tv Jean Becker The Man I Knew CSPAN August 12, 2021 9:17am-10:07am EDT
and decorum. i do not like to violate it, but i do not regret it because it was what i was feeling. it was four years of pent-up anxiety about what was transpiring right in front of our eyes. >> this week you'll also hear from democrat jamie raskin of maryland and republican brian fitzpatrick of pennsylvania. january 6th: views from the house, sunday night at 10 eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. >> greetings from the national archives flagship building in washington, d.c. which sits on the ancestral lands. i'm the archivist of the united states, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to tonight's virtual author lecture by jean becker, a new memoir about president george h.w. bush.
before we begin, i'd like to tell you about two upcoming programs we can view on our youtube channel. we'll present a program in partnership with the u.s. association of former members of congress called can congress reform itself again. our moderator will be carla hayden and panelists will include current and former members of congress. and on tuesday, june 15th at noon, historian michael burlingame will be here to talk about his new book, "an american marriage," based on 30 years of research describing and analyzing the marriage between abraham lincoln and mary todd. through its presidential eli prayers, the national archives preserves the records of our presidents back to herbert hoover. the stories cover a president's entire life, not just their time in the highest office of the nation. after returning to private life, a number of them turn to humanitarian causes and advisory roles, and you will find both
activities documented in the libraries as well. after leaving office in 1993, george bush remained engaged in public service and continued to encourage others to make a difference in large and small ways. he shared his decades of experience with his successors and worked ceaselessly for a kinder, scentler america. gentler america. jean becker was with president bush for nearly all of his post-presidential years. in her new book, "the man i knew," she brings the leader into the room with george bush and gives us a close-up look at his work after leaving to oval office. jean becker was president george h. w. bush's chief of staff for nearly 25 years. in 1994 until bush's death in 2018. as chief of staff, becker has a ringside seat to the never-boring story of george herbert walker bush's life after his presidency including being at his side when he died and subsequently facing the
challenge and great honor of being in charge of his state funeral. previously, jean served as deputy press secretary to first lady barbara are bush in 1989-1992. as a former journalist, she was also a member of the j. william fulbright scholarship board and the see change cancer board as well as a member of the advisory boards of the george bush presidential library and the george bush school of government and public service. our moderator for tonight's discussion is warren finch, director of the presidential library and museum. warren has more than 30 years of experience at the national archives and records administration first at the office of presidential libraries here in washington, d.c. and then with the ronald reagan library in california and now the bush library and museum. trained as an archivist, he was detailed to the bush white house in 1992 to assist with the move
of bush presidential materials to texas and has been in college station ever since. now let's hear from jean becker and warren finch. thank you for joining us today. >> hello, jean. >> good evening, warren. great to see you. >> thanks to the archivist for the kind introduction. also i'd like the shout out to our -- to shout out to our partners in crime, the george and barb are bush foundation -- barbara bush foundation. my colleague from l.a., laura alabama, and also to the dean of the bush school and the taffe at the library who have been so helpful here during covid and also to the staff of the former president's office. it's a great, a great organization we belong to. we've been very lucky to be a part of it, be a part of the life of george and barbara bush for all these years.
