tv The Presidency Candidate George W. Bush CSPAN December 2, 2018 8:55am-10:01am EST
our staff recently traveled to riverside, california. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> the texas tribune festival brought together former campaign aides from george w. bush's runs for governor and president to talk about the candidate, his political strategies, and the behind-the-scenes efforts that led to his successful elections. speakers include chromatin and an dan bartlett as well as margaret spellings. the program opens with a brief discussion about the nomination hearings for now u.s. supreme court justice brett kavanaugh. this is an hour. >>a >> i am the executive editor of the texas tribune. i would like to welcome you to the eighth festival. it is hard to believe that we have done it eight times. this is sponsored by encore.
although -- although corporate sponsors underwrite the event, they play no role in determining the panel's content or line of questioning. we will include a 15 to 20 minute q&a at the end. good luck with that. silence your phones. if you are going to tweet, the # is tribest2018. this is going to refund three of be fun.this is going to there is nothing going on in the news. we're struggling to look at things to talk about. mark mckinnon is the one with the hat. he has served as a commentator and advisor for numerous companies and candidates, including a former texas
governor and former president george w. bush. he is cofounder of no labels, and organization dedicated to promoting bipartisanship in politics. karl rove served as deputy chief of staff. and senior advisor. you can clap. [applause] my wife platform it. -- my wife clapped for me. he has served as a political strategist since the 1994 bush gubernatorial campaign. he is the cofounder of american crossroads, a conservative superpac. he is a contributor to fox news and the wall street journal, so he is a member of the mainstream media. >> emphasis on mainstream. >> wall street journal? >> dan bartlett has served as deputy vice president since 2013, overseeing government relations and social responsibility initiatives.
he was previously the president and ceo of hill and nolton strategies. he served as counselor to george w. bush, working on strategic communications. and margaret spellings. currently serves as president -- [applause] >> she got more applause than karl did. she is currently the president of the university of north carolina system. i am advised that is upside down. here, that would be a chancellor. she is the boss of bosses. she previously served as president of the george w. bush presidential center. that is a mouthful. overseeing economic growth and health initiatives. she served as secretary of education under president bush. senior advisor during the tenure as governor. that is our panel. so, i want to start with the news today. we will go through this quickly
because you guys all worked with brett kavanaugh in some form or fashion in the white house. the question for you is, how do you keep this from happening? if you're in the white house, how do you not get the dumpster fire? you had the opportunity sometimes, surely. anybody can jump at this. >> this is unprecedented. normally, if a member of the senate judiciary committee received a letter, worthy of further investigation, they would have turned it over to the committee investigators because there is a strong history, they have a strong investigatory staff that operates in a bipartisan fashion. these people are chosen by the majority and minority but they remain there for years. at minimum, you would have turned it over to them. or if it was of a higher level, it would have been turned over to the fbi. so the fact that dianne
feinstein sat on this for 60 days until after the nomination and just before -- in fact after the hearing is something that we have not seen before. no white house can prepare for this. if you have a member of the senate who is willing to sabotage the process as badly as she did. mark: well, i interviewed a friend of mine, john kennedy from louisiana. i was trying to make a decision about what to do when i left after karl beat us. i was try to figure out what to do with my life, and i mentor said, if you think you know anything that politics, go to louisiana and get your phd. i did and i worked for a guy named john kennedy who became part of the administration. i interviewed him last week for the circus.
the significant point for me, we cannot think more highly about brett kavanaugh. by the way, we think you'll be a great justice. i told my democratic friends give me 10 years and you will agree with me. he is going to be justice you would be very proud and very happy that he is there. if he goes down, watch out what comes after him. donald trump is not going to put down a moderate. it will be a hard right ideological candidate that will be confirmed. the one thing i said to senator kennedy he kept saying to me, i , want the facts. i said wouldn't an fbi , investigation give you more facts? for his reputation, they should have done an fbi investigation. they did it for anita hill. the notion that you want the facts but you resist an investigation does not make
sense to me and sends all the wrong signals. now we have a development were jeff flake has said there has to be an fbi investigation. just flip this over to you because this is what you thought as well, right, dan? dan: you want to control your own destiny. my fear was that would not be the case. i felt like this was going to be difficult to sustain. as mark said, we had the opportunity to help assure two supreme court justices. the process you go through to prepare for this is intense. the amount of rigor that goes into the background, the candidate and the preparation. having a little glimpse of it. i probably spent more time that -- with him than anyone else. brett is a very close friend. i say that with anybody, this has been a sad day for our country.
