tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg April 28, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening with our continuing coverage of election 2016. hillary clinton won four out of five primaries on tuesday. donald trump triumphed in all five republican primaries. bob woodward, associate editor of "the washington post." in new york, michael barbaro. what was it you saw there? what is the quality of trump's foreign-policy vision? >> what was important about this speech is what was not there. he did not talk about the wall with mexico that he has previously promised he is going
to build. he did not talk about excluding muslims from coming into the united states. i think the elevated diplomacy and said very clearly it is possible we can negotiate with russia and china. and he also very much elevated the idea of not telegraphing what we are going to do, of being unpredictable. charlie: that's one of his key strengths, people say, because they don't really know, the unpredictability adds some drama to the election if he is, in fact, the nominee. >> the speech also had some weaknesses. for instance, he said about president obama, if president obama actually intended to weaken america, he couldn't do a better job. that is a gross overstatement. you can criticize obama for things he has done in foreign-policy and elsewhere, but to say that his intent is to
weaken america makes no sense. trump referred to the false song of globalization, that he is only going to focus on american interests. well, we live in a world of globalization. you cannot ignore it. also, in terms of isis, the islamic state, he said very directly, he is going to do away with them very quickly. i think as soon as he gets intelligence briefings as a candidate for president, he will realize, as george w. bush and barack obama could tell him, these things do not go very quickly. charlie: michael, what did you think of the speech? michael: i think the fact of the speech is interesting. he does not give policy
speeches. this is the second time he has given a real speech of substance that was planned ahead as a presentation of an agenda. i thought he looked a little uncomfortable in the role of a policy pronouncer. noticed that his mouth was really dry and he was stumbling over some of the words. but when it got around to delivering the message, there were a number of, you could diplomatically call them, paradoxes. we are going to get out of the business of nationbuilding, but we are going to build a stronger, safer world. those two things are somewhat related, as we have found over the past years and decades. he argued there are too many weapons in the world, then he later said i want to develop some newer weapons. he talked about the need to be unpredictable, while arguing that he was going to create stronger, more reliable alliances.
one of the things that makes alliances work, that allows foreign countries to have confidence in the united states is predictability. charlie: what went into the speech? do we know how he set about to make the speech, what his goal was? was it to appear presidential, so that he would suggest to people, you can see me as commander-in-chief? michael: it coincided with the arrival of a new figure in his campaign, who seem to be involved in some kind of tug-of-war with his original campaign manager, as they figure out what kind of presentation will be compelling to get him to be nominee and a serious contender. since paul has arrived, there was a speech he gave at the republican national committee, which he said, this is something of an act. there seems to be an argument among the campaign, it's time to become a more serious candidate.
it's not necessarily prevailing, but you can see bits and pieces of it. charlie: do you think paul has had a real impact on trump, not only in terms of tactics, but also in how he approaches the rest of the campaign and, perhaps, the general election campaign? bob: yes and no. trump is still trump. we heard last night where he was saying things about hillary clinton, that she wasn't a woman, that she would get 5% of the vote, something like that should not be thought, let alone said. what michael was saying about contradictions in this foreign-policy speech, if you look at any president's foreign policy, reagan's, either of the bush's, or obama's, there are those contradictions all the time. so, this was something new. it was coherent.
i want to go back to the points he did not talk about, the wall or excluding muslims. that's been kind of a pillar of his campaign. he probably, if asked, will say he hasn't changed his mind, but i think in this kind of blueprint that he has laid out, it is significant that did not come up. charlie: what about the decision by ted cruz to announce his running mate, carly fiorina? bob: most likely, he is going to be irrelevant, not make any difference. i think it is pretty much agreed that the republican nomination is over. as people say -- and they are not wild about talking about this -- but, whatever number trump gets to, to not give him the nomination, there has to be a very clear reason -- rationale for doing that. and i don't see it in certainly the cruz campaign.
michael: i can't figure out what the real strategic benefit to it is. in the absence of it really changing his campaign, it is kind of a brilliant, distracting ploy. ted cruz has a reputation for being a pretty calculating and cunning political guy. what he has done here is he has said to the remaining primary states, if you have reservations about donald trump and you are willing to take me to the convention, in that messy process that could possibly result in a contested convention, this is what my nominee ticket would look like. it would be a gender balanced ticket, with a figure who is well known, carly fiorina, but who is also controversial.
