tv Geraldo at Large FOX News November 14, 2010 4:00am-5:00am EST
>> is this your favorite place? >> we love coming here and it was great during the presidency to come here to -- >> wind down. >> gave me a chance to get outdoors and exercise and to work the countryside, you know, cutting down cedars and building bike trails. >> when i last saw you, you were -- my perception was you were totally completely at peace, your job was done. >> yeah. >> and you seem even more at peace now i am at peace and i was honored to serve the country. i gave it my all. and i have written a book that chronicles the decisions i made and i feel -- i'm not desperate to try to shape a legacy because i fully understand that there needs to be time for history to be able to analyze,
for historians to be able to analyze the decisions that i made and, you know, i have -- i'm content. i'm a content guy. i have a great marriage. i have a lot of friends. my health is good. >> ing did the -- doing the stuff with bill clinton. how is that going? >> he is a fun guy. we are the same age and i like him and we are working on the haiti project together. bill has a good soul. he is not a mean spirited guy and it is fun to be with him and fun to share insights into the presidency. we don't debate. i'm through with debating. i debated enough. >> it is a all elite club. >> see the altar i built? that is where jenna got married and that will be there
permanently and this is my fishing lake. >> you don't see through any transition. >> no, i really didn't. i was fortunate to be an eight year president and eight years is a long time. >> a lot of pressure. >> yeah, a lot of pressure. a lot of opportunities. a lot of issues came to the desk, some of which i could anticipate. some of which i didn't anticipate and -- >> 9/11 the biggest. >> 9/11 was the biggest, katrina. the financial meltdown was a difficult period. and the key thing in life for me was to know that i didn't compromise principle and that i poured my heart and soul into the job. and so when i got home here are to crawford, this is where we spent our first day of the post presidency. i was -- i had a sense of satisfaction. there were some things i wish we could have done, i mean i
wish we would have captured osama bin laden for example. but i knew that i had given it my all. >> you said it was a regret of yours you didn't get bin laden. >> right. >> you went after him, hard? >> very hard. on the other hand, we did serious damage to al-qaeda. >> he doesn't come out in public any more does he? >> i used to get in trouble sometimes for say things that popped off the top of my head like you notice he is not leading any parades lately. >> well, wanted dead or alive. >> yeah, wanted dead or alive. >> you addressd that. you said you realized over time that you had multiple audiences. >> i did, yeah. >> you had the american people and the world stage. >> bring 'em on, for example. >> there are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there.
my answer is bring 'em on. >> in that case i was sending encouraging words to our troops. i'm the commander in chief of a bunch of incredibly brave people and somebody said thenmy is after them and my message was nobody is going to defeat our troops. my message was you are the best. my message to the enemy was you will not shake the will of this commander in chief. such a big role. semantics plad tom dashiell didn't like that you were using the phrase war. i have two new. overseas contingency operation and man caused disaster which is what the current administration referred to it as. >> words matter. the thing about the modern president is every word is analyzed and sometimes i didn't
get my words right. i never -- i tell these audiences i speak to, you didn't elect me because i was shakespeare. i didn't pretend to be. and you speak a lot as the president and, of course, you are going to say things that when you look back at it you wish you would have put it differently and bring 'em on was -- i really didn't realize at the time when i said it because my intentions were to bolster our troops and send a message to the enemy but in retrospect i probably could have put it a little more artfully. >> it was an unscripted event after 9/11. >> i can hear you and the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked all these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> usa!
usa! usa! >> the truth of the matter is the unscripted moments are best whether they come out right or not. i have always believed that the simpler the message, in other words, the clearer and simpler the message that the more likely our citizens are going to understand what a president is saying. i can remember people coming in to brief me and there was jibberish and a long rambling answers to questions and i remember thinking this person doesn't know what they are talking about if they can't tell me what it is. >> bottom line here. >> of course, you need rationale and explanation but it is kind this of circuitous
logic and rambling along that created a certain sense of doubt in my mind. i tried to speak as plainly as i could so people knew where i was coming from. and more importantly, when i spoke about intentions my intentions were to follow through. in other words, i just wasn't saying something and trying to get somebody to say oh, well, i like him. i was trying to say something to say this is what we are going to do and then i would go do it. to me, one of the problems in politics is sometimes politicians will say something and they don't mean it. they say it to try to make you feel good about them and then when you don't do what you said you will do it creates a cined icism in the system. >> i don't think there was a problem where the american people knew where you stood. >> sometimes they didn't like where i stood, i understand that.