on both sides, to see it in what we are witnessing today. i think the biggest fear is, who will put their hat in the ring going forward when you see a situation like this? it is hard for us to think that we will see this in the future, a dearth of well-qualified people wanting to step up. one of the most powerful moments from him was when his 10-year-old girl was saying a prayer for dr. ford. i never dreamed it would escalate to where we are today. >> you don't think the politics of this were foreseeable >> you are putting this together in the white house. you know what the senate is like. don't you forsee that we are walking into a minefield? >> you assume people will respect the fundamental rules. if there is a serious question about the character or conduct of the nominee that there will
be a referral to the investigators of the fbi when that information is received, not two months after it was received. 94% of republicans voted for ruth bader ginsburg. 74% voted for stephen breyer. harry reid intruded into the process and we had 50% of democrats vote for roberts and 10% vote for alito. >> merrick garland karl: oh, fine. my point is this. we have been set down a path where both parties are now at each other's throats. that is what i put in my column, that the republicans better not aid the procedures of the democrats because it is our country that is being trashed by this. i do not care if you are republican or democrat. this process stinks. i would not -- here's a guy brett kavanaugh, whom we all , know, brilliant, great
integrity and he chose a life of public service rather than to cash in at some big law firm. how many people will say yes, i will subject myself to this kind of use -- kind of abuse. he has undergone seven fbi investigations and not a single hint of this kind of crap. now we get here, if anybody thinks that the things that we have on the table now are the only three by the end of the next week when the fbi investigation is over, you're kidding yourself. more trash will be coming out of the ether. >> we all went through fbi checks to get in the white house they call your high school friends. they call the friends of the friends of the friends. margaret: i think it is heartbreaking to watch two individuals with their lives being destroyed.
they will be known in the obituary as that person. it is a sad day for our country when people like brett cavanaugh, who worked their butts off with 30 years of public service, one of the most stellar colleagues we ever had and his life is ruined. i hope he can keep his family together and move on, no matter what. bad day. got --ou think he will get on the supreme court? >> i do. >> the fbi was the only hammer holding things -- i think if the vote went through today, it will just give more balance for those people. it will just be more he said she said. who knows? we will see. >> more accusations will come flying out now that we have another week. >> to that point, what you have to do is say -- and the door shut on this day.
>> he said to limit the duration and scope. he was clear. he wanted the current allegations. we have ramirez as and the 10 gang rape parties to be considered by the fbi. i thought that was a good move on his part. i'm not going to question his motives. out of all those people on the committee, he is the most interested in arriving at something that repairs the reputation, that restores something to the process. >> it is not fair to have the candidate trying to defend the committee prerogatives when he is a victim in the process. >> we will go back to where we were going to start before all of these hearings. texas is now in year 25 of the --ublican and gemini --'s hegemony.
republicans have not lost the state election in texas cents 1994. sense -- since this started 1994. in some ways before the george w. bush campaign, but it really began its run there. some democrats won in 1994 and nobody won after that except for the republicans. did you see the state shifting? this was a moment of luck. would any candidate have made it? was the state just changing like that or was it this candidate? margaret: george bush was successful as governor and president because he was a compassionate conservative. remember that? remember when republicans could be for free trade and family reunification? no child left behind? all those sorts of things that people could get around together. karl probably disagrees.
