tv The Bush Years Family Duty Power CNN March 3, 2019 9:00pm-10:01pm PST
okay, gang. >> one extraordinary family. fueled by ambition. driven by duty. they've fought for power. >> george w. felt a sense of competition with my brother. and he felt that, yeah, i can do that if he can do it. >> they've made friends, as well as enemies. forged a history of america -- >> i can hear you! >> and the world. >> the president asked, how good is the intelligence on iraq and weapons of mass destruction? and the director of the cia said, it's a slam dunk, mr.
president, it's a slam dunk. >> they've lived in the spotlight, yet remained intensely private. >> we told him he was going to lose. somebody was going to ruin our life. while both sobbing uncontrollably. >> hello, everybody. >> one senator, two governors. >> made it. >> two first ladies. >> i'm my husband's biggest fan. >> and two presidents. >> i think it's hard to imagine any family that have been more significant to american polit politics. >> these are the bushes. ♪
for six months after the japanese attacked pearl harbor on december 7th. it was a great sense that many americans were going to die, many americans were going to have their lives changed fundamentally forever. the speaker at the graduation is henry stimson, secretary of war for franklin roosevelt. >> his message to these young men was, we will need you, but what we need most of all are leaders. and to be good leaders you need a good education. so please don't rush out and enlist right now. >> bush's parents, prescott and dorothy bush, would like for their son to go to yale and to do at least a year or two of university before going into the service. >> and afterward, prescott bush asks him, is he going to wait and enroll into college? and george bush says, no, sir, i'm going in. >> my father clearly had a sense of needing to defend our homeland. and i think it may have evolved out of his own family's
commitment to service. >> george bush was born into the pinnacle of american society in connecticut. this was a family of privilege. this was a family of wealth. this was a family of status. >> this is goreenwich, connecticut, the center of the w.a.s.p. establishment. this is the era white anglo-saxon protestants really did run the united states. and they felt the privilege but also the duty to serve. >> george bush's father, prescott bush, is from columbus, ohio, where his father ran a very successful metal manufacturing company. but prescott decides that he will make money on his own and becomes the head of brown brothers harriman, a huge financial institution on wall street. >> he was an austere fellow. all five of us were afraid of him growing up. he was always hive off on some
mission or other and he would sort of wolf down dinner and we all had to be quiet. 8:00, out the door he'd go to another meeting. very busy guy. >> dorothy walker bush comes from the privileged and powerful walker family, a highly competitive go get 'em family. and she herself is extraordinarily competitive. >> we would call her today a tiger mother. she really pushed the kids to do better, but also pushed george bush in particular, who always had a spark of charisma and a spark of achievement. >> he was a superstar. absolutely. i mean, all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to be with george. they just loved him. he always was the one that was the leader. >> george is the second of prescott and dorothy's five children. his eldest brother is prescott jr., two years george's senior. his younger siblings are nancy, jonathan, and william, who was born when george was 14.
>> kenny bung port, maine, is the home of walkers point, the bush family compound. george bush and his brothers and sister went there every summer and were constantly competing in sports. >> they always wanted to win. but the story in the family was not to brag about victory. >> george comes home from a soccer game, says mom, i scored a goal. she says, that's great, but george, how did the team do? >> this is essential. do not understand george h.w. bush unless you understand the tension between his need to win the big prizes, to be number one, at the same time not to show off, not to be too proud, but to do both. >> just two months after graduating, george h.w. bush joins the navy to train as a pilot. >> my father writes that his father saw him off at the train station, and for the very first
time in my father's life, he saw his own father cry. which showed there was a deep father/son connection. he must have been deeply proud of my father. >> george h.w. bush became the youngest pilot in the united states navy, and he flew off aircraft carriers. >> by the fall of 1944, george has flown over 50 combat missions. >> what courage. what determination. what patriotism. how could you ask for more from any individual? >> george h.w. bush is about to embark on his most dangerous operation yet. >> the order is for him to fly towards the japanese-held island of chijijima. >> there's a radio tower he and his two crew men ted white and john delaney are charged with bombing. >> they close on the target, and there's anti-aircraft fire. bush's plane is hit.
