tv History Bookshelf Lynne Cheney and Karl Rove on the Bush Administration CSPAN September 8, 2021 1:50pm-2:36pm EDT
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lynne cheney and former presidential adviser karl rove reflect on the george w. bush administration. they spoke at the rancho mirage writer's festival held in 2020. susan eisenhower, author and granddaughter of dwight d. eisenhower, moderated the discussion. >> let me just say that it is really a thrill to talk on again, and as i had some experience as a child with what it is like to be in the company of people who wield enormous power, to observe the, both the pressures of the job along with the loneliness, you might say, of power, and obviously, it comes with privilege but also great sacrifice. lynne, you have said over time that you have carved out a
remarkable career for yourself. this proximity to power probably started for you when your husband dick cheney became chief of staff to gerald ford. >> and i didn't see him for two years. >> is that right? >> that's sort of the way it is. but i was so interested in what he was doing that he learned to come home at night and tell me what he had done all day. so that's a really fascinating inside look. you and i were joking before. if you're the president of the united states, you're called potus. if you are the first lady of the united states, you are called flotus. first lady of the united states. if you're the wife of the vice president, you're called slotus. and my family had an enormously good time with that. i had to finally shut it off before they did it in public. >> have you been tempted to turn it into a twitter handle?
>> there you go. i don't think that i really feel comfortable with twitter. i'm always afraid i'll send something that i don't know i sent and that's not a good idea. >> good point. karl, you've been in an enormously powerful position in the white house. i have to ask both of you if you don't mind, i think we're badly in need of humor today. i don't know if all of you agree. i would like to know the funniest and the strangest thing that ever happened to you while you were in the white house arena. >> me? >> yes, you. >> well, there were a lot of them. i stole a car. i think that was the highlight. >> oh, my. was that funny or strange? >> it was very funny. it was enormously funny. i had this colleague, l. hubbard, head of the economic conference. originally from jackson, tennessee. he spoke with this southern accent and sounded like a
slow-minded guy from jackson, tennessee. hiding the fact that he had a harvard mba and he had started at a very young age with a private equity partnership in indianapolis that was wildly successful. he basically, their strategy was, buy the last buggy in america and they did. he stepped in to serve as the national economic council director. and he had a really nice bmw. really nice. >> oh-oh! >> if you're at the white house, you're spending a lot of time in meetings. and i had a meeting across the way from the west wing and the old executive office building. and it ended early and i had a few extra minutes before my next appointment. and i was walking down the navy stairs and across what is called the old executive drive. it is this street that is between the west wing and the ike, the eisenhower executive office building.
and right by the entrance to the basement of the west wing, hubbard had parked his car and i noticed he left his keys in it. so i got in it and moved it up west executive drive. now remember, to park on west executive drive, you have to be a senior aide to the president. you go through three check points manned by people with automatic weapons. your car is swept for bombs and you pass through some kind of device embedded in the concrete. i don't know what it does but maybe it x-rays you. i don't know. so this is very secure. so i took car and drove it up west executive drive about 75 yards. and after 9/11, they had the sniffer trucks. four trucks. they look like ice cream trucks parked at the four corners of the complex and they sample the air for biological and chemical agents. when i parked behind the vacant space, you couldn't see it from the west executive entrance. so i wasn't there but i have eyewitnesses who said at the end of the day, hubbard came out,
took look around, couldn't see his car, took out his flip phone. hit the speed dial to his assistant and said, my car! my car is gone! they've stolen my car! now, he found it. so the next morning, of course, at the senior staff meeting, with an edgy tone but nonetheless good natured, he accused me of stealing his car. big mistake. so i kept stealing his car. so, i would work it out so like one time i worked it out with the secret service so i parked it by their loading dock. can you imagine the call? mr. hubbard, your car is blocking the loading dock and we're expecting a load of surface to air missiles. would you please -- anyway, this went on for a great deal of time. it was enormously fun. every time i would steal his car, he would accuse me of it at the senior staff meeting. after the first time, i would get somebody else to be in the car with me. so when he said you stole my car. i really don't appreciate it.
