tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN December 7, 2013 7:00pm-9:01pm EST
need to be a discussion. over time, we'll continue to see -- you think the big political fight will be distraction for the chairman? >> i'm not expecting it. is the ceoccormick the broadband association. thank you. coming up, c-span's original series first ladies. betty ford is the focus of the encore presentation. that, steve ford shares memories about his mother. the president of the american federation of teachers talks about education in the u.s..
>> being lady like does not require silence. why should my husband's job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? i do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas. [applause] >> betty ford spoke her mind, pro choice and a supporter of the equal rights amendment. she and gerald ford openly discussed her experience with breast cancer. for much of her family's public life she struggled with alcohol and drug dependency and confronting it defined her post white house years. >> welcome to first ladies influence and image. tonight we'll tell you the story of elizabeth ford, the wife of
president gerald ford. here to tell her story is richard norton smith. you know him, he's one of our academic advisors for the whole project. he's helped launch a number of presidential libraries among them the gerald r. ford library in michigan. you developed a relationship with the fords so you bring that to the table. >> sure. i try to be as objective as possible. but i was very fortunate to become a good friends of both of the fords. >> we want to start tonight where we left off which is in august of 1974 when the fords learned they were going to be in the white house. how much of a surprise was it for them when they heard the news? >> this is one of the things i find astonishing almost 40 years later. i recently took part in a his trip project which included
about 150 of the ford's associates including all their children. and you would think every other american household the summer of 1974 at some point sat around the dinner table discussing what was happening and what might happen in the white house. the only dinner table in america where that discussion apparently never took place was the ford's. for mrs. ford, i think it really was a case of denial in a lot of ways. she said august 9, 1974 was the saddest day of her life. i think in part she felt badly for the country but even more she felt badly for pat nixon and the nixon family who were good friends. he had never aspired to the presidency and she was more reluctant of going and she didn't find out until about a week before it happened.
>> among the video pieces you'll see tonight are some clips with the ford family children. the first one up is steve ford. we talked to him a year ago at a conference on first ladies and we'll include some of the pieces of that interview tonight. as we begin tonight is on the family's transition in august from their home in virginia and the vice president si to the white house. let's listen. >> mrs. ford has hoped you would get out of politics. what is her reaction to the heavy response 1234b89 >> she's doing her best and we'll wait and see about the other. >> first of all, you have to remember after dad got swoorn in, the day nixon resigned and everybody remembers the image of nixon's helicopter and him saying good buy to his staff and family and friend. helicopter leaves. we go into the east room of the white house where dad puts his hand on the bible.
mom hold it is bible oath of office. we're sitting there. we go take a family portrait in the oval office. nixon cleared off his desk. what people don't remember is we didn't get to move in the white house. because we lived in our own little home back in virginia, a little four bedroom house and because nixon resigned so quickly they weren't able to pack up all their belongings so they left their daughter and son-in-law to pack up all their belongings. it took seven or eight days. so we went back to our little house in virginia. dad has just become president of the united states. and we're eating dinner around the table. mom was cooking dinner and she looks at my dad and she goes jerry, something is wrong here. you just became president of the united states and i'm still cooking.
that was our reality for the next seven or eight days before we moved into the white house. >> but when they transitioned to the white house, it was that basic american normal family that really got so much coverage. i remember and you probably do news reports of the president toasting his own -- >> the fact is mrs. ford was never a morning person. i suspect he had been toasting his own english muffins for many years. the idea was even more than that. edwin remembers those famous pictures of richard nixon at the helicopter. what they don't know is what president ford, soon to be president ford said to his wife on the way back into the white house because he realized his job was to reassure the country. and if he couldn't reassure his wife, he couldn't reassure the country.
and he whispered in her ear we can do it. and it was just the right thing to say. he said a lot of right things that day. there were a lot of problems and continue verse sis that ensued. but you're right, there is a sense that it's as if the country had been building up to this thunderstorm and the storm raged for a while and then suddenly the clouds parted and it was normal again. there were people in the white house we could recognize and relate to. you have to remember this was like going to live on another planet for these people. the first days she actually lived in the white house, she didn't understand. she would walk through the halls and say hello to people when she saw them.
secret service agents. household personnel, whatever, that was her nature. and no one spoke back to her. and she finally went to the legendary curate or the and said am i doing something wrong, do they dislike us for being here? no, the nixons who were more formal had established that practice and so word went out to the white house staff it's okay to talk to the first family. and before long the stories about president ford and the butler about whom the movie was made recently comparing football scores. they became old shoe almost over night. >> what's been so enjoyable about this series is your involvement all along the way. and tonight is no different. we're going to have our phone
lines open and you can call us. you can also send us a tweet and join our facebook conversation. you can see there is a large picture of betty ford and a robust conversation already under way. we said at the out set that her comments were often controversial and it's interesting to see to this day she remains controversial. i loved her, i couldn't stand her. what made her so controversial? >> well, a number of things. first of all, she spoke her mind. and in part the very fact that she would address subjects. quite frankly, you can understand a lot of the criticism of people who were accustomed for lack of a better word more traditional approach to the job. first ladies were not overtly political.
first ladies did not wade into intensely debated moral issues like abortion for example. first ladies certainly did not discuss whether their children had used marijuana or whether their daughter might have an affair. part of what was different was for the first time she was being asked questions that no one would have put to a pat nixon or johnson. the difference is she was willing to respond. >> mayor on facebook said mrs. ford was an inspiration perfect for the times. one of the things we've followed this year is the changing role of women in society and how the first lady often is a benchmark for that. >> and i think that is where she connected with millions of women.
she was candid about her personal struggles. she was -- a lot of people didn't realize when she became first lady that she had been married before. i think time magazine asked her about that and why people didn't know about it which no one had asked her about it before. in 1957, i remember the first time her name appeared in the washington post and it was about her passion sensibility and it talked about her taste for quiet hats and slightly more talkative suits. in 1957 that was fine. that was one culture. a lot of people looked at betty ford, this cub scout den mother, this sunday schoolteacher and they labeled her. they wrote her off in effect. and then they discovered no, actually this is a woman with views of her own this. is a woman who has had a lot of
challenges in her life and a lot of those challenges bonded her with millions of other women who entertained similar doubts and uncertainties as she did. >> you reference her first marriage. let's go in time and learn her roots. where was she born and when? >> she was born in chicago. her parents are fascinating contrast. her mother clearly is the dominating defining figure in her life. hortense who i've thought of as a character out of tennessee williams. she came from a prosperous family. status meant a lot to her mother. she insisted for example that betty wear white gloves when she went shopping. she was a perfectionist to end all perfectionist.
betty was a child that was prone to overeat who responded by hanging a sign over her daughter's neck saying please don't feed this child. hortense was a form dabble figure. her father, talk about patterns. her father was a traveling salesman and an alcoholic who died amid -- amidst mysterious circumstances and it was one of those deaths that was never fully discussed. in fact, it was only then that betty learned that her father was an alcoholic and that those trips that her mother had made from time to time to be with him on the road were a consequence of his illness.
