tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN November 30, 2013 7:00pm-8:31pm EST
you are looking for. those were invented to make books more easy to navigate. had yahoo! then we had search engines that let you put in keywords. .ow we are using social it is the way the romans did it. they would rely on their friends to tell them the news. stuff is where we're going next. we're going to see hybrids between search and social. this is how we are dealing with the fact that lots of stuff is published. this is how it happened in the past as well. that is what i am expecting to happen. signal weall is the differ from what others regard as the signal.
[applause] >> i stay in the wings and do not come out too often. this is quite unusual for me. i do want to thank all of you for your friendship and your loyal support and for the planning of this wonderful evening for me. i shall remember it always. and thanks to the young people for this great welcome. >> pat nixon, the first republican first lady to address a national convention, miami, 1972. she went from a hardscrabble background to the white house. as first lady, she traveled more widely than anybody before her, volunteering was her issue, and was a chief supporter to the political debts and political a visor to her husband. good evening. tonight, we will tell you the story of pat nixon. although her time in the white house was really eclipsed by her husband's resignation from office in the wake of watergate. we will tell more of her record
and learn more about her life before the white house, what she did while she was there, and her legacy. here are two guests to tell her story. a presidential historian and the former head of the nixon library, and a biographer and history professor of texas state university. welcome to both of you. we will start with a perception of pat nixon. she is described in your book as an enigma. what should people know? what are a couple of things about pat nixon they would be surprised to learn? >> she was fun and funny. people who knew her talked about her sense of humor. she was adventurous. as a young woman, she worked for a hospital in new york city and would go out with the patients who had tuberculosis and slide down the hills. it is the kind of thing she loved to do. >> she was a working woman and a pioneer. her wit was strong and at times biting. she did not always take herself seriously.
she probably did not want to be first lady. >> during her time, the media sometimes referred to her as plastic pat. one of our viewers on facebook referred to that in the conversation we have going. he said was because she always smiled to never conveyed any emotion. is that really where the name came from? if so, what was going on? >> the name came from early on during the first controversy she had to deal with during the checkers speech. the cameramen, there was only one camera so he told her, we never know when we will, on to you. just keep a smile on your face. she kept that smile the whole time. there were other reasons she was holding that smile as well. that got started, an idea she was a rigid personality. afterwards, it just kept coming back to that. >> what were the public opinion of her life? >> she was much more popular than nixon. a lot of public felt sympathy for her, particularly as the
demonstrations got raucous outside of the white house because of vietnam and watergate. i wanted to add something to what mary said. it is important when we think about her image to think about how much of it she did not control. this was a very -- the modern white house, the nixon white house in many ways was modeled with a modern white house in the television age. the white house decided how the presidential family would be use or not. i hope we get into this a little more. pat nixon did not have the opportunity to control as much as she would have liked. the way in which she was presented to the american people. >> was this precedence setting? the first white house to go to this extreme with the media? >> no. the kennedy white house had thought a lot about jackie. the very fact that jaclyn kenny
went to dallas, she was going to dallas because the president knew he needed her help in what was supposed to just the political tour. this was not the first time. jacqueline kenny -- kennedy was the first. eleanor roosevelt thought about her public role, but she pushed that. she is unilaterally responsible for that. the roosevelt white house pushing her in front. i think jackie kennedy was the first lady that is part of a media strategy. pat nixon did not play the role, the public role, that the white house wanted her to play. >> i think it goes further back. i think the republican party used her during the eisenhower, when she was second lady, and wanted to use this image of and pat as a young couple that mirrored america at the same time, two young children. the republican party actually helped to create the image of
her as an ideal how to that house life. when she was there, they could not stop it. it took on a life of its own. >> do you think they were doing the same thing with mimi? >> mamie was so much older. i think pat had to fill in with mamie. mamie was more the grandmother. she was not making public appearances the way that pat was. they needed pat to be a perfect housewife who could do all of these things at the same time. >> it is the flip of what we learned with lady bird johnson and jacqueline kennedy. jacqueline kennedy did not campaign very much later. the older and less glamorous was out on the campaign trail making a lot of appearances in setting the image with the public. >> how did she feel about sitting on the stage when her husband gave the speech?
>> she hated it. it was one of the most painful experiences of her life, and experience she would -- that in some way to find the way the two of them related to politics. pat was a very private person who did not want anyone to know about her private life. you have her husband telling all of their finances, what money they owe, that she did not have a further code. -- a fur coat. for her, this was a horrible experience, whereas, for her husband, he celebrated that every year. >> let me get into some video. here is former president nixon talking about his life in an interview in 1983. >> she is probably one of the most intelligent women ever to be first lady. political discussions, she does not say much, but she can always go to the heart of a matter. she has got an enormously good
intuition. the average person thinks of her as somebody who went along for the ride and so forth. i am sure some of them did not believe it. if she had been the wife of a liberal, my god, they would have canonized her. because she was my wife, they had to find ways to knock her. it is remarkable, despite the fact she has not had a particularly positive press, people remember her as being dignified. they remember her as one devoted to her family. they remember her, too, as one she may not have worn designer gowns, that she was blessed with natural beauty. the ladies in the press, some of the men as well, criticize mrs. nixon cruelly. this hurt her ear it should not have, but it did. she should have considered the source. they said, why did she not make speeches? it shows she does not have a mind of her own. she knows you do not have two voice is out of the white house.
she had ideas she expressed privately. another thing that shows, the critics, what they would not understand or appreciate at all, she was self-assured and self- confident. she did not have such a big ego that she had to go out and prove she had a career in her own right. what was important to her was the career of her husband. >> we hear a lot of criticism by the former president that much of pat nixon's perception problems were non-friendly media. >> that is not surprising. that is how he viewed his own perception problems. julie has written a remarkable book about her mother. first of all, the fact a presidential child writes about
a first lady is interesting. it is not just about pat, but the family. it is a very revealing book. there is a line in the book where julie talks about how her mother was really involved in discussions of the vice presidency. the discussions all happened for as long as they lived. so, she said, my father decided he wanted to keep his personal and private lives as first -- his personal and public life, more separated. it was richard nixon's decision that she not be as involved in discussions about policy. he plays a role in deciding she is not as much a part of the white house as she might otherwise have wanted to be. >> we would like very much for you to be involved in our conversation this evening. you can tweet us. you can reach us there. conversations underway. we also have a facebook page.
