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in decisions to ease some people out of the reagan white house which may be the president was reluctant to do because he was a nice guy. it's interesting to know about the friendship between mike wallace, your dad, and nancy reagan. talk a little bit about the post presidency. because not only -- even before ronald reagan died we had the sad long period where the effects of alzheimer's kick in. he famously wrote that letter to the public which was kind of like a good-bye letter and she was really the public face of the couple who had been president and first lady and almost by default charged with keeping that legacy alive. >> the day that came out, called mrs. reagan fully expecting to not ever reach her but just expressing my sympathies and she got on the phone and we talked for probably 20 minutes or so the day the reagan letter was released and she talked about
the fact she looked so forward to being able to share the golden years and memories. you have to remember, she was the stepdaughter of a doctor who, in effect, was her father, so she had a very keen sense of medical issues and sensitivity to doctors. she was so sad about the idea that they would not be able to share these memories. that that was going to be lost and they wouldn't have those golden years. he lived many years after that because it didn't affect his physical health but in terms of his mental health obviously, they lost those shared memories and that was kind of a death before his actual death for her. >> if you're just joining us, the sad news is nancy reagan has died. she has passed away in los angeles at the age of 94. we're talking to chris wallace on the phone who covered the reagan white house. at that time, chris, did nancy reagan, you know, as we discussed, you know, took some knocks at the press.
did sheer get mad at the media or even you over stories she felt were unfair? >> oh, absolutely. i'll tell you the funny story about my father and her. she really had this tremendous connection to my father. in 1980 when he was -- when reagan was at the convention in detroit, when he was going to be nominated for president, they agreed he would do an interview with "60 minutes" and my father was doing a typical mike wallace interview and she was getting more and more mad at her dear friend mike wallace and at one point, because those were the days of film, they had to chance the film canisters, she sat in his lap and looked up at him and said, oh, mike, now stop that. s she, you know, could get annoyed, would let you know -- >> i've got to let you go in one minute. >> i would just say that she -- you could be in or out with
nancy reagan. you would be cut off for a while, but then you'd be accepted back in. >> chris, thanks for calling in. again, nancy reagan, the former first lady of the united states, has died at the age of 94. we'll continue the fox coverage now with arthel neville in new york. >> this is a fox news alert. we begin with very sad news, breaking just moments ago, that former first lady nancy reagan has died at the age of 94. a spokesperson saying mrs. reagan passed away this morning at her home in los angeles. the cause of death was congestive heart failure. >> mrs. reagan, as you know, served as the first lady of our country from 1981 to 1989. she famously led the fight against drug and alcohol abuse in america's youth. was a very forceful first lady,
especially behind the scenes at the white house. protective, loving to her husband, especially so after he left office, and announced he suffered from alzheimer's disea disease. it also made her a much beloved figure in our nation, ed ro rowlands knew her well. this news breaking about 20 minutes ago, your thoughts? >> very sad, she was an extraordinarily classy lady, brilliant, kind, charming, could be very tough when things weren't going right for her, what she thought the president or she thought the staff was not serving him well. never in public policy in the sense that mrs. carter sat in policy meetings. she never did that. she basically obviously was the adviser of last resort to the president. shep was his closest friend in
the world. and her influence was monumental because she knew him and she cared deeply for him and she had great judgment. >> we saw that behind the scenes with some of -- with don reagan for example, when he was chief of staff. so talk aly the about her influence. because her goal, her effort, her major issue that she had, was being protective of the man she called ronnie. >> well, he was very lucky to have that. being president, being a very kind man as he was, he -- i won't say he was naive, but he could be taken advantage of and she wouldn't never let that occur. so my sense is she knew what he wanted to do with the country. she was very instrumental in making sure that course stayed on. she very much cared about the president. she thought she was a great president. as i talked earlier, in 1976, he told me after he ran and lost to