the wings are inflamed. there's smoke in the cockpit. he was able to control the plane, dive, and drop the bombs. then turn back over the pacific. but the plane was clearly going to crash. told his comrades, you guys bail out, then i'll bail out. >> he cracks open the cockpit. the wind sucks him out. he smashes his head on the tail, injuring himself. >> he plummets under the water and gulps in gallons of seawater. and then bobs back up. and he has a life raft but no paddle. >> he's bleeding. he's in the open ocean. and far worse, the tide and the wind are pushing him towards
japanese-held territory. and there's a japanese patrol boat coming out to get him. his life is in mortal danger. what does help for heart failure look like? it looks like george having a busy day. ♪ the beat goes on george has entresto, a heart failure medicine that helps his heart... so he can keep on doing what he loves. in the largest heart failure study ever, entresto was proven superior at helping people stay alive and out of the hospital. it helps improve your heart's ability to pump blood to the body. don't take entresto if pregnant; it can cause harm or death to an unborn baby. don't take entresto with an ace inhibitor or aliskiren, or if you've had angioedema with an ace or arb.
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and this is where some of the bush family luck came into play. there was in the vicinity a u.s. submarine, a finback, which spotted bush alone in his raft, took him aboard. >> and amazingly enough, a crew member has a kodak movie camera and takes a video of george bush being hauled out of the life raft, onto the deck of the finback, and walking back towards the camera. >> he is saved. he rises from the depths of the pacific. and unfortunately his crew mates, john delaney and ted white, never do. >> i wonder if i could have done something different. why me? why am i blessed? why am i still alive? that has plagued me. >> he never got over the fact
that his two crew men were lost. and could he have saved them? why was he saved? and he felt that this made it necessary for him to constantly serve, to give back to others. >> he thought about the value of his family, how much they mean to him. and he thinks about the woman whose name graced his plane, barbara pierce from ryan, new york, who he knows he's going to go back and marry. >> george had met barbara pierce at a dance in greenwich, connecticut. and he saw her across the room and thought, i need to meet her. >> and he mustered up the courage, walked across the room, interrupted the person that she was dancing with. >> she had a green dress on, green satin dress. and laughing. and they laughed all the way through, you know -- he was smitten with her. >> they were both blue bloods
whose families had great history in the united states and who came from that part of new england that was filled with people just like them. >> four months after his miraculous escape, george h.w. bush marries barbara pierce. >> like a lot of young american men and women in 1946, bush wants to move on. the war is behind him. he wants to live a good life. he believes he can live a good life. >> he enrolls in yale. he's determined to get through as soon as possible. he has this accelerated plan and graduates from yale in two years. >> he gets as, he's on the baseball team, he goes to the college world series. so if you want to talk about a big man on campus that's well liked and well rounded, george bush fits that criterion.
>> while he's at yale, barbara gives birth to their first child, george w. bush, who will eventually become the 43rd president of the united states. >> george h.w. bush is a young man in a hurry. enlisted at 18, a husband at 20, and now a father at 22. >> but george wants to be his own man. as long as he's hanging out in connecticut, he's always prescott bush's son. >> he just couldn't bring himself to go to wall street. he wanted to go off and do something on the frontier. and texas was the frontier. >> why did he go to texas? because that's where the action was. the oil fields were booming. it was a place where a person
could come out and make their own way in the world and strike it rich. >> my dad definitely captured the wildcatter mentality. just doing something really adventurous, really risky, really wild and crazy, out of the norm. >> through a family friend, he gets a job with an oil equipment supply company in odessa, texas, which must have seemed like the end of the world. >> odessa, texas, was a shock in every way for george and barbara bush. it was flat, dry, temperatures over 100 degrees. they didn't have any friends. they didn't have any family members there. and so it was a lonely life to begin with. >> and they're sharing this one-bedroom duplex with a mother
and daughter prostitute team. barbara bush said they had a questionable occupation. they didn't see much of them day or night. >> george bush is selling oil equipment. he's painting rigs. he's out there in the 100-degree heat like any other grimy working joe trying to make a living. >> but they love the adventure that it represents. barbara bush says for the first time in my life, i wasn't judged as my father's daughter. george wasn't judged as prescott bush's son. we were making it on our own. everyone's got to listen to mom. when it comes to reducing the sugar in your family's diet, coke, dr pepper and pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that. bringing you more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all. smaller portion sizes,
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demo in an xfinity store, call, or go online today. in 1952 while george bush is in texas, his father, prescott bush, is on the campaign trail, running for the senate from connecticut. why is pres bush giving up his millions on wall street to run for office? because he thinks it's the right thing to do. >> he had politics in his heart. he loved political history. but most importantly, he -- it was there, that longing to be of service. >> hello, everybody. i am press scott bush, republican candidate for the united states senate. >> pres bush was something that no longer exists. he was a liberal republican. >> prescott bush supported two
controversial causes. the first was he was a donor to the united negro college fund. and secondly, he had spent some time helping raise money for birth control organizations. these were essentially progressive policies. >> some of our friends in television have asked if we have any pictures of the family -- >> it was a true family run for the united states senate. so you had dottie bush, prescott's wife, who was giving teas across the state with her daughter nancy. george's brothers all pitched in and gave out campaign literature. so really the entire bush immediate family were involved. >> please vote for my grandpa. >> i hope all of you have as much fun and happiness in your family life as we do. there is nothing more important than a happy family.