there is discussion where people are posting comments. we will work our way into as many of the comments as we can in 90 minutes. and then our phone lines. -- we will get to your call throughout the program. speaking of the media, in 1968, pat nixon was interviewed by gloria steinem, the feminist who was writing an article in the new york magazine, she asked pat nixon what woman in history she most admired. here is what pat nixon had to say. -- i will use that as a segue to talk about her upbringing.
she began life -- she did not begin life as patricia nixon. what was her birth name? >> selma catherine ryan. her father called her -- when he came home, he wanted to call her patricia. he said she was his same track that his st. patrick's baby in the morning. her friends, in school, called her thelma. in high school, they all called her betty. when she went to college, she enrolled herself as pat nixon -- pat ryan. that was the first time she consciously renamed herself. as a child, she had a hard time. her mother died when she was not quite 13. then her father died four years later. she kept house for her brothers. they lived on basically a hardscrabble farm. they were always working. she had jobs sweeping out banks.
she worked to sweep floors. all kinds of things because they needed money to pay the bills. they had to pay their father's medical bills. >> she wanted to go to college and they could not afford it. her brother sent her. >> right. another way she made money, she drove a couple across the country. they paid her to drive their car across the country. she will visit her father's relatives on the east coast, went and visited them, and then one of her aunts was a nun who worked at the hospital and gave her a job. it was the middle of the depression so she stayed on her own in new york city. she worked all different kinds of jobs in the hospital. in the lab, a radiologist, all kinds of things. she needed work. >> the deal was she would get a return ticket. she did not use it. she decided to stay.
>> there is a real story, an american story, of someone who comes from nothing and decides an education is her ticket out. >> it is important because it belies the plastic pat. this is a woman with a great deal of gumption and drive, who knows what she wants, and wants the world. she is really interested. she comes from southern california, and agricultural park outside of los angeles, and she wants new york. she gets an opportunity to go and she stays. she only comes back when her brothers tell her they have raised enough money so she can go to college. >> throughout the program, we will visit the richard nixon library to learn more about pat nixon. here is our first stop. here is a little bit more about pat nixon's early years. >> she grew up with very humble beginnings. he spent a lot of time working at the farm. here is an account from 1931. a farm account book.
she was 19 years old when this was happening. she talks about how, at the end here, total deposits, made this none made since a year ago, january. this shows you how difficult it was to make a living. you barely made ends meet. as a teenager in the depression, mrs. nixon took on a lot of jobs, from becoming a pharmacist, a personal shopper, she became a model, and she would also do call casting. she actually got on the list from paramount pictures, a corporation, to be annexed to and films. she also, as part of this whole jumping from job to job, she also had a steamboat in a film from 1935. you could see her dancing in the
film. her speaking role was cut out. it was also interesting. her stage passes. this stage past shows her name and the restrictions on what had to go through. eventually, she persevered enough that she had enough money to take her degree and became a teacher. >> how did she need richard nixon? >> she was teaching at the high school. she loved theater and had been throughout high school and college. there was a community theater production going on. one of the older teachers suggested she go try out. it was not just a suggestion. she got the idea she should. she liked it and went to do it. richard nixon, a young lawyer, was trying to make connections every way he could. he was also trying out for the
show. they were both there at the same time. he says he fell in love with her at first sight. he offered to drive both she and a friend home. he says in the memoirs he asked her to marry him the first night. the friend said it took him three times driving back and forth. he was very persistent and ran after pat. she held him at arms day. she did come home and tell her roommate this guy had really put the moves on her and she was not sure she would go out with them, but that she thought he could probably be president some day. >> you both spent a lot of time. there is so much speculation about the partnership between the two of them and the source of their couplehood. what was it about them that attracted them to each other? >> i would think and mary will know this better, because i do not think they are quite as close in the presidential years, it is their intelligence. they are both highly intelligent. they are both quite determined.
richard nixon could not walk over pat nixon. i think that both drew them together and, at times, i think it pushed them apart. but there are some similarities in their characters. they both have strong character. >> they both came from backgrounds in which there had been problems. nixon had a brother who died. past parents died. i think they both have a sense of tragedy in their lives. i would add ambition. they both wanted things. pat was not going to be happy staying. she wanted to see the world. i think she saw that, that this would not be something -- she was not going to have to stay where she was. >> this is something that, as you think about first ladies, particularly modern first
ladies, they are very driven, ambitious, who, in some ways, have moved beyond -- they are pioneers for women in their era. they decide to submerge their own ambition. >> i think that is true to a certain extent. i also think she also sees him as, because they share ambition, and they will go places, i do not think she sees it as, she is giving up her teaching career, as much as, this will allow her to do something else. she is not sure where she wants to go, but she wants to go. she wants to do things. i do not see it as, she is just giving up everything as much as, "i have to be married because if i do not, i will have problems. this guy will be a mover.
