Skip to main content

tv   The Presidency  CSPAN  September 13, 2014 12:00pm-12:59pm EDT

12:00 pm
largely forgotten. >> president ford pardoned former president nixon on september 8, 1974, one month after the only presidential resignation in american history. up next, on the presidency, author and history professor john robert greene considers two questions. why did gerald ford pardon richard nixon, and was there a deal between the two man? he discusses the days leading up to the pardon. and the 1974 address to the nation. mr. greene is the author of "the presidency of gerald r. ford." this hour-long event was hosted by the kansas city public library and the truman library institute. following the program, hear gerald ford's 10-minute speech here on american history tv.
12:01 pm
>> hello, and welcome to the kansas city public library. i am director of public affairs. i want to thank you in joining us for the latest iteration of our hail to the chief lecture series, co-chaired by our partners at the truman library institute, the foundation arm of the harry s truman presidential library and museum in independence. as many of you know, we here at the library just love to do programs commemorating anniversaries, and such is the case tonight. 40 years ago, well, technically, 39 years and 363 days ago, but work with me on this, gerald ford became the first, and to date the only, unelected president of the united states. at outcome that would have been beyond conception just two years earlier, when richard nixon was
12:02 pm
cruising to his landslide victory over george mcgovern. to tell us more about that and the administration that ensued, we have brought back for the third time dr. john robert greene, but you can call him bob, who, among many claims to fame, ranks as the first historian to perform a serious scholarly study of the ford administration. the first edition of his book was published some 19 years ago by the university press of kansas. it is still in print, i am happy to report, in its fourth printing. of course, being a pioneer has its disadvantages. bob reports that in the early days, he was often asked if his interest in the ford presidency was a function of the fact that all of the more interesting presidents had been taken. [laughter]
12:03 pm
thoughts of this nature do a disservice to bob's scholarship, let alone the subject of his inquiry. while ford is generally remembered as a man who helped to heal the nation after watergate, bob argues there is a lot more to the 38th president than a likable guy who did a credible job as a caretaker. locally, we should also recall it was here in kansas city in 1976 -- i have a feeling we will be commemorating that anniversary in about two years -- when gerald ford received the gop nomination in a close primary campaign against ronald reagan, so in the audience tonight with his wife sandy, a young city councilmember then, and he was at the white house with the fords to mark the
12:04 pm
commemoration of kansas city at the convention city, and another good friend of the library and also a city councilmember at the time who sported the most perfect afro ever worn by anyone in the history of hairstyles. bob greene, who also had a pretty good head of hair and makes me very jealous, is the professor of history and humanities at cazenovia college in new york. he has taught there for the past 35 years. he also serves as the college archivist, and he has written or edited 17 books, three of them the basis for talks here at the kansas city public library. george h.w. bush in 2012, betty ford in 2013, and gerald ford tonight. bob's book, "the presidency of gerald r ford," will be on sale following tonight's talk courtesy of k.u. bookstores, and
12:05 pm
so is his book of betty ford. you may notice a young man who kind of sort of has a passing resemblance to me. don't do a double take. it is for real. that would be my first-born son, soon to be a senior at the university of kansas and majoring in history, of all things. he is working his way through school, so by as many copies of "the presidency of gerald r. ford" as you can. bob will be happy to sign each and every one of them. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome bob greene. [laughter] >> thanks for having me. don't buy the book to put his kids through school. buy the book to put my kids through school. [laughter] henry, you are your usual
12:06 pm
gracious self with the introduction, but never have i been introduced to any audience as having a good head of hair, so -- [laughter] i look forward to coming back here each summer. i tell people around the country that this is one of the nicest venues, this auditorium and the people here, at kansas city public library, that i speak at all year long. i want to thank before i began the foundation, and i want to thank the harry s truman library, the institute, and i want to thank you, kansas city public library, and i have had a few laps this morning. i am from an upstate new york college, about 20 miles from syracuse, and i usually begin these talks by making fun of the snow record that we have. it is the snowiest place in the
12:07 pm