it was more of the centrist vision that government is necessary, but not necessarily government. it was broadly applicable and appealing to the folks. we have lost that along the way. karl: i think it is broader than that. we have got two different things were talking about. we are talking about texas and the compassionate conservatives. karen hughes was the reflector of the phrase, but the phrase began when bush, talked about i am a conservative with a heart. that is different than what is going on nationwide. nationwide both political , parties are being disrupted. today, not back then. today, we are in a period, for the last 8, 10, 12 years, populism has been flowing
through the political system in america as it has for most western democracies and being felt on the left and right. part of it in reaction to the financial crisis and partly in response to other things. both political parties are disrupted from top to bottom, nationally. >> i think i am a pretty good surrogate for a lot of what happened in texas, which is, i had not only been a democrat, but worked in democratic politics. i was at a point in my life where i was paying more taxes, feeling a little more conservative. before that time, texas was a two-party state. there really was no republican party. george bush came to this compassionate conservative idea,
i was like, that is what i am. i remember he was talking about immigration and education and issues that were compelling to me. there were a lot of us that crossed the bridge at that time because it was a compelling idea and vision. we had not had that alternative. when he came to town, that is why a lot of us signed up. >> why were the democrats leaving? why were they leaving where they had been? >> if lloyd bensen had showed up in 1996, he would have been republican, i think. >> this started before bush. this starts 20 years before bush and it begins with the urbanization of texas, in migration from around the country, then along comes bill clements. the '78 victory is an accident. he takes advantage of it and
credentials a lot of people and begins to develop in east texas and then central texas. then we have a series of leaders. ronald reagan and george h.w. bush. in 1980, we forget this. in 1980, the new york times had 10 battleground states. texas was one of those battleground states. the race was considered to be right up for grabs right up until the end. this was a movement that took place over a number of decades. bush, in my opinion, he stand it ofhastened it because the kind of campaign he ran and the governing that he did were enormously attractive. margaret: with two democrats. karl: he came into office and developed a close working relationship with two very tough, hard to deal with, but very smart democrats who cared about texas. when the young governor, baseball boy from dallas proved
to both of them that he had the smarts, a vision and a willingness to work hard, that helped bring about a lot of positive changes that reinforced his message. >> so we had plenty of partisans back in the 90s. >> margaret: you were one of them. >> i was not. i was in the mainstream media. why wasn't this blowing up? why were they able to cross over as they are not able to cross over now? there is something different about this period. >> the climate in which their operating is different. one of the things that i think has always helped, it is a part-time legislature, so you only have 140 days to get things done. there is an animal and it works to drive consensus that you do not see in april -- in a progress or gnome -- in a system like in washington.
let's be honest. the civic partisanship that we see on the national stage is largely driven. you have a situation where more members of congress wake up every day worried about a primary opponent, it is a fundamental issue that we have to address. secondly, the thing about technology you would hope that , the proliferation of technology would make us -- it us much more efficient to get information to reinforce our views. the hyper charged the environment. you're not only worried about your district. there are people in russia or elsewhere that can engage in the election. the technology has lit this on fire. >> margaret, you came up through the texas house working on education bills. at what point did you switch? i did work for bill haley. i think what we are missing now
is politics and policy. you have to be about an idea. what is our idea today? we do not have that. you said it all the time. good policy makes good politics. i do not know what good policy is anymore. or what republican orthodoxy is or democrat orthodoxy is. i think our challenge is to define those first principles that unite us. they are missing. >> what drives politics now? if an idea used to drive politics or policies to drive politics, what do you tell a staff? ideas still drive policy and politics, but to margaret's there used to be a consensus point, broadly within the national parties of what the ideas were. there used to be -- but there is not any more. it is impossible to be a free trade pro-business democrat with -- in a party with bernie sanders and medicare for all and
guaranteed universal jobs. there are things going on. what is a republican when you have bush, trump, republicans and the freedom caucus? this is going to sort itself out. the party that gets its act together first is more likely to dominate american politics for some period of time. >> free trade is what drew me towards the republican party. >> because the democrats were against nafta? >> we should see it in the white house. i remember the colombian free-trade bill. era was a founding area -- from a standpoint of economic impact. it was a foreign-policy issue. we were trying -- [laughter]
>> just kidding. >> we would bring in people, free trade democrats and they would say if i vote for this, i will get a primary opponent from the left, from the labor unions. then the same thing on immigration reform. republicans would work for it, but they would get a primary opponent. >> gerrymandering got much worse. >> it is not a new concept. the power of the microchip has perfected it. i must admit i am worried. , i do not like this either, but there is no good answer. we have commissions in california and arizona. after the first commission redistricting and -- in california the democrats went , out and said here is how we jimmied the process to get more democrats than we would have gotten.
if you use the test of efficiency, the share of the votes that go to republican candidates ought to reflect the share of their congressional delegation. california gerrymandered against the republicans. only one state in the union has been able to pull of the commission and make it work so that you have reasonably competitive districts that are not gerrymandered to the advantage of one party or another. that is iowa. i'm convinced it is because they are pleasant midwesterners. they get all the bad stuff out in the caucuses so that the rest of the other three years they , can be nice, pleasant and fair. otherwise, it does not work. >> you were in a weird position before you joined bush. was the difference in those two years politically just the republican candidate? >> a lot of us that were covering that 1990 race amateurs
, won the race. the states thought had in some ways -- was already pretty purple at that point and was ready for a republican to win if he had not screwed that up. >> that is exactly right. it really started earlier than george w. bush. and richards had no right winning that race on the basic demographics of where the state was at the time. as you recall, williams, before he tanked, how much was up? >> he was up double digits in september. >> he made some catastrophic errors and clawed his way to the bottom. any reasonable republican candidate would have likely won that race. democratic camps,
was everybody looking into 1994 and expecting a hailstorm? >> in typical fashion, the democrats did not see it coming. >> i was a young staffer on the bush campaign, and i drove up to the reelection speech. it was at her childhood home. i remember it like it was yesterday. it was one of the flattest speeches i had ever heard. there was no energy. it was interesting right out the gate. there just was not any energy in that campaign. they really struggled with what her message would be for reelection. we, to the credit of president bush and others here, we came out strong with a specific agenda and it was a solid campaign. >> was there a part of this campaign where you thought this was a hill to climb? >> she was enormously popular.