>> i just want to ask. you pull up to talk about really interesting letters she writes after the war. isn't she sort of hinting? >> she writes the letter that she wrote when he is getting ready to come home. while he was overseas during world war ii, she was living in san francisco. she wrote him a wonderful letter in which he said she had missed him terribly. a row to one another every day during the war. she said that if she had not been so worried about him, she would've had a wonderful time during all of this because she was on her own and had money. she was in a wonderful city. so that he should be careful when he came back and love her very dearly, because otherwise, she would regret she was giving up everything. she knew what was possible. she did know there was another life.
she was also, i think, aware of the fact that there was a balance. i think she was always kind of aware of how much she would be able to do it she did not have him back. she wanted him to know he needed to pay attention to her. >> we have a video of her -- their courtship letters. we will show that to you next. >> the president and mrs. nixon began courting in 1938. they met in a play called "the dark tower." each audition for a separate role and that is how they ended up going out on their first date. she initially put him off for a while. she was not very interested in his romantic advances. he said to her, "i will marry you sunday." she sort of laughed. they were married in 1940, two years later. what we have here is a rare treasure. these are some of the letters
the president and mrs. nixon wrote to each other between 1938 and when they were married in 1940 that show their courtship. these are incredibly rare, recently released in 2012. this is a letter written by president nixon to mrs. nixon. not dated. he writes to her, "dearest heart, let's go for a long ride. let's go to the mountains on weekends and read books in front of fires. most of all, let's really grow together and find the happiness we know is ours. my love to thee, dear heart." what this letter shows us a romantic side of a young president nixon which was not public before the letters were released. mrs. nixon writes, "gee, i guess i'm a lucky irishman. the surprise was such fun. best of all was knowing you would remember. thank you ever so much." she replies with a kind note and
includes a shamrock. this one, she is being a little friendly and flirty. she writes, "a social note, romantic? in case i do not see you before, come early wednesday at 6:00 and i will see if i can burn a hamburger for you. a new picture every few minutes." you see here, a letter also not dated. she writes, "i will be here for a short time, shall i see you?" she says at the end, "it must be the hour. yes, sir rick warrem says so." that was a clock present nixon gave to mrs. nixon when they were courting. here, she is cute and playful at the end. she says, "sir rick has the nicest face. i like him so much." it is a great story and a side of the nixons the public does not know too much and is not familiar. that is why the letters are such treasures.
>> adrian asks on twitter what religion pat nixon was since president nixon was quaker. >> she converted to quakerism but never really practiced any religion. neither did richard once he kind of out grew -- once he went to the military. he was a quaker but not really a practicing quaker. >> he proposed to her on the beach in california, is that correct? >> i do not know i've ever seen anything about that. >> that is only important because it later became the place of their home. >> right. i do not remember anything about where he proposed. >> we will say, a possible record. let's go to phone calls. next is nick in palm springs, california. you are first up on our callers tonight.
what is on your mind? >> good evening. this is a wonderful program. thank you to c-span for it. i have a comment and then a question. first, i have been an admirer at the nixon library. it was courageous and thank you. the question ties in previous episodes from previous programs. i have heard a lot about an intentional de-kennedy-ization of the white house. you balanced that with the fact the only returned to the white house was on a private visit. what was the real story there and with other first ladies and presidents as well? >> thank you. i appreciate that. it is an interesting question.
we do not know. julie says in her book it was not her mother's decision for the man to be removed. the decision was made by an advisory board. they'd -- the mantle was not historic. they replaced it with a mantel designed at the time of thomas jefferson, so that as they tried to follow what jacqueline kennedy had started to make the white house more historical, this was the right thing to do. the particular decision was not made by pat nixon. what is also clear from julie's book, each i think is the closest we will ever get to pat nixon's memoir, is that pat nixon carried some resentment about the 1960 election. she felt it had been stolen. she did not hide her disappointment in 1960. if you look at photographs of her in 1960, she is not wearing a poker face.
there is no doubt in my mind some of the anger, not as much, that richard nixon had for the kennedy -- nevertheless, she was a human being and she handled jacqueline kennedy's first visit since 1963 to the white house, beautifully. she let jackie kennedy decide how the trip would go and how the visit would go. jackie did not want a public visit. she was concerned about the press swarming the white house. she wanted to bring the children. she wanted this to be a quiet moment. the reason for the visit was the unveiling of the official portraits of first lady jacqueline kennedy and president kennedy. pat asked, how would you like to go? jackie said she would like a private is it very pat nixon and president nixon organized a private visit for the kennedys, which turned out to be a remarkable event for all concerned. both caroline and john junior wrote letters afterwards
thanking the nixons. jackie herself wrote a very warm letter. despite whatever anger they might have had or she might have had about the 1960 campaign, she was a human first and realized the importance of letting president kennedy's widow and children come to the white house for the important unveiling. >> we have to get into politics in the life story. during the world war ii does, richard nixon was on active duty with the navy. his first run for congress was 1946. how did he make the foray into politics? >> when he came back, he was still on active duty. he was contacted by someone from california, and they were looking for somebody to run against jerry in the 12 congressional district. talk to pat and they agreed they would -- he would go back out and talk to these people. he went back out and did a presentation and said, yes, this is a good thing, and they
decided to run. by this time, pat was pregnant. they had to move and go all the way across to california because they have to start campaigning. so she packs everything up, eight months pregnant, gets everything back out to california, and a month or so after they get back out there, she delivers tricia and they are campaigning. this is a very important part of this and it tells something about her ambition, because she delivers the baby and six hours later, she is up typing and doing research for speeches. they did not have a lot of money for the campaign, but she had a perfect excuse to stop campaigning and stop participating. she had a brand-new baby and had to stop off at her mother-in- law's to work on the campaign. she does not it and makes the choice to participate. the first campaign, they did not know anything about what they were doing.
richard calls it the sweetest victory. of all of his election victories, this was the sweetest one in 1946 because they had worked so hard to get this. it was really the beginning of what became the patented team. class there was a senate campaign, but we always read pat nixon does not like politics. from this story, where she was very much involved, where did the evolution lie? >> something happens after 1960, i think. in 1960, she actually is a campaign worker. she does not give her name. >> i think something happened after 1960. in a 1960, she is actually a campaign worker. she does not give her name. she gives her name as thelma. she is helping out, but the she is not presenting herself as the wife of the vice president of the united states. after that very bitter defeat and difficult defeat, she wanted out of politics. when i said she may not have wanted to be first lady, she
wanted to be first lady in 1960. i do not know about 1968. >> during her years, she traveled extensively. how important was that the type of first lady she would become? >> the travel was for her, i would disagree with tim a little bit. i think there were things that she hated. i do not think she realized in a 1946 what they would be. she did not realize how much of her life she would to give up our privacy. i would point to the speech. for the first time she realized how much she is going to give up in terms of her privacy at how much she is going to have to let other people in.