country, of course, i am told, and then i was watching your weather this past winter, and i was getting some bulletins about how bad the snow was, and you no longer have to feel sorry for me. i apparently have to feel sorry for you. you did not think of is going to start with them, did you? on august 8, 1974, the day before richard nixon resigned as president of the united states, after he had made his decision, after he had spoken to the american people, he went out into the rose garden, and as was usually the case in those days, he was followed closely by his secretary of state and director of national security, henry kissinger. nixon was, by all accounts, just
12:08 pm
simply drained of all energy. kissinger was physically and emotionally propping him up, because nixon was going to go back to the residence to relax before the next day's trip that the california, and kissinger, according to his memoirs and nixon's, was struggling for something to say that would block the president up, and kissinger said, mr. president, historians will be kind to you in the future. this was nixon's answer. i have been fortunate enough to write histories of nixon and bush, and tonight, of ford. their series on the presidency is one of the most vestiges places, and i am proud to be
12:09 pm
with them, and i am proud to have these books here for you. when you read them, if you have anything to say about them, please, by all means, e-mail me, and i will have an undergraduate student respond. [laughter] what i want to do tonight on president ford is, i guess, a little bit unorthodox. when i did president bush with you, what i try to do was to do a tour de force of everything that happened to president bush from the time he took office to the time that he left after bill clinton, and i want to contrast that tonight and then talk with you about what is the most often asked question of me about gerald ford. i have had the opportunity to interview president ford on a number of occasions. i worked with him on several
12:10 pm
occasions, and i want to try to answer that question for you tonight, but before we get to that question, let's kind of remind ourselves with this audience of literate, thoughtful experts, what happened during the ford years? the recession, the recession that began as a result of the vietnam war ending and the result of problems with richard nixon's raging price control policy, and gerald ford brings in alan greenspan as his head of his economic advisor panel, and greenspan talks ford along with other people into cutting taxes. domestic policy during the ford years was what i call in the book a series of brush fires around the country that ford and his staff were putting out
12:11 pm
almost in a crisis mode all through the administration. the troublesome nomination of nelson rockefeller as vice president of the united states. there are many people who believe that it was that nomination that cost for the election in 1976 because he had to change from nelson rockefeller to bob dole. the crisis in boston, the explosion after the decision in north carolina saying bussing was not only constitutional but could be mandated by the state, and the blood in the streets, and a little bit closer to home, ford's decision to go out of new york city, which led hugh carey to give this wonderful interview that led to this particular headlines, one of the most famous headlines of the ford presidency. lesser-known but no more important, the explosion at the
12:12 pm
cia, the leak of a document called the family jewels, which led to the public announcement that the cia had spy domestically, that the kennedy administration had tried to assassinate castro, and it went through the complete overhaul of the cia, which led to president ford bringing george bush and as the c.i.a. director. that is a hat. i know this story about why this hat is on president ford's head, but president ford did not want to wear it. this was at the moscow summit, and it was the changing motif of detente. ford had inherited detente from richard nixon, but he had trouble with human rights and
12:13 pm
others, and when ford left office, jimmy carter was bequeathed with a foreign-policy with the soviet union that made us take back a few steps. world events did not help that relationship any. and, again, these are inherited problems. many of the problems that gerald ford had to deal with was given to him by richard nixon, not the least of which was the need to evacuate saigon in the spring of 1975, and in another famous and unfortunate photograph, making it look as if the ambassadorial staff from saigon is literally pushing people out of the way, and it was a difficult situation. the vietnamese themselves cost the running, and the taking of a boat outside of a harbor in
12:14 pm
cambodia, where ford decided only weeks after the fall of saigon to send in marines to retrieve the sailors. while for did that and did retrieve them, there was a loss of marine life that exceeded the number of sailors who were on the boat, and some critics said that ford was doing it simply to look tough, but then there was this other side. this is the first day of the presidency of gerald ford. as he leaves his home in alexandria, virginia, saying goodbye to the mrs., wearing a ball cap -- i never saw president ford without a ball cap -- leaving for the white house.