>> dad got that nomination. boom, he's right in behind eisenhower and a strong wind from eisenhower's sail pulling him forward. and he swept. >> after 20 years of democratic presidents, war hero dwight eisenhower's republicans enjoy a landslide victory. alongside a new young senator, john f. kennedy, prescott bush is sworn in to the senate. >> both prescott and dottie bush take to washington like fish to water. dorothy moves into the social scene. she loves to give tours of the capitol for diplomatic figures. prescott bush said it's a great life. >> president eisenhower's impressed by prescott bush. because he has a kind of rectitude, a moderate republican politics that eisenhower likes, and he thinks is the future of the party. >> it was prescott bush's belief in the importance of persuasion
and civility in politics that made him very uncomfortable with joseph mccarthy. >> are you a member of the communist conspiracy as of this moment? >> joe mccarthy embodied the anti-communist paranoia that gripped american society early in the 1950s. he was a person who lied, who had no difficulty whatsoever smearing another person's reputation without any fact or basis of evidence. and prescott bush frankly found joe mccarthy despicable. >> pres bush stands up to him and says this guy is not playing fair, and he's a dem going and a liar. that took a lot of courage and it sets an early example for his son, george, that you got to stand up to the bullies and you can't just go with the flow on politics. >> but george has yet to seriously consider a political career. he's busy starting his own oil company called sapata in midland, texas. and he has a growing family at
home. >> by 1953, the bushes have three children. little george, a girl named robin, and then a baby, jeb bush. >> one morning in their home in midland, barbara bush realizes that something's wrong with robin, her daughter. >> barbara bush took her to their local doctor who said she'd never seen a white blood cell count so high, that she had leukemia, and that there was nothing much they could do for her, she would die in a few weeks, and to just make her comfortable at home. >> but they decide to fight this disease, and she begins to undergo experimental treatments at sloan kettering cancer hospital in new york. >> george can't bear to watch his daughter suffer. he writes to a friend, somebody has to be there to look in ro n robin's eyes and comfort her, and i don't have the guts.
>> barbara bush was very much the stoic who did not cry in front of her daughter but tried to keep up her spirits even as her health became worse and worse. >> she took a photo of george w. bush and pasted it on the headboard of robin's bed, and robin called her big brother superman. and i think there was always a hope that all this aggressive treatment would work. >> when robin was suffering, she used to tell my grand parents and my brand father in particular, i love you more than time can tell. >> after six brutal months, robin dies in her mother's arms. barbara bush says that she could feel the soul of her daughter leave her body. >> after robin died, george went back and thanked every person that was involved in her care.