when she becomes second lady and they get to go on visits, and she sees not just the world she always hoped to see but she sees how she can touch people. she can do things and make a difference in peoples' lives. for her, that was what she hated. she loved exploring of the world. she got to do a tremendous amount of assets at the lady. >> that did help later on. >> what experience do you think it had on her? >> i think it was devastating. from the fund crisis and early on, i think you are right. you only have to look at the picture of her from the concession speech and it's written all over her face. it sucked it the life out of her. i do not think she saw herself as a volunteer. she was a part of the campaign.
she talked about the campaign in 1968 as we are running for election. when people rejected him, i think she saw it as a rejection of them. she cannot recover from that. the same way that he could. >> what was mrs. nixon's relationship with mrs. eisenhower like? >> they had a little bit more touch in the beginning and they became very good friends. they were from different generations, but they were both women who believed in family and were devoted to children. they believed in efficiency and running a household. mrs. eisenhower really took to pat. pat there three times before dick. -- she was there three times before dick. she wrote her a note that said, come up here and we do not have
to talk about anything, just you and i. had a nice conversation. >> thank you for this program. it has really been interesting to see how our first ladies reacted to their place in history. my question is, throughout all of the turmoil of president nixon, did she ever grow to resent him or marrying him? >> how could anybody know inside somebody else's marriage? i inc. -- think she did regret marrying count. if you are married, there are times you regret it. did she resent him for making
some the decisions he made? i think that she did. i think she resented it and at the same time she cannot let herself completely resent it. she have to find somebody else to blame. she blamed the press. she blamed everybody who went after him. it was one of the things, she could say anything she wanted about him and be as angry, but nobody else should say anything. nobody should make comments about him. she was a human being. how could she not be angry at times? >> and david in maryland. your question? >> thank you for having this wonderful program. i wanted to share with you as a volunteer worker at the white
house pat nixon being the first first lady i had the opportunity work for -- a tradition of taking personal friends and visitors on tour of the private quarters and would take them to the lincoln bedroom to have them sit upon the lincoln bed. >> she wanted those who are blind or visiting the white house to be able to touch things. if you went to a museum, curators do not let you touch things. she had the ability to think outside of herself and to try to make people feel welcome. she recognized the white house
could be a formal and somewhat forbidding place. she thought how can i make a less formidable? >> after the defeating loss in 1960 in which richard nixon made a bid for california governor. the famous line when he gets his press conference after which was >> you will not have a richard nixon to kick around anymore. >> what happened after that? >> what happened is he goes back to being a lawyer. he never stops thinking about return to politics. it is very hard, mary was mentioning this about inside the head of a marriage. it is especially difficult to understand the inner workings of a family of a presidential family.
we really do not know there are bits of pieces and we get a sense of the debate in the family. the sense that i have is pat nixon was much less interested in a turn to the white house that her husband was. not for 1964 necessarily but the later. he was traveling abroad and meeting with foreign leaders in an effort to keep us in up and out. and most importantly in 1966, he takes advantage of the midterm elections to go out and collect. he is campaigning for people and they remembered the fact that richard nixon campaigned on their behalf. he is preparing for 1968 to the extent which pat nixon -- i have my doubts.
he certainly was. this is where i think the partnership may have changed. >> actually -- what did she do during the years? >> they moved to new york with her girls and she tries to get them involved in charity work. she's a mom. i think it is also a time in which in some ways she's a little lost. she told one of her friends after you been in politics, it is hard to just do charity work and go back to something else. she he trying to find things to do. -- she keeps trying to find things to do. her friend writes to her and makes suggestions on how she and dick can reconnect. she says he is gone and i do not have time. i think she is not a stupid woman. she knows he is planning to go to the white house. she knows what he is planning. she is lost in terms of trying to figure out what to do.
her children are growing up. she is somebody who has always had work to do. she expects to record his office. -- answer phones in his office. she said it makes the time ago by because she does not have something else to do. i think there is a sense of her trying to figure out what she is going to do. >> the nixon white house 1969 through 1974 when mr. nixon resigned. years of full of a number of policy accomplishment and heartaches. the continuation of the vietnam war. also important to note, the state visit to china. the russia visit which resulted in the salt one treaty. the moon landing. the creation of the environmental protection agency. administration continued the resignation of vice president agnew under controversy of water great -- watergate break-in and
the resignation. we'll focus on the first lady during all of those years. she chose an issue. her issue was volunteerism. how much a choice did she have in that selection and did it have an effect? >> she did not want to have to choose an issue. she did not like that. in fact, it bothered her within the first few months she kept being asked -- what is your focus? she said, people. she did not want it to be one. yes, volunteerism would be what she was best known for in the first year. she made trips around the country to show her support for volunteerism.