my first question, so you kind of came to the bush office in kind of a curious way. can you just talk a little bit about you worked for "usa today," you were, you did the doorly. so can you talk -- the diary. can you talk a little bit about how that led to barbara bush hiring you to work on her staff? >> well, it is sort of an interesting road to the white house and to the bushes' life. i was a newspaper reporter at "usa today" in 1988, the 1988 election. and barbara bush and kitty dukakis both agreed to where write a weekly column for "usa today." it was called their campaign diary. i think it ran every monday morning, and i was their editor. when i was given that assignment, i was sort of grumpy about it. i didn't want to be their editor. but it ended up being a lot of
fun. i got to know both of those amazing women really well k. and after the election i was very surprised when mrs. bush's chief of staff offered me a job in the first lady's press office. it took me a couple weeks to think about it. i loved being a reporter. and then it was my dad, a farmer in missouri, who said what is wrong with you in. [laughter] you've been offered a job by the incoming first lady of the united states, and you're still thinking about it? but he was right, i said yes, and the rest is history. then i quickly, warren, followed them to houston when he lost the election in '92 to help mrs. bush with her memoirs. i was her researcher and her editor. she wrote the book herself. she would want me to say that. and then the book was done, and president bush said to me will you stay just a couple more months? i need the hire a chief of staff. his chief of staff retired, and he said just stay until labor
day. this was march of '94. and i'll hire someone. we never talked about it again. 25 years later i said to him, sir, i'm still waiting for you to come in my office and tell me you hired a chief of staff and i'm unemployed. he thought i was a little crazy. [laughter] >> so 25 years plus working for president bush, and you've written this great book. and what i love about the book is it's a book of stories. so tell us a little bit about the book, why you wrote it and why people should read it. >> warren, i first of all wrote the book, my beginning idea was president bush just left me so many great stories. it was such a wild roller coaster ride with him for a 25 years. he did a lot. he was funny. he was, you know, the whole
story the odd odd couple of he and bill clinton. he went back to teaching -- where he was shot down. he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for disaster relief. and then there was just funny stories, like when he called a prince to ask him if he were dead or alive. that was the day i knew i had to write a book. so i started writing the book just because i thought the american people need to know the heart and soul of this amazing man. and in the middle of writing the book, it to occurred many toe -- it to occurred to me that there was something a lot more important at work here pouring out of my heart onto my computer talking about him. president bush really left us a blueprint on how to live life. you know, when someone dies and they often will say it was a life well lived? well, if you want that to be said about you when you die, you
need to read this book. president bush taught us how to live life. >> i mean, he did. jumping out of airplanes, perfectly good planes. [laughter] i love the story, mrs. bush said it was a great way to go one way or another. >> well, and she was glad because on his 90th birthday, he jumped at st. anne's church in kennebunkport, maine, and she said if it doesn't go well, we'll just carry him inside and have the funeral. [laughter] >> so today is mrs. bush's birthday. we put a bouquet of roses at her grave site today. just an amazing love story between the two of them. and mrs. bush and her scrapbooks, hundreds of scrapbooks, i think there are, like, 125, 150 of these scrapbooks. someone at the library one time
made the mistake of asking mrs. bush if she actually did them herself. you can imagine what she said. >> oh, yeah. of course she did. >> but he started these scrapbooks when they first got married -- >> warren, i have to explain that photo. i hate to interrupt you. that is the photo of the aggie wranglers at texas a and america, and the -- texas a&m, and they are pretending they're wranglers in that photo. they loved to have fun. >> oh, no, they did. most of you who are not in aggie land, that was our precision dance team, and they look like they're going to knock themselves out, but somehow they do it. the bushes loved them. >> yeah. >> so today mrs. bush's 96th birthday. she's actually buried her along with their husband and their daughter at the presidential
library. talk a little bit about, i mean, you talk about a life well served, that was a great partnership. they were both, you know, i'm 60 years old now, and i think i can say they were both kids when they got married. although he had been in the war. >> they were 19 when they got married. they were married for 73 years. i'm wearing barbara bush blue in honor of her birthday today and pearl earrings. i almost put on a pearl necklace, but i used to drive mrs. bush crazy because whenever i would wear pearls, i would play with them, twirl them. but i would like to read a letter that's in the book that president bush wrote her that'll say everything you need to know, how he felt about his wife of 73 years. he wrote this on january 6th,
1994, their 49th wedding anniversary. for barbara pierce ghwb. will you marry me? oops, i forgot, you did that 49 years ago today. i was very happy on that day in 1945, but i'm even happier today. you have given me joy that few men know. you've made our boys into men by calling them out and then right away by loving them. you helped -- be the sweetest, greatest daughter in the whole wide world. i have climbed perhaps the highest mountains in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being barbara's' husband. mom used to tell me, now, george, don't walk ahead. little did she know i was only trying to keep up, keep up with barbara pierce who -- in new
york. i love you. >> great letter. >> it's such a great letter. and, warren, before -- i'm going to jump right in, and then i promise i'll let you talk again. >> no. >> but i know right now people are weeping across america with that letter. so now i'm going to make them laugh. so we're going to wipe away the tears quickly. so, you know, mrs. bush was a great sport. president bush teased her unmercifully. he had a wonderful sense of humor, and i think she was the target of most of the practical jokes. this is the worst thing he ever did to her. so i'm going to read this too. mrs. bush often told people that there were many reasons she married george bush with. he made her laugh. he was the master of practical jokes with his wife often his target.