charlie: do we know who is on the shortlist for donald trump? he has suggested paul ryan. michael: i would be pretty shocked if paul ryan said yes to him. charlie: i would, too. they were pretty much washington establishment types? bob: when we interviewed him weeks ago, he made it very clear he is going to go for somebody who is washington establishment. he specifically said somebody who has been around for 25 years, who can go to the senate and who knows senators, knows the players. if he sticks to that, as we know, he doesn't necessarily stick to things he says. i suspect in his mind he has got a short list of one for who he would like to pick as his running mate. he may blurt it out someday. they may actually hold it close and actually go through a rigorous process. i suspect everything we know about trump, he is kind of
instinctive. as george bush said about himself, he is a gut player, and trump definitely is. charlie: is it a specific person, or the idea of one person? bob: i don't know, obviously. he thinks in terms of personality. you were asking the question about him. what struck bob costas and myself is he is a master at measuring the reaction to himself. in a very odd way, when you interview him, he doesn't disagree with much, because he is kind of looking for a path of some sort of agreement.
as the person who transcribed the tape, my assistant, said, she listened to this. she said, "you know, there is a tipoff. you will say something, then he will say, 'by the way,' and he will give you his real opinion." charlie: do you think if he is indeed the nominee he might be a stronger candidate than we imagine because of unpredictability, and the fact that he did so well suggesting he has appeal in the republican party -- that that might translate to some, quote, reagan democrats? bob: i think almost anything can happen here. i think the debate will be will he do some of these things he has talked about or is he going to change. one of the tipoffs to the possibility that he is going to be much more reasonable and sound reasonable is this speech today. no wall, no muslims. michael, were you surprised? i thought for sure that was going to get dropped in. it was not.
michael: he cannot, of course, raise those proposals for the law and for the temporary ban. they will be used against him powerfully by a potential hillary clinton democratic nominee, if she is the nominee, as we think she will be. but i'm sure he left them out for the simple reason that he hopes people will start to forget about them, and he will put some distance between himself and those really hurtful remarks to a growing population of general election voters. bob: but then, last night, he made that comment about hillary
michael: there is a tendency towards self sabotage with donald trump, almost without equal in american politics. you could argue it goes back very far in his life, the way he has conducted some of his personal life, to some of the decisions he made as a developer, and especially since he entered the campaign. it's as if the moment he is on the cusp of real progress in the campaign, he finds a way to do something that will reignite an old debate. charlie: you could flip it over and say he has done things everyone else thought would destroy a campaign and it did not destroy his campaign. michael: that's true so far in a primary. but some of the self-inflicted wounds will have real power in the general election. if you looked on tuesday at the polling that was done, the exit polling, people who left the polls, 1/4 of the republicans who were asked in maryland, connecticut, and pennsylvania said that they could not envision voting for donald trump. and you look at the comparative numbers to hillary clinton, and they are significantly lower. those are really problematic.
charlie: bob? bob: first of all, i think those exit polls are interesting and kind of nifty, but i'm not sure people tell the truth when they are exiting the polls, because they know, hey, who is going to know about this? charlie westfall, you did that interview with, which i found astonishing. you asked him about the kgb. you were in the kgb. there is a saying, once you are in the kgb, you are always in the kgb. what an important point about every stage of your life leaves a trace. trump, hillary clinton -- our job is going to be to excavate every stage of their
life. as michael suggests, sometimes these things are connected to things in childhood or many, many years earlier. charlie: what do you want to know about donald trump that you don't know? bob: everything. i think the whole issue of money. jeff bezos, the amazon ceo, who bought "the washington post" years ago. i was at one of his conferences, and he asked, could we have known about nixon before he became president? i said, i don't know. he said, now we have to make sure we do a full series and inquiry into who these people are. this was raising the bar very high.
no one will go into the polls in november and say, gee, it wasn't available to me to find out every stage of these candidate'' lives, what their values are, how they make decisions. we know personality, character, biography. charlie: you and i have always believed in that analysis of what motivates people, shaped by the influences in their lives. you have thought about trump as a candidate.
michael: i want to know everything and then some on donald trump, too. we will put the same resources, hopefully a little more competitively, into excavating who he is. i want to know his relationship with his parents. i don't know what it was like to be in a room with him when he was, as he would say, brilliantly negotiating these deals. was he an ethical negotiator or unethical? the new york military academy years, when he was in an all boys school, very much shaped by the severe culture around him. i don't want to give all my ideas away to bob woodward of all people, but there are big, fascinating, meaty chapters of his life that are yet unexamined. charlie: bob? bob: and because he is a real estate developer, particularly in new york city -- somebody said to me, it's easier to find
out what's going on in the cia than to really find out how these deals are made and to use that famous line, "follow the money." this is a hard, but necessary target. in the case of hillary clinton and donald trump, you could not pick two people who have longer biographies that go back decades and decades. charlie: more time spent in the public eye. bob: and sometimes not in a public way.