but then think about it and she did not want to be programmed. what she felt and this was the criticism of lady bird johnson, she had beautification. pat nixon did not like the fact that was assumed she will be programmed to do one thing. they came to her, apparently the white house, the west wing, with all kind of ideas that she might wanted to do. she disliked the idea this is what she had to do as first lady. >> in the sense that if she had to have something, she had volunteered her whole life so it worked with the nixon administration in terms of what they wanted to do. i agree with tim she did not want to pick one topic. she would rather go out and see people to see which they were doing. even we do volunteerism, she said i do not want to local officials and the ceos and head of corporations coming. i want to see the volunteers and
the people they are helping you want to talk to them. she is very much involved with the people, not with the big shots. >> the selection the issue struck me that it supported the image of a conservative president. the private sector rather than public sector. >> i think that was a big part of the west wing choice of the topics. and to measure the volunteer places were correctly done. they were not something that was going to be too radical and get turned to some places she should not be. i do think -- that first term she's really trying to find herself as first lady. well, she does not have a colts to -- the tools to stand up to the west wing. >> as president nixon began to separate more of his personal
life and his political life, pat nixon is actually seeing the affect because the team, chief of staff, the team does not particularly enjoy working with pat. they do not take advantage of her many skills. when she is in africa, she does such a wonderful job of representing our country and gets rave reviews. there's a note the president gets about how well pat did and it is given to pat nixon. she writes to her friend and i they figured out what i can do. >> let's take a call from california. >> hi, this is a wonderful program. i wanted to say to the question
about where president nixon and proposed to pat it was in dana point. also, how mrs. nixon when she was in the white house added to the antiques and brought in so much of american culture on where jacqueline kennedy started at her personal diplomacy in africa and also which went through? thank you very much. >> those are questions we are going to tell her story. let us do that. we have a clip of pat nixon talking about her volunteerism. [video clip] >> it is a great joy for me to be here with you this evening and to receive this award. however, i would like to say i am receiving this in the name of all of the volunteers who are working throughout this land and
throughout his world. as you know, i have been in most of the countries of the world and all of the united states. i have met these good people who give of their hearts and hands to assist others and there is no more noble way to spend part of a life. i do thank all of you who are here in a position and volunteers. i do thank all of the people in this united states who are so kind and generous. i am proud of them. and i am proud to thank them here today. [applause] >> in that clip, she is talk about her travels. our caller wanted to say she's the most traveled first lady up
to that point. was that some day she chose to do? -- something she chose to do? >> it is important that when she traveled as first lady, that was when she felt the most useful. it got her away from the control of the west wing. it reconnected her to the days when they were the second couple and she and dick were a team and they can go out and do things. when she went out, and when she was the second lady and did her travel, she insisted that she was not going to do formal receptions. she wanted to go out and see what the people were doing. she wanted to go to women's homes and orphanages and schools and hospitals. she did not want to do the bouquet of roses. she wanted to go out and shake people's hands. that is what she wanted to do. she was most interested in seeing what the people were doing. >> her first trip -- foreign
trip was important to peru was important. it was at the request of president nixon. he was not forcing her out of the white house. the demonstration following the massacre. they traumatized the nixon family. pat decided to bring the family back from camp david so richard nixon would not be alone in the white house. it is clear that in that period from early may through june of 1970 were very difficult for the nixon family and especially for pat nixon. the president thought, he had heard about the earthquake and 50,000 people died. people were left homeless. she was watching what was happening. i suspect the president realized to restart -- he needed to give for something where she felt she
was doing something good. she cared what was happening in peru. it was an interesting choice. the united states was not close to peru. they had a revolutionary government that had criticized the united states. to send pat to all places and involved political -- it proved to be wonderful for her and very good. she ended up getting an award from the government of peru. the peruvian government had not had much good to say about the united states but thanked the united states for pat. >> she's the first first lady to travel into a combat zone. she insisted to visiting soldiers in a hospital. she was not somebody who wanted a general to government update. she wanted to go and talk to the soldiers. it did not matter it was a combat zone. she had to talk to the boys and themselves and calm them down.
both of her son-in-laws had been in the military. she felt close to the young men. >> she went to south vietnam. she met with wounded soldiers. that was her choice. >> our next video is about her travels. [video clip] >> she was most the most widely traveled first lady's in our history. this is her diplomatic passport used. you can see here, the photos of vice president and mrs. nixon. it is full of stamps. related to the different nations they visited. she wanted to go out into the
field and see the people. she wanted to work with them at the wishing to do to help. she wanted to go to hospitals and orphanages. when she went to panama -- these she visited a leper colony. these tags were used on her second to last trip as first lady. she and the president visited austria, egypt, saudi arabia, israel, and jordan. the first time the president and first lady have been to israel. they were on her personal luggage. the museum and some of the items on display. >> we have a lot of samples of gifts given to mrs. nixon during her foreign travels. this is probably the oldest piece. it was a gift from golda meir. mrs. nixon was a fine example --
a tablecloth given to her in 1969. [indiscernible] also a beautiful pen watch. it is made out of gold and rubies and diamonds. it was given to mrs. nixon by the prime minister of italy back in 1970. during the trip to china, and mrs. nixon accompanied. she enjoyed learning about the pandas. they were meeting with their hosts. they noticed how mrs. nixon was looking at a package of cigarettes. the package, she was admiring it.
she said, the pandas at the zoo, aren't they darling? they said, we will make sure you have pandas to go home with. it was important for her to support her husband and just her being there would bring so much goodwill. it was evident at the end of the trip. that would talk about the president this way but they why was i was a wonderful job pat nixon did. >> two of the most important trips on the administration that they went as a couple for the trip to china described in the video. and also the trip to the soviet union which resulted in two important treaties between the two nations. what was her role as a president was opening the doors with the
chinese government? >> since the president allow the press to go with them and the president was in closed doors meeting, what the american public saw of china was what they saw through pat. she was the one taking them around. the chinese public that she met, she's a representative of america. she introduced america to china. she was supposed to do the sightseeing. this was an amazing trip. she was say i read that book and go to something else. that was not what she wanted to do. she will go talk to the people as much as she could. >> abigail in michigan. you are on the air. >> hi.
>> hi, abigail. >> ok. i want to say how i've enjoyed the show. i have watched almost every episode. my question is, did meeting mr. reagan make mrs. reagan -- mrs. nixon, i'm sorry, you know make her a republican and if she'd marry someone else would she be a democrat? >> before you go, how old are you? >> i am 12. >> do you have a favorite first lady? >> my favorite -- mmm, -- i do not know. maybe lou hoover.