those two trend lines did not cross until september. she was enormously popular. she was the delight of the national democratic party. we had to prove that he was capable of governing and had a reason that he wanted to run, other than revenge for his father's defeat. it had to be a substantive campaign, about authenticity, all about what he cared about. in 1994, juvenile justice reform and welfare reform were not a critical issue. education was. >> why do you pick them? karl: he cared deeply about them and when he talked about them, people would say, he cares about this. particularly when he got to talking about welfare. it was an entirely different way than the ordinary republican
talked about it. talking aboutamm the people in the wagon and pulling the wagon and all the people riding in the wagon. bush talked about welfare in terms of we are losing some of our best and brightest into dependency upon government. we have to help people become the best that they can be in life. >> to underline that, karl gets a lot of credit for being the architect, but that overshadows the extent to which george w. bush always had his own vision. just to give you a reflection of that, whenever he sat down with me and my media team, here is what i think, here is what i am bored is saying here is what i want to do. you figure out how to communicate that. there was never any discussion. the best example was the campaign for president on the issue of immigration. i do not remember who it was who is pushing back on it, but a
bunch of people were saying this is crazy. we want to reform in a friendly way. he just said stop. i do not want to hear it again. we're going to do this, and i do not care if it is problematic because i believe in it. >> bush's normal reaction is if this polls badly and i think it is the right thing to do, i will do it. >> my knees wobbled in a pasture outside of houston when he shot the wrong bird. that was a long day. it was interesting. he was, obviously -- i will never forget. it was a local fox affiliate. -- youid, he killed a would have thought it was a bald eagle by the end of the day. [laughter] we were already back -- this
was a day that the new state criminal justice system was going into effect. we were doing an event. we had a bunch of sheriff guys out there. it was going to be a great photo op. a haunteding to do the morning. then we were going to take a shower and he was going to go back to dallas. we got the call saying, we think you shot the wrong bird. i had the luxury of going in and telling him that he had shot the wrong bird. it was a funny story. everybody is freaking out about it. there was a game warden out there. so he gives me a check. he says go take care of this. so i got to the field. >> like south texas politics. >> so i'm out there. this poor guy was crushed. the guide knew. he was freaking out.
the game warden is like, we never had anybody captured on camera that they shot the wrong bird. so he says we do not know what the fine is. so we all drive into downtown houston. to the parks and wildlife department. they are all looking at us thinking, what are we going to do? we have never had a fine of this. i said there has to be rangers. what about a thousand dollars? so i literally said, is this like $100 in court fees? i filled out a check for $125. we all took a picture. was interesting about that was the sentiment. the battleground was east texas. it humanized bush in a way. she was on her own hunt in northeast texas where i used to hunt. we had never shot a bird in
years on opening day. they had gotten bored because there were not any birds. she had not shot the gun. they coaxed her into shooting a gun in the air. you had this situation where bush was able to be self-deprecating. said he was glad he was not deer hunting because i might have shot a cow. he just ran with it. she was like, poor george. he borrowed a gun. he shot the wrong bird. the feedback we were getting from east texas is, he is human. it really humanized him. >> people came up to him in the airport for the next several works and said -- weeks and said i shot the same one. >> what bartlett does not know is he is in houston and all the way and we are keeping track of this. we know that he has one check signed by bush, amount to be filled in. word comes that he has been taken to the game warden, to the department of parks and wildlife in custody of the game warden.
i cannot remember who said it, but they said, will we have to bail bartlett out? thinks sothe four many times towards education, welfare, juvenile justice reform. he said if you ask him what time it is, it is time for tort reform. >> what is the legacy of the policy shop? texas had a real push pre-bush and through bush from the legislature and the governor's office for public education. margaret: the book that we had on the presidential campaign was this thick. we had a series of eight speeches given all over the country.