>> robin's death was devastating for the family. it's something that haunted george and barbara bush i think for the rest of their lives. they always would say when they die, the first person they're going to meet in heaven is robin. >> after robin dies, george and barbara bush fly back to texas and drive to georgie's school where he's then in the second grade. >> he's carrying a record player to the principal's office, and he sees his parents' pea green oldsmobile, and he drops the record player. and he runs over and he thinks he sees his sister's blond curls in the back seat. and he gets in that car to realize from his parents that she's gone.
and she's not going to come back. >> my dad felt a tremendous responsibility to care for my grandparents. and my grandmother, she overheard him talking to a friend that asked if he would come over and play. and he said he couldn't because he needed to go home and take care of his mother. >> he tries to cheer her up. he has to be the clown, kind of the cheerful one, the jokester in the family. that's a big burden on a little boy and it hurts him. ease. the official truck of getting to work, and getting to work. of late nights, and date nights. it's the official truck of homecoming, and coming home. the all new chevy silverado. the strongest, most advanced silverado ever. it's the official truck of real people.
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let us strive for a constructive platform rolling the basic human needs and aspirations of the american people -- >> prescott bush serves two terms, and he's a remarkably influential senator behind the scenes, who knew how to make deals, knew how to compromise. >> dwight eisenhower thinks so much of prescott bush that he handwrites a list of folks that he thinks are worthy of succeeding him as president. prescott bush, he's on that list. >> however, by the early 1960s, he begins to feel run down. he begins to feel sick. he begins to lose weight. >> and his doctor says, you're suffering from arthritis, i think your health is poor, and if i were you i would not run
again. >> it was a really tough decision. and he just said, you know what, i've spent ten years here, it's been a great, great experience, but maybe i should retire. but he often thought of how great the senate was. i think he agonized over the fact that he'd stepped down maybe too soon. >> just as prescott bush leaves the senate, his son george decides he wants to enter the world of politics. >> clear example from pres bush is that it's great to make money, but it's much better to go into public life. to take on responsibility. to be a senator or president or whatever, but to serve. that's your duty. >> by the early 1960s, the bush family has grown. following george w. and jeb are neil, marvin, and dorothy. >> handsome, dynamic houston.
texas' largest city. ♪ >> the family has moved to the booming city of houston. where george makes his jump into politics. >> the early 1960s, very much like his father, george bush is a practicing maltic conservative. he supports anti-communism, free market enterprise, deregulation. but at the same time he supports birth control and civil rights. >> he started at the bottom, filed to become the harris county republican party chairman, and he won that office. he was bucking the tide, because texas was a solidly democratic state, in fact, in those days it was a hanging offense to be a republican. >> but in the autumn of 1963, george bush decides that he is going to run for the senate.
so it was going to be a hard slog for him. >> george bush, born a republican. george bush, success from scholar to business executive. recognized for service to his country, industry, and community. service to his party and to the rights of the individual. >> george bush was a energetic, dynamic young oilman with a thriving family very much engaged in the community. and as such was very appealing. >> the bushes, both george and barbara, really believe that the family which prays together and plays together, stays together. this is the bush family, an american family, a good, healthy family. >> a key part of the campaign was the bush blue bonnet belles. and these were female volunteers who helped get the vote out. >> and these are southern debutantes all wearing bonnets and perfectly dressed. and their slogan was the sun's going to shine in the senate
someday, george bush is going to chase all the liberals away. >> george bush has the liberals firmly in his sights. >> in 1964, the republican party has pulled to the right by barry goldwater who is their presidential candidate. and he's pretty far right. >> in the defense of liberty -- moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. >> as bush steps into that race, he makes a decision he will run not as a moderate republican, but as a conservative republican. because that's where most of the votes in the republican party in texas are. >> of course goldwater was sensational, i'm sure everybody felt the great enthusiasm for that. but it's going about the way we expect. i think it's been a tremendous success. >> racial awareness leaks deep into the subconscious of white and negro alike -- >> goldwater vigorously opposes
the civil rights bill. it will be the most comprehensive civil rights legislation in american history. >> it is vital, because african-americans have been fighting for their civil rights and for their freedom for generations. and now there's a bill in front of congress that proposes to enshrine those rights in law. but barry goldwater very publicly opposes the bill. >> i don't believe that law can solve a problem of the morals of men. >> there was an overriding fear among some conservatives, and goldwater, that the federal government getting involved in civil rights was federal overreach, that it was big government. and this is a blemish on george h.w. bush's record, because he supported goldwater in that move. >> when george bush decided to reject the civil rights act of 1964, it showed that he was willing to reject the principles he'd grown up with for the sake of political gain.
