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tv   Book Discussion on Political Suicide  CSPAN  August 24, 2016 1:50am-2:39am EDT

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i would thank every one of you for this. thank you politics and prose, c-span. thank you all. there are books for sale. thank you all for coming out and having a civil discourse and honesty.
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now the importance of sound and politics from los angeles this is a little over an hour.k, and >> swaggering advancement who've learned the craft on the campaign against ronald reagan in 1984 served as my role models. they were the democratic answer during the summer of 1988 and they taught me well. he was the lead advanced with self-confidence and quick humor. [laughter] was that self-serving by the way blacks they got four pages but it is known as the great teachers are to be clear on that.
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he's a good friend and a lot of people here worked with him and worked with me. we worked o on democratic polits together so it's nice seeing everybody that he has written an interesting book most of you have bought and he said he woule sign everybody's.he the debate many people said when they heard on the radio they thought nixon had won but when they watch the tv version everybody said they thought heke looked younger, he was shaven and he had a 5:00 shadow and suchlike that. in the last 50 years i guess, the portrayal of the candidates through the campaign stops made a tremendous difference in this constant examples i will give you a quick three. the former governor arnold
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schwarzenegger when he wanted to abolish the car tax what did he do come he did this huge event where he had a car literally destroyed. do you remember thi remember tho campaign it was such an extreme example but it got a lot of attention. so he destroyed a car i'm not exactly sure what that has to do with destroying it up as an example.nd bill clinton and others who did more work than anyone have something where he was dedicating a monument in utah or designating land to be under the monument's terms which meant it was limited to knowledge building and other things you could do. he didn't put up the banners or anything. he set up a nice wooden table and there was a view of the whole area. were you at that event? was letting the picture speakssa for itself. you had the beauty of this area
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behind him and that was aa behi gorgeous shot. he would come into this big plane that was supposed to evoke air force one. the theatrics of the campaigns are more and more important and he stayed with it and became one of the experts and one of the best people and learned a lot from some of the folks here but on his own became one of the best and stayed with it and worked for the clinton administration and continued to do work and in this bucket is bs wonderful to read because first of all we all know the people in it but it is a somewhat overlooked part of the campaigns and some important. how many words of thousands of these days.
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in that day and age when the average sound bites on tv is about five or six seconds the pictures are critical and so people who do this maybe have an outside influence in the political system whether that is a good thing or bad i'm not sure. but when it is for the cause of good it's a wonderful thing. he's going to be interviewed by a recent citizen of la. he was the head of "the new york times" bureau for a long time in washington and he now over ip. he is one of the best political writers if you follow him and his blogs and other things it is wonderful to read his stories because he writes really well and is so it's astute. it's how he made the transition i'm not sure but people like
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that so we are in for a treat. it is my pleasure to introduce to you right before that a quick plug for those of you who it's the first time. it's an institution here on the boulevard and it's kind of theie epicenter and it's a wonderful street you see people all the time in the community and it's just a wonderful thing so the bookstores or hurting and he is in the back, a very accomplishe attorney who brought this to save it from becoming another coffee shop or something. please get on his list and come back and say everybody who writes the books comes here and
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speaks. several times a month's keys added to the intellectual fervor and stuff in the community so thank you. [applause] >> without further ado. >> very good to be with you. >> to my past employer i was the bureau chief but never the washington chief. although i was a reporter. because it is on television and the internet forever, welcome to you all it's good to see you in particular and this is a timelye topic. i'm going to start by asking a somewhat provocative question as you yourself point ou out in the
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book the advanced work is in ann essential way in visible and they are supposed to have a passion for anonymity. i wonder why you've chosen to reveal the trade secrets in the book and write about how it works.s it's as if he were telling how the tricks were done. can you react to that and see what the public could have t learned from this exercise? spin it any time you finish a political trip, some of the other people that have been doing these trips as well, you would get around the table and at some point during the wheels of parties people would say i'm going to write a book about advanced work and i want to bebe
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part of this crustaceans. i always thought the people who do this work had never been the people that had written books but the chiefs o chiefs of stafd written books, domestic policy advisers have written books. there is a code if you don't talk about what happens on the road. and i felt like i was always obsessed with this one event.my i knew that my friend had some involvement and had been on that team and one day they were having a beer in ne and new yord is not unlike the other times during the parties he said i have a journal i haven't looked at in 25 years. at it in 25 years. and it tells my story.