one of his more famous success stories had to be the day he managed to convince her that she might be going to jail for trafficking pork. during the summer of 1998 -- see, there's a lot of surprises in this book. everyone needs to read the book. [laughter] during the summer of 1998, it came to light that someone in the house was looking up and printing porn if off mrs. bush's computer. several unnamed teenaged grand sons were the immediate suspects, and they quickly acknowledged their crime. a few days after the unfortunate incident, mrs. bush found in her stack of mail a letter from the office of the inspector general of the federal trade commission. it read in part, in doing a routine check, it appears you have recently been engaged in
downloading pornographic material. we respectfully request that you report to our regional office many portland, maine, for -- in portland, maine, for a hearing on august 17, 1998, at 8:30 a.m. lying next to her or in bed while she was reading her mail, she blurted out to him that she might be going to jail. i was not there when all this transpired, but i was told that president bush managed to keep it together for a few minutes before dissolving into laughter. yes, he had written the letter with the help of some staff members. you know, warren with, that was part of the secret to their wonderful marriage. they knew how to laugh, and they knew how to tease each other. >> so can you tell the story, the president and mrs. bush are both in the hospital, and he comes -- she comes to visit his room, and his hair's messy.
tell that story, would you? [laughter] >> about a week before she died and he, they had both been in the hospital. we get word, i'm at houston's great methodist hospital with him, and we get word that she's headed back in, headed back to the hospital in an ambulance with. she had taken a turn for the worse, and so i told him she was on her way back. so they got her settled, they had adjoining rooms at methodist. the last couple of years, i think methodist hospital sort of figured out that if one was in the hospital, eventually the other one would end up there too. i think it was sort of by design. so they get her settled in a room, and president bush wanted to go in and see her. she was not in a coma, but he was somewhere else. she was somewhere else. she was pretty much out of it. she was in a very deep sleep. and i hate to be critical of the
41st president of the united states, but he looked awful. his hair was standing straight up, he had on -- he was wearing an oxygen max. he was on oxygen. he was in a hospital gown. he looked like you and i would, warren, if we'd been in the hospital for five days. they get him into his wheelchair x they take him into her room, and he's just sitting there holding her hand. and all of a sudden her eyes flew open, and she looked at him and she said, my god, george, you are devastatingly good with looking. [laughter] >> great story. >> i hate to say it, but he was not at that moment. and schoen she just -- then she just closed her eyes and, you know, the love of her life was holding her hand. and if he caught my eye and he looked at me and he sort of shrugged as if to say, well, it is what it is, jean. [laughter] >> i can't help it. >> i can't help it.
anyway, she died about a week later, and the bushes lived in a three-story townhouse, and their bedroom was on the second floor. and the power went out that day, out for three hours. and he was downstairs, downstairs when he was told that the time was near. and the secret service, god love them, carried him up the stairs because the elevator wasn't working. he said i have to be there. so she died, they died holding hands. and, you know, warren, i would love right now to give a huge shout-out to the bushes' granddaughter, the beautiful if wonderful ellie sosa. so a couple years ago, she wrote a book about or her grandparents' love story. it's called george and barbara bush, the great american love story, i think. it's a sweet, wonderful book. and i know you, i think you have
a story to share with us. >> so they, ellie -- kelly and chase who helped with the book, they came to the bush library and did a lot of research. and these scrapbooks that mrs. bush kept, they were amazing. we did the museum on the 10th anniversary, for the 10th anniversary. one of the reasons we wanted to redo the exhibits is because we had discovered these scrap books. we'd been through them all, but apparently we hadn't been through them all in great detail. so there's one from is 1945, and ellie and kelly are going through thescrapbook with mary finch, and they open a page, and there's an envelope, a letter envelope sealed up, and it's got the names of people who attended the dinner. and so they open the envelope, and inside the envelope is the wish bone from the first
thanksgiving turkey george and barbara bush had in 1945. and mrs. bush was always great about this, the guests that all came. just, i mean, just lovely. and everyone kind of went, ah. all kind of at once. so as you read "the man i knew," read that book -- >> ellie did a great job. >> did do a great job. >> i love the wish bone story. you're talking about ellie doing a lot of research at the library. i would like to point out that the library was closed the entire time i was writing this book because of the pandemic. and working from home, warren and his team -- debbie wheeler, the head archivist, robert, your deputy director -- you all were amazing. i know it was hard to help me fact check and research this book. and also warren has the best
wife ever, mary finch, who's the audio-visual director of the library. you guys are rock stars. so i just must take a moment to thank you. this book wouldn't have happened without you where, and you did it -- you helped me, despite the fact you were home, but you managed to dig out mainly fact checking. i did have to e-mail george clooney directly and do a little fact checking with him. i'll just throw that out there. >> poor jean. so, yeah, it's amazing, the staff, the amount of -- what they could do working from home, teleworking. it's just amazing, the great staff here. so they did some great work. so, let's see, let's talk about this relationship between president bush and president