it was a house where secrets flourished. she had two brothers, one of whom was an alcoholic. so in many ways she was genetically or culturally programmed for the disease that she would have later on. but hortense is a larger than life figure. she was president of the hospital in grand rapids for crippled children. she wanted betty to join the junior league at an early age and rise up the ladder. she had problems with a daughter who had a mind of her own who for example wanted to pursue a career as a dancer. >> she did. she went to new york and studied dance and was accepted which was quite an accomplishment. >> she did. she spent a couple of years in
vermont associated with the program there and then she joined the martha gram company. she never made the first ranks. she was very modest in later years. but it is a key to her personality. she was a natural performer. she was comfortable being on the stage. and in some ways that came back to her to aid her when she became first lady. >> and she came back to grand rapids and can you tell us about her first marriage and what happened to snit >> she came back to grand rapids and taught dance. she worked as a fashion coordinator in a local department store. and she by her own acknowledgment was a party girl who met a party boy. actually she had known him since she was 12 years old, bill warren who was himself a traveling salesman.
and he was an alcoholic. they were married. she was i think 24. and she had almost overnight embraced a whole different set of values. she was ready to settle down and be a wife and have children. and that was not necessarily the same agenda that he had. the interesting thing is she made the decision after about three years to divorce him. and then he went into a diabetic comma and she spent the next two years nursing him back to health. and then she filed for divorce. >> 1947. >> so al together five years. >> she called it her five year misunderstanding. >> i want to get to the story how she met and married gerald ford. but let me take a call and we'll learn more about how that match was made.
first up is susan who is watching us in texas. you are on the air as we discuss betty ford. >> caller: i have thoroughly enjoyed the whole series. it's been wonderful. and i love the way this is being done. i just love it. and my question is did betty ford support her husband gerald ford when he wanted to run for the presidency? he became president by i guess just being the vice president but when he wanted to run for president, did she support him in this? >> good question. she supported him very vigorously. both of the fords -- it's interesting people forget now. president ford right at the beginning of his presidency had let it be known he would not be a candidate in 1976. and i think henry kissinger
helped persuade him that would undermine his presidency from the out set. but both fords decide they kind of liked life in the white house. for ms. ford it was a great improvement. her husband as house leader was on the road 250 flights a year. she actually spent more time with him once they were in the white house. they were both determined to do their best to extend the ford presidency and i think for him particularly to have the mandate of a popular election as the only appointed president, almost a president with an asterisk next to his name. >> she may have supported his bid for the white house but when they first met she didn't know she was getting a politician. is that true? >> that's what she says. it's hard for me to believe she was totally naive. jerry ford was the big man on
campus. the local hero from high school days playing football. it's not terribly surprising he should decide to go into public life. but there is no doubt she was surprised. they were married in october 1948. >> and on twitter did the ford's schedule their wedding for october 15 after the republican congressional primary and why? >> the simple answer is yes. have you to know west michigan to appreciate. west michigan more than now was a very culturally conservative place. a place where the dutch reform church held sway. and ford who was certainly a conservative ff nevertheless was running against an entrenched republican incumbent who opposed the mar alcohol plan.
he was one of those returning veterans who had seen the consequences of american isolationism and went into politics with an idea which was that america would have to play on a continuing role, a significant leadership role in the world. mrs. ford was a divorcee and the concern was he told her who he proposed he wanted to get married but he couldn't tell her when and he couldn't tell her why he couldn't tell her. the fact of the matter is his political advisors were very concerned that west michigan -- he was already facing an uphill campaign that having a divorced woman in the family might lengthen those odds even more.
so but october 15, about three weeks before the election, he showed up at the rehearsal dinner late. showed up in time for dessert at the rehearsal dinner. he was late for the wedding. he showed up in brown shoes and they were muddy because he had been out campaigning. the honeymoon consisted of over night in michigan sitting outdoors listening to the favorite son and then a football game in ann arbor, his beloved university of michigan. she stayed in the hotel. he went to the game. they went back to grand rapids on monday and he said he had to campaign that evening. could she make him a sandwich. he said a number of times she never let him hear the end of it. i think they took a number of
second honeymoons to compensate. >> there are a lot of women thinking he ode her one big after that. michael in 1950. jack born in 1952. stephen in 1956 and susan born in 1957. going to return to steve ford talking about their congressional years because in fact the politician won that race for the house of representatives and spend the next 25 years as a member of congress. let's hear steve ford talking about that life. >> dad was on the road maybe 200 nights a year sometimes out campaigning for other republicans trying to get a majority in congress. he wanted to be speaker of the house. and mom to her credit was the one like many wives of congressmen back home making sure we got to the dentist and got our home work done and to football practice and those kind of things and the glue that they
would kid together while dad was out public servant. so it was later in the presidency that she finally had a chance to i would say blossom or shine and get her chance in the spotlight. but during dad's 26 years of being a congressman she was the one that kept the family. it's interesting because every family there would be some blowup and one of us would get in trouble and it would be wait until your father gets home. and we knew by the time dad got home the storm was gone and he wanted to come home and be the good guy anyway. my heart really went out to mom because she was the one that had to keep the whole ship pointed in the right direction. >> we are going to take a call but keeping the ship together also starts another very important chapter of her life. let's listen to michael from
atlanta. you are on the air. caller: my question is what opinion or influence did mrs. ford have in president ford's decision to pardon richard nixon? >> that is a great question and it is one of the elusive areas. she said very little about the pardon. she thought it was necessary. she thought it was an act of courage. she said what you would expect her to say. i will say this, i do know toward the end of his life when the john f. kennedy library chose to give him the courage award specifically for the nixon pardon, he was initially reluctant to go all the way across the country.
he didn't see the emotional significance of this and it was mrs. ford who convinced him this is the greatest honor that has been bestowed on you since leaving office. he said after that for 20 years everybody asked him about the burden and after that award people stopped asking. >> robert in chicago. you're on the air. caller: thank you very much for your time. i understand two presidents, kennedy and hoover never received an income as president. did mrs. ford receive any kind of income after president ford passed away? >> first of all, you are right about hoover and j.f.k.. and in fact they rejected federal salaries as president.