i would say, i don't know what you're talking about. i saw somebody else get out of your car. which is true. i got him to get into the car with me. long story short, final week i'm at the white house. we're flying back from reno, nevada, where the president had spoken to the american legion. and we finally had television then on air force one and i'm watching television. and i'm sort of mystified because there's a camera at the corner of the white house in what is called pebble beach. when you see the north portico of the white house being shot from pebble beach, the camera is not looking to the white house. it is swiveled around and looking down executive drive and it is looking at a car that has messages spelled out in post-it notes on all the windows. color post-it notes forming words. and somebody has wrapped in it industrial cellophane and decorated it with stuffed animals. and it's my car.
and cnn is saying, we don't know what is going on on executive drive but someone's car -- whose car is that? eventually, we've been told on good authority that it is senior adviser karl rove's car. we don't know what's going on. i get back to the white house. i say hubbard, fantastic, man, great. you paid me back for every time i stole your car. you paid me back. i got the white house photographer on west executive. i want to get a picture of you, me and your handy work. he doesn't say that he's done it but finally he fesss up. this is the greatest thing. nobody has come close to this. we have to have a photograph. we sent word through white house and people come spilling out of the ike and people come spilling out of west wing and bits 6:00 in the evening and people start applauding hubbard. and the photographer is having difficulty with his camera and people are coming out and they're applauding hubbard and he's getting into it. sort of a modest guy, yes, i did this. isn't this fabulous?
really fantastic. up walked two uniform division officers of the secret service and put him in hand cuffs. and then the white house photographer takes a picture. and it really creeps hubbard out. one of my favorite photographs. it creeps him out that i keep in it my bedroom. so there's a picture of hubbard being put in handcuffs. am i really in trouble? is this funny? and the two officers, look, i was the mayor of the west wing. these were my people. they're putting him in hand cuffs. oh, buddy, you got me but i just got you back. >> so it's good fong there is a sense of humor amid all the pressure. >> you have to. >> so you know, the white house and the vice president's house, these are very formal places. there is the reason why there's a downstairs official area and then the living quarters upstairs. because there is really a difference between this public life and this private life. what about you, lynne? i'm sure you have many funny
stories. have you had strange ones as well from that period? >> this is funny and strange. we spent a lot of time at camp david, as karl knows, after 9/11. it was the undisclosed location. and we had our kids, you know, and it's the same as karl's story in the sense that you find joy in life even though you're in a dreadful time. we also had our dog, a big labrador, yellow lab named dave. and dave it was love of our life. and so we took him everywhere at camp david. dogs are allowed everywhere at camp david. except one day, okay, karl, help me, is it laurel where we eat? >> yeah. >> okay, laurel lodge. dick talked about this and he had dave with him. and there's alma powell, joyce over here. and barney who is the president's dog and a kind of
mean little scottie. is that fair? >> he used to bite me all the time. >> yes. >> and so -- >> the son the president never had. barney. >> well, barney was a troublesome dog. but dave thought he was probably a squirrel because he was kind of little so he set out after him. and bargy being chased by dave is going around and around this table at high speed. the ladies are going like this. and the president walks in. and he said, what is going on here? and dick knowing this probably wasn't a good thing to have dave chasing barney, pulled a don't it or something off the breakfast trays and that, dave, come. and dave always came for food. he got the don't it, he got dave out of there. and we went back to our lodging. and ten minutes maybe, a a knock
on the door. the camp commander. and he said, sir, to dick, sir, dave is not allowed in laurel again. and obviously, he had been sent by the president to tell us not to bring dave to laurel again. but the president was really nice about dave but not about dave chasing barney. that was not permitted. >> pets play an enormous role. during my grand parents' tenure in the white house, they brought heidi, a weimaraner. and she had an accident on one of mamie's rugs and got sent into exile to gettysburg. i have to say that one unknown fact about the white house is the burial ground of our pet parakeet who is on the third floor named pete. pete died so we were allowed to give pete a dignified burial in the rose garden. my siblings and i put up a little pete rest in peace. but they took it down to mow the lawn. >> oh!