12:15 pm
he is the everyday guy. the fact that this was contrasted in the press to the rather stiff and stayed nixon family, but the flip side of this was what "saturday night live" did to him, and the perception, and president ford did say this was the most fun thing he ever got to do, getting to trip chevy chase at the gerald ford library, the perception that there was something less than intellectually strong about gerald ford, that he was a bit of a klutz. he could not have been anything other than the truth. george played this up. the staff kind of liked this, because it made ford looked ordinary, but then chevy chase came out with his devastating parody of ford, and it became a bit of a problem as ford moved into the 1976 election.
12:16 pm
that, i am sure that mayor berkley was at the 1976 convention, in the upper right-hand corner, and i chose the picture specifically, not president ford accepting the nomination, but ronald reagan, brought down from this stands, commenting on gerald ford's nomination. the torch was literally passed there. i firmly believe that gerald ford lost the 1976 election here in kansas city, because it was so close in that race with ronald reagan. and whether he allowed him to do it, jimmy carter was given the opportunity to beat gerald ford over the morality and the nixon and ford administrations, and ford lost a very close election. so we can all go home now, that is the entirety of the gerald ford administration, except for one thing.
12:17 pm
what did i leave out? that is what i want to spend the rest of our time. the two most often asked questions of me of gerald ford, was there a deal, and why did he do it? why did he pardon richard nixon? because henry, in his gracious opening, reminds us that the ford administration celebrating its 40th anniversary in just a few days, here as we are recording this in the summer of 2014, one month to the day after ford takes office, he pardons richard nixon. maybe an even more important anniversary to remember. let's look at these two
12:18 pm
questions, and i want to first talk about the question of whether or not there was a deal between richard nixon and gerald ford or anybody on ford's staff to give richard nixon a pardon after ford took office. to do this, we have to go back to the first of august, 1974. it is days after the supreme court has made its decision that nixon must release all of the tapes, not his transcripts of the tapes, not his edited versions of the tapes, but must give all of the tapes over to the special prosecutor and to federal judge johnson sirica, and ford goes over, and haig is surprised that ford brings bob hartmann, a good friend of vice president ford's.
12:19 pm
he was brought into this meeting, not just because bob went to every meeting, he did, with vice president ford, but because ford knew that something was up, and he needed a witness. haig tells ford in this visit, though he did not want hartmann there, haig tells ford that what is going to happen in the next 24 hours could possibly be the tipping point in the nixon presidency. he doesn't give his hands out. haig knows that they are going to come to the white house. haig absolutely knows that the
12:20 pm
tapes are going to come to the white house. but ford thought that haig was holding something back, and he talked to hartmann on the way out, and he said, "well, i have kind of heard this before. no great comment. i'm going to keep my speeches today," and hartmann goes to his office. ford then gets another phone call from al haig, and he said, "mr. ford, i need to see you, and you cannot bring bob hartmann with you." ford goes back to haig's office, and haig shares with gerald ford the contents of the smoking-gun conversation, from 1972, where richard nixon tells bob haldeman on the tape, another story, tells bob haldeman on tape that he is to stop the cia investigation of watergate. it is an obstruction of justice, and nixon was guilty of it. end of that story.
12:21 pm
ford sees the transcript and knows that nixon has to resign. both haig and ford know it, and haig says, "mr. vice president, are you willing and able to take over the office of presidency of the united states at a moment's notice," and ford said, "yes, i am," and then haig said, "but wait a minute. i am prepared to talk to you about a list of options. these options can take place if you choose to as president. one of them is," as haig says to ford, "the option of pardoning the president." ford does nothing. in fact, he leaves haig with the feeling that perhaps he is considering it. he leaves the meeting and goes
12:22 pm
to see bob hartmann again, and hartmann goes ballistic. he says, "you should have grabbed haig and thrown him out of the office." who told you? and he says, "i got this from a white house lawyer that that option is there," and that there was a lawyer in the white house, and then they remembered that richard nixon was a lawyer, and ford says, "yes, maybe i left him with the wrong impression," and hartmann says, "what you have to do is call jack marsh", a former congressman, and he would become secretary of the army. ford meets with marsh, marsh hears the story, and marsh immediately understands the gravity of the situation. he has left richard nixon believing that there could be a
12:23 pm
pardon, and they wanted to get the troops together. "i want you to talk to hartmann again," and one of nixon's closest advisors who is still working in the white house, and they both tell ford, "you can't leave this this way." this becomes important. they are all three in the room. ford picks up the phone and called al haig and says, and i am paraphrasing here, i am under no obligation to consider a pardon, and haig said, "i understand." that is going right back to the oval office. this is what gerald ford told me.