in hoover's case he never accepted payment for any of his various positions whether secretary of commerce or the hoover commissions or whatever. the question about whether mrs. ford -- >> did she get a widow's pension? do you get compensation if your husband dies and he served as president? >> i don't believe you do. i don't think so. so back to the amount of time -- >> no, in terms of a payment or pension, no. there is an office of course, the president's office remained in operation and she had the franking privilege. >> what is the franking privilege? >> it is basically free postage and of course the secret service protection until the end of her
life. >> did the public pay for that office? >> so there were benefits not salary? >> absolutely. >> steve ford talked about his dad being on the road sometimes 250 days a year. that's a lot of time. what were his aspirations? >> in 1963 there was kind of a youth movement among republicans who were really tired of being in the minority and there was kind of an uprising and ford was catapulted into the number three position in the leadership at that time. in 1964 came the gold water debacle and in the beginning of 1965 ford's hat was thrown in the ring to become house republican leader. he ran against a name who had
himself staged an uprising against joseph martin his predecessor. this was not ideological, it was generational. it was the young turks and people who ran ford's campaign but the two people who were most instrument until his victory by three votes over charlie, one was a young congressman from illinois named donald rumsfeld and another from kansas named bob dole. what that election really significance any fide was the republican party was moving -- the center of gravity was moving away from the eastern establishment. at that point it was in the midwest but there are beginning to be a significant number of republicans in the south in both houses of congress, a trend that would accelerate. and 40 years later you could argue that the midwestern party
has become allied with the southern and western party. >> on twitter this question aside from her predisposition did her being alone to raise the kids contribute to her drinking? i'm going to let her own words answer that. she wrote two memoirs and here is some of what she writes. i hated feeling crippled so i took more pills. now i know some of the pain i was trying to wipe out was emotional. jerry became minority leader of the house but i was feeling sorry for myself. she goes on to write in 1965 about a year after i began mixing pain medication with alcohol i snapped. i packed my bag one afternoon and decided to ride to the beach and take susan with me and let my whole ungrateful family worry about where i was and if i was
ever coming home. >> in 1965, that's the year her husband became house republican leader. >> over the years between his election to congress and their vice presidential pick, talk about her drug and alcohol use and what she has written about it and what people should know about how big a problem that had become? >> i think it became a real problem in the 1960's. first of all, there were a number of contributing factors. she had developed arthritis and she had a pinched nerve which may or may not have been the result of reaching up to raise a window. whatever it was, she had a pinched nerve that was very painful. and i think it became easy. frankly she had pills prescribed for her and the pills made her
feel better and the alcohol made her feel better still. one of the things that you realize as we went through this history project i just mentioned, although we weren't particularly looking for this information, people volunteered, talk about a cultural change. it's remarkable how much more people drank. how routinely people drank to excess in washington 40 years ago. and the argument -- years ago. and the argument can be made it lubricated culture. from the job of house minority leader, how was he richard nixon's pick for vice president? >> he had been considered in 1968 as a possible nixon running mate.
he wasn't interested in the executive branch. he loved congress and he wanted very much to be the first republican speaker in a very long time. that was his goal. in 1973 arguably the nixon presidency while water gate is unfolding, the -- it becomes apparent that vice president is also under investigation for unrelated offenses, many of them stemming if his time as governor of maryland. to make a long story short, he resigns the office in october of 1973 and the 25th amendment which has never been applied until now is applied. richard nixon has to find a vice president but critically he
needs to find a vice president who can be confirmed. and in the political climate of that time there were very few people. if he had left to his druthers he would have picked john conley but he could not have been confirmed. negotiate could ronald reagan or richard nixon. and democrats on the hill, the speaker and majority leader told the white house if you want someone who can be confirmed easily pick jerry ford. and that's what the president did. >> their time as vice presidential couple was very short. december of 1973 until that day in august 1974 when president nixon resigned and they moved to the white house. much of that time, the country was consumed with the unfolding water gate scandal so the fords didn't do much. >> he hit the road. he got out of town.
>> what did she do? >> she was back at the house? >> she was back at the house but she had for the first time now, she realized for the first time in her life she had to be on time. that was a life long issue. she was not the most punks you'll of people. there are those who think it was a passive aggressive. it was one of the few things in their marriage she could control. but in any event all that changed once she became the vice president's wife. she also had causes she was involved with. she had been involved from an early age with disabled children, the washington children's hospital was something she was involved with. but in addition to that, she also had a vice presidential residence that had never been occupied before that had to be
decorated. >> and they never got to it. >> two days -- what was it? a few days before richard nixon resigned, the vice president agreed to accompany his wife to the house that he by then knew they were never going to live in because if he didn't the press would have sensed that we're in the end game and he didn't want to give that away. >> he finally said no her betty we're never going to make it to that vice presidential house. >> they we want to a dinner party and august 1, he had been told by general hague, the white house chief of staff about what became known as the smoking gun tape. and it was pretty clear what the consequences of that would be. after midnight that night he said betty, we're never going to live in that house.
>> let's reason to robert from florida for our next question. caller: enjoying everything. betty ford wrote wonderful ought doe biographies and are they in print p. are they in print? >> we'll show them both on screen. the first was betty ford the times of my life which was co- written with chris chase. and the second was the one we showed earlier, betty a glad awakening. are they still available? >> i think a glad awakening is. i don't think the first volume is and sadly chris chase who worked on both of those volumes sadly passed away within the last month. >> which is the better of the two? >> a glad awakening is a very candid sometimes almost painfully candid but it's much
more mrs. ford. there is also this wonderful dry sense of humor and you can experience her rebirth in print. >> we're going to listen to betty ford herself just one month after they were sworn in as first couple. she held a news conference at the white house. we're going to listen to one question that was asked of her and her response. >> how would you like to be remembered, for what? >> i'd like to be remembered in a very kind way. also as a constructive wife of a president. i don't expect to come anywhere near living up to those first ladies who have gone before me. they've all done a great job and
i admire them a great deal and it's only my ambition to come close to it. >> out of the blue we were talking and she said to me i don't even know what prompted it but she said i don't know why everyone thought it was a bad thing i admired eleanor roosevelt. eleanor roosevelt was one of her heroes. i don't think it was her life in the white house as it was the private challenges that eleanor roosevelt confronted along the way in becoming eleanor roosevelt. but she was a role model. and lady bird johnson was a very good friend and a role model for mrs. ford. >> the ford presidency was 865 days but this was a difficult time in our country's history. we chose a few events of the ford years beginning with the
pardon of richard nixon. in 1976 the country celebrated buy centennial. rising inflation was the hall mark of his years in office. and the vietman war ended with the fall of saigon and you remember the scenes of the helicopters leaving the embassy as the city fell. >> history accelerated in those two and a half years and all of it by no means pleasant. >> just a couple of months after they came into office mrs. ford discovered she had breast cancer. >> this was the indelible moment she first impressed herself on the american people or maybe the whole ford family. it is really hard 40 years late tore conceive of the degree to
which people didn't talk about this disease. i mean euphemisms were employed. even obituaries people didn't die of cancer, they died of a wasting illness. what mrs. ford did was to bring this out into the open and over night transform the way women in particular looked at this disease. for her it was also a lesson. it was her first baby and most important lesson in the influence that a first lady could have by being herself, by shining the light on a dark corner, by educating the public. >> next up we'll listen to president ford himself announcing the results of her
surgery. >> i just returned from the hospital where i saw betty as she came from the operating room. the doctor assured me that she came through the operation all right. [applause] and it's been a difficult 36 hours which our faith will sustain us and betty would expect me to be here. >> in a few weeks i will complete my chemotherapy treatments and that will be another milestone for me. since that first year i have not talked much about the difference
of my experience with cancer. butmy mastectomy and the discussion about it, i was glad to see it because it prompted a large number of women to go and get checkups in their local communities. it made my recuperation easier because i knew that i was helping others. i make this progress report to help cheer up those who have just had an operation for cancer and to encourage them to keep up their good spirit. part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease.