ford by 117 votes in the nomination process, 1976, he was not ready to run again. he said, all right, took my shot, didn't work out, i'll go live happily ever after. she was the one who pushed and pushed hard and convinced him that the country desperately needed his leadership and i don't think he would have been president without her and he told me he didn't think he'd be president without her kind prodding to convince him he was the man of the hour and he certainly was the man of the hour. >> during their tenure, you know, there were some of those controversies, the white house china, which by the way, was paid for by private funds. >> she got a very bad rap in the beginning. she was a very classy lady and wanted to bring glamour back to the white house. i can tell you, having been there from the beginning of the reagan term -- i don't want to cast any aspersions on the carters, but the place had kind of fallen apart. and they hadn't kept it up in
the way that historical monument that it was. they hadn't replaced the china. she was a very glamorous woman. there was never a time when i wasn't in the room that you weren't attracted to her beauty and her intelligence. i think to a certain extent she felt this was the people's house and there should be something very, very special. she obviously had many friends from hollywood, new york and elsewhere. and i think to a certain extent she added glamour, again. but the key thing that she did every single day is she was -- she was his comforter. she was his person that he could go to at the end of the day and interestingly, he was a man who people loved and had many friends and associates. he was kind of a loner. she was the one confidant whose judgment he respected. i was in meeting. that's a lot of crap. and don regan tried to get his revenge and didn't treat her with the respect she deserved
and at the end of the day failed the president and he was the one who leaked those stories. running a campaign, no astrologer ever guided that campaign. she basically, just as she got the "just say no" banner up there, that was a very important program at the time and equally as important, making the country awhere of aids, which was in its infancy. many of her friends in hollywood had come down with the disease. she was very instrumental in making that front and center. just as she was with alzheimer's. she made it very public. she stuck by him through some very long and lonely years, i'm sure, and was a wonderful first lady. >> can you talk about that just briefly for a moment? we saw the photo of mrs. reagan waving from the hospital. he famously said, honey, i forgot to duck. talk about that relationship between husband and wife that then transferred from the white
house in the public eye to that private struggle of alzheimer's. the very public symbol of the caregivers, other wives around the country and husbands. >> a lot of people are now aware because of president reagan and because of her efforts, you know, was kind of a -- we didn't talk much about it. certain lip was a problem in the country. not like we do today where it's an ongoing discussion and many are much more outward. he was an ex-president. he was not someone who had desire to come back. they could have lived a more secluded life and never have made it public and no one would probably have ever known about it, but she took it as a challenge. and she wanted research and she wanted the basics to make sure others didn't have to live through the pain and misery she had to live through. day in, day out, obviously the last ten years of his life where he didn't knowp people and may
not have known, she was there every day, comforted him every day. the images here, she's older and more frail. i always think of her as this gorgeous dynamic woman who was obviously very instrumental to making this country feel good about self again. shep was all a part of the reagan mystique of making americans love america deeply again and she certain lip added that glamour point. she was a target. there's no question, early on. they couldn't touch him so many of the critics went after her. at the end of the day, she had a great sense of humor. she went to the gridiron dinner and basically did this very fascinating spoof of -- a comedy act of herself and i think at the end of the day most people had great, great respect for her. >> she had humor, she had elegance, she loved her husband so deeply, clearly a giant we have lost this morning. ed rowlands, we thank you so much for your recollections in being with us.