i understand you shouldn't be president and try to be liked. i think you need to be respect. >> the isolated area where world leaders conducted ranch diplomacy. >> much more coming up, stick around. aren't you sick of these airline credit cards that advertise flights for 25,000 miles? but when you call... let me check. oh fud, nothing without a big miles upcharge. it's either pay their miles upcharges or connect through mooseneck! [ freezing ] i can't feel my feet. we switched to the venture card from capital one -- so no more games. let's go see those grandkids. [ male announcer ] don't pay miles upcharges.
[pop] lipstick as we continue my special interview with former president george w. bush about his brand new book, decision points from his crawford gloves some of the negotiations took place far from washington, d.c. an exclusive tour of one of the most isolated area of his ranch where world leaders could talk in private. >> you would try to get out here and clear the mind. >> what i would do is, of course, in the morning do my work. we had really good video
equipment. >> right. >> i was able to have national security meetings or do domestic policy meetings. >> did you build this? >> yeah. >> so this was impassible. you couldn't get in here and so we kind of designed a way to get a path here. >> this is nice. look at that. up there. >> you haven't seen it yet. wait until you see up here. isn't this beautiful? >> this is spectacular. unbelievable. >> you can see why this would be a good spot to conduct diplomacy. we would come up here and visit. >> who was here? >> vladimir putin. you know, i think prime minister quasumi came here. i think tony blair came here 86 captain remember everybody that
came here. i like to show them this because it gives a good feel for the topography and the truth of the matter was conducting diplomacy on the ranch was easier because people tend to relax. if you put a person in an informal environment you are more likely to be able to get a feel for how they think. once you get a feel for how they think and where their interests are and concerns it makes it easier to conduct diplomacy. >> you wanted to change the tone of washington. the next administration wants to change a the tone of washington. >> everybody wants to change. >> washington tone doesn't get changed. is it just the reality of the way it is going to be. >> i think that is the reality. abraham lincoln wished the tone of washington was different when people started calling him baboon. george, washington interestingly enough was harshly criticized at the end of his presidency.
ronald reagan. my dad. everybody goes through if you are the president there is a lot of criticism. in my case i did the best to change the tone by not participating in the name calling or, you know -- >> you don't participate in it now. >> no, i don't. >> you have been quiet. >> i'm quiet. because -- i'm not that quiet. just quiet in that there is no mike, no public arena. >> right. >> a couple of reasons why. i think it is best for the country for a former president to be quiet. that is my choice. other presidents feel differently. >> you are aware that this current president does take a lot of shots at you. your name gets mentioned a lot still? >> i have been in politics a long time. i underand it that tactic. it doesn't bother me. it really doesn't bother me. one of the biggest sacrifices for running for president if you are fortunate enough to win is loss of anonymity. and i know i will forever be
known when i walk down the street people say "oh, this is george w. bush." on the other hand, staying out of the limelight restores a certain sense of anonymity. i don't miss being in the limelight. >> you are content here. >> i understand i'm in the lime light now because i'm talking to you my buddy and the reason i am is because i'm selling my book. but i'm very much at peace. i was honored to serve and i really enjoyed being president and i'm enjoying not being president. >> i can't imagine what it would be like to be a president or live in a post presidency but somebody kept mentioning my name and blaming me for all his problems -- >> i mean it really doesn't bother me. irritates some of my friends, no question about it. >> laura? >> i don't think she -- you are going to have to ask her. we don't spend a lot of time agonizing about the current what is said. >> kimberly: you seem to be very much at peace with the
idea that -- very much at peace with the idea that history will write about the bush presidency. >> yes. >> and that chapter hasn't been written and that book can't be written. >> it can't be written for awhile. historiesians at the moment have their prejudices and there needs to be time to fully analyze the consequences of the decision to not only liberate iraq but to then help the iraqis develop their own democracy. >> and what happened ten years later and 20 years later. >> nd later. >> nd and the effect of a free iraq if in fact the democracy succeeds which i think it will on other countrys. >> you think history will judge outages fairly? >> they will. some historians will say i really like what george bush did. some will say i really don't like what george bush did, you know, when did them and it is going to be hard for them to be able to analyze things objectively. >> this book is your take on the presidency and your take on