12:24 pm
this is what gerald ford said to an investigating committee, when ford becomes the first president since abraham lincoln to allow himself to go to congress to testify. the evidence shows that this is absolutely true, that there was no deal. but he did pardon richard nixon. he pardoned him on september 9, 1974. the pardon was full. the pardon was absolute, and, as you will see in a moment, the real story of the pardon was that it was before indictment, before richard nixon had actually been indicted of a crime. richard nixon was pardoned for crimes he had not been charged with yet, so the question is
12:25 pm
why, and to get to that question, it is even more difficult to explain than the deal with the pardon. you have to look back to president ford's inaugural address, one of the shortest inaugural addresses on record, and i am of the opinion that the shorter the inaugural address, the better, and i believe that the shorter the address from an academic, the better. there was only one problem. it wasn't true. the long national nightmare was far from over, and gerald ford knew it. there wasn't anything that was going to happen magically, just simply by the fact that he moved into the white house and richard nixon moved out, because it wasn't just watergate. it was vietnam, and it was two decades of lying on the part of the federal government to the
12:26 pm
american people. it was just beginning to come out. how do you fix that? from the first moment of the ford presidency, ford is besieged by his advisers, particularly henry kissinger, who for almost a month takes every opportunity with the president to bring it up. he is the siege to with requests to pardon richard nixon. ford endures these because what he has done is he has kept almost intact richard nixon's cabinet and richard nixon's close staff. he said to me at one point in time, why did you fire henry kissinger, just a name that came to me from nowhere, and you said, you know, when you are flying a plane, it doesn't really make much sense to shoot the pilot.
12:27 pm
they were just getting their feet on the ground, and here were all of these nixon loyalist saying to him, you have to pardon the president. their original logic was let's put the nightmare behind us, but then it started getting personal. towards the middle of august, ford started getting reports from san clemente that richard nixon was ill. nixon, as i am sure many of you know, at almost debilitating phlebitis, and this is a photograph of him later on. i think probably judging from the photograph it is probably the late 1970's, early 1980's, going for one of his many operations for phlebitis, and one of the people who went out to see nixon at san clemente right after the resignation comes back and reports to ford, and he says, you know, this president is going to be dead before the election.
12:28 pm
and ford says 1976 is a long way off, and he is saying, 1976 is a long way off, and he says, i am not talking 1976. i am talking 1974. so ford is having these conversations. having written about gerald ford, having read material at the ford library, i can say that -- having met him on a number of occasions, i can say with absolute certainty that he was a good guy, that it was not for show. that he truly cared, that he was what you saw, but that is not why he pardoned richard nixon. he did not pardon richard nixon because he felt sorry for him. he was putting these people off. he pardoned richard nixon because a something that happened on august 28, 1974. ford had been putting off having
12:29 pm
a full press conference. he did not want to meet the press until he had gotten his feet on the ground a little bit more and until he had had an opportunity to talk with all of his close advisers, etc., so he goes out in front of the press, and the first question is about whether he is going to pardon richard nixon. if you watch this tape back, forward it looks genuinely stunned, like what? and he goes through sort of a prepared answer, and then he turns to tom brokaw, and it is clear in ford's mind that he thinks he is going to a safe reporter. brokaw's question is on the pardon, and ford now looks genuinely angry. 32 questions were asked in that press conference, and 28 of them were on the pardon, and the last one was from linda wertheimer,
12:30 pm
and she just cuts through everything and says, do you intend to leave the option open to pardon richard nixon, and ford stepped right in it, and he said, i am president. i have that option. it is true, the constitution gives them the option, and is the headline the next day? gerald ford is probably going to pardon richard nixon. he is leaving the option open. ford is steaming. like how can i possibly get rid of this albatross? what can i do -- do you like this? what can i do to get rid of the ghost of richard nixon, the ghost of richard nixon past? what can i do to get rid of this? the people around ford were genuinely caught off guard by the press.
