tv The Bush Years Part Three A Family Triumph CNN March 10, 2019 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
bea buttigieg. and south by southwest and tomorrow from jackson, mississippi, where i will moderate a democratic presidential town hall with senator elizabeth warren from massachusetts. the presidential series, "the bush years" starts right now. george h.w. bush is determined to get to the white house. and his former rival puts the dream within his grasp. from one generation to the next, the bush family are on a mission to win. >> mr. bush, over here! >> will scandal destroy h.w.'s chances? >> i was aware of our iran
i will do the job. >> george h.w. bush is fighting to be the republican party's candidate for the 1980 presidential election. >> some of those other bigger shots out there, they don't need you as much as i do. i need your help at those caucuses. >> his five children, wife, barbara have been with him every step of the way. >> it's a great training ground being out here stumping for the old man. it's really excellent. >> i think it's going pretty good. >> but it hasn't been enough. >> dad didn't win the nomination, but for a guy who went into the race with below 1% recognition nationally as a candidate, he came from major underdog status. >> yet, he had ultimately just fell beneath the behemoth that was ronald reagan. >> the party is now completely
in the hands of the reagan revolution. they wanted a much more activist republican, someone ideological, they want someone who will say what he thinks. >> george bush represents a moderate republican, at a time when that type of moderation is going out of fashion. >> george's only hope is that reagan might choose him as his running mate. >> when we arrived in detroit, there was no warmth between reagan and bush at that time. because they had been in a really bitter primary battle and there were a lot of rumors out there that reagan was going to pick anybody but bush as his running mate because he didn't like bush. >> gerald ford has emerged as the favorite. there is this great speculation that there could be the dream ticket, ronald reagan as president, gerald ford former
president as vice president. >> we came not asking for a job. we came here expecting -- >> dejected, george and his team watches gerald ford interviewed by walter cronkite. >> it is true that i did have a meeting with governor reagan. >> it's looking more and more likely like ford is going to be reagan's pick to be vice president. and we were quite down. we thought it was over. we were making plans to leave. >> george begins to pack his bags to go back to texas. it's getting on to midnight, and he then gets to phone call. >> and i answered the phone. this voice on the phone that i recognized said, governor reagan would like to speak to ambassador bush. >> turns out that ronald reagan
has also been watching the cronkite interview. >> i would not go to washington, walter, and be a figure head vice president. >> it has to be something like a co-presidency? >> that's something that governor reagan really ought to consider. >> reagan is not happy with the idea of gerald ford as co-president. that is not on. >> reagan says, george, i'm just about to go over back to the convention hall and i'd like to announce that you are my vice presidential nominee. how do you feel about that? >> and george said, yes, sir, yes, sir. yes, sir. and then he went like this. >> and i am recommending to this convention that tomorrow, when the session reconvenes, that george bush be nominated -- [cheers and applause]. >> you're down in the deepest
depths and suddenly with one phone call, you're on the top of the mountain. >> just a few minutes before he appeared at the convention, out of the clear blue sky, i might add, governor reagan called me up and asked if i would be willing to run with him on this ticket. >> i was actually in the hallway outside his hotel room that night. he and barbara came out of the hotel room, having a little bit to drink at the time they thought the race was over. >> i was surprised. >> the look on their faces was of unexpected joy. they thought it was the end and now it was the beginning. >> i was actually in germany on honeymoon. i was dying to know what was happening at the convention. there was a german headline and it had a picture of reagan and dad. it had somebody translate dadded
a been picked by reagan. >> it's a great thrill to see your father be nominated vice president. after governor reagan made his decision bush would be the running mate there was no question. >> i feel honored i would be selected to be on the ticket with ronald reagan. i'm going to work hard to see that he's elected the president of the united states. >> reagan and bush sweeped to victory against jimmy carter. >> vice president elect george bush. >> bringing george bush to within a heart beat of the presidency. >> he's done it. he is now one of the power brokers. >> it's a great pleasure to have our family here. >> bush is now number two, but he can't imagine what's going to happen next. ♪ ♪ do you love me? ♪
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i, george herbert walker bush -- i george herbert walker bush -- do solemnly swear. >> do solemnly swear. >> for my dad to be up there taking the oath of office for president of the united states was amazing. >> at some point during the inaugural, he leaned over and said, bake, who'd have thunk it, not too bad for two guys from texas without any vision. >> with george bush winning the