they had policy proposals and budgets. the requirements of what we had in the presidential campaign is so different from now. it is pretty different. you put did you see -- this together and you hope this will be stay policy for a little bit. when did you start to see it start to fade? was it immediately? i know you were busy in washington. you set this foundation stone in texas. margaret: it was gradual. people have their own agendas. governor perry did. education was a huge thing for bush, less so for perry. the boulder rolled down the hill a little bit. the climate for education reform has changed nationally. we are now in the era of local control. we were in the era that you could have standards and accountability and a national imperative around it. one thing i wanted to mention, we had an organizational structure that was extraordinary.
we had 254 county chairman and john in -- giant rallies all over the state. the human organization that was around a great media shop. and a strategy. >> being a new candidate, he got his training wheels off. >> i love the stuff about beto going to all 254 counties and making it a big deal. we were doing that in 1993 and 1994. i have to swear a little bit more. the f word is coming. margaret: are you running for something? >> the border. >> when did you and bush start talking about the presidency? how early was that? karl: 1996 in san diego. >> it was not before 1994? it was not i'm going to do this and then this? karl: if you look back, you can see the beginning in 1995, at
the meeting of the republican governors association. there is a huge class of new governors who come in in 1994. bowls -- some old bulls. anyway, the old ones are in the front of the classroom and in the back of the classroom are all the new kids shooting spit wads at each other and cracking jokes. there was a camaraderie there. these were people who were intent upon trying to do new things to make their states that -- better. you could see in retrospect that they were clicking and the natural leader in their group was bush. >> the other thing that happens,
i saw it happen with mark white. i saw it happen with ann richards. if you are the governor of texas, people start talking about you running for president. it is not just texas, if you are the governor of california, new york or florida, chatter starts pretty quick. ray sullivan was there. literally, we had just nominated bob dole. people were coming up to bush and saying, i hope you run for 2000. it was like, wait a minute, are we supposed rethinking about the reelection for bob dole? but at the convention people were here is my business card. remember me for 2000. >> in 1998, it became a full dress rehearsal. his reelection campaign for governor. using the dnc playbook to start the national attacks, coordinating all that. it was on. >> they were talking to him. some days he looked in the mirror and said, you should do
this. was that right there? karl: let's just say, his attitude in 1996 on 1997 and 1998 was tolerance. his attitude was i am the governor of texas and i have 20 -- plenty to do. not made upi have my mind, but i recognize that if i do want to do this, things need to be done. but do not count on me doing it. >> i went back to the committee and we discussed it when we started organizing so he could make a decision. karl: i went back to the secret papers. >> so you went to your garage. >> i am not saying where they are located. >> undisclosed location. cheney visits there frequently.
in may of 1997, al comes down. he is from jackson, tennessee. harvard business classmate of bush. he goes indiana. very successful in the private equity world. he does something that people in business do not do. he becomes very active in practical politics. he is hugely involved in education reform. deeply involved in center-right think tanks. he and his wife come down to spend the night with bush. he is thinking about if you want , to run for president, here are some smart people. he says there is this interesting guy named larry lindsey you should speak to. bush had already read his book, and he said i want to meet that guy. in july, myron magnet comes down. he admitted a book on solving the problems of dependency and welfare and poverty.
throughout 1997 and 1998, he is starting to collect the intellectual capital for all of this. there are two events that really kick it to another level. one is april of 1998 where he goes to california. george schulz has heard about him. >> former secretary of state. former secretary of state. very close to reagan. deeply involved in the hoover administration. he calls up and says i hear he is going to come out here. we were going to build a fund-raising network around the country. both so that we had to raise less money out of texas for the reelection and so that we created a network around the country. he called up and said i want to host bush at my house. i will pull together some interesting people. and there were three economists, john taylor, john cogan, and michael boskin. all of them had been big
luminaries. there was this young russia expert at stanford named condoleezza rice, a pretty good piano player. she was there. [laughter] bush shows up in the dining room or living room and the day is spent mostly on a conversation about anything they want to talk about. there is a spontaneous discussion about the international monetary fund and reform of it. they do not know what to make of bush, but they have an agenda that they want to talk about. for information and he is asking really good questions. at the end of the meeting, he says to me, that young man can be president and goes to say goodbye to his guest. he comes back to me and he says, ronald reagan's campaign for presidency began in the same living room. the next eye, bush goes to give a speech in the lincoln club of northern california and monterey bay. somebody asked him a question about the international monetary
fund and bush lays out in detail, arguments for reforming it. having absorbed all this information and then explains why he is in favor of this reform but not that reform. two of the economists are sitting in the room listening to their new student. immediately reporting, that guy paid attention. [laughter] that was it. from then on, among the conservative, intellectual types, there was this guy is real and he is serious about it. we stopped having to look for opportunities and had to regulate the people come to town. margaret: we curated groups of policy experts that wanted to be with the it guy.
