: don, you are next up are in --. caller: how much of the comment
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line goes into the speechwriters? i've been calling in since reagan was president. the reason that george bush was not reelected was because he was having heart attacks in japan. guest: i think your question was how much do people calling into the white house line get into the speech. you might want to write a letter instead of calling in. if you look at the list of people who will be guests of the first lady, there are 25 who will sit in the gallery, a
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tremendous number of them are people who wrote others to the president through the correspondence office. they won the lottery and are coming to washington and their families are getting entertained at the white house while they go to sit at the capital. you might want to change your mo. instead of calling, send in some letters. that works much better. host: who gets highlighted in the first lady's box? guest: the process is constant all year long as they go out to of that's. as they meet people, they keep a list. there is a person who handles correspondence for both the president and first lady. they pull the letters for them to see out of all the letters they get. it's a mixture the rest of the
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white house has plenty of insight. i'm sure that the speechwriters send in people that they have met. the keeper of the list is the speechwriter for the first lady. guest: you go searching for something that will fit the themes of the speech. and afghanistan veteran is in the audience tonight. he is gone through 20 surgeries and can't wear prosthetics but finished a marathon. they pick people that reinforce parts of the speech. there are some americans whose stories are so extraordinary that they receive invitations for things that are going to happen. the astronaut scott kelly who is going in march to leave earth to spend the year aboard the
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international space station. there are things happening and it will bring our quest to discover and reach out and find new worlds. his twin brother is married to a former congresswoman gabby giffords. he wants to see how his body changes in space. there are forward-looking things that people you invite emphasized. mostly, it's individuals that reflect elements of the speech. caller: hi. i just have a quick question. i was interested to hear about president reagan handling the state of the union. one of the things that he was
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credited for was in 1983 actually solving the sole security funding crisis -- social security funding crisis. i'm curious to know, was that initiative part of one of his addresses? why hasn't a similar solution then posed in recent times? guest: i think that was tax reform that happened between dan rostenkowski and president reagan. they wanted to keep social security solvent. it happens from time to time and gets extended. president clinton had a commission that also worked to bring extended life and president obama has as well.
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as i said earlier, that entitlement reform will likely be a topic that comes up because it's a priority of all of the new members of congress. it's something the country has to address. we can afford to have these programs run out. that may be mentioned tonight. guest: i am hoping that the president comes back around and revisits some of the recommendations that deal with social security. i retrieve with you, it's high time for more similar reforms to come through to save social security and medicare. there was no mention in last year's state of the union. i think with paul ryan at the ways and means committee, he is very bigamist. hopefully there will be some common ground they can come to.
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host: is there a difference in approach when both houses are powered by one party? guest: both of our bosses had houses and senates of the opposition party. in those days, you used to setit down the middle. one thing for speechwriters to do was to see if you could get your guy to say something to the other size would applaud. that was considered a good thing. there was one time when will clinton pointed it out when the republicans clapped for one of his proposals. he add lived -- add lived --
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improvised. it does change the dynamic when you have both houses against you. there is some fun with trying to write shameless applause lines. guest: for the president, in a funny way there is something freeing about delivering a speech to a republican majority house and senate. there is a responsibility for governing on them in ways that they haven't had in the time the democrats were in the senate. it's not enough to put reddick -- rhetoric forward. or vote 47 times two overturn the affordable care act. there is a responsibility for governing. the president is speaking to the opposition party that runs the congress now.
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he is setting the terms of the debate. we have made a lot of progress. this is my focus for the next year. i think we should help middle-class families. when the banks were in trouble we prop them up and save them. now we're at the -- we're asking banks to pay and help middle-class families. banks are making record profits again. it's setting the terms of the debate. now the responsibility is shared has the house can't just past things anymore. we know this is never going to become law there is pressure. guest: he has announced that this dative unit is more of a movement than a moment. it's just a broad sweeping
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statement about his priorities. it's not a legislative agenda. i think part of the problem is the president has not been proposing legislation. the second problem is everything and this will not be legislation, but it will be in his budget. the budget last year was a political statement. two years prior to that, it went down unanimously defeated. for him to put forward a budget as an agenda that he knows the republicans will not accept is like a ceo putting forth a budget to his board of directors that he knows they will not accept. guest: i understand that position. mitch mcconnell took office in
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2010 saying the only thing we are about is to make sure that the president is not reelected. they were not partners in governing. did you have any indication that this congress which passed fewer bills in any congress in history had any intention of working with the president? the proposal to put fees on a banks, that was a republican idea. americans support minimum-wage increase. they support paid leave. they are supportive of free community college. you may disagree, but that is the debate. those are the things that are party believes in. we believe that we will help
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improve opportunities or the middle class. a broad cross-section of america agrees. the president has laid out a dozen things. he hasn't been hiding anything. they are all legislative proposals. these are real things. guest: then let's have votes on them. guest: i hope so. it would be a nice change. people want the government to do the job it was sent here to do. host: paul from baltimore maryland. caller: i wonder if you could speak to how contentious it gets among speechwriters. this president has taken credit for his success.
