tv The Bush Years Family Duty Power CNN March 3, 2019 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
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 president. thank you.
suffered a crushing defeat in his home state of texas. >> losing the senate in 1970 is a devastating loss not only for bush but for the bush family that put so much at stake around his political career. >> he tried twice for the united states senate and been unsuccessful. >> thank you very much. >> it was a very heavy blow. but he is too optimistic to feel anything is totally over. >> george bush turns to his ally, president richard nixon. >> richard nixon has great respect for george bush and the bush family. he knew his father in the senate and he sees george bush. >> at that stage of his career george bush was looked on as the future of the party.
he had qualities about him that were valuable in a political sense. george pitches himself to president nixon to the recently vacated job of u.n. ambassador. >> george was very astute to what he should take. >> he says to nixon i'm really interested in foreign policy and nixon gives him the u.n. job. >> george and barbara move to a glamorous new address. the ambassador suite in the waldorf historia hotel. >> lots of stories about how cool it was. >> the relief for me is really great to know my family is so happy after a tough defeat in november.
>> when he gets to the u.n. he realizes how much he loves foreign policy. >> he was intrigued by the need to do business. he found he was pretty good at it. >> my grandfather developed so many friendships in that early phase in the 70s that he would have for the rest of his life and frankly benefit our country. >> it was the very beginning of george bush's mastery of foreign policy. after two years at the united nations george is hungry for something greater. >> george bush is referred to as the star of the family. bush knows that he's been ticketed, that's he's been chosen. >> i think he would want to go beyond that. he had his eyes set on becoming president. but his father and mother encouraged him to be ambitious on the inside.
his sense of public service is that you keep moving upwards. taking the most challenging, most powerful job as you complete the one before it. when president nixon wins his second term by a landslide, he makes a radical move. >> richard nixon has demanded the resignation of every member of his cabinet. he now want today bring in and reinvigorate a group of people to run a much more conservative. the question is what could come next? >> 13 days after the election george arrives at camp david to meet the president. >> bush smiling enters the aspen lodge where he is in court. >> he is thinking he is about to be offered something magnificent
and something powerful. >> this is my big moment. nixon is going to give me a major killer post. >> but it's not good news for bush. >> what nixon wants him to do is take over as the chairman of the republican national committee. this is not considered to be a promotion. >> what goes there you your mind in that moment when you're expecting the world and instead you're given the grunt job? >> this was a tireless job. it was a thankless job. he was going to be gone for hundreds of days doing his job as republican party chair not necessarily doing his job as george bush the family man. >> barbara does not think it is a job he should take. she advices against it. she thinks others will see this as being a demotion. >> for george bush it is an inner conflict.
he has been raised as the son of dot tie and prescott bush to do his duty. >> only six weeks earlier prescott bush died at 77 years old. >> my father, 77 years old, was a senator from connecticut. he commanded respect but also was respectful. >> he was a great man. a great person to go to share your thoughts and worries. he was a wonderful listener. the man with a lust for life. >> prescott bush was in many ways more than a father figure. he was also a role model. george bush looked up to him and his passing left a great void. and richard nixon reached out to george bush and showed empathy. for george bush, there was a sense that this man nixon is a good man. he's thought of nixon as a
mentor and to some extent a father figure. so when the president of the united states asks him to do something he feels duty bound to do it. george bush took over the rnc in january of 1973 having absolutely no idea that a crime committed months before would consume his entire time in office and consume nixon's presidency. 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
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while george takes the helm of the republican party, barbara continues to do everything she can to help drive his political career. >> my grandparents really were a partnership without a barbara bush there is no george h.w. bush. >> she had a huge christmas card list that turned out to be thousands of names of people. it became an enormous political asset. >> they have an enjoyment for life that was really contagious. people love being around them. >> their children are in high school while jeb is at college in texas. but george w. bush has yet to discover his true calling.