there is a lot of work to be done. i think it is important that it be competitive. i think it is important that everyone sets their sights very high on this. charlie: i'm sure they will. it was said this morning that it will be a dirty and mean campaign and a rush to the bottom. michael: i think hillary clinton's brand is going to demand that she hover above this.
the way the clintons have talked about the 1990's and what they believe they were subjected to during his presidency, the partisanship, the nastiness, the personal attacks -- they had made such a cause of maligning that behavior and that conduct and trying to stand apart from that in politics, that i think you will see her she will need someone who can operate at a different level, perhaps as an attacker. that's one of the things carly fiorina does very skillfully. she was very creative and articulate in her critique of hillary clinton. you remember one of her famous lines was, "hillary clinton has evaded prosecution only more than el chapo." she was a very dynamic presence on the debate stage.
if trump's, presumably, attacks really are taking hold, then everything changes. in a campaign like this, it will be about outcomes and it will be -- is it working? these campaigns think they have a way of testing it all the time, almost on a daily, certainly a weekly basis. the high road, maybe there is too much evidence, and it is a dreary thought, but this evidence exists that when you take the attack road, the low road, that does work. charlie: bob, thank you so much. great to have you. bob: thank you. charlie: michael, good to have you here. michael: thank you. charlie: back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
his new book is called "the american president." "the boston globe" calls it an "inviting triumph, the rendition of a distinguished historian, the accessibility of a popular writer." we are pleased to have bill leuchtenburg at this table. professor, welcome. william: thank you, nice to be here. jeff: much of your past has been in documenting fdr's rise and triumphs. this is a broader look at many more presidents. why this? why now? william: i was asked by the annenberg foundation if i would write a history of the american presidency. having written 14 books, almost all of which dealt with the president, you were mentioning fdr, eight books on him, it seemed like a perfect invitation to write a capstone of what i've been doing all my life. and i had earlier edited a volume of theodore roosevelt, written a book in the 1920's on the impact of franklin roosevelt and successors, all the way through barack obama. this was an ideal assignment to be asked to take on.
as i wrote this book, i started out with that assumption. then i came to the conclusion that the big change in america takes place under t.r. the presidency was so remarkably weak, particularly in the late 19th century. william: that's closer to it. teddy roosevelt was strongly disliked by the political powers in new york city when he was governor, and they thought the
way to get rid of him was to put him in the vice presidential position, where nobody would ever hear of him again. the famous story of the industrialist who said, don't you realize that there is just one life between that man and the white house? and he turned to mckinley and said, now it's up to you to live. as we know, that's not what happened. roosevelt burst on the scene. then the industrialist said, "now that damn cowboy is president of the united states." jeff: did mckinley get a bad rap?
plunged the united states needlessly into the spanish-american war. not many historians think that anymore. some even think that the modern presidency has its origins in some of the initiatives that mckinley takes. i wouldn't go that far. jeff: so, theodore roosevelt bursts onto the scene unexpectedly. what did he do to define the modern presidency? william: in foreign affairs, it was probably never an american president who loved war more. no one ever dies in a war started by teddy roosevelt.
to everybody's surprise, he is the first american to win the nobel peace prize, but he does greatly expand the imperial reach of the united states, and much of the america today as a world power starts in the teddy roosevelt years. in domestic policy, he is the first president to intervene on behalf of workers to resolve a strike. he defies the house by launching an antitrust suit against a major railroad combine. he is a figure who, for the first time, establishes the president as a mediator between capital and labor.
beyond all of this, he has a personality that is so large -- one commentator said that he simply exhausts all the energy in the room by the way that he cultivated the press, made the president somebody whom the american people wanted to read about in the morning newspapers every day. jeff: he couldn't help it. sucking out all that oxygen. william: exactly. couldn't help it. jeff: following theodore roosevelt then, you write about some of the presidencies in the
1920's. harding -- we mentioned harding before. harding, coolidge, hoover. the expansion of the presidency all the ground to a halt. william: in between theodore roosevelt and the 1920's is the presidency of woodrow wilson, who expands the role of teddy roosevelt in a number of ways in the presidency. then there is this dropback for those 12 years of harding, coolidge, and hoover. the budget bureau is started under warren harding. coolidge intervenes in latin america. herbert hoover took steps that presidents of the past have not taken, in order to deal with the great depression. yet when all of that is said, the presidency is not nearly as strong an institution when hoover steps down as it was under teddy roosevelt and woodrow wilson. jeff: there is this enormous leap forward with fdr. william: that's right.