>> i know. >> you have to wonder. roosevelt who is the first guy who has the west wing also had a gigantic collection of animals. his children and he had an enormous collection. you have to wonder, we know several of them died during their days in the white house. you have to wonder about the burial locations for all the presidents of their favorite pets. most are like, well, of course i'm going to have it buried at the white house. we ought to have an archaeologist go over the grounds. >> i think so. the problem is you can't go back and visit their gravesites. >> well, except dave is buried at the vice president's residence and we're sure we know where the site is. if we are ever indicted back, we will go visit dear dave. >> does he have a little headstone? >> no. we thought that was a little too showy. >> okay. i'm feeling better about that. >> he has one in our hearts. apropo, how important both the vice president's residence and the white house are to the
political and policy business of the government. both the cheneys and the bushes were enormously good at entertaining a lot of people both formally and more importantly, informally. and you know, a little bit problematic for staff. if you're going to have 20 members of congress down, you have to have some staff there to sort of jolly them up. they all come down with lists of things they want to have done and it is easier to give it to you than the president. it was amazing to me particularly at the holidays, how eclectic, you would have the party for the press and you would have the party for this. but it is really interesting that vice president's residence and the president's, when you have, there would be holiday parties that were clearly geared toward, you know, their official business and their friends. and it was really important how many a time you would have some hard-nosed democrat down at the white house smoking a cigar in the truman balance connolly and
their spouse would be jumping up and down on the lincoln bed. it may not have gotten their vote but it helped establish a sense of community. after we left the white house in the years since, i cannot tell you how many democrat members of congress that i've run into have said, if you told me i would spend more time with a republican president, your guy, than my guy, i would be surprised. but they did. and it was because the vice president and the president both knew, the vice president from having been at the white house as chief of staff and the president as having been the governor of a state with a democratic speaker and a democratic lieutenant governor, and a democratic majority and legislature, how important it was to do what you could informally to reduce some of the tension. >> i think that's an extremely important point. and i know that it is virtually a given that we all recognize we're living in tremendously turbulent and uncertain times. i think we have to all recognize that. i must say that the 2000's were
also very turbulent and uncertain. of course what immediately comes to mind is 9/11. this extraordinary moment in american history when so much changed for this country. i have to ask you, lynne, what was that like to actually be trying to, first of all, you were in a high-ranking position during those years at the national endowment for the humanities. and i wonder what that was like to be supporting your husband and to be a symbol of this country during that tumultuous time. >> you are such a nice interviewer and i'm going to make a public confession that i have never made before. i was getting my hair done. the nice fellow who was doing my hair came out and he said, you know, a plane just flew into the world trade center. oh, what a weird accident. then a few minutes later he came
back and said there's a second one. so of course, the secret service hustled me off into a car and you could see smoke from the car. it was the pentagon burning. but you don't know what it is. you just see it coming up from over the buildings. inexplicably to this day, they took me to the white house which everyone else had just evacuated. but it was, you know, such a memorable day being down, it is the presidential emergency operation center. to be in the peoc, watching the country be run, watching manny luhan shut down all the planes in the united states. and do it with great command. it happened fast. >> norm mannetta? right. condi rice was there. you were off with the president,
i think. >> yeah. >> it was the same experience karl had only more serious. on the way to the peoc, there are a bunch of cabinets along the way and you watch the secret service opening the cabinet and grabbing very large guns. passing them on. it's like a movie. that was stunning to me. and then when the day was over, i did take notes that day which, you know, were subpoenaed or whatever. but it was okay with me. i didn't write anything secret. and more over, i was shaking so much. i didn't even know i was. they're barely legible. i didn't miss those. at the end of the day, we flew in a helicopter to camp david. when you are lifted off the south lawn, you could see the pentagon. you could see the fire burning. i couldn't help but think of the burning of washington in madison's time. washington, of course, then was just a small village and this
was a much greater consequence. but it certainly is a day lodged in memory. >> yeah. what was it like after that? because you go to an undisclosed location. >> think about that for a moment. think about that for one moment. the decisions made that the threat is so unknown and so dangerous that the president and the vice president of the united states cannot be in the same place unless absolutely essential. that the vice president must be taken to an undisclosed location in the event the president is dead, we have continuity of government. that was the nature of that moment. >> there were worries afterward about airborne poises that might get us, anthrax, ricin was talked about. >> that's when the sniffer trucks show up. and then they make their way around the white house staff. they walk in and say, they have a little device. it says, punch a button and it makes a noise. they say if you hear this noise,
it means it is a chemical attack. they handed me a big plastic bag. they said this is your mop suit. take it out and put on the helmet and the mop suit. if you hear this sound, it is a biological attack. what you need to do is take this needle, stab yourself in the heart and then put yourself in the mop suit. sure, like that's going to happen. and i said, my assistant susan ralston is listening to this lik and i am, okay, where is her outfit? and they said we have a limited number of suits. it will be several days before we have more. and i told, i handed mine to susan and i said don't tell me when you stab yourself in the heart. >> i don't quite understand that. could you help us with that? stabbing one's self in the heart? >> it is adrenaline. you stab yourself in the heart. >> you can run then. >> or maybe it was chemical.