>> thank you very much. it is great to have you in the audience. we'll talk about lou hoover. >> the 12 year old. >> and the answer to the question would she have been a republican if she married somebody else? >> and that was a very good question. she was an independent before in terms of where her political standings were before they got married. would she have been something else, i do not think so. in terms of harder conservative moral values and especially her economic point of view, she probably would've been a republican. >> the china trip was a popular addition to the national zoo that is still the most popular today and the pandas. we have a clip about the pandas here and also a phone call from the president. [video clip]
>> i notice that dr. ripley is wearing a panda tie and i have a panda pin. panda-monium is going to break out at the zoo. >> i checked to see how the panda think went. >> they were darling. they raved about them. >> how did you work? could you pet them or things like that? >> no, and they are in the glass. >> did they get a good picture? >> there were a lot of people. >> good, good. did people seem to enjoy it? even the press was pleased. >> and yeah, i think so. yeah. they are little things. >> and do they really? >> oh, yeah.
they have the structure inside of the case. one of them climbed up and sat up there. it was a scream. i am not sure how well. >> that would be great. >> that was when audio recordings of the white house conversations from the president's office. we get a glimpse of the relationship. what did we learn? >> they do not talking the phone very often. [laughter] how pat nixon -- pat nixon -- a panda bear. there's a little bit of controversy over whether in fact she asked for the pandas. i heard one of the president aides told me it was a misunderstanding. pat nixon smoked and she did not
like to show people she smoked. she smoked a lot. indeed, the supervisory curator at the nixon library said there were pandas on the chinese cigarette pack. it is not clear whether mrs. nixon was just motioning toward the panda because she wanted a cigarette or because she really liked pandas and wanted them in the united states. it is not clear if they knew what she was asking for. the outcome was wonderful for the united states and for the national zoo. as we see from this conversation, it added to the nixon household. >> you are on the air. >> thank you for accepting my call. i've been watching your show. this is my third time calling. the question i had -- you said
mrs. nixon disliked politics after husband's defeat. do you think she could've been more insistent on her husband not running for political office or just privately accepted that he wanted an executive job in the government? that is my question. thank you. >> could she have been more insistent? if in hernow personality, if she could've been more insistent. could she have threatened to divorce him in a 1962? i do not need that would've been something really would've entered her mind. i think that she knew to stop him from going on that she would have to do something that drastic. he had written a list of reasons to drop out of politics.
the top reason was it would make his wife happy. from 1954, even though he promised at made the list are realized his wife did not like politics, he cannot stop himself. it was a part of him. i think that even though she disliked all of this, i do not know if she really would've been able to do that. asking her not to be something she was not. >> this series is called influence that image. pat nixon became involved in some degree an issue thought of as women's issues. for example, she supported the equal rights amendment to the constitution. she spoke out about more women getting elected to public office regardless of the party. she urged the president to appoint a woman to the supreme court. she had opinions that she expressed somewhat publicly about abortion.
how much influence did she have on the president's thinking of any of these issues and was it controversial that the public knew her opinions about these things? >> the nixon administration made a big deal of hiring more people into public service. for performing when -- barber floyd was the point person. franklin was the point person. it was a real initiative on the part of the nixon administration. did this come from pat nixon? we don't know. we know that julie played a role working with barbara franklin. there is no doubt that pat nixon was supportive. you found evidence that she was pushing it. we do know she was very disappointed in october of 1971, president nixon had two open seats on the supreme court. she really hoped that one of them would go to a woman. when that didn't happen she let
president nixon know in a private family dinner, she really let him know that she was not happy. >> didn't speak to him for a while, which was kind of her way of letting him stew on things and getting back at him because she thought she had a promise that he was going to appoint a woman. she was upset. >> if you're watching the series, you saw a discussion on lady bird johnson. you have signs of her watching her husband giving a speech and critiquing it and telling him how to do a better job. that's not what pat nixon did. she was not a political advisor for richard nixon. she had views and richard nixon knew them, but he did not involve her in the policy process. and the evidence of that is if you look at the tapes or listen
to the tapes, by law, the u.s. government cannot release tapes of president nixon and pat nixon talks about family matters. it was a court decision. but whenever president nixon and pat nixon are talking about governmental matters such as the pandas, the u.s. government is permitted to -- the material is owned by the american people. there's very little of the two of them talking about substantive policy issues. just not the role that pat nixon played. she's quite different from lady bird johnson. and even different from jackie kennedy. jackie, herself, participated a little bit in policy discussions with the president. >> did pat start any fashion trends or white house traditions? a video of pat nixon's personal style while she was in the white house. let's watch that next.
[video clip] >> mrs. nixon wasn't a real clothes horse per se, but she loved looking trim and clean. she loved spare design. she loved wearing the clothes designed for her. she would wear things off of the rack by geoffrey bean. this coat she wore to china. you don't see that here, but the coat is lined with fur, completely lined inside to keep her warm. so we're fortunate to have an inaugural gown at the library. usually the tradition is to give it to the smithsonian institution. for those who had the one term, that's where the gown goes. the second term, the presidential library will keep that second gown. and she wore this at the 1973 inaugural. this beaded dress in aqua marine was her favorite tone.
she loved this. one thing she would ask for if her gowns were designed, she asked to have pockets put in. people would slip notes to her. she could give it to her husband after the event. here what we have, the mother of the bride dress designed by priscilla of boston, a famous wedding gown maker. she also designed mrs. nixon's daughter's wedding gown. you can see here the gown. and behind her is a photograph of a gazebo that was made on location in the way inside the rose garden at the white house. that is on display here at the grounds of the nixon library. >> so i wanted to show this video because it struck me that pat nixon's clothing was often a political issue. you mentioned the speech where richard nixon talked about her -- fashion and politics, can
you comment on that? >> in 1960, someone asked -- they were making a big deal about jackie's wardrobe and how much money she would spend, someone said you and mrs. nixon would debate. and pat says i would be happy to debate mrs. kennedy. i want to talk about clothing because that's not a very important issue in this day. i do think clothing makes a statement. one of the things that pat did was she appeared in a magazine -- i believe it was "mccall's" in a pants suit in 1972. this was a big deal. she never wore pants. dick didn't like pants. she never appeared in public in slacks. the fact she would appear in a magazine in a pants suit is making a political statement.
i think by the time you said, you do have pat nixon coming into your own. she'd gone to africa, china, the soviet union, here she is in pants. >> i'd like to ask you about the social events in the white house and their significance. the video white house and how important an event was that and how did it strike politically given the president's standings in the polls at that time? >> probably pat nixon's happiest day in the white house. i don't think there's any doubt. it's an infection point. right after that, you have the pentagon papers controversy and the things start to get out of hand. so that moment in the summer of 1971 is a very sweet moment for the family.