your years and the reason you made your decision. >> it is. here 1 what i want to do. i want to give readers a chance to see from my perspective what it was like. and i would like to give historians a frame of reference. >> still to come, the october surprise that almost cost him the presidency. >> i made a mistake. i drank too much and i was i drank too much and i was driving and i quitñ÷
you talk in the book and you said clearly after the nightmare of september 11th america went on seven and a half years without another successful terrorist attack on american soil and you viewd that as your most meaningful accomplishment. >> yes. i think the biggest job for a president is to protect the american people and i remember sitting in the classroom thinking about the attack and looking a at the little child that was reading to me and realize that my job was to protect that person and that person's family and that person's neighbors and that is what the american president is called to do. i just happened to be called to do it at a time when fanatics came and killed thousands on our soil. >> you even go into detail and you thought you would be a domestic president and dealing with domestic issues but you
are a wartime president. >> i was, sadly. i wouldn't wish that on any president. you know, the toughest decision a president makes is to send somebody's boy into combat or somebody's daughter into combat. and the consequences of combat can be awfully devastating. it is interesting that the presidency often turns out to be something you didn't expect. and i bet that is probably the case for all presidents. it is the unexpectd that helps define whether or not you are capable of leading the country. in my case the unexpected was 9/11 and katrina to a certain extent and the financial meltdown. >> i interviewed you a couple of days before you left office, the oval office and i walked away with a distinct impression you were at peace with everything that had gone on. >> yes. >> you actually right in the book. you say i felt satisfied.
i had been willing to make the hard decisions. you always did what you believed was right. you spent a lot of time thinking about the presidency, do you think about maybe the decisions you made or is that in the past? >> on some of them i do think about them primarily because i'm still engaged with the military. in other words, laura and i went out and welcomed troops coming in from afghanistan. they wouldn't have been there had i not decided to take out the taliban. laura and i had gold star moms to our house in dallas and those were the moms who lost a son in combat or a daughter in combat. and so i'm still involved with the veterans and military people and so i think about the decision to send them into combat a lot. and i thought a lot about the presidency when i wrote this book. i don't -- >> you started the guy you got back here. >> i did right here at the ranch. >> you didn't spend a lot of time, you know -- >> first of all, i'm soberhouse
rouslim-- first first of all, i'm obviously a type a personality and i needed something to do. hopefully the reader will say it is a series of stories that describe the environment in which i was the president and how i made decisions. >> it is what this book is all about here. justs a an aside, do you follow those as closely now? >> no. >> you don't follow it? >> but i have a good sense. i mean i look at "wall street journal" is my favorite national journal and i read that. maybe i'm not supposed to be advertising on behalf of the "wall street journal." >> fox news owns it. >> believe me, i understand that. i'm pandering. >> does it bother you, your brother spoke out against the president and said you have opinion president for 20 months it is time for you to start
taking responsibility. i'm sure you're aware that he made those comments. >> i am. i'm grateful for my little brother. >> sticking up for you. >> we love each other and his was an act of love. >> and you know that still was a mantra by the president himself. >> i have been around politics a long time and i'm -- it is the way it is. presidents of criticized constantly during presidency and sometimes after the presidency. and it doesn't really bother me. >> why did you make the decision that you wouldn't say, you know what, it is your responsibility now or you made a decision not to attack president obama. >> it is not just president obama. i suspect i will have that same point of view for whoever follows him. >> jimmy carter when you were president you dealt with it. >> i did. in my book i pointed out that when my dad went to the united nations to get a
george w. bush ranch in crawford. we are talking about his new book. the book goes in detail about the 2000 election and the bomb shell that almost derailed the campaign two days before election day. news that george w. bush had once been arrested for drunk driving. >> that nearly cost you the presidency you wrote. >> that was a big mistake. >> you could have released that information two years earlier. >> i should have released it earlier. i chose, you know, i never really thought about whether or not to release it and until i was called to jury duty and the jury -- the case was about a d.u.i. and a reporter yelled have you ever been arrested or i can't remember the exact words. >> you tell the story. >> i chose not to answer. i said look, i made a lot of mistakes when i was young.