>> there's tremendous differences between george h.w. bush and george w. bush. george h.w. bush goes into the war and sees people die. starts a life with his wife and achieved tremendous success before the age of 30. george w. is very conscious to the fact that he bares a famous name. his father has done big things and is about to do more big things. >> george w. is leading this life of fears, blender drinks and barbecues and he really doesn't know what he wants to do. >> the same can't be said for his 20-year-old brother. >> he is one of those guys that is very determined to move forward. starting at a young age there was no slowing jeb bush down. >> he announced he is now engaged. his fiancee is a 19-year-old art student from mexico. >> the way they met is almost a
bilingual fairy tale story. they first met in mexico where he was doing an exchange program for school. it was love at first sight. >> he was very dedicated. he worked hard to get through school very quickly because he was committed to getting married. >> the problem for the bushes was that they had not met this woman. she didn't speak english and that it was a very, very quick engagement. >> she meets the bush family for the first time just before her wedding. >> one can only imagine the cultural shock that there must have been. you have a family that has many generations of wealth and connections not anything like she has ever experienced. >> but she talked very lovingly about how she had been greeted in that family. they respect their children and
want their children to be happy. >> for the past year george h.w. bush has been caught up in the storm of a huge political scandal. >> five men were arrested saturday trying to install eves dropping. one of them has an office in the headquaters for the committee of the office of the president. >> this is the watergate burglars. this is the beginning of the watergate scandal. they are revealed to have been spying on the democratic party. suspicion of complicity begins to fall on president nixon himself. >> he thinks the best of people and can't imagine the president of the united states being involved in espionage.
>> by 1973, the media is going crazy about watergate. it's a pressure cooker and if you are a surrogate for the president, you are being bombarded about questions for watergate. >> i continue to say the party's not involved. >> he was a good soldier and he time and again went out in front of the press and in front of the american people and explained that nixon was innocent. he feels the same way i do about it. i'm sure of it and his public statements have said so and i believe it and i'm going to continue to believe it until somebody gives some evidence. >> are you aware of the installation of any listening device in the oval office of the president? >> i was aware of listening devices, yes.
>> the senate watergate committee discovers nixon has been secretly recording conversations in the white house. >> george bush was shocked and stunned. >> if nixon is involved in anyway in this scandal it is probably going to come out on these tapes. >> privately bush is fuming. his job is to defend and support the president. so even as members of his own party slowly begin to call out the president george h.w. bush still defends him. >> everyone was saying come out and criticize nixon or something like that. i remember sitting around the pool saying you got to know that he's guilty, don't you? george said, he told me that he wasn't and i didn't know anything about it and i completely accept what he said. >> george bush had no idea that the president of the united states was lying to him as well as the rest of the country.
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he is told that he needs to come to a meeting with one of the aids of the president and president's counsel to hear more about this tape. >> on the tape nixon speaks with his chief of staff about the watergate break-in. >> the fbi is not under control. >> they plot to put pressure on the fbi to call off the investigation. >> it will be very detri mental. >> and the transcript of that conversation was provided officially on august 5th the any objection on collapsed. >> nixon was engineering the cover up with his top aid. that is obstruction of justice. >> the realization that the president has lied to you must be soul crushing or enraging, maybe both. >> he lied to me.
bad enough he lied to the country but he lied to me. it's an incredibly sad moment for bush because he reveres his country and the presidency as his highest office. >> the following day, george attends the president's cabinet meeting. >> normally the cabinet applauds the president. no applause this day. >> those around the table are looking at him with anger. looking at him with disdain. >> he starts talking about the greatest crisis our country is facing, the economy. >> and the cabinet looks at him. what the hell is he talking about? >> one by one they begin to tell the president there is a very severe problem. >> nixon looks at bush across the cabinet room table and he mouths the word george. he is a very difficult moment
for bush. on the one hand nixon has helped him. he helped nurture his political career. on the other hand he betrayed him. >> in his mind he wants to tell the president he has to resign. but george bush is a gentleman. even a despicable president deserves human decency. >> when it comes to george bush to speak he says you need to handle this situation, you need to handle it quickly. >> the following day george is compelled to write to the president. >> he had an incredibly difficult task. he had to say look, it's time for you to go. that's never been done in the history of the country that i'm aware of. >> i admire dad. it's easy to feel betrayal but the important thing is to do something about it. when president nixon crossed the