>> one other event, this is not matched to this day, the largest event thrown at the white house was the nixon's tribute to the vietnam prisoners of war. can you talk about the significance of that? the library just celebrated the anniversary of it this year. >> well, i think that part of the story of pat nixon in the white house is a story of the pressures on the family because of the country's reaction to the president's vietnam policy. whatever you think of the president's vietnam policy, i think it's hard to dispute the fact that the country's reaction had a very, very strong effect on the nixon family. and pat in particular was affected by it. one of the reasons the president pressured her to leave on the solo trips was to pick up her morale.
and the result in the agreement in january of 1973 to end the american participation in the war in southeast asia, the white house wanted to celebrate this achievement. and to put a -- a -- a positive final note of what had been such a difficult war for this country. and that was this event. the country made the argument that he had been thinking always about getting the p.o.w.'s out. so their coming to the white house was a symbol of his achievement. it's more complicated. the war could have ended sooner. that's a different story and a different hour of c-span. but the fact is for pat nixon, as for other members of the
family, seeing the p.o.w.s was a source of pride and accomplishment. i don't doubt that evening was special for all of them. >> her stewardship of the white house. what did she do of note to the institution of the white house building itself? >> she worked very hard behind the scene. she worked with kem klunger as a curator. they worked hard to restore the white house to pick up where jackie had left off and to continue to get period pieces. she could be persuasive in convincing various institutions and museums to return pieces to the white house, to loan pieces to the white house. they went out and sought out people to donate the money to be able to get the proper pieces to -- to build the room. she had always been interested in decorating. she had decorated a number of
their homes. so this was something that was very important to her. not something widely known. they didn't publicize this. it was like she was doing it for a while before anybody realized she was doing it. and when jackie -- jackie says, this is all wonderful. she tries to give the credit to other people rather than taking it herself. >> when pat nixon came to the white house, one third of the furnishings were antiques. when she left, two thirds were antiques. some might not know this, dolly madison is famous for saving the canvass of george washington in 1814. she saved two canvasses. the other was the portrait of herself and pat nixon brought it back to the white house. >> chilecothe, ohio, hi, bill. >> i was a butler with the nixons.
i was there at the house all the time at camp david. >> what would you like people to know about the first lady? >> please do an oral history with the nixon library. >> i want to get to the library and i haven't been. we sent stockings -- mrs. nixon, they were somehow misplaced. she sent them to the library at the time, my sisters had made them. i was there during the panda years also. i know she brought it back the tie. she brought it back to david and it was out of style and she'd given it to me. >> what would you like the audience to know about mrs. nixon since you had a way to know her the way few people did. i would talk to her at breakfast. she would get up a little before the president. she was always so kind and nice and treated me with such respect that i loved the whole family.
>> what were their final years as the pressure increased on the presidency, were you working for them as that point? what did you see? >> i only worked until 1973. i left a few months before he did. it was in the navy years. i left at 1973. not there at the end. >> do you remember how they felt in the christmas bombing, the last christmas that you were there at camp david? >> they stayed at the -- i believe that was the year they stayed at camp. >> yes. >> and so they were going to go to california and instead they stayed at the camp. and it was -- it was a -- it was a family time for them and they stayed together and i think they enjoyed that weekend together. >> thank you so much for your call. >> really added a little bit more to our understanding with
your personal experience with them. before i leave this part as the -- as the administration faces more and more challenges as watergate continued to bear down and ultimately leading to the president's resignation, what was the role vis-a-vis the president and the family and the public? i wanted to add to that. i have several people who had seen the image of her as a drinker in this period. you write about it in the book. would you add that to is it story you're about to tell us? >> this was a very trying time. it's important to remember as tim mentioned before that the president didn't discuss policy. so when mrs. nixon told people she only knew what she read in the papers, that's what she knew. she trusted her husband and didn't trust haldeman and ehrlichman and these men around him. and it was easy for her to believe these men are setting him up. sh she keeps getting all of the
questions. the questions become increasingly hostile and persistent so that she can't avoid them. so here she is at the height of finally figure out what she wants to do as first lady and she can't avoid the questions about watergate. she becomes in many ways, the rock. she continues to do her schedule. she continues to go ahead and maintain the -- go and visit people, go and do the set -- go out there and go to the tea, the meetings, because she has to i think in drinking swuz she drinking more? she was someone who liked to have a drink after dinner. almost everybody in that generation did. she drank jack daniels. did she drink more? probably.
who wouldn't. was there evidence that she was an alcoholic? no. there was press all over the place, if she was an alcoholic, they would have jumped all over that. this wasn't a time they would hide something like that. there's little evidence that she was an alcoholic or a drunk or anything like that. >> it's clear that the president lied to her about a number of things. this is an important part of the story. because she is absolutely loyal to richard nixon. she's suffering for him. and he tells her. he tells her that he had nothing do with the enemy's list. but it was his idea. he tells her that lyndon johnson had bugged his campaign plain, in the 1968 campaign,
that wasn't true. he knew it wasn't true. he filled her mind with things that made what she was reading in the newspaper make no sense at all to her. and in the end, he didn't even have the courage to tell her he was going to resign. the first time he thought he was going to resign, he had julie tell his wife and then the whole family persuaded him not to resign. but when he finally made the decision to resign, he had rosemary wood tell mrs. nixon. >> who was that? >> that was his secretary. the one regret she had from that period which i find interesting. this is evidence she was affected by watergate but had no role whatsoever in managing it, the president didn't tell her there was a taping system. the president didn't involve her in the decision of what to do about the tapes when it became clear it was going to be a major issue when the taping system was about to be revealed to the public. she felt he made a huge error, he should have destroyed them. he could have.