>> and of course one of those women who was inspired by her example was happy rockefeller the wife of the vice president who two weeks after mrs. ford's surgery was diagnosed herself with the disease and went on to have surgery of her own . >> when you see president ford making the announcement you can see his lips quivering. terribly emotional for the family. >> he said that night when he went home alone to the white house the night before that was the loneliest night of his life. >> gary on twitter wants to know what it was result of her candor, was there anything else, more people got checkups, anything about the way we treat people with breast cancer in this country? >> i think it initiated what had been missing. it initiated a national conversation among women and
between women and their doctors. when it comes to women's health issues, literally history is divided into two periods before betty and after betty. >> we have a photograph of the fords in her hospital room looking at a card from get well wishes from across the country as she begins her recuperation. >> next is james. >> caller: i grate you on a wonderful series i've been watching since mrs. jackson and it is wonderful. president ford was a member of the warren commission and i was wondering what mrs. ford thought of his involvement on that commission and the results and the continue verse sis that have since occurred about the commission results. >> that's a great question. i'm sorry to say i wish i had but i never had a conversation with her.
i never heard her discuss it. he felt very strongly -- he was once trapped on an airplane -- i shouldn't tell this but i will. the movie was john f. kennedy and he was not happy. he really worried that young people, people who were not alive at the time of the assassination would see this and conclude it was in fact history. we had a number of conversations about the warren commission. he and his congressional members, remember dick was on bonds. aand the members of congress who were on that commission were very careful in the language
that they chose. they rewrote as i understand it the staff's initial report to say we have found no evidence of a conspiracy which is a little bit different in a subtle way from saying flat out there was no conspiracy. >> speaking of assassinations gerald ford had two attempts on his life in short order. is he the only president to have assassination attempts carried out by women? >> that's a good question. >> i can't think of any. >> i think you're right. >> the first was la net. >> it's a classic instance of the times. swiggi who was a member of the man son family and sara moore who was a bay area housewife on the fringes of radical politics. only in the 1970's would either
of those characters have emerged in public. >> and what about the ford family's reaction to these assassination attempts and how did the president take it? did security increase? were they greatly concerned about his life? >> i think the secret service did change things there after. he wore a bullet proof vest. the day in zach, he was there among other things to meet with governor jerry brown who is still governor jerry brown today. and the remarkable thing and this is so typical of jerry ford. he went in and had his meeting with governor brown and never mentioned what happened outside. he thought it would be ungracious to tell the governor well some lady tried to shoot me in your front yard. >> there we have the photograph
of him being escorted by the secret service agents away from the scene. >> today with twitter and the instant news he couldn't have kept it from the sitting governor as he did then. >> that is true but it's unlikely he would be out strolling through the grounds as they decided on the spur of the moment that morning in september 1975. >> tim in denver. what's your question? caller: hi. this is a very good film. i saw ford campaign in 1976 and one asked what are you for and he said may the best team win. i hear the relations between the fords and reagans were [indiscernible]
>> let me answer that this way. certainly in 1976 there were rather frosty. they were running a very intense, very close really uncertain battle for the republican nomination. i think the ford white house underestimated ronald reagan and almost paid the ultimate price for doing so. but in fact in later years, crazy as it sounds n 1980 president reagan very seriously thought about having gerald ford on his ticket as his running meat and i also know that in the 1990's particularly after president reagan wrote his letter to the american people revealing his alzheimer's, i
know president ford visited him more than once after that. and whatever old animosities there may have been were long since evaporated. of course even more so with jimmy carter. >> we're going to talk about her interest in issues. was she simply a supporter of her husband's beliefs and values? >> publicly she was arguably the most political first lady since eleanor roosevelt. she was the most outspoken advocate. she publicly disagreed with her husband on the row v. wade case which she discussed on the 60 minutes interview and other venues.
so she was very much an independent force. and initially that terrified people in the white house. after the 60 minutes interview, the president said jokingly you've lost me 20 million votes. it was only a few days later when the first polls came in and the people in the white house were astonished that in fact there was an overwhelming 70% of those who were polled sympathized with the first lady's candor and views. >> here is her talking about the equal rights amendment. >> the equal rights amendment when at fide will not be an instant solution to women's
problems, it will not alter the fabric of the constitution or force women away from their families. it will help knock down those restrictions that have locked women in to the old stereo types of behavior and opportunity. it will help open up more options for women. but it is only a beginning. the debate over era has become too emotional because of the fears of some both men and women about the changes already taking place in america. >> within the republican party itself, this party that had had bare gold water and the early 1960's and there was the split that was developing in the party, how did the republicans
feel about betty ford's public statement on these and abortion rights issues and the like? was it going over well within the base? >> there is no doubt she was a polarizing figure. when i said 70% voiced approval, that meant 30% disapproved. you can be sure that that 30% was disproportionately the republican base, certainly conservative republicans, traditionalist if you will. so there was a legitimate debate. it's interesting, i would recommend to readers john robert green who wrote a book on the ford presidency as part of the university of kansas series also did a book on mrs. ford. it's very well researched and really a great read. and he makes the case stronger than i would that she was on
balance detrimental to her husband's reelection prospects. particularly within the republican party but not exclusively within the republican party. >> you've mentioned this 60 minutes interview, how significant was her sitting down with the most popular news and public affairs program to the public view of her and the party's view of her? >> i think it defined her for millions and millions of people who first of all was the first time they had seen her in that kind of setting. but i also think for millions -- remember how americans were accustomed to seeing their first ladies on television. we had seen mrs. kennedy's unforgettable white house tour but it was a very orchestrated presentation. people were not accustomed to a first lady being asked or answering as i say the kinds of
questions -- her view was people are talking about these around their dinner tables all over america. why shouldn't the first family have the same privilege. >> and they covered issues such as divorce, use of marijuana. her daughter's dating and sex before marriage, things of that nature. >> she also talked about her use of pillow talk to get a woman in the cabinet. she mentioned she was working on getting a woman on the supreme court. john paul stevens is safe to say probably would not have been her first choice but she wasn't doing the choosing. >> you're on the air. caller: thank you very much. i love this show. i read somewhere that mrs. ford was older than president ford and i wonder if that was true. >> no, actually he was five
years her senior. >> we've talked in the series about the use of the white house for entertaining but that entertaining has hey political purpose. to start that we're going to go to the ford museum in grand rapids where there are elements of her style and how she approached that aspect of her job. let's watch. >> hand in hand with mrs. ford's love for dance was her love for design and fashion as well. particularly she wanted to promote american fashion. these are some of her dresses and gowns from her first ladies period this. is a gown that she wore to her first head of state event. king hussein of jordan. it was designed by a lady named frankie welch who had a boutique in virginia. this also next one also is a welch dress and this she wore
for her official portrait as first lady. this is a dress that next one that some people right recognize. it's by lou estevez and she wore this gown for a portrait that was taken of the family and featured on the cover of time magazine. but she loved practical design as well. and a fellow from new york designed a number of dresses and gowns for her, very practical and inexpensive but for her very functional. she would wear these out fits both of which are albert pieces to arrival ceremonies for dignitaries and to the hair dresser and church, on trips for campaign events.