clinton. i heard president bush say one time, she said, you know, i kind of liked him when he was governor, i didn't -- [laughter] i didn't like him so much when he ran against me, but i kind of liked him again after he left office. and then there's, of course, adams and jefferson, they were good friends and not good friends and then at the end of their lives they were good friends again. but i think president bush and bill clinton had this special relationship and and, talk about a life well served, they did some amazing work. >> they really did. and you and i talked about this a couple days ago because this event hosted by the national archives, we did want to talk about that relationship that happens between former presidents. they really are the presidents' club. there's a great book written called "the presidents' club," and they truly do have a special
relationship with each other. here's a picture of them with all the of the former presidents at that time. i confess that i am foe to bombing -- photobombing. they're backstage, it's at texas a&m, we're about ready to do a huge fundraiser for hurricane harvey relief. my great friend was helping out, and she and i photobombed the presidents. they're just telling stories and catching up with each other when hurricane harvey devastated houston. of course, the two george bushes immediately wanted to roll up their sleeves and go to work, if i just sort of told the other three former presidents, my fellow chiefs of staff the, just sort of fyi, we're going to be doing this. well, here they are, they all showed up. and it is just a really special relationship. president bush and president clinton became great friends.
there's a whole chapter about all their disaster relief work. they were called the odd couple, and that's the title of the chapter. they literally raised hundreds of millions of dollars for hurricane katrina, hurricane rita, hurricane ike, the tsunami in south asia which is where it all began. i'm going to ask everyone to read the book. the stories are terrific. you're going to love the pope john paul ii funeral story. but i thought tonight i would tell a few stories that might surprise people that aren't well known. and one involves former vice president al gore. and it just, it sort of demonstrates that the men -- and hopefully one day soon the women -- who occupy the highest offices in the land, they do have a connection no matter their politics, no matter their
background. they had a shared experience that not many of us can understand. so i want to tell you two quick stories. it is december 2000. the supreme court has ruled that george w. bush did win the election. they, the recount is over. and vice president gore is scheduled to give his concession speech to the nation. and president bush called me before the speech, and he said, jean, as soon as the speech is done, i would hike to call al -- like to call al gore and talk to him. it was in the evening. i wasn't home. and as respectfully as i could, i said, sir, i, i'm not sure that you're the person vice president gore needs to hear from tonight. you know, i think to hear from anyone named bush and the father of the man who just defeated him, i said, are you sure you
want to call him? and he said, jean, i have been where al gore is. i know what he's about ready to do, i know what he's feeling, and i would like to call and talk to him when he's done. so i hold him, i said, well, i will call -- the white house operator is the best way to reach the vice president, and that made him very happy. i will call the operator when the speech is done. i love the operators, and you don't have to worry about. so i watched the vice president's speech. it was very gracious. i'm watching him come out of the eisenhower office building in the white house complex and get in the car. i'm watching all live on tv. and sure enough, i see him pick up the phone. and i'm thinking, no, no, no, no, no, that can't possibly be my boss. well, five minutes later, my phone rings and it's president
bush jean, i just got off the phone with al gore. i think he was thrilled that i called, we had a great conversation. i told him that his speech was wonderful and perfect, and i think he understood why i called. he understood that i, i was where he was. and so i did the right thing. you know, warren, i know that he did. i was wrong and he was right. fast forward to 2008. he comes -- it's a wide open election year. george w.'s going to leave office, and it's the morning after the first democratic debate. and president bush comes in the office and he says, jean, get joe biden on the phone. and chris dodd. i don't like how they retreated at the debate last night. and i said, well, what are you talking about? he said, look, they were standing on the ends, they hardly got any questions, they
kept asking all the questions to hillary clinton, to barack obama and that guy, john edwards, they got all the questions. and joe biden and chris dodd are upstanding u.s. citizens, and they deserve to be treated better. this is how i was treated in 1980. i was on on the man -- i was the man on the end who could never get any questions. and once again, warren, i said don't you think senator biden and senator dodd will think that you're calling, a republican president's calling them? and he said get 'em on the phone. so we did, and he had a great conversation with them. i only tell those two stories because they're in the book, but it just gives people just a little insight to sort of the camaraderie that happens behind the scenes between these people who have this shared experience.