vice-presidency, that changes everything in the family. >> george and barbara are settling into their new home. the naval observatory in washington. >> i'm going to try my new grip. >> george bush wanted to be president since his childhood, and now he's a step away. now, this doesn't mean reagan and bush are all that comfortable with each other. >> reagan and bush were very different, in a sense, different backgrounds. ronald reagan, the product of poverty stricken situation, where he grew up in iowa, not a man of great wealth. >> bush was an elite. he was a person who was ivy league educated. reagan had gone to a small college. bush was a war hero. reagan had been an actor and worked in propaganda films during the war. aside from being republican,
these two men had very very little in common. >> bush was on his first trip back to texas since becoming vice president. just as the plane was gathering speed to take off from the air force base the word was flashed to the head of the secret service detail there had been an assault on president reagan. we all turned on the television that was in the cabin. >> shots were fired at president reagan in washington, as he left the hilton hotel. it appears there were three men apparently who had been hit. >> the bullet has ricocheted off a car frame and embedded itself in reagan's chest close to his heart. >> news reported the bullet had punctured a lung. >> george bush is then flying
back to washington. he's told that he should land on south lawn. >> bush says, no, only the president of the united states lands on the south lawn. i will not do that. please take me to the vice presidential residence, and from there, i will go onto the white house. >> bush shows in that moment that he's not clamoring the limelight, looking like he's in charge. >> i have a very brief statement that i would like to read. >> he shows his natural humility and his respect for the presidency. >> i can reassure this nation and a watching world that the american government is functioning fully and effectively. it immediately impressed the reagan circle george bush was indeed a member of the team and loyal reaganite just as they were. >> after 12 days in the hospital, the president returns to the white house with a new appreciation for his second in
command. >> the respect between the two of them grew week after week, month after month. >> they meet every thursday for lunch and have tex-mex in the private dining room of the west wing. they're able to talk freely among themselves. >> he became a very very close friend of reagan. i mean, they had a great association. >> president reagan's message to all of us in the white house was to make sure the vice president was in all the meetings, had all the information, so that if anything happened, vice president bush was ready to step in. >> he was intensely loyal to ronald reagan. there was no question about it. he was careful not to ever step on the president's lead, if you will. >> george bush was the perfect vice president for ronald reagan. he would give the president his best advice, but he would do it privately.
>> president reagan likes bush and barbara. nancy, not so sure. >> nancy was a fierce protective of her man, like barbara was of george. so, there was a rocky kind of relationship. >> nancy reagan did not like barbara bush at all. george would say it was because they weren't in the same class. but others would say it's because nancy was jealous of barbara bush. >> barbara bush was the matriarch of this big boisterous clan that seemed to love to spend time together. nancy had very toxic relationships with her children and step-children. >> nancy was beautifully dressed in designer clothes, always perfectly coifed. barbara bush didn't care about that stuff. she didn't dress as well. she let her hair go white. nancy reagan almost never has the bushes up to the private
family quarters in the white house. she doesn't invite the bushes to one of the most glamorous events they had at the white house, which was the dinner for princess di. >> while the reagans hold court at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, george and barbara escape the pressures of office at the family home in maine. >> kennebunkport became the refuge. this was a wonderful place to be, the sound of the surf, makes you feel so good at night when you go to sleep. complete relaxation. >> my grandfather certainly was not a rules guy. he was always a have fun guy, the guy to say, let's go on the boat and my grandmother would stop him and say, no, no, no, piers has to do a summer reading. >> we had a very big family with so many cousins our age and play outside all night long. at night, we would have dinner together as a family, and we still do.
my grandmother would come up and lay in bed and tuck us in. >> barbara bush had been the glue for this family from the start. it was important for both of them they had this clan that stuck together. >> the bush years, family, duty, power, brought to you by fa breeze. breathe happy. cheaper aerosols can cover up odors, burying them in a flowery fog. switch to febreze air effects! febreze eliminates even the toughest odors from the air. freshen up, don't cover up. febreze getting used to each other's idiosyncrasies. it's an adventure. a test. [ grunting ] a test that jeff failed miserably.