in retrospect i should have said yes, in 19 whatever it was i was arrested for drunk driving and i haven't drank since. here is what i was concerned about. at the same time i was telling my girls if i catch you drinking and driving you are not going to ever drive and i was worried they would say hey, wait a minute, he must not mean that, he did the same thing and look where he got to be governor. i was more concerned about good parents than i was my own political skin at the time. this retrospect as i put in the book what i should have done was said i drank and drove, i shouldn't have done that. i had quit drinking and by the way, we are about to have a big fundraiser for mothers against drunk driving or something like that. i didn't. therefore when it drops out four days before the election, all momentum stopped and it created confusion. i wasn't concerned about my statement when i first heard the news. the statement was very simple. i made a mistake.
i drank too much. i was driving. and i quit drinking. the problem was when you drop a nugget out like that four days before the campaign. >> karl a lot of votes. i have evidence of people saying wait a minute, we thought we were voting for a different type person. >> do you think the gore campaign knew about it the whole time? >> i don't think it was stumbled upon by an investigative reporter with four days to go by accident. >> you go into detail on a day that changed the united states of america forever which is september 11th, 2001. karl rove first told you that a plane hid one of the towers and you thought it was a small prop
plain and then you hear it was a sweet liner and i think you described the first one is an accident and the second was an attack and the third right away you determined it was a declaration of war. >> i was in the limousine heading toward air force one and condee called again and said the plane hit the pentagon and so the first one was likely an accident and the second was an attack and the third was a declaration of war and that is how i conducted my presidency. >> in front of school kids you said because you got criticized at the time, well, why didn't you walk out and you said that you knew the world would be watching your reaction and you knew at that point obviously your mind is spinning and you are with the kids and you want to do that. >> what happened on that is i saw the press corps in the back start getting phone calls and
because the beepers were off or buzzers were off it was like watching a silent movie. literally andy card whispers. my first reaction is anger, how dare they do that and then i look at the child report children and it's i'm going protect you. and, you know, all of a sudden the phone calls and they are all getting calls and it was obvious they were getting calls. >> about what happened. >> getting told the same thing that i had just been told by andy. and i decided, i made the decision not to jump up and create kind of a chaotic scene but just to wait for an appropriate moment. one of the lessons of any crisis if you happen to be the the head of an organization don't overreact because if you overreact the people counting on you will overreact. then i hustled out and wrote a statement. >> today we have had a national
tragedy. >> the second lesson of a crisis it you make sure you try to fill the void or a void with a statement so as to assure people that we would be on top of the situation. >> i ordered that the full resources of the federal government will go to help the victims and their families and to find those folks who committed this act. >> i don't know when you said it but it was shortly after that we are going to find out who did this and kick their ass. >> yeah, i said that to the people in the administration. that wasn't a published statement. that would have been the kind of statement that probably would have been criticized for being a little too simplistic. >> you wrote in the book in the single morning the purpose of my presidency had grown clear. to protect our people and defend freedom that had come under attack. do you remember what you felt then? >> i felt the duty of protecting the country. and in the book i try to take the reader or take the reader
back to the environment in which i was making decisions. i mean we were under threat a lot. >> threats that the public never knew about. coming up next, the never before revealed biological weapons scare that threatened the lines o lives of the presid his staff. >> people in the white house may have been affected includingxox
as we continue my special interview from crawford, texas, at the ranch of former president george w. bush on his brand new book decision points. the book details a never before told story that while an overseas trip in october of 2001 the president was informd that a toxic biohazard may have breached white house security. traces of deadly tox ins were found and there was a chance the president and his senior staff were exposed. it took a full day of testing
the substance on mice before the incident was ruled a false alarm. >> you were told that people in the white house may have been infected including you. >> that's right. >> and they were concerned you might -- they tested the mice. >> and thankfully we weren't exposed to botulism toxin. >> you thought what happened if i die because dick cheney had given you that wonderful news. >> not really. i never really spent time during the presidency thinking about my death. there was a couple of moments in there where remember andy card comes in and says the white house is targeted we need to take you out. i said no, i'm not leaving. i said have the minimum staff there and if need be put the vice president in another location to encourage continuity of government but i'm not leaving. i was tired of leaving. >> you didn't want the enemy to know that they could, make me move around at their women. we are in a psychological where against -- at their whim.