>> we want to bring in former u.s. ambassador to the u.n., senior fellow at the american enterprise institute and fox news contributor. good morning and first of all, tell us your personal thoughts right now about nancy reagan. >> well, i think it's obviously sad, but i think it's better perhaps to think that now she is reunited with the president and that that's a comfort to both of them. i think ed just described vividly her role, i would just add, you know, i think one of the most important commodities for a president is peace of mind, to be able to walk out of the oval office after the momentous decisions a president has to make to return to some element of normality in life, in this case, with nancy and ronald reagan and she performed that function in ways we probably will never know about fully, unless she's left diaries of the experience and she did not go
public with what her role was and the president of course didn't, but there's no doubt as i think every observer of their marriage and partnership pointed out is she was somebody who could give him that stability and that's critical to somebody who, for eight years, faced the hardest decisions that anybody in this country can face. >> absolutely. you know, you mentioned how mrs. reagan was the president's rock. the wind beneath his wings. she was so comfortable playing the bad cop to his good cop if you will. she did it out of love. perhaps people didn't get it but you reference we would be so fortunate if, in fact, nancy reagan did leave behind words in a memoir that would be made public because there's so many fascinating stories about her strength but yet her grace, elegance at the same time. >> i remember the inaugural ball
in 1981, she had this white dress on and she and the president came in and danced a dance for everybody. and i remember just being inspired by their elegance and the class that they were going to bring to what was going to be a hard-fought political administration. i think what she was able to do with jim baker, with the chief of staff, was to help realize president reagan's enormous talent as a communicator. as they pursued the various political agendas, whatever they were, she was able to provide the insight into how the president himself could use his talents more effectively. the sense of optimism, enthusiasm, achievement.
i think she was able to bring a major part of that into play. >> passing away at age 94. images of that regal couple. as so many people try to follow in reagan's foot steps. the picture of elegance. do you think this will reset the tone we are currently existing in the world of politics? >> i hope it does. remember, 35 years later through the haze of history. but ronald reagan was subject to one of the worst most vicious personal assaults by political adversaries. that has to take a toll on anybody. he did not reciprocate in kind. i think this is an area where mrs. reagan behind the scenes was so very effective number one in saying forget about that stuff, keep your eyes on the prize, but also helping him
answer in ways that really made his critics look small it. >> ambassador, one of the break throughs, so to speak, there was a state dinner, gorbachev was there, and she apparently told them to play "moscow nights" and gorbachev at the time start eed singing and later after that george shultz said it felt literally that was the moment the cold war crumbled. talk about that influence and the fact that behind the scenes she could have those connections with other world leaders. >> well, i think she clearly had an interest in making sure the president took advantage of opportunities such as the collapse of the old style soviet leadership, the emergence of mikhail gorbachev as somebody who represented a different kind of soviet leader. regulagan and george h.w. bush e able to take advantage of it.
one of the most interesting relationships i think was ronald reagan and margaret thatcher, nancy reagan was a part of that. to have a mutual respect and friendship all three of them had is something i think helped reinforce the president when he needed friends and allies overseas and mrs. reagan and mrs. thatcher were both very supportive obviously each in their owe wayne so mrs. reagan's role is something that helped the president in really more ways than you can calculate. >> you talk about the shots that president reagan took, the shots that he withstood. a lot of the credit going to mrs. reagan. i just noted that march 4th, a couple of days ago, would have been their 64th wedding anniversary. it was a love story with a lot of tough love that kept president reagan from crumbling at times under enormous pressure. you had political pressure that he was under. and major decisions made to
change the world and alter the course of history and, again, there were the personal attacks. speak to that sort of loyalty, that sort of fierce allegiance that is so very important to someone who is the leader of the free world. >> as others have said, the president, by definition, whoever it is, is in a very isolated position. for that reason, needs to have one or more people that they can completely open up to. and say whatever's on their mind, change their mind in the space of 30 seconds, vent a little bit. all those sorts of things. and ronald reagan was a very private man. one of his biographers just gave up trying to understand him. i think in the marriage relationship that she had, mrs. reagan performed a function that for many other people would have taken six or seven people to do because of the life she shared with president reagan.