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and neil. george, you and, i think, a couple of your brothers have been active in politics. >> right. >> what's it like, though, following in those kinds of footsteps. >> it's very easy, jane, because he's never put any inordinate amount of pressure on us. he never put his expectations on us to be our own people. you're right, being george h.w. bush these days has unusual straits to it. >> actually, george always felt the expectation of his dad to live up to him in school in business and political life. >> george w. and laura are living in mit land, texas. like his father, george set up an oil company, called spanish for bush. but it's struggling to make money. laura is concerned about her husband. >> he wasn't just the life of the party, he was the party.
when you spend time around him, you can see why. he had fun and he loves people. you can see in your 20s or your 30s how that can lead to excess. >> he likes to indulge in what they call in west texas the three bs. bourbon before dinner, beer with dinner, bendiktin before and after dinner. laura bush says that leads to the fourth b, a bore. >> by contrast brother jeb bush is doing just fine in miami. jeb bush is settling in with columbia, his three children and noel and jeb jr. the world is his oyster in miami. >> jeb has a successful career in real estate and wants to follow his father into politics. but, first, he must convince his wife. >> columbia bush wants no part of politics. she sees it as a losing proposition.
she doesn't like the scrutiny. >> jep see this opportunity to become chairman of the republican party of the county. he decides this could be the start of his political career. >> in the end. colomba has no choice because jeb bush has decided politics is where i'm aiming for. >> it was no surprise jeb entered politics because he was clearly an issue guy. >> jeb bush is a hard core conservative building his own political machine. george and barbara bush are looking at him and thinking, maybe, just maybe he's the one. >> jeb courts florida's latino voters for reagan and bush's 1980 campaign against former vice president, walter mondale. >> when the bush family does something, they're all in. >> glad to see you. thanks for coming out today.
>> that the current trend continues and there is every expectation that it will, this is going to be perhaps and historic night. >> thank you for this fantastic report. >> as the 1984 election ends with a tremendous landslide victory for the reagan-bush ticket, george realizes it's probably not too early to think what will happen at the end of the second term of ronald reagan. >> george bush came out of the re-election campaign in 1984, wanting to seek the presidency. >> but george is keeping his guards close to his chest. >> would you like to run for president in 1988? >> no comment. no discussion of. i know this is going to strain your -- my credibility, but i honestly don't think about that. >> away from politics, george and barbara's family is growing.
like jeb, neil, marvin, and doral are also married with young children. george w. and laura have twins, jenna and barbara. >> my mom had grown up as an only child, and her -- every night she would wish upon a star that she had siblings. having kids was something they had deeply wanted, and then they got two of us. >> anyone who is going to seek the presidency is going to put tremendous demands on his or her family. it's just the nature of campaigning. >> guys, has your father discussed '88 in any way, shape or form? george? >> sure. we all think he'd be a great candidate in '88. >> total agreement. i think he'd be a great president of the united states. >> jeb is our politician, the republican county chairman of
dade county, miami. you ought to ask jeb. don't skip him. >> i hope he runs and look forward to it. >> he has to decide what he's going to do. >> george h.w. bush holds a family summit and invites his political advisors. >> very pointedly, the family sits on one side of that long table, and the political operatives sit on the other side. it's a very clear sign that blood is thicker than water in the bush family. george w. was always a little skeptical of this group around his father. he wanted to make sure our agenda was his father's agenda. >> the team is led by lee atwater, a young "politico" with a ruthless reputation. >> lee atwater is a master of negative campaigning. you have to smear and crush your
opponent. you have to damage their reputation. >> george w. says to lee atwater, how do we know we can trust you? you have to understand we love this man and we're going to do anything we can to protect him. lee atwater suggests george w. come to washington to help to run the campaign. his father says, if you want to join me, i'd love to have you. but george w. bush doesn't know his father is going to be mired in a controversy very toxic and might even destroy any chance he has for ever being president. the bush years, family, duty, power, brought to you by -- 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.