you stab yourself for the biological. you have to hope, you aren't around people coughing from their visit. >> lynne, i can't help but ask, what is it like to be in an undisclosed location? was it massively isolating? you can be around people all the time and still be very isolated. >> i was writing. >> you were writing. >> it was perfect. i sometimes described my life as one long interruption. but this was a peaceful place where you could write. our grand kids were there. our children were there. so that part of it was not onerous. but knowing the state of the country was. and i was going to say a minute ago, i think i have the distinction of being on cipro longer than any other human being because it was thought to protect from you anthrax and other things that might be in the air. 90 days. when i tell physicians that, they say, oh, my goodness.
i think i can still use it though to effect. >> what do you remember about that day, karl? >> everything. >> everything. >> it is 8:48 a.m. i'm standing 15 feet away from the president outside the elementary school in sarasota, florida, the phone rings and it is my assistant susan. and she said a plane has flown into the world trade center. we don't know if it is jet or prom, commercial or private. and i said what else do you have? she said that's it. call me back if you have more. i walked over and told the president of the united states. he was shaking hands with parents and administrators bfrl three minutes later, condi rice called with exactly the same sketchy information. and we walked into the elementary school, walked down a long hallway, walked spoke a classroom designated the staff hold. wherever the president travels, a day or so before he arrives, the air force shows one two
large cabinets, plastic cases, and take out a device, two devices that look like cross between a typewriter and a telephone. they're called stus. they're secure telephones. you plug them into a wall outlet. you hit o and you're talking to a guy at cheyenne, colorado. they can connect you to anybody in the world in secure conversation. we walk in and there are the stus. there's president's doctor, physician and nurse, carrying a little cooler full of the president's blood. the national security adviser's office had a person on the travel team that day. the cia briefer was a young guy named mike morrell who later becomes the director of the cia. and the president almost immediately leaves the room and goes into the adjoining room for a reading demonstration with third and fourth graders. normally, there's a television set. for some reason there was no
television. so i spent the opening moments. war on terror running up and down the corridors of this elementary school until could i find a classroom with a television set that was empty. i went in and it was on the rack. so the rugrats couldn't get up and play with it. i pulled it out of the wall and randal down the corridor to the staff hold, rolled it in there. plugged it in. plugged in the power. but then i had to plug in the cable. and i'm rolling around on the floor in a suit. in a kindergarten classroom and rolling it and trying to make a connection. plugging it in. and i remember the first, there were three outlets. the first one, it made the connection and it went -- so i had to unscrew it. screw it in the second one. when i made the connection, it went -- and a voice said, what have we just seen, what have we just seen? the second plane flying into the world trade center.
and chief of staff andy card at that moment decides he needs to go tell the president. and i remember that andy walked over to the door. literally the president is in the adjoining classroom. i remember when he got to the door, he paused and it seemed like an eternity. i bet it was 1,000, 1, he got to the door and i never understood until a found years ago west happened to be on a panel talking about 9/11. he said when he got to the door he realized he needed to know exactly what he was going to say so the president would not ask any questions. so he had to formulate what he was going to say. and you remember the famous photograph where he tells the president about the second plane flying into the world trade center and then america is under attack. the president had to make a decision. should he stand up and walk out? excuse himself and walk out? he thought the reading demonstration would be a matter of seconds, maybe a minute or two at most from being concluded, so rather than standing up and excusing himself
in the middle of it with 40 tv cameras and stuff, he decided that he would wait until it finished. he actually took four or five minutes couple of imagine sitting there waiting for this to end knowing -- so he got up when it ended. he quickly excused himself. came into the room. i've known him a long, long time. a different guy came walking through that door. there was a certain anxiety in the room and he came in and he was cold as ice. and very calm and low tone of his voice and he said we're at war. get me the director of the fbi and the vice president. and we jumped on the stus. we got robert mueller, the fbi director but we couldn't get dick cheney. he was being moved into the west wing office and they were told they had to move him to the peoc, the bunker. i had a weird day because when we, we were sitting there. the president is sitting at a table meant for kindergartners.