>> yeah. >> and as -- go ahead. >> i mean, it's, he was -- he operated well on the telephone. [laughter] his letters were amazing. it's funny, you know, he's not always a great speech merrick, but you get him -- maker, but you get him in a room with ten people, i think it's why he liked state dinners so much. with ten people he was amazing. >> yeah. that's a great point. i'm sorry. he was very personable. i did want to go back to as all of the presidents are backstage at hurricane harvey, if the great team at archives could pull that back up, i have to tell a funny story about that night. so this is on saturday evening. we really didn't even invite the other presidents. i just sort of told them as an fyi, hey, if you're in texas and want to come to this event, and
they all came. president obama, president clinton, president carter. and when i told the bushes they were all coming, i'll never forget this,sing mrs. bush said, oh, dear, we need to give them dinner. we're going to have to feed them. and i thought, that's such a normal reaction. that's what any wife in america would react to when my husband comes home and says, honey if, i've invited people over for dinner tonight. so we did give them dinner before the event. and the funny thing is i'm going to tattle tale on two people who i love. i get a call from secretary baker, james baker, and he says, jean, i'm coming to that big harvey event. all the presidents are coming. i hear there's a dinner beforehand. i would like in that dinner. can i get into that dinner? and, yeah, president bush said i had to call you. and i'm, like -- [laughter] like i'm going to tell secretary
baker, no, you can't come to dinner. of course. there's plenty of room for you and susan, they would want to see you. so then he calls me back and says, kane, dick cheney's coming, and he would like to be at that dinner. everyone wants to be in this dinner, and i said, did you call and invite dick cheney? and he said, well, maybe, because i thought dick would want to be there. and i said, fine, you cannot invite anybody else because the table is now full. you may not call one more time and just say that anyone else is coming. so this just sort of is funny, and it was just a great evening. and, again, it's just a great example of the camaraderie among these people and these guys and soon a woman, i hope. we need a woman to be part of this, be a part of this club. >> that was a great evening. that was just a fantastic evening. and it is, you know, there's this camaraderie between these men and maybe a woman one day
but so far just men who have been former presidents, have the shared experience, run for office, won and lost. and president bush was able to do so much good, so much good after he left. >> well, and they really -- they're such a great resource for the country. they, i know on january 20th this past year when they were all in washington for the inauguration, they taped a psa for vaccines, encouraging americans to get vaccinated. they're all, right now they've all agreed to be honorary chairs of the points of light gala in september that's honoring president bush, will give the george bush award. it's so nice of them to do that. my guess is they'll all be videoed. they really do come together when the country needs them x it's just a great resource. i'm a big fan of the presidents'
club. and they do more than -- i think we have a picture of the funeral. president bush, president bush used to laugh and say we come together at funerals and library openings. that's not exactly true. they do a lot more than that. but there they all are at the funeral of, the state funeral at the national cathedral of president bush. i might add, of course, who you don't see there is the 43rd president. he's sitting on the other side of the aisle with his family. but he did manage to slip across before the service began. president george w. bush came over, shook all their hands, thanked them all for coming, and he did give michelle obama a mint because that started during john mccain's funeral. they sort of have this inside thing. and it's very sweet. >> well, and they were breaking,
both of them were breaking with up at the opening of the african-american museum in d.c. i think they were sitting next to each other just giggling -- >> they were misbehaving. they have a great friendship, which is wonderful. >> yeah, it is nice. so it's, if you've got a question, you can type it into the chat, and then at the end of our program there's a period for questions. i'll be happy to ask jean one of your questions. i do, so one more thing. so we've got this big 41-41 locomotive thanks to union pacific that was given to us by union pacific for an exing hint we did about 10 or 15 years ago. and just briefly tell the story. president bush just thought it would be a grand idea that after the funeral in houston that everyone could ride up on the train and have a samich, as we say in the south. [laughter] talk to us about how you had to