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vice president bush thinks reagan's second term is going to be a good launching pad for his campaign for the presidency. >> george bush needs him. he has to be loyal to have any chance reaganites will support him. >> bush made a pledge to ronald reagan he would always support him and always have his back. he made good on that pledge. but in new year's eve 1986 a story breaks, it puts the entire reagan presidency including bush's vice-presidency on the hot seat. >> good evening.
there are reports there were parts for iran arranged in release for iranian hostages. >> this was in direct against the united states law. >> this is a plot cooked up in the inner councils of the reagan administration and president reagan and vice president bush know about it. >> the scandal escalates when it emerges money from the sale of arms to iran is channeled illegally to the contras. anti-communist guerrillas in central america. >> you won't talk about it at all? >> the press considers iran contra to be reagan and bush's watergate. at every opportunity, they were asking bush about it. >> what's your reaction to the intelligence committee releasing the reports today on the iran affair? >> he's part of an
administration suddenly consumed by scandal and people in washington are even using the dreaded word, "impeachment." >> the vice president vows to pressure. he admits he knew about the sale of arms to iran but denies being aware of the transfer of funds to the contras. >> vice president george bush is trying to put some distance between himself and the arms deal which he acknowledges has probably hurt him politically. >> if the truth hurts so be it. we have to take our lumps and move ahead. thank you very much. >> after a lengthy official investigation, reagan and bush are cleared of any illegal wrongdoing. but the damage to their reputations has been done. >> iran contra was a serious blow that becomes a dent in bush's armor. >> bush, of course, hoped that he was going to sail into office on reagan's coattails. now, there aren't any coattails.
>> essentially he's thinking about trying to run for the white house with lead weights on his feet. >> i'm here today to announce my candidacy for president of the united states. >> 1949, when we were campaigning, dad was not known at all, so there was the underdog approach. 1979. >> by 1989, everybody knew who george bush was. >> he made changes in his own position over the years so he was very much somebody who the american people could expect to perform as did his predecessor. >> the vice president had no greater admirer or greater
supporter than barbara bush. he's a better vice president when she's around. he's a better candidate when she's around. as advisors go, i don't think there's one more important. >> for 43 years, i've found a way for us to have a successful marriage is for george to stay out of my household business and i stay out of his office business. >> we're going down life's highway together after 43 years of marital bliss. >> i'd like to be like mrs. reagan. i'd like to look like her and run the white house as she has done but i wouldn't be like mrs. reagan only because i'm larger, different, i'm barbara bush. >> barbara was tough. she could be grandmotherly on one hand and a lot of people loved her. but you didn't want to cross mrs. bush. and think she had no hesitation
at all about telling her husband or sons exactly what she thought. there wasn't any question about her loyalty or what she wanted for her family. >> george w. is becoming a key play owner his father's campaign team. >> i'm so glad you're back in texas because texas is going to be george bush country this november. >> george quits the oil business and makes a life changing decision. >> george w. bush goes to colorado with laura to celebrate his and her and the 40th birthdays of several of their friends. >> i happened to be there the night that he had way too much -- that all of us had way too much to drink. >> and the next morning he wakes up, he feels terrible, he has an awful hangover.
>> george takes his morning jog, and he stops in the middle of it, which he had never done before. i think it's at that point he realizes, it has to stop. >> he committed to never taking another drop of alcohol. i think he just was very wise in saying, you know what, when i drink, i drink too much, i make an ass of myself. i don't want to do that anymore. >> he had things that were so important in his life, his marriage to my mother, his relationship with my sister and me, his career. he's always been very driven. and that drinking was crowding out the things that were most important to him. >> once he pulled his life together, quit drinking, then he made up for lost time. he said, i have to get back together and get moving. he moved quickly. >> little brother, georgy.