no president before or after has served so long. he defies the taboo against the third term and then gets selected to a fourth term, too. shortly after he dies, congress puts through a constitutional amendment, which is then ratified, limiting a president henceforth to two terms. so, probably no president from -- to all eternity will ever have served more than two terms. and in that respect alone, franklin roosevelt will be unique. jeff: did roosevelt fascinate
you when you were a child? in the same way? william: very much so. i was a boy in a classroom in the early 1930's. an important figure of the board of education came to our assembly hall and he asked, what is the first name of the roosevelt who was governor of our state and who people are talking about as the next president? silence. then "theodore." "teddy." he shook his head in dismay. finally, total silence, when i heard the name franklin delano roosevelt, i thought, i better keep that name in my head, because i'm likely to hear more of it. then when i was 10 years old, my parents let me stay up late into the night, listening to the democratic convention from chicago.
william: it was regarded as an office that wasn't very consequential. the great british political scientist wrote a book, classic american commonwealth, that had an essay in it "why great men are not chosen president in america." andrew johnson, with his impeachment and with the determination of congress that it would never allow a strong
figure to arise again. in addition, most of the issues that had roiled the country for the previous generation, of slavery and secession, had been resolved, and the new issues of industrial america, of the trusts of conservation, had not yet arisen. so it is a shallow period in the late 19th century. jeff: the impeachment of andrew johnson, in your judgment, was the low point for the american presidency? william: yes, i think so, at least the low point in the 19th century. we have yet to see whether the 21st century will bring us a lower point. jeff: what was the low point in the 20th century? william: i would think that, if we are talking about power of a president, the two low points would be the 1920's and, to a lesser degree, the 1970's, the period of ford and of carter.
if you think of the low point with respect to the behavior of american presidents, it would almost certainly be that of richard nixon and the actions that resulted in his being driven from office. jeff: if the office was inconsequential 100 some odd years ago, how has it changed since then? has it become more consequential? william: the single answer that would be most compelling is that the president of the united states has his finger on the nuclear button. the president now sends a budget message to congress, pieces of
legislation are drafted less on the hill than they are in the white house. the president has an impact on the american economy of this sort he had never had in the past. jeff: is there a trait that, whether they are republican or democrat, that all presidents share, in your opinion or that you saw, that runs through all of them men we read about in this book? william: none of the presidents can be said to be shy. they all have a strong sense of themselves, of wanting to have an impact on public affairs, to make themselves -- a place in history for themselves.
they were all very aware of their predecessors. jeff: is the current president shy? william: the current president is reticent in a manner. he is a president who thinks before he speaks. he is someone who has been often said to need to be more forceful. i think we are already missing barack obama, and i think we are going to miss him more in the years to come, in part for that very quality. jeff: what do you make of the current primary season and those
who would be next president? william: well, i think it is extraordinarily distressing and i'm hardly alone in holding that view. the phenomenon of this year is, of course, donald trump. if one asks has there ever been anybody before nominated by a major party who, if he is nominated by a major party, has had no office holding experience, no experience in dealing with legislatures? the answer is there has been nobody since the willkie
nomination in 1940. the first thing about him is that he did have a bit of political experience. although he ran as the republican candidate, the tammany machine of the democratic party was his only previous experience. something, incidentally, which distressed some republicans in 1940 greatly. one of them said, "unlawful as the church converting a whore." that aspect of willkie caused considerable division within the republican party.
if you say, has there been anyone like donald trump before who had no previous political experience and who aroused anger against a particular ethnic group, no. i think this is a unique phenomenon, a uniquely disturbing phenomenon. jeff: there have been antiestablishment candidates who have been nominated before, goldwater, mcgovern, but this is different, you are saying? william: i think this is different. the closest one can get is that barry goldwater voted against the civil rights act of 1964, and, as a result, his only states in the electoral college that year other than his own, arizona, were all in the deep south.
but goldwater never deliberately used racist rhetoric or deliberately sought to arouse animosity against any group in the country. jeff: what is it that you find so endlessly fascinating about the presidency and about those who occupy this office? william: i suppose it is a little boy's view of what i first found in the history books and clearly cultivated by living during the presidency of franklin delano roosevelt. i was 10 years old when he was nominated. i was 22 at the time that he died. all of the formative years, i had this sense of this powerful, interesting figure. jeff: how could he and should he inform the modern-day presidency or the modern-day campaign season?