at that time in the united states, those tapes were private property that belonged to the president. once they were subpoenaed, it was a different issue. they hasn't been subpoenaed yet. he never asked her. she was not part of this at all. she just suffered from it. >> judy in hermitage, pennsylvania. >> thank you for this series. you've done incredible hard work to get it on the air. i appreciate it. what was pat's unfulfilled dream and the biggest regret in or out of the white house? thank you so much. >> a very good question. her biggest unfulfilled dream? umm --
>> movie actress -- >> i think that -- i think if you look at where -- i think that being the foreign ambassador -- the goodwill ambassador that she was that she was coming into in 1972 and that period, i think if she could have continued to do that, i think she would have loved for her husband to completed his term, for her to be able to continue to go out into the world and to meet people. and for him to have been able to end his presidency on a high note. i think you're right. i think for her, the two of them were so connected that she did not going to be able to be president. but she could experience all of that and she could -- she thought he was doing good work. and she knew she was doing good work. so i think her regret would have been that they had to leave under such circumstances and they didn't get to fulfill that. >> we have ten minutes left. in that time, i would like to understand post white house years. they return first for five years
and then to new york and new jersey. the years were filled with serious medical problems for both of them. what was their life like? >> it's interesting that her -- we would a show about best friends of the first family. in the first term, in the first presidential term, some of pat nixon's family and friends were worried. she seemed frail, not to find her way. she was a rock in the last few months of the administration. that's how she's been described. she continues to be strong when the president nearly died. richard nixon almost dies when he leaves office. its's an inflammation of the veins. he goes into cardiac arrest because of the reaction to -- i believe he has an infection. this happened in long beach, california. >> hospitalized for 22 weeks? >> 22 days.
>> i read that, i thought that's a long time. >> he nearly dies. she -- she is very strong for the family. >> was he suffering from depression? >> well, you know, the problem with the president -- the thing about it is it's very hard to know about the medical condition, about the presidential families unless they let you know. in the end, the eisenhowers opened up a lot of the medical records about general eisenhower, president eisenhower. we just don't know whether he was suffering from depression. there's no doubt that there were people around him who feared he was suicidal. we've got accounts of people around him who thought he was a suicide. but what's important here, though, is she found the resources within herself despite this sort of national tragedy.
to pull things -- pull herself and the family together in the health crisis. the real tragedy is she has her own health crisis. >> the stroke. >> yeah. is this tied to her smoking or -- >> stress? >> yeah. >> did we mention the stress? >> high blood pressure, yes. >> working for years. >> those records are not open. >> how serious was the stroke? >> she couldn't move her left side. her speech was slurred. she worked hard to be able to regain her strength and be able to move her left arm. >> was it -- was it -- someone came up and saw her working very hard on one of the machines to build up your arm strength because she was determined to come back. she was not going to let this get her. it was very serious. but during this time the
president began to try to plot his return to acceptance in society, worked on his memoirs. i'm wondering about her role in all of that? >> she retires and she has grandchildren now. so she's a very happy and proud grandparent. she doesn't make many public appearances at all. one in particular, i think the last public appearance, was at the opening of the reagan library. she's very frail. and some people comment on the fact that richard nixon actually leaves her -- almost forgets she's there. she's having a hard time walking and breathing because of her health problems. >> when was the work on the nixon library done in this time period? >> the nixon library, the private library, different from the federal library. the federal government took it
over in 2007 and made it, well, because it's a federal library, it's nonpartisan. the original library, the only private presidential library at that point, was opened in 1991. and she was alive to see it open. she predeceases her husband. she dies the year before he does. i haven't found any evidence that she participated in shaping the museum. but i do believe that the card -- rose garden that the library has is a beautiful rose garden reflects her interests. and the area that is devoted at least now to the first lady has a big glass window so that you can see the garden. she was very interested in opening the gardens to the white house to the public. she was the first to do that. so it makes a lot of sense that the visitor to the nixon library sees the rose garden, pat's rose
garden. >> how involved were the two daughters, trish who is now 67, julie, who is 65, in their parents' legacy. >> if you heard, the family owns the -- all of pat nixon's private materials are owned by the family. they decide periodically to release materials. mary did not get to see as she should have all of the correspondence when she was writing her important book. but at least in 2012, some of the correspondence withheld by the family were opened as part of the celebration of her 100th birthday. >> how did she die? >> another stroke and emphysema and lung cancer from years of smoking. >> people referenced, they still believe it to this day, video of
the president as wept over the grave. we talked about taking away from that watching as outsiders. >> what you have is a man who loved his wife and who perhaps at some -- in some ways did not realize how much -- how central she was to to holding him up, to propping him up. she was that way for her daughters and certainly for him. i think it goes back to the original relationship and the love that we saw there in the beginning. i think she was a woman of tremendous strength who could not have been plastic. she had to be steel. i would hope that some of that was guilt, too. i hope he understand what he had done and the strains he put on this woman. >> the final video is of her burial and legacy.
[video clip] >> this is the amphitheater at the nixon library. it was here, june 26, 1993, that mrs. nixon's funeral was held. was placed right up here underneath the lovely tend with flowers. nixon sat over here. on the other side, presidents reagan and ford and their first ladies. this is the pat nixon rose garden, a special place for both of the nixons because mrs. nixon was instrumental in designing it for the grand opening of the nixon library in 1990. she loved gardening. had a special affinity for roses. she was instrumental for opening up the white house for garden tours in the spring. a tradition that's continued until this day. this is the pat nixon rose which was developed in 1972 by a french designer. mrs. nixon was first lady. it is the only rose that will continually grow at the white house. this is the final resting place of both president and mrs. nixon, only steps away from the president's humble 1910
farmhouse. there's a great story behind the epitaph on her memorial site which she chose herself. it dates back to the trip to peru that she took in 1970 as the ambassador of goodwill. she wanted to talk to the people of the devastated earthquake. she wanted to see the devastation, find out what she could do to help. one of the reporters said to her, mrs. nixon, what goodwill any of this do if the people you're speaking to can't understand what you're saying. she replied, even if they can't speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart. >> that's the close out here of our biography of pat nixon. what would pat nixon say is her greate c