in the book i describe my frustrations about not being in washington on 9/11. eventually after having gone to louisiana and nebraska i said i'm coming home because i wasn't -- >> they didn't want you come home at that point. >> they did not. they are risk adverse and you can understand why. >> but you made that fay that will call and that was it. >> absolutely. >> do you wish you came home sooner? doesn't matter? >> here is the situation and you describe this and i guess this is in part why you are writing the book to bring people inside the oval office. the life of the president of the united states. the worst attack on american soil. >> right. >> i think you even said when you saw those towers go down you were on the plane, you knew that you were probably the only president in american history that saw so many people die at one time. >> real time, yeah. >> all this is going through your mind. you have to make the decision. dick cheney is underground because they thought the white house might be hit at that point because there was still
planes up in the air. >> 93. >> that was the one that was either headed for the capitol report white house. >> that is what they say, yeah. >> and you said you would make the decisions, you told dick cheney he would implement the decisions. >> in this case i was flying around and so it was easier for dick and condee and josh bolton and others there to replay decisions i made. the main decision we were talking about there was the decision to send our fighters up. >> air to air intercept. >> of commercial airliners that had not listened to the grounding instructs. >> yes. >> so you gave the order to fire. >> i did. >> you said it was the first decision a wartime commander and when you heard that the plane in pennsylvania had gone down. >> 93. >> yeah. >> you wondered if that was based on your order.
>> yeah, i did. tough. >> that is a tough decision. >> yeah. >> you remember in these days it is coming back to you. >> right. it was tough. >> i can tell. because the decision about maybe having to take out american citizens? >> yeah, i'm told, first of all, there is the fog of war i wasn't getting clear information. we had report that the state department was attacked and report there was going to be an attack on crawford. all of a sudden a plane goes down. i didn't have many details about it but i had the sickening feeling that we may have shot down a commercial airliner and then i got the details shortly thereafter and it was a difficult period and it was a very -- it was a hard day on the families. really hard day on the families and the uncertainty and i can imagine what it was like to, you know, have a loved one in the tower and watching the footage of what was going on. it must have been just brutal. >> i was a little shocked when
you called it woeful, the communications capability and technology on air force one. >> i was shocked, too. because the line kept dropping and i would be calling condee or cheney or rumsfeld and the line would drop. plus, we were only able to get the television images as we flew over markets so you would see the news would be there and then black out and then show up again. it was very frustrating and we completely overhauled air force one. >> no problems? >> no, no problems. >> you said you were powerless to help and you had the most powerful job in the world. >> right. >> up next, inside one of the most controversial moments of the bush presidency. the decision to invade iraq. >> i firmly believe the choice was saddam hussein's to make as
we continue my exclusive interview from the ranch of former president george w. bush. we are in crawford, texas. his brand new book "decision points." no decision was more controversial than the one in 2003 to launch a strike against iraq. >> you bring everybody inside that decision-making and you talk about tommy franks and do you guys have everything you need to win and you get a yes, sir,, they are ready to go and you got to make that decision. very interesting moment. you write about leaving the situation room, you knew you were putting kids in harm's way and you said you walked
upstairs through the oval office, a slow step across the south lawn. said a prayer for our troops, for our country, to have strength in the days ahead and there was one man that understood what you were feeling and you sat down at your desk and you scrawled out a letter to him. >> to my dad. >> i have the letter here. >> i can't read it. i hope that the reader of the book will have a better sense of my dad, his compassion and his -- what it is like to be the father of the president. >> but also that was the toughest decision you made in your life. >> it was, yeah. >> to make that decision. >> it is. >> your father wrote you back and said your hand written know the just received touched my heart. you are doing the right thing he said to you. your decision just made is the
toughest decision you had to make up until now but you made it with strength and compassion, it is right to worry about the loss of innocent life, be it iraqi or american but you have done that which you had to do. maybe it helps a tiny bit as you face the toughest bunch of problems any president since lincoln has faced your dad said you carry the burden one strength and grace and then he said remember robin's words, i love you more than time can tell. this is your devotedly dad. >> i barely made it through when you read the letter. it is a powerful letter because it is just one of those moments that it is historic because it is written by a former president and it was -- it is a powerful moment for me and just ratherring it read again is a powerful moment. it really expressed the love of a father and a son. >> the book is decisions.