they were the ones she could get the most comfortable n. this is a piece that she wore for the 60 minutes interview and so she faced morley while wearing this dress as she fielded his many questions. we know a lot of this because one of the things mrs. ford was careful about as organized as she was is she kept secretary cards for each of these dresses and there would be notations on where she wore them and when she wore them and she wore many of them multiple times. some of this is in her handwriting herself and many of these extend beyond the first ladies period into her post first lady ship. she would wear these into the early 10eu's. and her love for design, her promotion of american fashion
led to in 1976 her receiving the parsons school of design award. and this is the accolade she received for her promotion of american designers in fashion. >> do have you a comment? >> she loved clothes and people forget she had been a model in her early days. one of the ways she supported herself in new york was as a professional model. >> back to twitter. here is a question how did betty ford balance being first lady and being a mother? >> she said -- it's funny -- one reason why i said that i thought lady byrd johnson was a role model is mrs. johnson is exhibit a in exactly how to do that.
mrs. ford said she thought that being a good housewife and mother was a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. so she was both a traditionalist and a trail blazer. as we've already said she had not only balanced the job but before they were in the white house she was in a sense mother and father. >> during that very brief presidency they hosted 33 state visits. >> the reason it was so concentrated is it was the by centennial year. in addition to being this hotly contested republican relation and then of course the fall campaign, it played out against the backdrop of the american by centennial. she loved entertaining. this is why i
think when steve talked about her blossoming, and this is what he meant. this is a woman who was accustomed to being on the stage. as first lady, she was back on the stage. she really enjoyed entertaining. the entertainments were really personalized. the president of egypt was a great fan of the american west. she rounded up original sculptures to decorate every table in the dining room. the guests -- pearl bailey became a great favorite as an entertainer. they referred to each other as sister. >> marietta, georgia, you are up next.
>> my questions are -- how did you feel when [inaudible] the betty ford center? >> you sound like you're one of our younger viewers. how old are you? >> eight years old. >> why are you watching our program tonight? >> my family is really interested in the presidents. >> are you interested, too? >> yes. >> do you have a favorite president or a favorite first led -- first lady? >> my favorite first lady is michelle obama. >> where do you live? >> have you ever been to warm springs, georgia? >> yes. >> i am impressed.
there are people who still remember, he lost his voice at the very end of the campaign. it was left to the first lady to read the concession, the telegram of congratulations that had been sent to president elect. at the same time, he promised her long before watergate that they would retire in 1976. once he concluded that he would never be speaker of the house, she exacted a promise. after 1976, they would leave washington and go back to grand rapids. he would practice law. they had no money.
intervening events played havoc with that. in the end, they still left washington, but they went to a different destination. >> here is what she wrote during the white house years. my pills were always with me. i did not drink alcohol in the white house. she said the pills were always with me. how big a problem was this for her? >> i do not know how to answer that. there is anecdotal evidence to suggest -- she is a circumstantial alcoholic, if there is such a thing.
as far as the pills are concerned -- you mentioned 33 state dinners. she was at all of them. i am not sure the problem really erupted when they left washington. it was a significant problem before the presidency and it was almost lethal problem after. those 2.5 years in the white house, i think it was much less of a problem. >> the fords welcomed queen elizabeth during the bicentennial. we are going to go back to the ford museum. >> this was the dress that mrs. ford was wearing at the swearing and ceremony -- swearing in ceremony. she was less than excited about
becoming first lady, but president ford encouraged her. she resolved i will have fun doing it and the fun started almost immediately within 10 days, she had a state dinner to entertain king hussein of georgia. she had to prepare. she hit the ground running. she had a number of opportunities to entertain because the administration overlapped the bicentennial. some of the most coveted events at the white house were held during that year and people want to these invitations. this is for the 1976 event when they entertained the president of france. there were a number of notable people who came to the white house. among them, the emperor of
japan. this is a letter received from him in appreciation for hosting him in 1975. the first time an emperor had ever left japan. here are some of the invitations, dinner menus. the biggest of them was when we hosted queen elizabeth in july of 1976. this is the gift the queen elizabeth presented to the people of the united states. it is a gilded, hand-painted image of the white house. it was the official gift of great britain to the united states celebrating the 200th anniversary of the united states. she wrote a nice letter back to
the fords thanking them for their hospitality and for their friendship they extended to the queen and to the people of england. in this letter, the queen rights -- writes to the president and mrs. ford, it was the greatest pleasure for us to visit the united states and to be able to join in the bicentennial celebrations. we send our warm wishes to you and mrs. ford. your sincere friend, elizabeth. >> we have a couple of questions. the cherry trees and pandas have been mentioned, please comment on any other significant gift still in the white house. what gifts during her trips to the white house from foreign dignitaries? >> i am not sure when the law
changed that made all gifts federal property. if you go to the woodrow wilson house, you can see all sorts of gorgeous things that president wilson was given on his european travels. i think it begins with the kennedy presidency. >> did betty start any white house traditions? you are thinking hard there. >> i know. it is interesting. she broke the mold more than she started traditions. i think we have regressed in terms of what we expect a first
lady to address. what issues, controversies and the like. no, that is a tradition -- >> how did the ford white house differ from previous administrations? >> in a number of ways. some of them are purely social. she restored the roundtables at dinner. she thought it was a much more informal conversation. she did not do a lot of decorating, but there is a must second floor a private family dining room. mrs. kennedy had located some spectacular and historically invaluable french wallpaper portraying the american
revolution in graphic military terms. mrs. ford, who had the utmost respect for mrs. kennedy's taste, said i cannot sit there and watch people on battlefields. she had the paper removed. back.arter had it put >> they lived in colorado for a while. alexandria, virginia, washington, d.c., grand rapids, and palm springs. >> that is right. by the time the president passed away, when we were planning his funeral, there were a number of term -- number of personal touches. there was no horse-drawn procession through the streets of washington. instead, the hearse drove
through their old neighborhoods in alexandria. large crowds turned out and i stopped at the world war ii memorial to recognize the service. >> 1976, the bicentennial and a hotly contested presidential election. the campaign included a slogan, vote for betty's husband. how was she used during the campaign? >> some controversy about that. people think that she was misused, overused, that she was a fragile figure. rather delicate figure. she was certainly very active in the primary candidate in the ford-reagan race. at the convention, the dueling candidates. the entrance of mrs. reagan, the convention hall entrance of mrs.