>> it's clear that george bush is more of a political animal than people make out. everybody talks about yale and a blue blood and a war hero. but he was a raw, political, machiavellian monster in his own way. bush is drinking the barry goldwater kool-aid. >> you know, it's a conservative's dream to run against ralph yarborough for the united states senate. his extreme liberal views make him an open target, and his cynical, vote-grabbing tactics leave his position indefensible. >> but a majority of americans support lyndon johnson's liberal platform of social will tair and civil rights. >> barry goldwater is absolutely trounced by lyndon johnson in 1964. largely because americans thought that goldwater was too extreme. >> you know, at the end of the trail, why, you become slightly
philosophical about the way things are going. i think it's fair to say this has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. >> bush doesn't lose badly, but he loses. and it's very painful for him. the bushes don't like to lose. >> but he also realizes that defeat is not defeat. you can take the lessons of that loss to heart and use them the next time to win. thanksmrs. murphy. unitedhealthcare, hi, i need help getting an appointment with my podiatrist. how's wednesday at 2? i can't. dog agility. tuesday at 11? nope. robot cage match. how about the 28th at 3? done. with unitedhealthcare medicare advantage plans, including the only plans with the aarp name, there's so much to take advantage of. from scheduling appointments to finding specialists, it's easier to get the care you need when you need it.
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when george bush loses in 1964, he looks towards the next challenge and what will be the next possible victory for him. >> george bush sells his stake in his oil company and runs for office again. this time for a texas congressional seat. >> george bush realized he made a mistake of tilting so far to the right. he becomes a little bit more like his father, which means to be a fiscal conservative but be a little more liberal and tolerant on social issues. >> his campaign slogan was, elect george bush to congress and watch the action. and the main labor force were teenagers, like myself, people who could spend their saturdays
passing out literature or addressing envelopes back in the headquarters. >> barbara bush turned out to be the best politician's wife imaginable. because she was such a networker. she had been the ultimate soccer mom. she had been the leader of the neighborhood. and those were the skills she brought. >> mrs. bush would needlepoint little handbags with "bush for congress" slogans on them. i think that was where the spirit of how fun it is to campaign sort of infected the bush family. >> we were part of it. we went to state fairs, you know. we went to rallies. there's one picture in particular where there's four kids all scrunched on this little elephant. you know, they used us. like you would. >> george h.w. bush wins his congressional seat with nearly 60% of the vote. >> the family moved to washington, d.c. on january 22nd, 1967. my birthday.
and for the next two or three years, the adjustment from being a little texas family trying to integrate into the washington lifestyle where the kids dressed differently and spoke differently, it was kind of a culture shock. >> george bush was a very impressive man. part of it was his style, the way he operated. part of it was he developed friendships very easily. there were a lot of people who began to think about him as a potential president. >> influential young congressman george h.w. bush turns his attention to the pressing issue of vietnam. a war he supports. >> americans were wondering what the future was of our presence in vietnam. bush wanted to go see for himself. >> he interacts with black servicemen, black troops in combat, and it really does impress upon him that
african-americans are willing to die in the service of their country, but then don't have the same rights as the rest of their fellow citizens when they return home. >> the first time i came back from vietnam, i was thrown out of a hamburger joint even though i had come back wounded. and had served a year in the army. >> my father believed and said that african-american men and women who serve their country in vietnam or any other war deserve to come home and to be treated fairly. simple as that. >> their cause must be our cause too. >> lyndon johnson is determined to pass the fair housing act, which will give everybody an opportunity to purchase the homes and rent the homes that they wish. >> george bush thinks about it, and that weighs heavily on him. he knows that this is not a subject that is of interest to his constituents.