i don't think you can really appreciate that without having seen the pressures that he was under. it's just -- it's very hard to speculate about what they said to each other in private and if we are to learn more, we'll see, but nobody can doubt it when you look at the outcome that that relationship was the foundation of ronald reagan's success as president. >> absolutely. ambassador, stand by for us, if you would. >> ambassador, thank you. let's now take a look back at the life and times of mrs. reagan. senior correspondent adam housely takes a look. >> she was born in new york city on july 6th, 1921. her parents kenneth and edie divorced soon afterwards and she was raised by her mother, an actress, and had little contact with her father. in 1929, edie married dr. loyal davis, moving the family to chicago. >> she had a stepfather that she was extremely fond of, a very
strict and accomplished man. not everyone's cupp tea but very much hers. >> reporter: at 14 he adopted her. nancy changed her name to davis. after high school, nancy followed in her mother's acting foot steps. she graduated from smith college in 1943 with a drama degree and moved to new york city. she appeared in plays before landing a contract with mgm and then moved to hollywood and would ultimately appear in 11 films. >> look at me, please. >> reporter: in the fall of 1949, a trade paper reported nancy had communist ties. in her 1989 memoir, she explained how a director friend asked the president of her union to help. >> so late that afternoon, the phone rang. nancy davis, this is ronald reagan. if you're free for dinner tonight, perhaps we could talk about it then. well, i stammered, i think i can
manage it. >> reporter: she described meeting at not love at first sight but pretty close. daughter patty was born in october that same year, son ron followed in 1958. nancy has said she thought she married an actor but she soon realized his real passion was working with the republican party. >> and ronnie, the party saw a fresh face with no ties to washington and a reputation for integrity. >> reporter: he ran for governor, won by a landslide, and nancy served as first lady of california from 1967 to 1975. the reagans had been married nearly three decades when they moved into the white house. nancy later admitted her years in sacramento did little to prepare her for the national stage. >> i'll never forget, once told me looking back on the first year, she said, you know, i
thought as having been the wife of the governor of the state of california for eight years, that i had a pretty good handle on what the press interest would be. >> reporter: they called the former actress queen nancy. >> nancy reagan had this image that really didn't accurately portray her but it was very regal, above others. it was a totally unfair characterization. >> reporter: but her priorities quickly shifted. >> i spent a good deal of time with her that day. and she was definitely in shock. she was very quiet. >> reporter: from then on, the president's safety became her utmost priority. she kept an eye on his travels. then came one of her most defining moments. >> just say no. >> she really felt for the parents of kids who were using drugs. i know when letters would come in from parents, really
heartbreaking stories, she would take pen and paper and write a personal response. >> reporter: when it came to policy, nancy for the most part kept her distance. she admitted to weighing in on occasion, most notably with the chief of staff donald regan. she thought she was ineffective and she was eventually ousted. first and foremost, she was a wife. >> ronald reagan and nancy reagan were a team. >> you seldom saw them when they weren't holding hands. they preferred to be with each other than anyone else. >> reporter: the reagans lived a private life after they retired to california. something nancy looked forward to. >> i think she just relaxed as a person. i don't think she missed it all that much. the enormous pressure. >> reporter: but in 1994, the former president revealed he had alzheimer's disease, a battle he would lose ten years later. >> it was what she described as
the long good-bye. how difficult that was for her but i think she did it with great dignity. it's a part of her legacy, something she will be remembered for. >> reporter: nancy lived quietly after the president's passing. >> the statue is a wonderful likeness of ronnie and he would be so proud. >> reporter: and he proud of her. while the woman, the secret service called rainbow, is now gone, her time as first lady remains an indelible part of history. not only to her country but to her husband. adam housley, fox news. >> that image is so telling about their relationship. recalling during mr. reagan's funeral, of the former president when at the final moment, if you saw when the sun was setting in california, she took the american flag that was folded and held it and i think put it on the coffin and she began to
cry. ambassador john bolton is still with us. ambassador, clearly, that relationship was not just so deeply connected personally, but politically. we've touched on this a bit today. i remember during the campaign in 1980, she basically influenced the firing of john saers who was the campaign manager right in the middle of the campaign and they just won new hampshire. talk a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes and that influence that she had that many americans may not be familiar with. >> there's that. as we just saw, the firing of don regan, the chief of staff at the white house, i think this goes directly to the role that mrs. reagan played very quietly, without publicity. but making sure the president's subordinates followed the president's directions and were effective in maintaining his image. i don't say that in a pr way, i mean because the bully pulpit of the presidency as theodore