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i said can i take a look at it? >> i have a copy of it here. it's six typewritten pages. but it brought back history. it brought back that time in 1988 when it was george hw bush, and it was such a wonderful story and by honing in on this trip for the first third of the book i could tell the story of how the press works, how political advertising works, and advance team and how conventions work. i just thought that we do see, we see plenty of other books. for all of those hundreds, and how it sands of advance people out there, who would be law suited to tell their story, if i could start, in 1988 and follow an equal none of republicans and
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democrats moving up to the vest present day. >> well you don't telltales out of the school. and they have told. this is not a david stock man book -- >> no. >> you're not telling private conversations. it became as a piece of political magazine. >> because -- he has given me his journal, late in 25012. and i know.political magazine. >> if i could just in touch with her because the 25th anniversary, in the tank is coming up in september. 2013, they might like it. but, i went to the ideas festival,
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and the journal and i said i have to start writing it up. it could be an e book. and i started hammering away and said, well, it would lead me down all these other rabbit holes, and so by the end of the summer. i had 60,000 words. and susan said i can only take six. just do the dew caucus story, interviewed matt bennett and me and talked to, him, and so once that ran in blitz co, and i think it was one of the most widely read stories, their first year in publication. an agent said, could you come up with any more? >> yeah. one per campaign. >> one of the distressingly
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common threats, so many that turnout to be disastrous were thought at the time, the staff thought they nailed t. they had a good day. walk us through the tank and how it happened and what we don't know about it. >> it's the summer of 1988, and he has really wind at his back, if you look at the polling, some of the critical measures, of cares, he had a advantage over vice-president bush. a real devasat this time when it came to would be a commander-in-chief. he was against bush, aviator. chairman. rnc. and -- c.i.a.
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>> so, he had to build up hits props to stand toe-to-toe as really could be entrusted. so, beginning back in the primaries, looking at what would be a good policy on a conventional deterrence, he is talking about the conventional deterrence initiative. and the tank, 70,000 pound is the perfect example of that. let's buy more tanks, to counter the soviet threat. and forget about this "star wars" program. after his convention, does an initial trip, focus on foreign policy. doesn't do enough and, john saso, the one time campaign manager, banished, after the videotape comes back and they
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hatch an idea, to do, what. it's theme weeks. everyday we're going to focus on foreign policy. so theme week was laid out for the week of september 11th through 14th of 1988. monday brought them to philadelphia, and for cincinnati and tuesday would bring them to chicago, and sterling heights and matt bennett is dispatched to sterling hides, where they have a facility where they sell them to the pentagon and to foreign purchasers. so matt, is told by boston headquarters, we want him to take a ride in the tank. as any advance person does they do it. we'll do a standard run at
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45-miles-per-hour, you got wear a helmet. and to also protect your torso, because you could be hurt in a tank like this. and, he called back to boston and he says, it was damn fun. but this, he will look terrible. >> never put anything on your head. that's politics, 101, when president barak obama is handed a football helmet. and this brings back, this is where the book starts. never put something your head, if you are president. and this all stems from mike, with this, it fit him. oversized. and it this large lay bowl it, black writing on a white background that said his name.