william: i think that the shadow that franklin roosevelt cast affected all of the presidents after him. clearly, his immediate successor, truman, but right on through barack obama, who talks about fdr in his memoir. what one would hope most of all is the recognition of the degree to which franklin roosevelt expanded the notion of what america was. before fdr, the government was largely the preserve of white, anglo-saxon, protestant men. in the roosevelt era, his two most memorable advisors were
tommy cochran and ben cohen, the irish catholic and the jew. although racial discrimination increases under -- not increases, but persists in the 1930's, roosevelt names so many african-americans to high places that there is talk even of a black cabinet. perhaps most important of all, particularly in this year, is the expansion of the rights of women. we went through -- it is hard to believe, but, about a century and a half, of the republic without a single woman holding a cabinet post. in 1933, the very first week, he names frances perkins secretary of labor and eleanor roosevelt becomes a model for the significance of women in public affairs.
jeff: you mentioned his advisers. you would mention eleanor as well. william: very much so. the generalization was that she was his arms and legs. she traveled everywhere. the admiral always said, set two places for dinner, in case she would drop in. she was enormously influential figure, especially on civil rights and rights for --
jeff: is there a figure who is more misunderstood than they should be? william: i'm not sure about misunderstood, but neglected -- not appreciated enough is harry truman. jeff: because? william: first of all, his impact on foreign affairs. the truman doctrine, the marshall plan, the berlin airlift, nato, the north atlantic treaty. the korean war. the foreign aid. the appointing of the civil rights commission, his civil rights message, the desegregating of the armed forces.
most importantly, asking for federal action on behalf of medical care, which provides the background for the medicare and medicaid of lyndon johnson's great society. jeff: is there a president after fdr then who might receive more due or credit than you believe they might deserve? william: maybe more than one. but certainly, i would say dwight eisenhower. it is said that he succeeded in making great strides in civil rights by sending troops into -- at the time of the dispute with the governor. in fact, eisenhower did very little on behalf of civil rights.
it is said that by refusing to engage joe mccarthy, he brought about the end of mccarthyism, of excessive attacks on innocent people who were called subversive. in fact, the eisenhower administration largely went along with mccarthy. and with others who brought him down. so, i think the reputation of eisenhower today -- which is very considerably better than it was among historians in the early period -- i think that is overblown.
jeff: this covers from 1901 to 2001, but this is actually the second part of a two-part work. you wrote the second part of a two-part work first. william: i did. jeff: because? william: because i know more about the period. i started out writing from 1787 on, and found that it was going to be a very, very long book. i wrote a few hundred pages on the 18th century and 19th century, then i realized this is going to be hopelessly long. there are some people who think that is a long book. but i am now going back to 1787 and hope that i can write a companion volume so that the
entire history of the jeff: how do you immediately assess the presidencies of the last 16 years, nearly 16 years? william: it would be very hard to say that the second george bush's presidency was a successful one. in two respects at least, it's an unfortunate one. one, the engagement for specious reasons in iraq. the other, the disastrous economic policies of the bush administration. with barack obama, we still have some months to go, but i think he will be remembered for not having involved the country in a disastrous engagement abroad.
and i think he will be thought well of because the economy has done considerably better than it did under his predecessor. and perhaps most important, controversial though it is, because he has succeeded in putting through a health care program which has benefited close to 20 million people. jeff: from a historian's perspective, how long does a person need to be removed from office to properly assess what they did and what their impact was? do you need a couple decades, less, more?
william: a little different with each president. for most american presidents, i have been to the archives, worked in the presidential papers. for franklin roosevelt at hyde park, eisenhower -- for other presidents. i feel more comfortable, not only if i, but a lot of other colleagues, a number of journalists have been to the papers of the more recent presidents. that has not been possible yet. it will be very soon. jeff: you need at least? william: 20, 25 years, probably, before you have a chance to sort this out. with fdr, it was a little different, because he created the first presidential library.
jeff: are you still tempted to revisit fdr? i know you have a project underway covering the first hundred some odd years. you have written so much about fdr in such fascinating ways. william: oh, yes, i think so. it was the hardest chapter to write in the book. having written, i think i said, eight books, or edited, on fdr, to try to say something new and bring with it the same gusto with presidents one does not know well, that was a tough assignment. since he is endlessly fascinating, it worked out in the end. jeff: it's a fascinating book, "the american president, from
the un security council is condemning the deadly airstrike in the syrian hospital run by doctors without borders. more than 20 people were killed. new zealand's permanent representative to the u.n. said it is time to shine a spotlight on the issue. >> you don't strike hospitals. these things are being recorded. these people need to be held accountable. russia which backs