12:31 pm
they saw it as an attack. ford calls in that afternoon his absolute closest advisor, phil buchen. >> phil buchen. they were in law practice. probably ford's closest professional and personal friend. phil immediately came into the white house as white house counsel. he says, "you have got to pardon him." and ford tells him, "you have got to figure this out," and he charges buchen with looking into the nuts and bolts of how a pardon might happen. buchen says, we have got to talk to everyone, and in august, 40 found out his then closest aides, bob hartmann, henry kissinger, al haig, philip buchen, and jack marsh.
12:32 pm
on august 29 in the morning, ford says, "i am thinking about it. go home and tell me tomorrow what your recommendations are." the next day on the 30th, they reconvened. kissinger and al haig, not surprisingly, said, "do it now." hartmann and buchen, "why now? he hasn't been charged with a crime. how can you constitutionally pardon someone who has not been charged with anything?" and jack marsh says, "do you really think this is the right thing to do?" and ford said, "a thousand angels dancing on the head of a pin could not convince me it was right as long as i thought it was right."
12:33 pm
and they all shook their heads. he had his consensus. he was going to pardon richard nixon. and then the question was how and when. one of the key players in what was going to happen for the next 48 hours was benton becker. becker did some work for ford when he was majority leader, was close to fill buchen. buchen says, "you have to look to see if it is legal for president of the united states to pardon before indictment." becker did not need to be told what this was all about.
12:34 pm
he goes home for the weekend, and then he writes the thickest memo i have ever read in a presidential library. he gets to the end and essentially says, "you can do it. there is no limit to the presidential pardoning power. you can wait until they are convicted, you can do it in mid-trial, you can do it before indictment, you can do it whenever you want." but there is a small matter that needed to be negotiated with richard nixon before nixon would accept a pardon, because that is the next stage of this. ford has now been told he can pardon him. his aides are saying, "yes, ok. but will nixon accept it?" nixon would not accept a pardon from gerald ford without a deal that took care of his papers and tapes. now, i have heard stories from people in the white house, both the ford and the nixon white house, that relate to this physical nightmare that gerald ford inherited, the papers and
12:35 pm
tapes of richard nixon, which were stored in closets, under stairwells. the famous white house tapes were apparently kept under a series of white house staircases and were in the very real process of deteriorating, plus they are a nightmare of legal nonsense. suppose richard nixon is charged with some sort of a crime, and suppose that leon jaworski decides he is going to subpoena some of these tapes from the white house? then it is gerald ford's decision whether the spiral -- special prosecutor gets the tapes. this nightmare is just not going to go away. ford's inclination is to put it all in a truck and said it out
12:36 pm
to san clemente. at that point in time, it was the legal understanding that the papers were the president's personal property. that is no longer the case. post ronald reagan, the papers of the american president is the property of the american people, stored in archives, and those of the harry truman were his physical property to do with as he wished, and the same with richard nixon, but then there is the legal issues, and so what was negotiated between bukin, becker, and jack miller, one of nixon's lawyers, was a very complex deal. the deal would give richard nixon, if he accepts the pardon -- a lot of people do not understand this, getting richard nixon to accept it, and then the federal government will keep one set of keys on the papers, and nixon will keep one set of keys on the papers, and i would have to go back to my book and look at all of the details, but it was very, very complex, but they come to ford and say, ok, we
12:37 pm
have got a deal, and then ford dropped a bombshell. no deal. i want him to say he is sorry. kissinger looks at him and says, you will never get it. ford says to becker, that is part of the deal. and becker, who i interviewed, said, he was going on this plane, "i have to go tell the president of the united states he has to apologize for watergate," and he gets out to san clemente, and jack miller and becker are met at the door by ron ziegler, and ziegler, who just recently passed away, was nixon's press secretary for the