they came to town and helped us flesh out a national political agenda. >> how did you meet him? what was your first encounter with george bush? margaret: through karl. when he owned the texas rangers and he introduced us. it was when he was thinking of running for governor the first time. he wanted to learn a lot about public education. if you are a governor of the state, you are in education governor. he was a very good student. he was hungry for information. >> so the first time before 1994? >> 90. >> that was not the right time for him to run. his father was president. margaret is the big dog of school finance, represents the school board. she is a huge player in austin and bush says, i want her in my campaign.
margaret, who is making gobs of money and has huge influence, we say we want you to organize and be the political director of the campaign. she says, this should be fun. bush had the sense i want her close. she is capable of doing anything in the campaign. i do not want her to be stuck. margaret: i will say this. i love george bush. everything about him, working for him for 25 years, probably the longest serving staff member. i did make sure that my boss reserved my job just in case. >> was your first impression in the press corps have george bush was this guy cannot get out of the senate? you took him to all the markets and beginning of the campaign and got him better at public speaking. the public speaking was not great. come on. so, did you think he was a
formidable candidate the instant you saw him? >> here is a telling story. i do not think i mentioned this. when george w. bush asked me to thehe advertising for presidential campaign, i was at first really excited and then i was petrified. it was a huge job. i had never done anything on that scale before. i went back and studied presidential advertising. i talked all the people who had done it. one thing i noticed is it is constantly evolving. you do something for a cycle or two and voters get used to it. kind of like a virus. then it evolves. the one thing i had noticed right into our era that was happening and is a powerful ingredient to successful communication -- nobody believes -- people are very skeptical about any political communication, especially political ads. you can say whatever you want,
you do not have to tell the truth. people know that. there is a real -- our challenge is how do we break through that? in our era, it was be authentic. do something that says this is real. i did very few ads with george w. bush that were scripted. he was not good at it. he looks like he was reading a script. the good thing was, when he was not reading a script, he sounded really human. i would get these human moments of him on the trail, get a little piece of him and the conversation or whatever it might need. during a presidential campaign, you have three opportunities where you can really move the dial. one is your announcement speech. two is the convention speech and your choice of the vp and the debates. the announcement speech is really an opportunity because you get to be unfiltered. the press gives you a free ride. why are you running? a lot of thought goes into it. the convention speech is the time when you have been talking to a base but the rest of
america does not know you. you give your speech and that is a big deal. there is a conventional thing that we do at those where we introduce the candidate with a film. you get to tell your story. that was my job. i went to the ranch and i felt a filmed a lot with george and laura bush. i was asking about their daughters. he talked about being in the delivery room. he completely mangled what he was trying to say. we all laughed. it was funny. we did it two or three more times and got it perfect. we went into the editing room. we get to that part and we all laughed in the editing room. five minutes later, go back. put in the bad version. i go over to the campaign later. these guys are like, are you crazy?
you are intentionally putting in a mistake? they said why? i said because it is authentic. people can relate to this. it is funny. it is honorable to vulnerable. -- it is vulnerable. it is human. let's admit the obvious and lower the bar on the oratorial expectations of our guy. >> one of my favorite lines. i cannot remember what year it was, but we had just on a national primetime press conference. he had one of those moments. it was 30 seconds of dead air time. i looked at him. i got stuck in a rhetorical cul-de-sac. [laughter] >> there were a lot of cul-de-sacs along the way. [laughter] when youe did learn -- put him in the right environment and did not try to overly script him -- and there were times when -- i will never forget september
20, when he gave the speech before congress, one of the best he ever gave. he got in the car and he said i have never been more comfortable in my life giving a speech because he just owned it. he owned the substance of it. i remember to his meeting tony blair beforehand and tony blair was freaked out that he was not prepping. this is like two hours before the speech. he said i know what i am going to say. it was just another lesson that forcing any politician into an environment where they are not -- where they're talking is something they are going to believe in would not work. somebody would spend an hour with george w. bush. it would say of america saw that george w. bush you would have a 60% approval rate. he made like 15 world headlines. when he is letting it rip, he is letting it rip. every word matters. it used to.