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it looked like pete maverick mitchell from top gun. he didn't look like tom cruise. to just to finish up, because we could talk about that all night, but when the event was actually over, the correspondent, producers, and writers, and the t.v. guys, would, came up, to joe lockhart and said, you guys really figured it out. we've been covering reagan and you haven't given us any like reagan like moments. do more of this. so sam donaldson, and chris wallace, and, bruce morton, that night did two minute packages, that, if you look at them, in isolation and you break down the
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way chris wallace reports it. he gave him all the visuals, he needed. his speech, and his quick ride in the tank but his policy focus against vice-president bush. and the way that story was put together, it showed vice-president bush, and dan quale on the defensive. we got great visuals and substance from chicago, the t.v. networks had all the video for put together a terrific two minute package. and the way tom brock cow and dan rather, and, peter jennings, did it, looked pretty good. >> and he says, i have an idea. so five weeks later -- >> wasn't part of the fatal flaw the day that it took a sweep
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close to the photographers. into the close up shot of him. and 45-miles-per-hour, he was a little car sick. >> very. >> so, arthur gray, says it was a photographer to shoot for "newsweek." he tried to warn the campaign, that this was headed for disaster. so he's seeing pictures, back in a hangar, and then dismounts and he sees a very wobbly governor. there was a huge debate about whether the helmet should be worn or not. wouldn't let it go forward without it. on what he just do a slow roll in front of the press? >> but if they broker a compromise where, the governor
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would emerge from this behind closed doors, in the hangar, and, he had become the secretariest navy and a slow roll for the cameras, and, those who have done politics, these are 60-foot long constructions. you could almost do like a cat walk. very slowly get all the pictures you want and the governor will not be wearing the helmet. he'll look like patton. then the tank will cruise well off, about a half mile, on the field, have a stop and the governor will put his helmet on and goat see how this conventional piece of military equipment can operate. they wanted to show everything they could. >> this guy could be president
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and they want to sell more. so, there is this story, between matt bennett, who gave me his jury dismal jack weeks who was on the plane as the trip director, where matt is trying to tell boston, i'm not comfortable with this. and the tour, that had gone from philadelphia to cincinnati is running into snags. they're booing him, at the general electric plant and you better get it, because we can't have another day screwed up and jack flies to sterling heights, get's site, and i'm trying decipher the story, that they told. they tried to have it both ways. the slow path and then have the helmet on.
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he had no idea the helmet would go on. and the tank stops at the far end of the proving ground and he says, the story is going to be tank runs out of gas. but then it goes on these passes back-and-forth, but then strangely and oddly it comes back toward the press riser at full speed, and face a last-minute left hand turn -- with its 105 millimeter turn almost decapitating the reporters. but it is that the moment, that a photographer gets a close up shot of mike, a smile on his face, and, this is what -- he does. >> he just decides that he looks like the turtle?
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>> he thought, he was a great ad man. he made ads for reagan and he's thinking of that old 60s or 70s, hang on. >> all he did was flip it in the machine, slow down, add sound effects like the wheels of a
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tank it winding. it was just basically silent footage of dukakis in the tank. and then he makes is a. >> with the networks be so principal today or with they want revenue? >> i think today you find campaigns regularly assigning what we call trackers to show up at any of these open events and get their own video and own footage the way they want. this is what happened to george allen in 2006 when he came up with this moment. >> you talk in the book the term uses the age of optics and in the introduction they talked about the kennedy nixon debate in the sixties, when did the modern age of optics as we understand it begin? in the 60s with kennedy on television? >> i had to look at a point when everything conspired to make daily storytelling of a
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politician's life more important and easier. >> sophie that was reagan. >> it it would be reagan as tv networks transition from film to video and can satellite their footage back to new york for editing. >> live. >> but they don't have canisters of lb and sent off to anyone else. >> note canisters and no developing. this is when white house correspondents become like themselves like donaldson and he can get on like the way he story tells of reagan from 81 - 89 and then picks up. so i'm thinking about the age of optics it is reagan has always seemed and to me as well as the great communicator, great person who understood through michael dever, the ability of stagecraft to tell stories.