12:38 pm
entirety of the nixon administration, a very young man, passed away at a young age, he meets them at the door and opens the door, and before they say anything, he says, "this president will not say he is sorry for anything." there is only one way that ziegler knows this. someone in the white house has told them. i have some suspicions, but they are just as good as yours. we do not know who tipped that hand, but it through becker and miller for a loop. by the time they were done negotiating, by the time they were done talking with ziegler, who represented nixon there, nixon did not sit down and physically negotiate the acceptance of the pardon, nixon had gotten everything that he wanted. he got virtually complete control of the papers, and he was not being required to say anything even close to an act of contrition to the american people. when nixon finally does meet with becker and miller, he comes into the office at san clemente, and becker says, "mr. president," and nixon fumbles in
12:39 pm
his top desk drawer and finally comes up with a set of presidential cufflinks, and i think he said to becker, "i think these are probably the last ones of these," and becker leaves, thinking one of two things. one, within 24 hours, the man was going to be pardoned, and two, richard nixon had gotten it the way he wanted to get it. there was one last thing before ford was going to announce the pardon. ford wanted to make absolutely certain that in the next 48 hours leon jaworski was not going to charge richard nixon with a crime. the special prosecutor, which had been set up to investigate watergate, and you may remember archibald cox, nixon firing the special prosecutor, then the appointment of bob, and a friend of george bush, leon jaworski,
12:40 pm
and another at the time of nixon's resignation was this close to indicting richard nixon for obstruction of justice. the house of representatives and the senate had already voted articles of impeachment. had nixon not resigned within the space of a week, there would have been a set-up for an impeachment trial, and jaworski was going to throw the hail mary pass and charge the president of the united states with obstruction of justice.
12:41 pm
now, there would be no more impeachment hearings, of course, but richard nixon is a citizen of the united states. there is nothing to stop to roar from charging him with that crime. he has a physical piece of evidence, a tape recording, that shows that nixon was clearly guilty of that crime. ford did not want him to be charged with that crime. if there was a deal in the pardon, and i submit to you there was, it wasn't between nixon and ford. it was between phil buchen, acting for ford, and leon jaworski. jaworski was, and somehow, and he was very vague about this, he agreed not to indict richard nixon. one month to the day after richard nixon resigned from the
12:42 pm
presidency and gerald ford takes over, gerald ford gives a very short, taped address. it was not delivered live from the oval office. it was taped. on a sunday morning, where they thought that the news cycle would not pick it up. a full pardon for crimes that were committed or may have been committed between a specific period of time, a full presidential pardon. nixon responds to that pardon without any act of contrition.
12:43 pm
it becomes almost too easy to say that the ford presidency went downhill from there. that is just simply not true. it is debatable whether or not the ford presidency cost for the election in 1976. i argue in this very good book that is for sale out here in the hall to put henry's and my kids through school, this outstanding book argued that it was only one part of the 1976 election. but not a lot of people felt like this kid in 1974. they weren't willing to give for the benefit of the doubt. to say that all hell broke loose is an understatement. ford was immediately excoriated
12:44 pm
for the deal. of course, there had to be a deal. at that point in time until just the past couple of months, the american presidency was polling at its lowest point ever. not nixon, not ford, but the american presidency was polling at its lowest ever. vietnam was dragging it down. watergate was dragging it down. of course, there had to be a deal, and the democrats were just sitting there going, let me at him. within the space of two months, 12 democrats had announced for the presidency, including an unknown governor of georgia who appeared on "what's my line?" the tv show, and nobody knew who he was. and he is the guy who is going to win. the explosion of anger after.