all the adult furniture is gone from the room. he's sitting at a little table meant for kindergarteners about this far off the ground in one of those little plastic chairs writing what he is going to say to the country. and three of us are there talking with him about what he's going to say. and eddie, the head of the secret service came in. a little guy. not very tall. very slim. very soft-spoken. comes in and says mr. president, we need to get to you air force one and airborne as quickly as possible. they were afraid that the president's whereabouts were known and they were worried that somebody would crash a plane into the elementary school and they wanted to get him the hell out of there. we went to the motorcade. normally i would be in a car two or three behind the president's limo, stagecoach, it was then named. for whatever reason that day as we were walking, he turned around and whistled at me and pointed to the back seat of the car. i spent virtually all of 9/11 with him that close. when we got to the airplane, he
whistled at me and pointed to the seat across from him in his private cabin, private office. i was there. and as we're going to the airport, rather than going 40 miles an hour like the normal motorcade, we're going 85 miles an hour. and nobody is saying anything. andy card is on the bench looking at us. the president is on this side. car. i'm here. eddie is in the jump seat in front shotgun and the driver and that's it. we're rolling 85 miles an hour to the airport. and the phone rings. the little phone on the side of the back seat. the president picks it up. i can only hear one side of the conversation but i know it's bad when he says, is rumsfeld alive? the strike on the pentagon. and at that moment, i couldn't look at him. and i looked to the side and realized that about a foot and a half away from us was a police car. in fact, there were four police cars. i hadn't really recognized they were there, maybe a foot and a half away from the car and we're
going 85 miles an hour and these guys are matching us that close. if could you roll down a window, it was there. and later in the day i said to eddie, i said what was that all about? i never saw that before or again. he said we were worried about a car bomber and we wanted the car bomb to go off 10 or 15 feet further from the president to give him a better shot at surviving the blast. and my first thought, what the hell was i doing in the back seat of that car? that was the day. we got on the plane. the president, we lifted off. when we lifted off, literally, the plane began to roll when the door is not even shut. we got on the plane and normally, it takes like 10 or 15 minutes to power it. get everybody in their seats and power it up. we got on the plane and i'm buckled in across from the president. people are pouring in the door. the last person comes pouring up the stairs before the five seconds later, i realize the stairs are disappearing because the plane is beginning to move and they need to get the stairs out of there before the wing
clips the stairs and the door is open. and somebody is screaming to somebody that the door is open. and an airman comes running up the hallway, grabs the strap, leeps out over 30 feet of air and we are rolling. we get to the end of the runway. and the colonel films around the 747 like it is a i'm thatter cub. stomps on the brakes. we go rolling down. there i've done aircraft carrier landings and takeoffs. that was the closest thing i've seen to an aircraft takeoff. he gets airborne and stands us on the tail and i'm looking up at the president, yeah, i'm okay. how is your day going? and he's looking down at me like this. but almost, we're headed up the west coast of florida and the president says, we're going to washington. and the vice president calls him from the peoc. rumsfeld leaves the fires at the
pentagon and says don't come back. the president is not a guy who has a temper but they're arguing about whether or not to go back to washington. and they're saying, don't come. we don't know. there may be some guy with a shoulder launch missile to have waiting for air force one to come to approach. the entire day was like that. i'll tell one more quick thing and then stop. the president is sitting there. andy card and i are sitting across from him. we've all been on the phones talking on giuliani, pataki, everybody. we have a quiet moment where we're reporting on conversations and the phone rings and i think it was the vice president. the president listens for a few moments and says, yes. listens for 10 or 15 more seconds and says yes, you have my authorization. another five or ten seconds. yes. another five or ten seconds, you have my authorization and hangs up. and he looks at andy and i and a
voice like you are announcing your grocery list he says i've just given authorization for the military to shoot down any aircraft not in command of its crew. and i was so shocked. i can't remember exactly what he said next. he reflected on how horrible it would be to be the pilot who got that order. later that day, we were, we flew to nebraska. they were trying to keep him away from washington. and got a briefing and we were looking at a map. a giant ma'am. two or three stories tall underneath the nebraska prairies as the aircraft launched from a new jersey air field to intercept one of the seven aircraft coming across the atlantic and we were watching to see if this, these fighters can make contact with the pilot. the aircraft is inbound to philadelphia. and if they can't, their orders are splash it before it gets to the new jersey coast. that was 9/11. >> my office was in the white