roosevelt called it was made for reagan too and she was focused on how to maximize his ability to get done what he wanted to do and if that meant getting rid of people who weren't performing effectively, she was prepared to do it. >> ambassador, thank you for your insight and wreck lesireco on this sad day with the death of nancy reagan. >> former first lady bush just issued a state saying nancy reagan was totally devoted to president reagan and we take comfortable that they will be r reunited once more. joining us on the phone is a trainer and was a physical therapist for nancy reagan. if you would tell us how did you come to work with mrs. reagan. >> her doctor called me up and asked if i could work with her because i was working with another patient of his. reagan, when you first ot to
started working with her, again, without divulging too much of the information, i understand you have some privacy issues that you have to deal with, but what can you tell us about mrs. reagan's physical condition when you began working with her and her tenacity to get through whatever your routines were. >> well, she -- my first thing of her was how i loved her laugh. she laughed all the time. she had the best laugh. i thought, how come nobody knows this about her? because her laugh was amazing. physically, she came off to the public as a lot more feeble than she was. i think her eyes weren't good and she couldn't really get depth. so when she would go anywhere publicly, she had to have people on each side of her because she couldn't see where she was stepping and didn't know if she was going down or up. but in her home, she knew her home really well and she was much more able to get around and do what she needed to do. and her physical being was a little stronger than it seemed
to look to everybody else. >> you were referring to the home in bel air? >> yes. >> how was that when you would go to train mrs. reagan, how would she greet you? >> well, she was fantastic. one time, i show up early and she didn't have a shirt on and i laughed and she goes, you're early, dear. i went, oh, okay. but she would wear to work out, she always had this like lovely matching slacks and cashmere sweater or a blouse on and that used to make me laugh as well. she was just a doll and she had so many stories and she never wanted to repeat herself. she was very smart. again, she looked more feeble than she was. she would say, you stop me if i've told you this. no, frankly, i wanted to hear the stories more than once because they were that good. >> absolutely. around how old was mrs. reagan
when you were working with her? >> around 88. >> tell me a little more about some of the stories. guys, for the record, kirstine, who i'm talking with now, is a phenomenal trainer, very educated, that is how she came to work with mrs. reagan in her physical therapy days she needed -- this was after one of her falls, right? before you answer that, i want to let everybody know, we have her because she happens to be one of my best friends. this is how i know some of these stories. i'm so happy she's here to share these personal stories with us. talk to us more about the recollections of some the stories mrs. reagan shared with you. >> well, she just had -- of course everyone has already talked about her love affair with ronnie. so where we trained, we went into her master bedroom, which was full of just pictures and lovely pictures. pictures that probably no one
else has seen of just them and their family time. she talked nonstop about ronnie and talked nonstop about the reagan library, which is kind of her passion, and i think she was really trying to just get that until she could go meet ronnie again, which i know she was definitely thinking would happen. and was waiting for her. and looked forward to. so when i heard of her death, i felt sad but i felt happy for her because i think she was, you know, she'd been ready to go join him. their love affair was amazing. and just so much fun to listen to. and her stories of the white house. but her stories of just going to parties and her stories of things were funny because her laugh was hysterical. just laugh. are you kidding, who have you ever told that to? i think just you. you know, it's so glad. she goes yeah, but clearly i can't say this to people.
i'm like, oh, my gosh. so many crazy things happened to her. she had such a full life. and i remember one time we were, you know, stretching and she was really doing great and i thought i'll just push it a little bit and she goes, you're hurting me dear. i went, oh, of course. well, we'll stop that then. but she never had, you know -- it was just lovely to be with her. none of my other clients go, you're hurting me, dear. i'm pretty sure they're "hey, what's the matter with you." >> you feel very happy for mrs. reagan at this point because you're certain that she has now rejoined ronnie, as she called him, so affectionately, and i'm happy for you that you not only got a chance to, you know, do your work, great work that you do with someone like the stature of mrs. reagan but you have so many wonderful memories and smiles left behind in your heart.