we had a lot of things. if you're always having to be three senators ahead of yourself and what you're thinking as you are thinking as you're talking, it is not easy. margaret: a couple things i want to add. when bush went into spanish spontaneously, people ate it up. it was authentic. his spanish probably is not the greatest ever. it was real and obviously connected. >> his spanish was probably just as good as his english. [laughter] >> good point. >> it is perfect. karl: at the beginning, when we went around to the small counties and 93, part of that was nobody in the big counties was going to pay attention to us. bush went to seminole or jacksonville. it was a big deal. you get a crowd -- ole media was
there to cover it. >> the other thing was, this gave him a chance to play around with what he wanted to say. from the beginning, there were three things. education, juvenile justice, welfare reform. the fourth one was the only additive that came from the outside. the other three were his. this gave him a chance to go out there and figure out how he wanted to talk about these things. he was a yell history major and a harvard mba. he is a competitor. he would go out there and talk about, meeting the crowd and revise. this was a constant thing ever vision. it is also a recognition that when you are running for governor of a big state like texas, unit may have run for congressional district, but it is a bigger stage. it is a lesson he learned on a presidential level. he had been the governor of the second-most populous state in the union, but he very quickly recognized it was a bigger stage with bigger necessities and
bigger requirements. >> i know the politics have changed dramatically since this all started, but if you had a candidate come to you now, a potential candidate with these qualifications, has a good family name or whatever, do they run now? can you run these plays anymore? do you have to reinvent politics every time you run a campaign? if a george bush in whatever --te you found him -- 87, 88 you know what i'm saying. you have the same relationship. can you run this kind of a play anymore? does that kind of a guy run anymore? it is very different. after this, we are going to line up the mics. >> ask jeb bush. now is not an environment where you want to be a legacy candidate from a long,
established lineage of politicians. that could flip completely in a cycle or two. people could say we really want experienced people. >> every election in some degree is in reaction to the previous election. that is why bush saying i will restore honor and dignity to the white house was in reaction to what the previous four years had been about. jeb started out saying they were going to raise $100 million. that is what the first note was. if he had been, i am the guy who tallahassee florida and turned the state government upside down, he might have had a better chance. is there a chance -- if you define a bushlike candidate -- our strategy was money, establishment/endorsements, substance and relevance.
yeah, you could pull a similar act under the right circumstances. next time around, i expect they would get a unifier. if trump runs again, if the democrats nominated joe biden like we're all in this together they have a better shot at , winning because in part, it will be in reaction to the 2016 election and things that happened after. >> what was 1994 a reaction to? karl: 1994 was a reaction to looking at 1991, 1993 and seeing that the state had problems. about which nothing much was being done. one of the things that was happening was -- they liked her, she was highly entertaining and she had a 62% personal approval rating on election day. if we had run the customary to head ofand beaten the your opponent as being a liberal, we would have lost. we ran past her by saying this is about the future of texas and i want to do something to educate every child and make sure that they read, i want to
save a generation from dependency on government and being sucked into the criminal justice system -- as long as those things came to people minds -- people's mines at the end of the campaign -- we loved having the picnic every summer because she is so outrageous versus the guy who wants to get things done for texas. >> we have a mic [or. >> good afternoon. thank you. i would like to revisit judge kavanaugh. it is a multipart question. is it plausible that the man you all knew, this upstanding, great, everything -- but maybe in the days of high school and college, fueled by alcohol, that he was a different man?
the second is, if some of this stuff did happen, like with dr. ford or something, do you think that means that he should not be elected or rewarded to the supreme court? not whether he would, but should he? are those things that happened in college and high school that may be have been too common as probably are still too, now -- is that a disqualifier? >> the first question, i will take and the second one, i will let you take. [laughter] oftentimes, the character of a person reveals itself throughout their life. you truly see the character of somebody during times of high stress, which we all experience. at your core, you are who you are.
in high school, you make more juvenile decisions. you make better decisions hopefully when you're older than when you're younger. your core character is the same. i have gotten to know quite a few of his childhood friends as well. who also witnessed him during that time. . -- during that time period. i have had several beers with brett over the years on multiple occasions. on our neighborhood, on our front porch, and i have never seen the man ever out of control. that is why it does not seem to me that all of a sudden, this is a different person that flipped a switch. to me, that binary kind of, he was this then and then he is -- i do not see that. my my personal experience with him as an adult but also the people i talked to and got to know him back then as well. margaret: i think that is a good
question for psychologists. the answer to the second question is it depends. what is the predominant view of how severe or not the particular event was? is it a disqualifier? we might all have different opinions on what is and what is not. karl: i am with dan on this. is a somebody consistently some way at the age of 16 and 17 and then suddenly different the next 30 years? what we do know about harvey weinstein and others is that it is a practice and attitude and conduct that exists for decades. we are not neutral. we worked with this guy. we saw him up close. we saw him in moments of stress and pressure like you cannot imagine. we saw him dealing with difficult issues. >> he had to deal with us.