ford. she was introduced by cary grant. which is pretty impressive. in the fall campaign, there was the school of thought that she was not used as well as she might've been. >> dan is watching. >> i appreciate -- the museum in grand rapids, i have been there a couple of times that it is a great place. their post white house years, how much time did they spend in grand rapids? where did they go after they left the white house? >> they had been out to the area around palm springs in the past. they vacationed out there.
the weather was perfect for her health, her arthritis, which was a significant issue. they decided, they changed their plans, which envisioned going back to grand rapids. the president came back to grand rapids very often. i know because i was director at the library. every year at christmas time, he would come back and turn on the christmas tree. we did a series for the 25th anniversary of his inauguration and we had john paul stevens and alan greenspan and he would fly from california to introduce those people. he felt so honored that he would make that effort. frequently.me less
they had a running gag, they divided the country in half for fund-raising purposes. he had america east of the mississippi. he had -- she had the united states west of the mississippi. >> aj is in alexandria. i have to push the button. >> i am curious if there is a specific reason why the first lady invited king hussein for the first dinner. >> you know -- she -- the president became president august 9. she was informed, by the way, you do know that king hussein is coming in a week's time. she had nothing to do. this was something that had been arranged during the nixon administration and within her first 24 hours, she was thrown in sink or swim.
to organize a state dinner. >> 1976 campaign, a big challenge from ronald reagan. a lot of work during the primary when president ford had the nomination. campaign.ght by the time election night came and the fords lost, president ford lost his speech. >> the president asked me to tell you that he telephoned president-elect carter a short time ago and he congratulated him on his victory. he wants to thank all of those thousands of people who worked so hard on his behalf and you who supporteds him with their votes. it has been the greatest honor of my husband's life to have
served his fellow americans during two of the most difficult years in our history. the president urges all americans to join him in giving your united support to president-elect carter as he prepares to assume his new responsibilities. >> a lot of pain on people's faces. >> it was tough. they come from so far behind. every candidate believes they will win, but he had never lost an election. you can see the look on the kids face. >> the only person in american history to serve both as vice president and president without ever having face the public and won the electoral vote.
not long after that with the intervention with the family. we will listen to steve ford tell the story about the intervention as the family realize the extent of betty ford's problem with alcohol and with drugs. >> i think we sensed something during the presidency because she had legitimate pain from several pinched nerves and she was getting medication. what we did not know was the combination of alcohol and those medications produce that cocktail that took away some of her sharpness. eventually, it had to play out. it had to get to the other side of the presidency where it created a time for mom after the presidency where she was not first lady. she was out in california. dad was traveling a lot.
they were building a new home and the kids were all gone. over months, she developed a melancholy that turned into depression, pulled back from life and started canceling appointments and not showing up. that takes months and we did not know what we were looking at. we were like millions of other families. it was not the education about alcoholism and drug dependency that there is now. dad search through several doctors before he finally found a doctor that have the courage to say, i think your wife's an alcoholic. that was not the image anybody accepted. finally found the right doctor, dad had the courage to say, we will do this intervention. we did the intervention with mom. at that time, i had never heard the word intervention.
now you have tv shows. it was a different time. we did it. dad led the intervention. my memory of that is very clear. we walked in the door that morning with all of the kids and dad surprised mom. he took her hand and said that betty, we are here because we love you. the kids want their mother back and i want my wife back. those interventions are tough. a lot of tears, a lot of crying, a lot of raised voices. a lot more hugs and denial. dad never gave up. betty, we love you, trust us. we woke her up and she did the work. >> as many of you probably know, 16 years ago, i participated in
a treatment program for prescription drugs and alcohol dependence. today i am a very grateful recovering alcoholic. i know firsthand that treatment does work. >> we see her talking about her successful treatment. her command of speechmaking is markedly different. >> one thing that might surprise people, she had butterflies before she went on stage. she was terrified. part of that is the perfectionism. one thing we do not talk about, we talked about a genetic disposition to alcohol.
sometimes there is an emotional disposition as well. she writes about the emptiness and the low self-esteem. she was very sensitive about the fact that she did not have a college degree. again, her husband's career was taking off. by the time they came back to southern california, it was out on the road, almost as often as he had been before. and now the kids were gone. the emptiness became everything. it was easier for her to slip back into the old habits. >> what you just heard was
richard's cell phone going off. would you tell us how her fordmend led to the betty center? >> after the intervention in april of 1978, she was checked into long beach hospital. it should not be romanticized. it was a very gritty, very demanding, somewhat risky. she did not want to be there, she made it very clear that she did not want to share a room with three other patients.
her self-image -- she released the statement that said she was there because she was overmedicated, which was true, but far from the whole truth. they had to push her to reveal the whole truth that she had an alcohol problem. she was detoxified there and that was not pleasant. within a week, she was toasting the future in fruit juice. it was the beginning of a whole new life. her neighbor was a man named leonard firestone. a successful businessman. he was an alcoholic as well. about a year off to her -- after her, they staged one with the firestone's. he decided -- they decided to gather to go to the eisenhower medical center with the idea for what became the betty ford center.
>> it was cofounded in 1982. how long did she serve as chair? >> until, i want to say, 2005. >> she was an active chairperson? >> very active. very hands-on. she said her friends hated to see her coming. she was a phenomenally successful fundraiser. >> do you have any sense about how many people have been treated? >> thousands. they used to have an alumni event. the president was so proud. about 10 years ago, when history books are written, her contribution would be considered
greater than his own. >> eugene, oregon. susie, are you there? we will move on. samuel in virginia. >> hi, professor smith. i've enjoyed your class a lot this semester. professor, you talked about president ford and president carter became friends in 1981. i wanted to ask -- you did not talk about how betty ford and rosalyn carter became friends. >> i'm glad you asked. this unlikely friendship developed, mrs. ford and rosalyn carter decided they had a lot in common. they teamed up to become a
pretty formidable lobbying pair. testifying before congress funding mental health programs and for the work that mrs. ford was doing on alcohol and drug dependency. >> what kind of relationship did the fords have with the nixons? >> perfectly friendly. to be perfectly honest, you could not go through watergate and have it not affect the kind of old casual friendship that they had enjoyed. i remember them together while the nixon library was dedicated in 1990.
>> gerald ford lived to 93. he is the longest-living american president to this date. >> we have some video of his funeral. can you talk about -- there is mrs. ford. can you talk about her role in planning the funeral services? >> we had a number of meetings that began several years out. it involved a military district in washington. he was adamant that he did not want a horse drawn -- she kept saying, keep it simple. think of the kids. this was first and foremost a family event.
>> did any of the four children entertain political careers themselves? running.onsidered >> how long after her husband died did that mrs. ford herself die? >> she died on july 8, 2008. 4.5 years. she died of being 93. >> we have photographs of their gravesites. >> this was something that was the ford museum is located on the banks of the grand river in downtown grand rapids. from the beginning, it was planned. many recent presidents, that they would be interned at the sites of their libraries or museums. into thesign, built
hillside. it is a really pretty lot. they chose the words themselves. right after the president -- 2005, mrs. ford, had the house and there were all of trees out in front and for christmas, they put white lights in the trees. she left them on that year past the christmas season and someone asked her why. she went out every year and turned on the lights. she said that's how jerry knew she was okay.