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the question is as the ada campaign comes up is who can understand the reagan model better? george w. bush are dukakis. what i'm seeing as i remember it as a young man, but also going back and looking at it is spring, the the primary season and then the spring and fall as every day both campaigns were trying to tell new stories. i called the age of optics. >> it's not just the pictures, as the sound. there's several aspects of the sound and i loved reading about it from your days with president clinton which is music. used to love the thing from the magnificent seven. that is a stable and western venues especially. how do you go about picking the right kind of use it for a candidate? >> i learned some of this, i remember i think it was an 84,
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mitchell a western governors association event where someone decided to have all the governors of the western state walk together toward the event. let's position the press so you can actually capture their strides on let's play on the loudspeaker the theme to the magnificent seven. almost just trying to co-op the way a movie producer movie director would film the scene and then add musical soundtrack underlay and postproduction. so that always stuck with me. whenever we would do an event with governor clinton in the president clinton i would say, what music and particulars going to fit with this theme? so 1996 as an example that he wrote about, he goes to concord, new hampshire in the beginning of his reelection effort to show
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its focus on education. early in that day we brought him to an elementary school and he is looking over the kids shoulder as their playing with the newfangled thing called a computer. we programmed the computer to speak to president clinton. when the kids oppressed their mouse on the button that says you will be reelected and we position the microphone right next to the computer through cabling and what we call almost box so the networks traveling with us can hear it. then to finish the day we went to a large auditorium and give a speech to several thousand people. but for his walk out music the theme to mr. holland's opus. >> about a beloved music teacher in high school. >> one of the most fascinating sections of the book is when you talk about the realities of sound in a crowded place. talk about governor howard
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dean's famous scream in iowa. leave aside the fact that his campaign had collapsed before that moment, he didn't feel beef because he screamed. he screamed only only to the people who are watching him on tv who did not realize that what he was doing was struggling to be heard and to hear himself above the roar of the crowd which was not been picked up on this directional mic in front of him. >> so you go back to the bel air ballroom in january 2004, the iowa caucuses just concluded. he came in a disappointing third. he has these thousands of volunteers who have all streamed into the state, who came in with the highest of hopes with him on top of the polls, no father bark then thanksgiving or christmas and suddenly they have this huge letdown. governor dean is back stay with joe trippi, what
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should i say? they say you should go on give them hell. fire them up because the next morning we have to send them to all of the primary caucus states. keep keep them energized. the bel air ballroom is a real venue that usually housed rock acts weekend and week out in west amoy. it is filled filled with 3500 people to the rafters. they're so loud as the governor walks out, a young man named bo who would eventually go on to become the executive producer and house of cards is trying to figure out how to wipe at this event together. i don't have that much equipment. physically what he has is a microphone, he doesn't have the big stage monitors which are the things that rock musicians use to modulate their own base based on the decibel level in the room. so dean is trying to project a way out to 3500 people and he has no idea if they can hear them because he cannot hear himself. so all you can do is give his
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speech, a two minutes longing and talk about where work on ago, south carolina, south carolina, north carolina, washington d.c., yeah! he cannot hear himself. but but because he is speaking into this microphone, that wire, all the way to the back of the room to the press riser, to this multi-box this multi- box in the malt box is plugged into by all the networks and the people watching the reporting of the iowa caucus results back in new york and washington, they they don't hear 3500 people. they hear one person speaking it one microphone who is sounding unhinged. >> secretary clinton has been taken to task for shouting his grooming at her crab, as part of that responsible the same phenomenon? she's in large places like the
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-- although i was struck that she has not seen. >> while we seen a development of her over the last several months. both her and the technical support that she is getting from her advance team is getting better. she would get in front of these crowds and she would try to match the energy of the crowd and maybe she did not have the size of the monitors she needed to blowback sound or to basically tell the speaker it is okay, you do not need to project as much as you were. remember that scene back to trump, if he is trying, if he says i'm plain the woman card, deal me inches and really trying to get back to the back of a house. that is where she took some criticism from trump and others, oh she's being shrill. and i think that monitor again should be reflecting her own voice back to her so she's here and how it sounds. >> now password to last night in