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do you suppose there is contentiousness among the speechwriters? he and others say no. guest: speechwriters don't decide what goes in a speech. we are the pen. people way above the pay grade of speechwriters decide what is going to be in it. people that commit their lives to being involved at this level are very passionate. i would pay money to be a fly on the wall of the reagan speechwriting team who argued endlessly about the meaning of liberty and freedom and what the country stood for. they use all of those adam smith
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quotes they learned in college. there is always a passionate defense. in our administration, a remarkably talented person was the chief speechwriter. he loved those debates about what is the meaning of our time here together. if you see him today, he will talk passionately about those same things in a more articulate way than most people. there is real passion. at the end of the day, we serve the president. we are serving the president's ideas. they tend to be open to argument. that is part of the reason why this process is so broad. policies get argued out over the course of the months leading up to the address. the president ways both sides. we air it publicly.
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we determine if that is the way to go forward. guest: the one i remember was he had said read my lips no new taxes. that was in a number of speeches as president. as speeches were getting circulated for approval, that phrase would get circled. we were told to tone it down. we were completely blindsided when the president agreed to the 1990 budget deal. the speech lighters -- writers were left holding the bag. there was quite a bit of contention if you can imagine. guest: john f. kennedy said that the biggest surprise was finding out things were as bad as we
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said they were when they were on the campaign. i don't think the budget director of the situation that craig is -- president reagan had left for president bush. it was a moment of remarkable courage. it was probably one of the great moments of political courage in the last 40 or 50 years. host: mark is calling from alaska. caller: i have a question for both of the guests. what is their favorite modern-day speech? if they have a favorite. i will take my answer off the air. guest: i am assuming not a state of union? my favorite is president reagan's speech on the 40th anniversary of normandy.
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peggy noonan wrote it. it's my favorite speech of all time. it talks about the heroic journey of these workingmen who made it to the tops of the clips. i highly recommend it. i have used it to teach the importance of noble rhetoric. guest: that's one of -- a hard one to disagree with. the challenger speech at the president made, he had to delay the state of the union because it happened the day he was supposed to deliver the state of the union. my favorite speech is the eulogy that bob costas gave when mickey mantle died. i don't like the yankees very much. there was something about the way he captured what it meant to be a yankee fan and what it meant to be a mickey mantle fan as a boy in new york.
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i am a baseball ever. that speech to me was remarkable. the only speech i have ever memorized word for word was the gettysburg address. it is fewer than 300 words. it is a remarkable statement about what this country is about. the speechwriters who admire lincoln admire him for how spare he was in his eloquence. we teach that you shouldn't use compound sentences. you should use simple sentences. you should use to sell words instead of three. there are few people who understood the effectiveness of concise argument then and family can. host: one more call. this is larry from california on
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the independent line. caller: i love the program. i voted for reagan. and i voted for obama. my concern is the keystone pipeline. i worked in the oil fields. i don't understand how the congress can not send a delegation to alberta. i understand ted cruz had parents who work for transcanada. i don't understand why they can't send a delegation to look at the pits of their. this is my request. do not collect oil. -- call it oil. guest: tonight, i doubt we will hear the words keystone pipeline come out of the president's mouth. i think it should of been passed along time ago.
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i don't understand why it has taken five years for the state department to be involved in this. it should be passed right away. the unions are in favor of it. the congress is in favor of it. former presidents are in favor of it. i don't understand the problem is. guest: i think he will talk about energy. america is the leading producer of oil and gas in the world which is a remarkable achievement. the keystone pipeline is not as easy as it seems. the oil is heavier. it burns dirtier than other oil. the number of temporary jobs it creates is 4000, but the permanent jobs are 50. it's a real debate for people that live in places like nebraska and other places if they want to pipeline that is delivering oil to the gulf.
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oil is so -- it is more expensive to ship things by rail. this is going to be a debate we are going to have a lot. we have more supply than we need. now we have to figure out what to do with it. pipelines are going to be debated. energy independence and what we do with the energy, whether we exported or keep it here, it's going to be something that is debated over the next two years. if you listen to some republicans, everything will be great. there are reasons against it. they have had plenty of time, but we have not had delegation's go up to canada.
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host: two guests who are former speechwriters talking about the process of the state of the union. >> tomorrow on "washington journal," a review of the state of the union address with three members of congress. we start the show with tom price. new york representative joseph crowley on the house democrats legislative priorities. finally, mississippi senator roger wicker will look at the senate gop priorities for 2015. plus your phone calls, facebook comments, and tweets. "washington journal" is live every day at 7:00 eastern on c-span. >> andrew keen, author of "the
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internet is not the answer" on how the public is being used by internet companies for their own profit. >> in the industrial age people went to work in factories. they were paid for the labors. they worked 9:00 to 5:00 and did what they want with the money. today when people are working in factories like google and twitter, but we are unpaid labor. we are working 24 hours a day. it is not rewarded and it is not acknowledge that we are creating the value for them. worse than that, we're the ones being packaged as the product because what these companies are doing is learning more and more about us, from our behavior are photographs, our ideas, what we buy, what we say, what we don't say. they are learning about us. they are creating this pano pticon and they are transforming us, repackaging us as the
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product. we are the ones being sold. not only are we working for free, we are being sold. it is the ultimate scam. it is a perfect hitchcock movie. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q and a". >> welcome to the coverage of the 2015 state of the union address. president barack obama will return to the podium and the house of representatives for the seventh time in his administration. for the first time facing a house and senate controlled by republicans. for the next hour we will take you inside the halls of congress and you will see much of the behind the scenes as well as the official event. filled with history and tradition, and of course on a night this, a great deal of politicking. we start with scott long, who is a senior writer for the

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