line, he had the fortitude to step up and tell the president it's time for you to go. >> and nixon makes the only decision he can, re-sign before he can suffer the indignity of a full impeachment. >> the bushes are out on the south lawn when nixon does his famous good-bye at marine one. the bushes are crying. they're emotional. barbara says this is one of the brightest men of our time brought down by this stupid cover up. >> george h.w. bush is one of the last people to finally abandon nixon and it's speaks to his loyalty but it also is a blemish on his record. loyalty to people and loyalty to institutions should never trump loyalty to country. >> vice president gerald ford succeeds nixon as president. george bush sees an opportunity to get his political career back
on track. >> george bush thinks he has a pretty good shot of becoming vice president. and he pitches gerald ford on the job. he goes for a weekend respite and he finds out he's been passed up. instead, gerald ford will appoint nelson rockefeller. >> all in all it's a first class choice, let's face it. i was just flattered to be in that league. >> you don't seem awfully personally disappointed. >> you just see what you see on the outside. >> it's a devastating moment. >> he was constantly reaching for the very summit of american politics and every time he got close, he would get pushed back down again. gerald ford offered george bush a number of positions including what could be called glamour
ambassadorships to britain and france. >> he wanted to get out, away. it had been an exhausting year and a half of slugging it out. >> many people were surprised that the place that george bush asked to go was to china. in those days going to china was like going to the dark side of the moon. >> even though it wasn't the sexy post by any means, he chose to go there because he saw it as this opportunity. he could tell that china really was going to be a player in the future. >> china reignites this passion he had from the united nations. he loved diplomacy. he loved people. he gets to meet an epic historic figure and george bush relished the idea that he was in the room with such power. >> barbara bush loved getting on
a bicycle and going out with george. the two of them had a chance to be a couple without just the things all around them. and she cherished it. >> all of these people would be looking. what's this all about? they made a great impression. >> they enjoyed visits from their children and immersed themselves in chinese culture. >> barbara bush often said that their years in china were the happiest years of their lives. they absolutely loved it. and then the cable comes from washington and it's a shock. >> in november 1975, president ford asks george bush to return home to become cia director. >> barbara bush says this is camp david all over again which means this is a president offering you a job that i don't think you should take.
>> there was never an american politician that had become a spy that could come back and run for office again. >> i wish i knew the conversations they must have had about george are you sure you want to be the director of the cia? >> i'm reading some of the hearings from previous directors, some say they're shoving you into a meat grinder and getting rid of you politically and others are saying they think it's great. i'll be damned if i know right now which is which. ♪...you better get moving. ready or not♪ ♪...it's about to go down here it comes now♪ ♪...get ready (oh oh oh oh), get ready♪ ♪...moving. ready or not ♪...get ready (oh oh oh oh) new galaxy. free buds. music to your ears. get free galaxy buds when you pre-order galaxy s10 or s10+.
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president gerald ford requested that george bush take over the cia. >> he accepted because it was his ethic. you do what the president asks you to do and that meant leaving beijing and heading back to the washington vortex. old fashioned as it say seem to some it is my duty to serve my country and i didn't pick this job but i want to do it and i'll do my very best. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> the cia is under assault. >> the agency's engulfed in scandal. the image of the cia is an intelligence agency gone mad. >> congress investigating the cia's alleged assassination and dirty tricks. >> they were the piñata, everybody taking a whack at it. >> george bush comes to their defense. >> george bush treats it as if they are patriots. >> he builds moral and builds the organization. >> we have to go to work. george bush can't confide outside the agency, even those closest to him. >> it was a difficult time for my grandmother.
>> for the first time in their life she couldn't be a participant the way she had been. it had to be such a change from china to cia for mom and dad and their relationship. to go from that to being blocked out of dad's professional life. >> it was a time for someone like my grandmother to ask should i do something that wasn't just attached to my husband. a lot of the women friends she had were taking on professional career jobs and she mentioned to me that she hadn't done anything. >> she becomes seriously depr s depressed. she contemplates suicide. she told no one about her depression except george bush. he would hold her and talk to her and comfort her at night when she was weeping.