you had to make a decision. you also concluded i strongly believe the mission is worth the cost and you talk about the cost and you met with a lot of the families, the lost life. >> first of all, i -- the readers should get a sense that i tried to some of the problem diplomatically. not just me but tony blair and our allies that the use of the military was the last option. that -- and i believe and i said this in the book i firmly believe it was -- the choice was saddam hussein's to make as to whether or not we used force. i go on to describe that he made the decision to resist inspectors and to not be forth right because he never felt we would use force. and i say what more could i have done? >> there is a psychological profile of him told you that he wouldn't -- >> actually -- well, no, the psychological profile was that, right, that he wanted to. >> maintain power.
>> maintain power and therefore -- but it turns out he didn't think we would use force. i'm not sure what more i could have done to make it clearer. >> you talk a little bit more about wmd when saddam didn't use wmd on our troops i was relieved and talk about the the absence of wmd stockpiles. frustrating for you. >> everybody thought he had wmd. every intelligence service and everybody in the administration. >> a lot of democrats said it. >> yeah, a lot of members of congress. you might remember and i think for the sake of history it is important to put in the book that prior to my arrival congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution for the removal of saddam hussein from power and it was embraced by my red sestack. they foregot that. you tell a story you concluded when you needed to go forward, another decision with the surge
and senator mcconnell comes into the office. i'll let you pick it up from there. >> mitch said he was concerned about the upcoming election and basically said my popularity was going to cost us the congress. i, of course, thought about the sex scandal scandals. i had been in office for six years and people are tired of me and tired much the war. >> did you think they were tired of you? >> they are tired of ronald reagan. in '87 he was having a tough go. >> maybe the country was war weary. >> absolutely. remember, this is a point at which our tv screens were full of brutal violence. the shrine violence had taken place. >> mcconnell wanted you pull back. >> he said pull out some troops. and then i didn't tell him i was thinking about putting more in. the reason i told the story is
because i wanted to create a sense of the environment in which i had to make this decision. remembermembers of my own parto were supportive of the removal of sad tam and supporting our troops. >> there is the emergence of the tea party in america today and you see rallies all around the country and you see people holding signs and you see people thinking america has moved down the socialist path. i just wanted to get your observation. what do you think of that movement. how do you interpret what the mood of the country right now politically is. >> here is what i see. i see democracy working. people are expressing a level of frustration or concern and getting involved in the process. and the truth of the matter is democracy works in america. remember, when senator brown
wins it attitude began to change. >> massachusetts. >> people showed up and voted. and people are concerned enough to take to the streets. in our history that has happened some. in 1992, my dad running for president not only faced president clinton but faced ross perot who represented such a type movement where people were frustrated and angry and came out to the streets. and to me, to watch people participating in the democratic system is good. it is a good thing for the country. it inspires me to know that our democracy still functions. what would be terrible is if people were frustrated and they didn't do anything. >> do you think your brother jeb will be president one day? >> i wish he would be. he has to run first and he has