>> this was one of the most accomplished, kind, diplomatic, thoughtful, insightful, gentle, kind people you could ever hope to be around. >> we are very protective. his wife worked for president bush. she was our favorite as well. we were not going to let anybody date ashley from texas. karl: doe-eyed ashley is what my wife called her. everybody was highly protective. this is not a pleasant place. i'm sitting here thinking where , are all these people now? where were they 15 years ago? 20 years ago? 30 years ago? >> being a catholic, growing up in the church do you say that to all the kids?
in pennsylvania, who are finally coming out? karl: i do not know the priests. i'm an episcopalian, so i am not allowed to have strong opinions of things that are religious. [laughter] >> i have catholic friends who are deeply questioning their faith because of this. i am not blind to the fact that these things happen in our world. have a priest we to praise upon one child, do you think they only pray on one child in their 60 your lifetime? no. the problem is they prey on them time and time again. let's get another question. for rove. mostly >> dan will take it. >> bush's reelection was the last presidential election where a republican candidate won the popular vote.
that is irrelevant to winning the presidency. what does the republican candidate need to do to convince a plurality of the electorate to back them? >> a majority of the electorate or plurality? >> plurality. just to get the most votes. we are in an unusual period. four presidential elections, five, two of the five won aeen elected have minority of the popular vote and a majority of electoral college. the last time that happened was the gilded age, when politics was even worse than it is today. the republican party has got to get itself right with the demography of america. we need more alberto gonzaleses. more mia loves.
we need more people who recognize there is a center-right majority in this country for limited government and personal responsibility. it has got to be argued by candidates in a way that draws people into the party. uniters win more often than dividers. we are at a point in our politics where both parties are putting a bigger emphasis on dividing than they have on uniting. it was not just donald trump. "deplorables" is a mindset that demonstrates that you think that part of the electorate is worth being washed out to sea, and there is a great book. i strongly recommend it to you. it talks about one of the critical elections in american history. it is brilliant, insightful. it's got sex, violence, backstabbing, betrayal. i think i did a hell of a job with it. >> are you the only guy? were you the only guy who blurbed it? >> yeah. no, charles krauthammer blurbed it. doris kearns goodwin blurbed it. h. w. brands blurbed it. it is about an election in which the republicans should not have
won and did by being a uniter, and a uniter from start to finish. the democrat was the divider. what happened was it changed the politics of a broken era, the gilded age, and ushered in a 36 year period of republican dominace. something is going to happen like that in the future. somebody is going to find, democrat or republican, find the way to unite the country, and if they are successful as president, then it will change the politics of america. >> we are going to have to call it there. we are out of time. margaret spellings, dan bartlett, karl rove, mark mckinnon. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> every weekend, american history tv brings you 48 hours
of unique programming, exploring our nation's past. to view our schedule and archive of our programs, visit c-span.org/history. officerselling thriller -- author will be our guest. our live call-in program today at noon eastern. his most recent book, "the escape artist," debuted at number one of the new york times bestseller list. his other books include "the inner circle," "the book of faith," and "the first counsel." join us for in-depth fiction addiction today -- edition today. tonight on cue and day, we visit ,he washington library -- q&a
we visit the washington library for programs featuring historians. discussing what it means to be american. one nation indivisible was a we are altogether. aren't we all? that is somehow elemental to what it means to be an american. the american -- >> the american character as to be able to improvise. when you look at george washington in the dark days of december 1777 at valley forge, the ability of general washington to improvise, to be like a guerrilla fighter, to live off the land, to be able to do what we need to do to get the job done. the beginning, not all groups were included in what america is. certainly, minority groups were not. certain religious groups were not. women were not really considered citizens. that changes over time.
over time, more and more people are brought into the american family. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> next on the civil war, joanne freeman talked about her book, "the field of blood: violence in congress and the road to civil war." she describes the process of researching the topic and says she found that while fights were not always included in the official congressional record, clerk notes and private letters show more than 70 altercations in the antebellum period. this is about one hour. >> i am very pleased to introduce joanne freeman. she is a professor of history and american studies at yale university as well as a leading auit