and it's only after six or eight months that she is able to pull out of this depression. george bush has been cia director for less than a year when democrat jimmy carter becomes president. >> bush holds this hope that jimmy carter might keep him on. he was very popular at the cia. they didn't want him to leave and he didn't want to leave. >> carter had come into office vowing to bring in new people and frankly george bush still had a little reek of watergate around him. there's no way carter was ever going to keep him. >> george bush is out of a job. so bush goes home to houston and of course he is bored. bored by idol gossip around the country club pool. barbara wonders whether george will ever be happy at home again. >> george w. bush is turning his
life around. he returns home to texas after earning a masters degree in business. >> he's kind of wandering around with no real direction but when he got to harvard business school he got the knowledge that he could do the work. >> harvard was a different set of friends and being around different ambitions and i think that sort of opened up his world to possibilities. >> like his father, george sets up his own oil company and meets a woman who will change his life forever. >> in the summer of 1977 joe and jan o'neill host a backyard barbecue for their friends who have never met each other, george w. bush and laura welch. >> my mom was a librarian. she was a little bit quiter. and then on the other side, my dad is very loud. he's very funny. he's very happy to make sure that everyone around him is laughing and enjoying
themselves. but my parents definitely are a case of opposites attract. >> he's taken her back home to meet george and barbara bush. they fall in love with laura immediately. >> just a few months after meeting, george and laura get married. >> i'll say one thing about campaigning for office in west texas you sure do get to do plenty of driving. >> when a congress seat becomes available he decides to follow his father into politics. >> it really is the only way i know thousand campaign, to get out and meet the people, tell them who i am. >> i'm george bush running for congress. >> he is determines to build his political career and sees it as an opportunity to do something meaningful. >> just 31 years of age but he wants to get into the family
business. >> the bush family name is gold. i think he imagined it could convert to a political career beginning with congress. >> he tells laura that she'll never have to give a speech. that turns out not to be true but they enjoy being around each other whatever they are doing. it is the seeds of a strong partnership. >> george h.w. bush encourage his son. but he knows it's going to be an uphill battle because the district is made for campaigns. >> the campaign was a tough campaign. my whole strategy was to make it that i was the guy next door. >> george w. bush was born in connecticut, went to school in massachusetts and studied at yale. >> he tried to say he was a fake
texan. northeastern ivy league yankee carpet bagger. >> bush was a texan but we had to try to make the distinction that i was more of a texan than he was. >> bush loses 14 out of 17 counties. >> he was offended by some of the things we did in the campaign. i think it toughened him up. one of the things he said in that race, he wasn't going to be out-texaned again and he wasn't. >> as george w.'s political career stalls, his father prepares his next move. >> he has been primed his entire life to run for the highest office of the land. has aim bimbitions have always about power. >> i was the guest of the bushes
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candidate for president of the united states. [ cheers and [ applause ] ] >> my father's qualifications for being president were unparalleled. war hero, a business man, working the un, china, being party leader, cia director, all of these experiences that gave him real knowledge. >> i would like to introduce you to my family. my mother mrs. prescott bush who some of you may remember. my wife barbara, george and his wife laura from west texas. jeb and his wife and neil bush and gets his masters degree at tulane. and our daughter doro. >> he knew he could do it. he knew he had these connections out there. he had a great resume and he could get out there and get his
message out there, he knew people were going to like him. >> well, he's up against one of the great campaigners of the 20th century, ronald reagan. >> ronald reagan has taken the republican party by storm by virtue of running to the right of center. >> ronald reagan was a master. he had been a movie actor. he was a good candidate. he had been governor of one of our biggest states. >> george h.w. bush was very much part of the regular republican establishment. very much in his father's image. >> it's the classic match up, the eastern establishment versus the west coast rebel. the guy with the resume versus the movie star. it's all of that stuff. >> the polls show that ronald reagan, are way ahead of you. how are you going to catch up with them? >> polls do show that.
couldn't care less on my part. what counts is what happens when those iowa caucuses report in january and new hampshire voters vote in february. i'm going to out organize them. >> george bush calls on his family to help him on the campaign trail. >> i loved that experience. i moved to new hampshire and he would say, okay, neil, take this list and go talk to these people and recruit town chairman and then dad would come in and we'd organize events. >> the reason i'm doing what i do is because i believe very strongly the country needs his kind of leadership. >> the funniest thing i think is when you go down the street and you hear someone talking about your father and that's what takes a little bit of getting used to. >> while marvin gets used to being in the spotlight -- >> i'm not sure. >> his 26-year-old brother jeb rallies latino voters. >> his spanish is good, partly because his wife is mexican. >> he quits his job at the texas
commerce bank to support his father. >> what is it like being a professional son of the candidate down here? >> it's not something that i would like to do the rest of my life, no. i get nervous at first, just, i'm not a politician. >> barbara travels thousands of miles around the country campaigning for her husband. >> made it. >> she is out there on the campaign trail in a small plane with one assistant and she is exhausted, but she is preaching the gospel of bush. >> i think i'm a very strong woman. but george bush is a very strong man. >> she never grumbled. she thrived on being with people. because above all, she was supportive of herma man and she was going to do what she could for him. >> when do you see, george? >> not enough if you want to know the truth. but i saw him today and i'll see
him next tuesday. you don't get to be president by sitting home and looking at each other. >> a lot of people come up and say, you know, it's too bad your wife's not running. i no longer have any hurt feelings about it. but really, she's good. she's terrific. >> there's some concern she looks older than she is and that she looks older than her husband. >> she is at a campaign event and somebody went up to her and said mrs. bush you must be so proud of your son. >> there were aids who went to george bush and said you should really get barbara to die her hair. he refused and actually kicked them out of the room for even suggesting it. >> she said, i'm going to be who i am because that's the way god made me. >> you're looking at it. which one of my children were you talking to? >> who is the grey fox? they're so bad those children.