>> one reason marvin and i and brother neil from colorado and sister dorothy from maine are working so hard is because our dad needs a real job. thank you very much. >> george w. was very much involved in the campaign, almost there to make sure that the campaign was run the way his father wanted it to be run. >> he's become his father's surrogate and most trusted advisor. his father really sees his political chops during the course of the campaign. george w. bush makes a real contribution. >> laura and i sold our house to come up to washington to be in the campaign, which has been, by the way, for a political junky, a fantastic experience, to be close to my dad during this. >> he starts asking himself and even other people what might a future in big league politics look like for me? the bush years, family, duty power, brought to you by
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! >> george! >> the bush family are campaigning hard to send their father to the white house. the candidate has a problem with his image. >> one thing we often here, good guys finish last. almost everybody agrees your father, george bush, is a nice guy. is that going to hurt him this time around? does need to get more tough with everybody. i don't think toughness equates. you can be a nice guy and make tough decisions. >> he has been a loyal vice president until now.
it is his time in the sun and has not tried to upstage ronald reagan. >> george bush has to stop being seen and regarding's number two and be seen in the public's eyes as a president in his own right. 92 there was a lot of suspicions about whether bush was strong enough and tough enough to be president of the united states, to succeed the gipper. >> "newsweek" magazine where i worked, we do a cover story fighting the wimp factor. we used the word, "wimp". bush said in his diary it was the cheapest shot he had ever seen in his political life. the people on my carrier in combat didn't feel that way. people in business didn't feel that way. people in the cia didn't feel that way and the american people won't feel that way. >> where did the term come from? >> i've given you my answer. >> having participated in this story, i can tell you it was a mistake. it's too harsh. bush was not a wimp.
we shouldn't have done that. and bush was right to be mad. >> it affected me because i know he's no wimp. when you're loyal and subservient to a president and you give your soul to that person of course people will frame it, in this case, "the wimp factor." >> in the iowa caucus, bush can't shake the wimp factor. he comes in a distant third behind senate minority leader, bob dole and televangelist, pat robertson. >> what happened in iowa, we got whipped. we wanted to win. we understand the road to the nomination is a very long arduous road. george bush is a winner and no one will outwork him to see to it he wins this nomination. >> to stay in the race, george bush must win the next state primary, new hampshire.
>> thank you all for that warm welcome. i'll tell you, it's warm in new hampshire! >> iowa picks corn, new hampshire picks presidents. in new hampshire, a campaign is what we call see me, touch me, feel me. you have to go and look the voters in the eye. >> hey, how are you? >> h.w. puts in long hours on the road in a desperate attempt to reignite his campaign. >> i spent time with him in new hampshire. i spent time with him in washington. his greatest strength was the way he interacted one-on-one with people. we worked very hard to make sure that he shook as many hans hands as possible. >> the meet the people campaigning pays off. >> we won new hampshire by 9 1/2 points. >> reports of my death were greatly exaggerated.
>> george h.w. bush arrives at the republican convention having swept aside his rivals. >> texas cast all its votes for her favorite son and the best father in america, george bush. >> thank you very very much. >> george h.w. bush makes his pitch to be elected leader of the free world. >> i fought for my country. i've served, i've built, and i'll go from the hills to the hollows, from the cities to the suburbs, to the loneliest town on the quietest street, to take our message of hope and growth for every american to every american. i will keep america moving forward always forward, for a better america, for an endless
enduring dream and a thousand points of light, this is my mission, and i will complete it. >> i just remember being inspired and moved and proud of him. he talked about how he wanted to call upon the greater good in all of us to serve our nation. >> george also makes a pledge he will live to regret. >> my opponent won't rule out raising taxes, but i will, and the congress will push me to raise taxes, and i'll say, no. they'll push again, and i'll say to them, read my lips. no new taxes. >> even though bush got the nomination, he still has a mountain to climb if he's going to prove he's worthy of being president and win the election. >> bush is up against liberal democrat, michael dukakis, governor of massachusetts.
he presents himself as the political underdog, taking on reagan and bush's scandal his second term. >> there's a sense in which bush's baggage has finally caught up with him, the baggage of being a second to ronald reagan, having no backbone of his own. the baggage of iran contra. >> the polls are too close to call. time to take the gloves off. >> vice president bush did not have an instinct for the jugular. lee atwater was born grabbing this is war. this is not tiddly winks. you use every weapon at your disposal. everyone's got to listen to mom.