12:45 pm
he went from being an average guy to being an average president overnight. also something that needs to be remembered, it wasn't ford's only pardon. immediately after the pardon of richard nixon, ford is faced with another set of pardons that blends together with the issue of the pardon of nixon, and that was the issue of clemency for draft dodgers and draft evaders. ford sets up a clemency board under his good friend charlie did dell from new york to hear every single case one at a time. some went to prison, some were given amnesty, some were given a work related release. it was not as it was portrayed by that wonderfully unbiased paper in the east, the "new york times" as freedom for all draft evaders, but it mixed together with the issue of ford's pardon
12:46 pm
of nixon, and they both kind of played off against each other. it is not surprising to me that the "times" and other papers blended the two together. but then, fast-forward. fast-forward to 2001. we see the pardon completely differently. if this is not an odd couple, i do not know what is -- when ford gets the profile of courage award from the john f. kennedy foundation for his pardon of richard nixon. now, i submit to you that while ford deserved as a man of honor and a man who was almost killed in world war ii, almost blown off by a tycoon of his aircraft carrier, a man who served his country honorably, deserves to be courageous, but that is not
12:47 pm
what the pardon was all about. the pardon was to clean his desk so he could have the ford administration that he wanted. he wanted to get rid of that, and he is being honored something here that i think is true to his character but not true to the incident. gerald ford said to me, when i asked him what was the most important thing you want to be remembered for as president of the united states, he did not even bat an eye. he said, "if i am remembered for anything, i want to be remembered for healing this land." depending on how you view the pardon, i will leave it up to you as to whether or not president ford did what he wanted to do. i thank you, and --
12:48 pm
[applause] thank you. >> that was great, bob, and you can come to the microphone, and bob will answer questions in the back and forth. >> good evening. >> surrounded by all of these aids that they were that tone deaf to the response to the pardon? how could they not have anticipated that? >> because you have to remember that the people who were around ford at the time were a mix of his aides and nixon aides, and he was getting a blizzard, if you will, almost in a blender of advice, and the nixon aides were saying, "don't worry about it," or the nixon aides were saying, "go ahead and do it," and the ford aides were saying, "you got
12:49 pm
to hold back," so it happened too soon. i mean, i might be well served by saying this, i think he should have waited. he should have waited a year. let nixon be charged and then pardoned, and he would not have given reagan anywhere near the ammunition that he did. >> can i change gears here? >> by all means. it is your library. two of the things i remember ford for, and people do, in terms of gaffes, the statement in the debate, not being nominated by the soviet union, and not to say it is on the same level, but the buttons that they used to wear. did you ever talk to him about that? >> absently. first of all, i saw a tape at the ford library where he practiced the line, and he knew
12:50 pm
he was going to get a question on poland, and he knew he was going to get a question on the occupation of eastern europe, and what ford wanted to say but mangled it was we do not believe that the presence of the soviet union in poland is legitimate. what he said was exactly what you said. they aren't there, and max frankel of the times just does one of these. what? and he turns to pauline frederick, who is the moderator, and says, can i follow up? and that was not in the deal. they were not supposed to follow up. and carter says, wait a minute. they think they are pulling a fast one, but what ford does in
12:51 pm
the follow-up hands carter a gift, and he says it again, the same thing, and carter comes back, he says, "i would like to see you tell the polish people that they are not there." with inflation now and the wind buttons, ford wanted to try something like the nra, the blue eagle. this is the literature that is around this and the memos he was getting. do something so people can feel they are participating, because, mr. president, the economy stinks, and we do not know how to fix it, so let's let everyone believed that it has happened, and it was ill-conceived. the big moment, of course, was when george harrison of the beatles goes to white house and poses with ford and billy preston, who was like the fifth beatle, and they are wearing wind buttons, and ford is standing there, i have got to get away from this picture, i have got to get away from this picture, and both of those moments were foolish, and you are right to bring them up. yes, sir. >> one was in the newspaper, september 10, after the pardon, there is a reference to alexander haig, and then after that, alexander haig with nato, and then the other one you mentioned was that george bush and leon jaworski had a relationship, and i wonder how
12:52 pm