>> both of them living to 93 years old. she was a widow for the last five years of her life. we are going to put the legacy in the words of another president. in 1999, the fords received the congressional gold medal. president bill clinton spoke about betty ford's legacy. >> perhaps no first lady in our history with a possible exception of eleanor roosevelt has touched us in such a personal way. because i lost my mother to breast cancer, betty ford is a heroine to me. because my family has been victimized by alcohol, i know what it is like to see good people stare into the abyss of their own personal despair. i will be forever grateful for
the betty ford clinic and for the millions of other people whose lives have literally been turned around and often saved. they went somewhere because she showed them it was not wrong for a good person and a strong person to be imperfect and ask for help. you gave us a gift and we thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
>> our series first ladies continue on monday with the life and times of mrs. carter, i highly involved first lady who attended cap the members and had working lunches. she also worked on her own causes. anyfirst time rock ledge saw the inside of the white house that rosalyn carter and jimmy saw the white house was after -- this week, we will hear
from rosalynn carter in her own words. she spoke in c-span recently about the 1976 campaign. her partnership with jimmy carter, negative press coverage emma and the iranian hostage. ast is that 9:00 eastern well the c-span radio. series, we are offering a special edition of the book. presenting a biography and portrait of each first lady and comments from noted historians. it is available for the discounted price of $12.95 on c- span. including ahas more special section produced by our partners the white house historical association and chronicles life in the executive mansion. you can find out more at www.c- span.org.
>> for overseas, -- for our series, we spoke to steve ford. this was last year. >> we are with steve ford. son of betty and gerald ford. your mother is one of the -- she is in our trailer. she's won the inspirations and actually you turn around and she is our artwork for the series. she represents somebody who had influence and image. us abouter, talk to what she was like. differ so much credit. you can say that about so many congressional wives. while their husbands were out in public and the data was at that
time am the majority he was a house minority leader republican party. dad was on the road, maybe 200 nights a year out campaigning for other republicans trying to get a majority in congress. she was noer credit, one like many wives, she was back home making sure we got to the dentist and we got our homework done and got to football practice, wrestling practice. the glue that held the kids together while her dad was out to be a public servant. it was later in the presidency that she finally had a chance to blossom or shine and get her chance in the spotlight. during dad's time being a congressman, she drove the family. -- ininteresting because every family there would be a
blowup to one of us would get in trouble and we would get in trouble a lot. it would be whitened to your father gets home. we knew by the time he got home, the star would blow over. he wanted to come home and be the good guy. my heart went out to mom. she had to keep the whole ship in the right direction. >> what was her personality like? a jokester, fun loving. she had a background in the arts -- a dance. she was very expressive and wanted us as children to be expressive. in film and tvs business as an actor. i have to think what ever that calling was for me came not from 's side of but dad small. -- yousuccessful was she didn't have a -- you did have a
typical -- how did going to the white house change that at all? >> looking bad, we were fortunate -- a back, we were fortunate. if you were a member of the bush or reagan family, there was almost an expectation that at some point your father was going to run for president or be president. not with gerald ford. he was a house minority leader and wanted to be speaker of house. there was never any pressure on us that he would be president. it happened overnight, very quickly. i barely had time to calm our hair. within days, nixon resigned. we moved to the white house. person,dvantage as a there was no chance to worry about it. it happened so quickly.
that allowed us to come in and not have a chance to change. we got to be ourselves. 18how old were you? >> i was when dad became president. i was getting ready. i was to our tweaks away from going to duke university. all of a sudden, i get 10 secret service guys. -- i was to our three weeks away from going to duke university. that is not the group you hope to hang with at 18. visions of moving into the freshman dorm at duke and 10 guys with machine guns do not work for me. i said, i am not ready to go to college. take a year off. they let me. i took my 10 secret service
agents. i moved to montana to work on ranches. i fell in love with the west. it changed my life. >> did to white house change your mom at all? >> i do not think so. it did not silence her. [laughter] in her position, i would've gotten there a bit afraid to speak my mind. she was not intimidated. she spoke her mind and continued to speak her mind and spoke out on issues that first ladies had never spoken out before. sometimes it went against her. offended.e they thought -- would've never seen a first lady talk like that. others applauded her for saying you are like me. a mother of kids. you go through all of the same things. she was very brave to be herself.
>> i know you were out of montana. you came back. is it possible to have a semblance of a normal life living in the white house? >> if you are surrounded by 18 and i i was at age had friendships that were established. i had people i could depend on and two older brothers. my heart went out to chelsea clinton, who at the end of the day, she had no simplex at was a right -- siblings and was surrounded by adults and probably lived in the governor's mansion before that. day, life was weirder that i could turn my brother and sister -- isn't it strange for you as it is for me? think had thatot circle. she was surrounded by other those. we revere he fortunate -- we
were very fortunate. >> the prom in the white house. today?ybody went, didn't -- they? must've had something to do the planning. what did the public not getting chance to see concerning your mom? , was part of our family that she and dad so many times showed us a relationship where you could differ in opinion and yet still love each other a great deal. that is the thing i appreciated most about a and dad. i remember when mom got behind equal rights for women. that was not part of the republican platform or democratic to be fair.
dad listened and let her do her thing. haveson to watch them, that relationship where they respected each other and supported each other, was a wonderful thing. there's a great story about dad was in a meeting in the west withduring the campaign some of the political types, not the administration. he and mom had been talking about the e.r.a. and other things. somebody said, mr. president, do you think there is any chance you would go speak to your wife and asked her to kind of tone it down for the next couple of months until we get through the campaign? dad smiled and pointed over to set, that is as
where her office is and i know she is in there. if anybody will like to speak to her, you are more than welcome. that of supporting her. -- that was his way of supporting her. >> famous stores in the white house. there have to be very rich ones. >> first of all, you have to remember after dad got sworn in, the day nixon resigned, everybody remembers the image of nixon's helicopter and saying goodbye on the steps. whereinto the east room dad puts his hand on the bible. mom holds the bible. we are sitting there. we take a family portrait in the oval office. remember isdo not we did not get to move in
because nixon -- we lived in our own little home in alexandria, .irginia in suburbia because nixon resigned so unexpectedly, they were not able to pack up all of the belongings. they left their daughter and son-in-law to pack up. seven or eight days. we went back to our little house in virginia. dad had become president of the united states. we were in the dinner around the table. mom was cooking and she looked over and said, jerry, something is wrong here. thejust became president of united states and i am still cooking. that was our reality for the next seven or eight days. ford that thety country came to know accurately reflect the betty ford that was your mother? >> yeah, yeah.