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but winning in politics often means getting down in the mud. >> george bush understood that politics was a blood sport. he was willing to get out there and do what he needed to do by way of going on the offense and that sort of thing. when he had to, but he wasn't particularly comfortable with it. >> one of the things that bush's campaigner determined to do was hammer this idea that bush is strong on crime. michael dukakis is soft on crime. >> bush's case was about dukakis's program of weakened furloughs for convicted criminals. >> consistent east wood had a slogan in dealing with criminals. remember clint looked them in the eye and said, "make my day". my opponent looks him in the eye
and says, "have a nice weekend". >> that comes to the case of willie horton. >> an independent group, not the campaign, but an independent group makes an add about willie horton. >> despite a life sentence, horton received ten weekend passes from prison. horton fled, kidnapped a young couple, stabbing the man and raping the woman. >> the advertisement focuses just on willie horton's face. and it is the face of a black man. >> it does something to frankly despicable that goes back to the jim crow era reminding voters that crime is something to be worried about and frankly that african americans, black men in particular, are dangerous.
>> it's never been proven with absolute certainty that bush himself knew, but certainly the superstructure of the bush campaign was well aware of who was doing this and how they were doing it. >> the commercial has been running for nearly a month before the bush campaign intervenes. >> i wrote them a letter as chairman of the bush campaign saying we don't want you to run this anymore, and we weren't happy with it. >> but even as they eventually denounced the willie horton advertisement, it takes time because they recognize that politically it is expedient and there's something in it for them because it hurts michael dukakis. >> michael dukakis ran a miserable company and really had no idea about how to deal with the foreign policy questions. george bush had the better agenda on both foreign policy and domestic policy. >> bush was able to say i'm not
an extension of reagan. i'm different from reagan. i'm kinder and gentler. i have this big family. dukakis was a horrible candidate. really bad, and bush was just more likable. >> as the race enters the home stretch, bush pulls ahead in the polls. he returns home to be with his family on election night. >> he's been exercising and relaxing and jittering around getting a little nervous, and he's not jumping up and down for joy because he's not counting this victory yet. there's still polls open all over america. >> george is not taking his lead for granted. >> there's an apprehension and nervous waiting, anxiety. recognition it will be all or nothing. >> the vice president seemed a little nervous.
barbara bush seemed much more relaxed. it was all small talk and almost trying to avoid discussing what was happening. >> as i say, i hate to comment before we know the final score. >> it was just such an amazing moment to have all the family gathered. >> bush 77%. dukakis 23 %. >> things were coming in. the results were coming in. it all looked very positive. >> and finally the wait is over. >> nbc news now projects that george bush is president-elect of the united states. >> it's hard to put in words the feeling that your dad had become president of the united states. >> hard to contain yourself. you just feel you're going to explode. it's such a wonderful feeling.
>> i want to talk about my family. the fact is i'd be nothing without them. our four sons, our daughter, and my own barbara bush, and i guess i shouldn't say she's my own anymore. soon she'll be the first lady of all the united states. >> it's the fruition of his dreams. >> thank you all. >> he has finally achieved the ultimate political prize. that's a triumph not only for george bush, but for the bush family. >> thank you all. >> next on the bush years. >> i think our family would do anything for each other. >> i have great confidence in the integrity and honor of my son. >> george wr bush has the chanc to step out from his father's
shadow. >> tonight the battle has been joined. >> that was bush speech for we're going to throw that man out of kuwait whether he likes it or not. the following is a cnn special report. america's steadfast ally -- >> extraordinary friendship and relationship -- >> directly into the world trade center -- >> at times spawned america's deadliest enemies. osama bin laden, saudi. thousands of isis fighters, saudi.