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the brooklyn navy yard. if you just listen to the way she is speaking she is very conscious of the fact that there may be 2000 people in the brooklyn navy yard but there are millions of people watching through the cable nets. and to have them see me with modulating and managing my volume my pace, delivering my attack line to my teleprompter with really good timing, a couple of thousand people in front of me and the thousand people behind me and the naval yard i have to say it they are props. because she wants to sound out just right, presidential, not overbearing, and someone that you, watching at home and then whatever gets use the next morning on the today show
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sounds. that's a person who i think has the temperament for the oval office. >> you make the point in your book that we won't know for a few minutes what the outstanding gap or success of this cycle has been. so far what has been one or two of the best stage political moments and one one or two of the worst? >> the point that i make in the book is that many of the things that really came back to haunt candidates about what they did in public you would not have known it at the time. a quick of that would be due to caucus it's not till five weeks later that the tank at heirs which is what we remember him by today, the ad, not the event. mitt romney 2012 singing america the beautiful. he does on january in the villages. that tape is logged by the obama campaign. but devastating out of him singing the classic, patriotic song over pictures of mt board
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forms, boarded-up factories, bohemian and swiss bank accounts, it debuts in june, just when it is most important for him to position himself as the republican nominee and the opponent making it clear that he is of the 1%. the other example is john kerry and windsurfing. he goes windsurfing in august during the republican convention, that is matched up with his infamous quote, i voted for the 87,000,000,000 dollars before i voted against it. and you add. and you add to that the soundtrack of the blue daniel waltz and then mark has a great ad. >> so what is happening this cycle? my point is that the creativity of the opposing ad teams and i know that secretary clinton has her team well wired and they log everything trump has said going back a year or even more in some
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cases, we don't know what they are getting ready to spring on him in the weeks before cleveland, or maybe in september right after labor day. any hope to that trump or at least for trump sake with secretary clinton. it probably happened to marco rubio and that party -- probably was a self-imposed error which is repeating over and over again his line in the debate, broke brock obama knows exactly what he's doing. you think about that, he comes up to the iowa caucus when a strong third place. he's starting to get heavy and/or cements. he's he's starting to get real republican money behind him. if he just kept that momentum through iowa and new hampshire republicans got behind this 45-year-old candidate it could've been a very different situation.
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>> i think people don't understand and certainly i haven't cover politics for a long time now. i don't think i understood intervene up to the book out many little things you have to think about how many things could go wrong. you read about the g7 summit in france and i got to cover halifax, nova scotia and so you decide that you get president clinton out of the static, sterile summit press venue to a park into in june in branson is warm and you notice a bunch of bugs are swarming around the lectern. what you do? >> for you in france? its 1996, and i do, you could either have the president give his post g7 where everyone else has done it. >> just like every other ballroom that every other president speaks to her the prime minister of great britain.
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so i look around and find this beautiful park but it is 90 some degrees, it's the end of june, one of the hottest days of the year. i'm looking at her podium from where her cameras are positioned and i'm saying it has a lot of bugs on it like a slew of gnats. this won't work but i have already convinced the white house that they have to scrub their plans and do it here. so i say will i think there is a store, small supermarket over there and i'm see what i can find. see like a can of aerosol with a bug on it and it looks like it's probably the right thing. if i just sprayed a little bit of that then they will all disappear and won't hang around. so i bring this, can't read the french but it looks like
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something that will work. so i spray the podium, podium, i just lather it up. because that's gonna make sure these nouns don't coalesce rough putting don't cloud the picture that i'm trying to create a president clinton. instead they hung around. they got thicker. these movie life that we set up and trained to go right on the presidential podium made it hot. and they liked it. it was the right place for them to be. president clinton arrives in so 19 servicemen and women were killed overseas, back in the states there's an emergence of the problem called file gay. so they're asking a lot of question about file gate and which have their fbi files
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access. i'm seeing clint do his usual thing, like hold onto the podium and so is getting hot and i haven't movie lights on and it's 90 degrees and supposed to be 120 at the podium and he goes from the podium and starts to rub his brow and clinton does not have beautiful complexion to start with,. >> any sensitive and has allergies to a lot of things. >> he just rubbed his eyes with toxic poison. he has about 20 minutes to go in his news conference. so by the time the news conference ends, he is like this. he's trying to answer questions about the covert towers and file gate and his eyes were closed like he just went 15 rounds. >> so what did the chief of staff say to air force one? >> so they said, said, don't even bother to come home.