explain to him that he wouldn't be having a samwich. >> oh, gosh. we would plan a funeral off and on over the years. every once in a while we would get out the folder. after president ford died, after president reagan be died, he would make changes to his funeral plans. but president bush loved trains, and he said to me i would like to take a train from houston, a church service in houston, and then the burial, of course, at the library at texas a&m. and he said, jean, let's take a train. it would be perfect because we could all be on the train, and we'll have lunch. it'll be very relaxed, and everyone can put their feet up and relax before the burial. and he kept talking about it in the first person. and i hope you all won't think i'm disrespectful, but with i sort of looked at him, and i
said, sir, i think that's a great idea, and i'll work on that train, but you're not going to be on the train. and he looked at me -- he was always right. i should have learned, he was always right. he said, oh, yes, i will. [laughter] and, of course, he was. of course he was on the train. >> might not be eating a sandwich, but he'd be on the train. i wasn't on the train because i was trying to beat it back to college station to actually beat the train back so that we could meet it there. along with officials from the university. but it was amazing. there were leaks that the highway parallel ares the railroad tracks, and there were people all along the railroad tracks with signs that say god bless you, mr. president, thank you, america loves you. it was just, boy. and then the arrival in college station was just amazing. it was a rainy, somber day, and everyone was just kind of down,
and suddenly the aggie band played the aggie war hymn, and everyone gave a cheer. it was just like a big cut -- >> yep. he was home. he was home. >> so we do have -- so here's a question. let's go to questions, if you don't mind. >> okay. nope. >> and then maybe we can, you know, we'll veer off after questions. so someone wants to know mrs. bush really, usually referred to president bush as george bush. in my experience, she actually often times used his nickname. so people that knew george bush when he was young knew him, he had a nickname. i've heard mrs. bush often refer to him as that. [laughter] >> she called him pop or poppy. she usually called him pop. so let me see if i can get this straight. so president bush's name was george herbert walker bush.
he was named for his grandfather whose name was george herbert walker. that was his maternal grandfather. when he was growing up, his -- george herbert walker's children all called their dad pops. so when little george herbert walker bush comes along, they nicknamed him poppy and sort of a play off what they call their father. and so president bush was called poppy i think, warren, almost until he went into the navy at 18 after pearl harbor. and he wrote somewhere -- it's not in this book because this, of course, predates this book -- but he wrote that when he went off to the navy, he found out that, yeah, poppy was not really a good name for a young man in the navy who wanted to be a
pilot, a navy pilot. and he really tried to drop the name when he moved to texas. i think that's where -- no one in texas called poppy if, but mrs. bush called him pop until the very end. it was very, very sweet. >> yeah -- >> quickly, this was a problem for you too. so president bush's name was george herbert walker bush. he went by george bush his entire life. he did not like having four names. it sounded a little stuffy. but then a man named george walker bush was elected president of the united states in 2000, and all of a sudden you had two president george bushes. and warren knows this was a big problem because there was a lot of confusion about who you were talking about.
and the organization to my boss, number 41, was that he start using his initials. because the 43rd president already went by george w. bush to distinguish himself from his father. my boss was urged to go by george h.w. bush, and it really irritated him because he did not want to, he did the not want to start incorporating his middle names. and thank heavens for the brilliant man -- i cannot remember who this is now, but it's in the book -- who came up with 41 and 43. >> yeah. >> and they, oh, my gosh. president bush loved being called 41. it was perfect. >> yeah. there's a great story about, there's a great portrait of george h.w. bush and his son, george w. bush, and the artist that painted that portrait. and it was kind of confusing though, george w. bush saying you need to pose this way.