those things played out. >> i do not know, but because of texas politics and houston politics, they knew each other, and i have seen correspondence, most of it not germane, at the bush library. as far as alexander haig being farmed out to nato, ford, too late, decides he has to have his own administration and starts moving out the members of the nixon administration. who do we get in? we get in as chief of staff the former congressman from illinois, donald rumsfeld, who brings in with him a completely unknown kid from wyoming as his assistant chief of staff, dick cheney. you have got ford being brought in at the cia. by the way, they call it "the ford foundation," because so many of these people are going
12:53 pm
to go and work in some shape or form for ronald reagan or george bush, and they learned their craft under president ford. >> i appreciate that. >> thank you. yes. >> spiro agnew has to resign. >> indeed, he did. >> who championed jerry ford to be vice president? >> excellent question, because the list is actually very long. the first person who championed him was melvin laird, who was a congressman from michigan and nixon's secretary of defense. he knew jerry ford very well, and, by the way, this entire list, everything they say to nixon is the same thing. he will be confirmed, because nixon does not want ford. he wants john connally. nixon wants john connally, who is the secretary of the treasury, and who had split from the democratic party. nixon feels a kinship with connally, and he wants connally to run in 1976. everyone is coming to him and his saying, john connally because of the scandal, because
12:54 pm
he is john connally, cannot be confirmed. jerry ford is liked by everyone. he will stay through. charles did dell says so. i also saw literature where nixon told, i believe, nelson rockefeller and some other people who you would not think to be supporters of richard nixon, but the net was cast widely. everyone comes back with jerry ford, but who is number two? george bush. it wasn't his time yet. thank you. >> final question, bob. not part of the ford administration, but part of the ford story, that sort of weird moment at the 1980 republican convention where the was a brief moment when ford might have become reagan's vice presidential running mate, but
12:55 pm
he wanted to run half of the cabinet or something. what was that about? >> ronald reagan had gone through was a very bruising primary, and the second -- the runner-up was george bush. that nancy reagan did not like george bush. nancy reagan did not like the fact that he had coined the term voodoo economics. bush had gotten out of the race in time. he had gotten out of the race, so he was not holding on like pat buchanan and some other people, but there was a bad taste in the reagan people's mouths about george bush. they thought he was too moderate and that he would not be a good match. reagan himself comes up with the idea, along with kissinger, who is in reagan's ear, about
12:56 pm
bringing ford in. there is nothing that prohibits gerald ford from coming in. he can be elected vice president as many times as he wants. the constitution does not say, so the negotiations go through between henry kissinger, brent scowcroft, i believe, and the reagan team, and they are this close. reagan is about to drop this bombshell, and ford goes on up into the skybox in detroit, and he talks to walter cronkite. cronkite has got pieces of the story, and he says, "are you a candidate for the vice presidency," and ford goes on for about two minutes without saying the word no. reagan is looking at this on television and goes crazy. he feels he has been betrayed.
12:57 pm
when he really says is this just shows that a co-presidency will not work, that jerry ford is not going to be that kind of a team player, and reagan turns to another and says to bush. >> now, someone who was close to those people in those days said to me that ford actually knew what he was doing, that, in fact, i do not want to say committed suicide, but that he did that so that reagan would, in fact, choose bush. >> i don't know that for a fact. one thing that would argue against that, henry, is that there is plenty of evidence to show that ford wanted to run for president again in 1980, particularly if you is going to run against carter, because come are a member, harder is almost mortally wounded because of the iran-contra crisis. whatever democrats thought they could eat jimmy carter in 1980, and ford figures, let me have these guys beat each other up, have him bloody ronald reagan up, and i have taken on ronnie reagan before, i can do this, but instead of getting him at
12:58 pm
the primaries, where he is so good on the stump, i am going to go right to the primary and take it from him there. that is where my knowledge of the story falls off, when he decided not to do it, whether reagan and bush did, taking it off by offering him the vice presidency, but ford walked away from that, and that is the end of his public career. >> bob, thank you again. their time is a charm. thank you. >> thank you all, very, very much. [applause] >> these are for sale, and we appreciate it. >> $150 apiece. [laughter] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]

17 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on