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>> were there any repercussions when he got home? or did everybody understand it was an honest mistake? >> i got close to being fired several times. that was one of them. but i made it through until late 97. >> well ran france let's go to 1994, i think even i thought you were blamed for something that really wasn't your fault. it had to do with president clinton's and some stones of the beach of normandy to make across. i believe there some columns written suggesting that you had whispered in his ear to do that. but that's not the case. >> i was telling my friend earlier that getting ready for the 50th anniversary of normandy it was the most painful thing i've ever done and i look back at it as a wonderful experience. mostly because i had started out
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by looking at a list of veterans a medal of honor winners who are going to go back to normandy and i called them the foreman had their stories directly. but i also studied a lot of archival footage of reagan from 1984 until he went back and i was trying to think of some things that clinton would do that were like what reagan did which all presidents must do and what would distinguish clinton differently. so don, his speech house communicator at the time was developing this messaging around the keynote speech and would say we are the children of your sacrifice. so if i could find a few veterans, someone the metal of honor to walk with president clinton from the cemetery where he gave his big speech in front of thousands of veterans, down this winding path, over the
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bluff and into omaha beach. there they would be met by the chief army chaplain and clinton at least four veterans of the army chaplain would say a prayer to somebody their comrades in arms who had fallen on the beach. though be a wonderful way to finish up this 50th anniversary of d-day. now, as clinton is walking down that's probably about a ten minute walk, the secret service agent who i'm assigned to work with here's on his radio that the counterstrike curse, the people who need to get high advantage point to make sure that they can cover the president and prevent any problems that might happen have said, if he goes too far out on the beach or too close to the water we are not going to be able to cover him. so can you just develop a marker to know more than like 75 feet from where your and tell the president that he cannot go any further. so the secret service agent says
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josh, give me a marker. all i see is seaweed and sea grass and rocks. that form a little ribbon before you get up to the hill moving up omaha beach. and i said okay, these rocks will work. so take about 20 of him and pile them in a little pyramid about 75 feet out into the beach and when the president walked down to my position i said and i whispered, secret service don't so want you to go any further than those rocks over there. and then he gets it. he says i get it. so clinton and the veterans have their moments on the prayer and i have the the press blow with me in there taking pictures. >> and there's a delay because someone made a private deal? >> we get the picture done i'm thinking great, let's pack up and go away. anything else would run this it's been perfect. but eddie adams was the great
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pulitzer prize-winning photographer for newsweek who shot the famous picture of vietnam of the police chief shooting one of his prisoners it it's many years after vietnam but eddie is on assignment for newsweek and he has cut a deal with another white house staffer to do a private photo shoot a president clinton on the beach after the one that i had set up. but we have to kill time as i have to move the veterans away, bring the chaplain away, and it's just going to be eddie and the president on the beach. but eddie is fumbling with his lenses, taking extra time and clinton is saying what i do now? it's taken a few minutes. with such an emotional trip, we had started in italy where bob dole got wounded.
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we went to cambridge, england where somebody at the bombing raids had started the cemetery there. and then finally made it to normandy. so all week we had seen so many crosses, so many reminders of the american sacrifice. as what i as what i was saying earlier tom brokaw was with us and pictures of this got back to steven spielberg and tom hanks and this 50th anniversary and all of the stories that i told because of it really led us to appreciate what the greatest generation had done. maybe's bond saving private ryan turned band of brothers, or at least creating new content from it. but clinton, he was trying to figure out what to do with the few minutes of time. he looks he looks at this little pile of rocks that i have put in position to basically mark the point at which he should go no
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further. i'm 75 feet away from him and i see him bending down in front of that pile of rocks. he hasn't been told what to do, he's just trying to wait for eddie adams to get ready for. he takes these rocks informs them into the shape of a white cross. the same indelible image he had seen day after day, for all of from all of those cemeteries. he just stands there looks at his cross. later that scene gets reported in what we call a pool reports. video of it gets looked at it and it becomes construed by people writing stories of it and by rush limbaugh by the quintessential image of his opponent is that he would do something like that. >> instead of genuineness. i out. >> i was that it was a very genuine moment. at that time clinton was 47 or 48 years old. say the words that

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