i think george bush finally said i'm 41, he's 43. and the artist said, i can't call you -- and finally it got so confusing that the artist said 4 1, 43 was the way to distinguish them. >> president clinton told me once, or actually i think his chief of staff told me this, that i think it was 43 who called president clinton 42 once, and president clinton, it made his day. he told his staff, oh, my you know, i, i'm pretty sure it was 43 who called him that. he just called me 42. i'm now like a member of the family. >> yeah. >> which i thought was very funny. >> so president bush was reagan's vice president for eight years, and there's a question here about, you know, they were adversaries. i'm not sure that president bush ever thought he would be picked for the vp, but talk a little
bit about how that relationship grew between the two of them. >> well, i should point out to whoever asked the question, i apologize, that predates my book, and it predates from when i was in president bush's inner circle. do i know the answer? i do just from being around for 25 years. president reagan sort of chose george bush to be his vp candidate in the 11th hour at the 1980 republican convention. he was not his first choice. historians among you will remember it was former president ford was actually his first choice. and that did not work out. so it became instead george bush from texas. and the two men became best friends. and the timing of this question is really perfect because i just had lunch the other day with
secretary baker and susan baker, and a lot of you might remember that secretary baker was actually president reagan's first white house chief of staff which was amazing considering the fact that james baker ran george bush's campaign in 1980. so i was asking secretary baker about the relationship. i don't know why we started talking about it. and he said that ronald reagan was just one of the nicest, most genuine people you would ever want to meet and that, you know, he and george bush had, of course, tangled on the campaign trail. ..
she was not thrilled. she thought i was a little crazy, but i think one of the things, i thought she thought ii was really crazy. one of the things that made their marriage work is she knew she couldn't talk him out of it. she could tell that this was important to him. so she went along with it. she was very unhappy when he jumped on his 90th birthday. i had to be the go-between. it was interesting and without the weather was going to call it
off, and it turned out the weather didn't call it off. i called his oldest son, the 43rd president, and asked him to intervene. and he said i'll talk to mom. if dad wants to jump we need to let him jump. so she was a very good sport but it wasn't the 90th birthday parachute jump that she said well, if this goes wrong will carry him to the church and have the funeral. president bush swore to me he was going to jump on his 95th birthday. i told him i would not assist him in any way. and he said don't worry about it, , i can figure it out all by myself. of course he died before he turned 95. >> that last jump was a secret. i was on a train between new york city and albany i believe and i was doing a podcast with a political show and he said you know president bush's jumping out of a plane today? i said no.
weber interviewed me said, he's going to jump right now. would you tell me when he lands on the ground? >> i should've called and told you. we kept it secret and this is why. we wanted him to have the opportunity to change his mind. so we didn't tell anyone until the date of because we wanted him to have the chance to say maybe i i should not jump on y 90th birthday. >> apparently it's a hobby that's gone down to the grandchildren. my understanding is jenna bush is going to jump out of a perfectly good plane also. >> they love to jump, they do. so that's all the questions we got for right now. it was lovely having you. everyone should get the book. it's a great book. is there some great stories in it. there's a george clooney story that's just great. also stored in your about how
president bush determines whether the prince is dead or alive, which into george bush -- has anybody called in? no, sir. anyway, it's a great book. love having you, and get down to college station. we need to see each other and have lunch. >> i would love to have lunch with you, warren finch. i'm your biggest fan. thank you so much. thank you to the national archives for hosting us tonight. >> yes. >> and read the book. it will help you lead a a betr life, i really do think that. and you'll laugh. >> i'm supposed to be nonbiased but he was a great man, just a wonderful, wonderful life in the post-presidency. could have gone home to houston, did nothing, but he just did all kinds of good things. he and mrs. bush both. they both will be remembered, her for literacy and him, the
points of light foundation and points of life will live long after. thank you. >> thanks, warren. good night everybody. >> good night. >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday you will find events and people that explore other nations passed on american history tv. on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. its television for serious readers. learn, discover, lord. weekends on c-span2. -- explore. >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories and on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction
books and authors. finding for c-span2 comes from these television companies in more including wow. >> the world has changed. today the national level internet connection is something no one can live without so wow! is therefore our customers with speed, reliability, value and choice. now more than ever it all starts with great internet. >> wow!. >> wow! along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. >> we are delighted to welcome author michael dobbs. michael has written a wonderful book that has been well received called "king richard." he is also a journalist, formerly with the "washington post" and he has taught at the university of michigan, princeton and georgetown. he is going to speak to us this evening for a little bit about his