>> trailing behind reagan in the polls, george needs to gain momentum in the iowa caucus. >> the rap on reagan is that he's lazy and he does seem and he underestimates george bush. >> i need your help at those caucuses. >> george bush believed that he could look at you, speak to you, have you look into his eyes and see his sincerity. he could get your vote. he made a point of visiting every single county in iowa. and it worked. >> ladies and gentlemen, george and ms. bush who have taken iowa by storm. >> against all odds george bush pulls off a stunning victory. >> this man was not a national figure at all, suddenly is leading in the republican race.
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all eyes are on new hampshire for the next phase of the race for republican nomination. >> the polls show george bush far ahead of the other five candidates including ronald reagan. >> bush is on the up. he thinks he's winning. he can taste victory. >> and the reagan camp comes to george bush's campaign with a very intriguing offer. what if they have a one-on-one debate between the two front runners, ronald reagan and george bush? it's a huge opportunity for bush. >> he'll come out looking good, and it will make sure that just the two of them are going head to head for the republican nomination.
>> george bush is arriving to go out in front of 2,000 voters at the nashua high school gym. >> george bush sits down and gets ready for his one-on-one debate with ronald reagan. and then ronald reagan throws him a curve. >> what bush doesn't know is that the reagan campaign has invited all of the other republican candidates to come to this debate. >> on the right, ronald reagan. on the left george bush. and in the rear are four other candidates. >> that's against the rules. that's not what they agreed to. george bush is nothing if not a stickler for the rules. >> ronald reagan doesn't want a head to head debate with george bush. >> what reagan is banking on at that moment is that it will throw george bush off balance.
>> and then the organizers of the debate say to reagan, well, you can't do this. >> typical to ronald reagan he seizes the dramatic hollywood moment. >> reagan stole the show and poor dad kind of got stuck in the middle. >> george bush sits startled and looking perplexed and says nothing. >> finally the debate goes ahead without the other candidates. >> ronald reagan comes out of the nashua debate as the person who wants dialogue, transparency and a democratic process. and george bush comes out of it looking like this peevish entitled person who wanted it to go one way, and when it didn't go his way he picked up the ball
and went home. >> i came here to chemokeep my to do what i said i'd do. i accepted a challenge. >> reagan's indiggant as bad as hell posture really resonated with america. 52 hostages in iran, our economy crumbling. so that struck a cord with america and it made great tv. >> george bush is crushed by ronald reagan in the new hampshire primary. i think it's fair to say george bush knew his dreams of becoming president had gone up in smoke in that high school gymnasium. >> have you got a long weekend ahead of you, sir? >> i don't expect any longer than normal.
>> any comments? >> no comments. just delighted to be home. >> trailing too far behind reagan and with his campaign running out of funds, george reluctantly throws in the towel. >> my every gut instinct, my every bit of training. my every bit of service in the war or whatever it is, you know, it's to fight, fight, fight. >> george bush was the last man standing between ronald reagan and the republican nomination and ultimately he fell. and in fact bush goes to the republican convention fully expecting this might very well be the last act of his political career. >> next on the bush years. >> this is war. this is not tiddlywinks. >> drinking was crowding out the things that were most important to him. >> i just remember being inspired and moved and proud of
him. >> this is my mission, and i will complete it. >> they thought it was the end, and that was the beginning. an outbreak of killer tornados sweeping across three u.s. states. at this hour many are missing, dozens badly hurt. the death toll will continue to rise. among the investigations into the 45th president of the united states the most consequential could just be getting started and could mark the beginning to the road of impeachment. all that's left of the dreams of a grand isis caliphate. the terror group's control of this territory is being kounlted in hours and days. great to have you with us. i'm john vause. you're watching "cnn newsroom."