just the wayon, her life unfolded she was challenged with two major issues. first, breast cancer and alcoholism. days of thatrst 30 administration -- dad's administration, you had the resignation added economy in shambles. mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. you have to remember at that time in 1974 people do not talk about breast cancer. you literally did not say the word "breast." it was a closet disease for women. here you have an image of mom and dad standing there in front of the press holding hands saying we are going to take the shame of the disease and be very
transparent. that was important to her as a person to be able -- she did not choose it but to be that role model and she did well. of the hundreds of thousands of letters she got, women who said thank you for helping to take the shame of the disease. bids --went in and got and saying i went in and got the exam a we caught it early. the letters that dad got. dad received letters from men saying thank you, mr. president for showing me how to stand and support my wife. this was kind of groundbreaking new things as far as breast cancer went. right after the presidency, after dad lost to jimmy carter, out to theirself talking about alcohol and drugs
because of through an intervention that the family did in dealing with her own addiction to alcohol and pain medication. took the shame of that for women. the stereotype at that time of the alcoholic was a skid row bum. here's a former first lady raising her hand as saying, hi, my name is betty and i'm an alcoholic. thatave two huge issues mom got to be a part of. if she were here today, she would tell you that she was probably an ordinary woman caught in a very extraordinary time. she did what she supposed to do. but it is hard to them -- >> it was hard to imagine a president
who have more impact than your mother did. >> those type of issues. president dealing with war and the economy. mom was still wet health issues that affected a lot of people. >> did y'all know she was having some of the issues while she was first lady? >> i think we sensed something during the presidency because she had legitimate pain from several pinched nerves and she was getting medication. what we did not know was the combination of alcohol and those medications produce that cocktail that took away some of her sharpness. eventually, it had to play out. it had to get to the other side of the presidency where it created a time for mom after the presidency where she was not first lady. she was out in california. dad was traveling a lot.
they were building a new home and the kids were all gone. over months, she developed a melancholy that turned into depression, pulled back from life and started canceling appointments and not showing up. sleeping in late. slurred speech. that takes months and we did not know what we were looking at. we were like millions of other families. what is wrong with mom? it was not the education about alcoholism and drug dependency that there is now. dad searched through several doctors before he finally found a doctor that have the courage to say, i think your wife's an alcoholic. that was not the image anybody accepted. finally found the right doctor, dad had the courage to say, we will do this intervention. the whole family went in and did
the intervention with mom. at that time, i had never heard the word intervention. now, you have tv shows. it was a different time. we did it. dad led the intervention. my memory of that is very clear. we walked in the door that morning with all of the kids and dad surprised mom. he took her hand and said that betty, we are here because we love you. the kids want their mother back and i want my wife back. those interventions are tough. --t is health of a hard tough, hard, hard stuff. a lot of tears, a lot of crying, a lot of raised voices. a lot more hugs and denial. not to deny you. it goes back and forth. it's a tug-of-war. dad never gave up. betty, we love you, trust us. we woke her up and she did the work.
>> how receptive was she? as typical of any intervention, at times you are receptive and then there is denial. when we got to the other side sheh took several hours, was very receptive. we woke her up. we cannot to do the work. she did the work. it is hard, hard work. i went through alcoholism 10 years after mom. i was right behind her. i know what she went through. she would tell you today, your disease of alcoholism it outside the door doing push-ups waiting for you. it's a lifelong commitment. she did the work and woke up. nobody ever, thought there will be a betty ford center. we were strictly fighting to get
our mom back and dad was fighting to get his wife back. to see the other side of that, after sher, for her had sobriety for a while, pulled comps for both dutch felt comfortable enough to put her name on a treatment center -- felt comfortable enough to put her name on a treatment center that today has had about 90,000 people. nonprofit. her mission of affordable health to help people to get healthy and sober. she was very proud of that. >> when she announced that she had breast cancer, i remember going through blood -- footage and juror father -- and your father he choked up. didn't they go through a process to gather because of such a , what typethat time
of process did she go through? do you think she knew she was having this influence over people? >> i do not think she knew she had the influence on to letters and cards started coming in. at that moment you are fighting for your life. she would tell you, it was all that support, thousands of letters and cards they kept her spirits up. i remembered she shared with me there were letters she got from men who said, i have been through this with my wife and my wife had a mastectomy and i love her even more today than i did. that was encouragement. she knew her relationship with her dad. they have been married for 25 years at that point. she knew if he lost a leg sure not to leave him and if she lost would not leave her. there was a wonderful moment
that she talked about when she got home and she was at the white house, she was concerned, she was worried she would not be able to wear her evening dresses anymore and be part of helping at the white house at state dinners and things like that. she was having a few insecurities. data, and it's wonderful way, he said, do not be silly. if you cannot wear them cut the in thear them cut low back. it was a wonderful laughter. their appreciation of each other and humor. they were a great team. heal theid a lot to country at that time. what role did she play in the back and your family? was a lot of there healing that went on. much of it was recognized later.
it goes back to the nixon pardon. the same time that the data gave a nixon the pardon or offered forpardon, he did the same the people who went to canada. he stood in front of the veterans of foreign wars and gave the speech. and he knew he was not going to get an applause. this whole thing was about grace and mercy. if you cannot make grace and mercy that a broad and big, we are not trying to show a nation. angels about bringing -- it was about bringing draft of orders home. things like that. years later, it was recognized as the healing of the nation. mom played a role in that she housewife thate ended up in the white house. she spoke about that. people appreciated that.
administers before were more formal -- administrations before that were more formal. they were a package. great buttons for the campaign in 1976 that told you how wife,r she was -- jerry's betty's husband for president. she was more popular than him at the time. >> last question. she did his succession speech. historical.able -- how is history going to view your mom? becauseave the speech the days before the final election, dad was giving so many speeches and he lost his voice. the next morning we are standing in the oval office getting ready
and dad could not speak. he had totally lost his voice. mom was there and the kids were there. she was reading the note. it looking back as a family, showed what a team they were. heseemed very natural when was not available, she could step in. i look at the cancer thing and the alcoholism. they were like a team -- like climbing a mountain. climbing mount everest, you get to 27,000 feet and your partner gets sick and you could go to the top without them or wait until they get well. for mom to get well when she had breast cancer. he waited until she got sober and went through treatment for a holism. gethim, it meant nothing to to the top issues not with him.
that was the one true thing about the relationship. >> things escalated so quickly. a moment that seemed so loving could turn and flip and be so out of control. that is one of the days. h adamdid -- ended wit going through his things and seeing a handgun as saying, what is the deal? i want to take and sell it because i need money. on top of all the other pressures, i have no money. just held the gun and he went in a room and came out with a shotgun. really tried to jam it at us. she would pull the trigger and kill him. as i was writing the book and this is based on what i was told -- nkel follows the
second ever treat on c- max next, a discussion of the state of american education. then connecticut governor donal malloy talks about early childhood education programs in his state. speaksan manuel santos about his country' trade agreement with the u.s.. >> in a recent ranking of students around the world, the u.s. failed to score in the top 20 of reading, math, and science. randi weingarten says that that is because the u.s. has a higher poverty rate than other developed countries. hour.s just over one >> our guest is randi weingarten, president of the american federation of teachers.