he knows, in fact, if he pushes it, that they'll turn against him. >> one of the things i've found as a member of congress, that it's not all the time that clear. you've got to think and you've got to wrestle with your conscience and you've got to listen to people. it doesn't come so easy to me that this is right, that's wrong. it's never that simple. the tough votes are the ones that you just agonize over, and th you do what you think is right. >> he starts out with goldwater against civil rights. thankfully he changes. he understands when it comes to fair housing, he needs to put the federal government on the side of racial justice. >> it cost him a lot with his hardcore, hardline supporters here in houston at the time. i saw he had received some 510 letters or telegrams from his constituents. 500 of them said don't do this, 10 of them said it's okay. >> after he voted for the bill he felt moved to tell me he was going to be fitted for lead
underwear, by which he meant that he expected to have some rough treatment when he had to go back and explain that vote. >> bush goes home and he has a town meeting at the local school in houston. and they're booing him and they're hissing him. he gets up and addresses the crowd and explains his vote and says, i voted with conviction. >> i only can vote what i think to be right in my heart, that if something is morally wrong, i will not vote for it. >> you're being prejudiced, you're fueled by anger and hate, and i am embracing the ideals of america and what makes us a great country. >> and he ultimately ends up getting an ovation from that formerly very angry crowd. they see his point of view on that. they respect what he has to say.
and to a large extent that leads to the political education of george bush. >> he realized he could be his authentic self. he didn't have to see which way the winds were blowing all the >> he could speak up on issues like civil rights. >> it was an act of courage on his part. more than just an act of courage, it was an act of character. >> the pubush years, family, du, power, brought to you by olay. costing over $100, $200, and even $400. fact check this ad in good housekeeping. olay.
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>> he's at a very different time at yale. when the campus is in uproar as students turn against the war and the draft. >> anti-war demonstrators protest u.s. involvement in the vietnam war. in mass marches, rallies and demonstrations. >> bush doesn't believe in the cause of vietnam but he wants to serve in the military and he knows it's important too for his father and his father's political career and ultimately for his career that he serve in some capacity. >> so he joins the air national guard in texas and he's in something called the champagne unit because it's got so many kids of rich famous people in texas and they're flying obsolete planes defending texas from oklahoma. it's not the war. >> going into the national guard in texas is a way for george bush to fulfill his military service without a threat of going to vietnam.
>> it's wrong to say he's doing nothing but it's not the same as his father. he's not flying off of carriers against the enemy. by the time we get to 1970, he's sitting on as safe as can be house seat. he could have that seat for 30 years. >> he seeks advice, should he run for the senate and old lbj slaps his thigh and says george the difference between the senate and the house is the difference between chicken salad and chicken -- >> he will run against the same man that beat him six years earlier. >> george bush thinks it's a perfect opportunity because he's an extreme liberal. he sees an opening for a conservative republican, one that can be a little bit more
liberal tolerant on social issues. >> today i'm announcing my candidacy for the united states senate. i feel confident that the record that i tried to build up as a congressman, one of some innovation will be accepted by the voters of texas. then fate plays a hand because ralph yarborough was beat in his own primary. >> there's two conservatives running for the united states senate. the democrat is lloyd benson. >> he's handsome and tall and rich. a lot like bush. >> perhaps there is a similarity but it's very difficult for me to try to assess his candidacy. i'd pumuch prefer to tell you t things i'm for and the things i'm against. >> they're almost indistinguishable. they're pretty much about the same policy wise but texas is still a highly democratic state and people said my parents have
voted democratic, my grandparents voted democratic, i might as well stick with my party. >> it's very hard for bush in 1970 against lloyd benson and he ends up losing that race as well for the senate. it appears that we lost this race. i've grown up in a competitive world and nobody likes to lose. i have a horrible problem trying to figure this out because i don't have anybody else to blame. >> bushes aren't supposed to cry but they're sentimental and they
do. george w. bush feels terrible about it. the family is devastated. >> we're hurt and we lost. and we wanted to win. when an aid said congressman, what do we do with all of your files, he said throw them all away. >> he must be thinking is this the end of my political career? >> i'm not clear whether or not i will be in public service or private business. i really don't know what i'm going to do. next on the bush years. >> when he says i had no knowledge of watergate i believed him. >> he had no idea nixon was lying to him. >> george w. is leading this
life of beers, blender drinks and barbecues and he doesn't know what he wants to do. >> barbara bush becomes clinically depressed. she told no one except george bush. george h.w. bush believes he has a new ally, the most powerful man in america. he is ever loyal to his president and his party. but those he trusts betray him. >> when he says i had no knowledge of watergate i believe him. >> george will need to keep his family close. >> i get nervous. i'm not a politician. >> as he strives to achieve the power he desires. >> i'm absolutely convinced i will be your next prid