house security perimeter on lafayette square so we all had some sort of public reaction to these events. but the most extraordinary, i'll say very quickly, is that for a long time, you were not allowed to get up out of your seat if you were leaving a washington airport. and only in america could you, or -- they were authorized to shoot the plane down. only in america would you be going from either dca, the reagan national airport, or dulles, without a translator, translating this into multiple languages. and there was a russian who was starting to get up as we were taking airborne and thank god i speak some russian. i told him to sit down right now. but you know, nobody was really prepared for that. so i would like to ask you, lynne, it is an extraordinary thing to be associated with such
decision making, to be an intimate part of this power circle, to wield power yourself in the public's mind and also by virtue of your relationship to the vice president of the united states and therefore, the president of the united states. what do you do to keep yourself going? because you know, we're living in tough times now from a perspective of criticizing other americans. but i think it was pretty tough back then, too, wasn't it? >> yes. but like karl, you leave with so many stories of unflapability of the people who were needing us. and the other end of your story, we were in the peoc. and i can't tell uniforms very well apart. the fellow was in white so i think that means he was navy. >> or the coast guard. >> okay. probably not coast guard. >> unless it was blue and looked
like a navy uniform and then it was a coast guard officer. >> whoever. he was tall, distinguished looking man, gray hair. and he came over and whispered in dick's ear. this is other end of what you're hearing. and dick said, take it out. it was the airplane. they had come to dick and that, what shall we do? we have this airplane incoming. it is full of people. we have reports that they may hit the capitol, they may hit the white house. it was a time when we were personally in danger but i don't remember anybody being shaken by that. however, the navy captain went away with, take it out. and then he came back. he wanted to be sure that he had heard right. so again, dick said, take it out. and i remember that so clearly because i understood what it meant. and as karl is saying, my goodness, you have a military
aircraft shooting down a passenger airliner. i don't think it is a close ethical decision because if that airliner had gone down on the white house -- >> this is flight 93 that we're talking about. >> i'm sorry. that's exactly right. but instead, they went down in shanksville because of the people. >> not to dwell too much on that but the, as we came back into washington that night, the president finally at the end of the briefing in nebraska said, i'm coming back to washington. they said mr. president, please don't come. we don't know, we don't know. bla bla bla. he said no, i'm coming back. the nation needs the hear me from the oval office, not from some bunker in the nebraska prairie. and i intend to sleep in my bed tonight which was somewhat jocular but he was not very jocular. we were working on the speech he would give to the country. about 20 minutes or so, 30
minutes outside of washington, he said i'll take a quick power animal. the speech was pretty well put to bed. two of us were standing outside the private office. he's now in the bedroom which is forward. and we're sort of talking and up flies an f-16 aircraft. it takes up station at the left wing tip of air force one. so close you could make out his face. and we were sort of excited. this is pretty amazing. there he is. and my colleague said, get your camera. take a picture, take a picture. aid little camera that i had been taking pictures during the day. i went into the cabin to get it out of my briefcase and there was one on our right wing tip. two f-16 fighters. we had entered what was called the national capital air space. this cordon that exists even before 9/11. so we're sitting there excitedly talking about how cool it is. then both of us stopped because both of us realized what that was. this was not a ceremonial escort. these guys were the last line of defense.
if something came up out of the ground or somewhere else in space, air force one, their job was to put their plane between that and air force one. so we come in to land at andrews. we come in like this. we have these two f-16 fighters on our wing tim as we are literally, i'm strapped in looking at the president like this. at the last moment, colonel tillman pancakes the 747 on the runway. as he does, these two f-16 fighters simultaneously turn on their afterburners to push ahead of the craft, of air force one. so they boom and like this. 50 feet off the ground. a couple years later i was walking through the airport in atlanta and this trim guy, about mid to late 30s comes up to me and says, are you karl rove? yeah, i am. he said we were together on 9/11. remind me where. he said i was on your left wing
tip. >> isn't that a story! >> air force reservist. a stockbroker, doing his active duty. on the flight line, the launch line on 9/11 and this was his job. >> wow! these are very, very moving stories. cynic we're here at the rancho mirage writers festival, i can't help myself. you've both been at the epicenter of events during 9/11, a very dynamic period. and we go into iraq in 2003. you've both also written history. i'm wondering how your own personal experiences during this time informs the way you look at historic figures. does it or does it not at all? >> my own personal experience was, i was writing a book on education. and i was about halfway through when george bush asked dick to be vice president.
and the president to be, his main cause was education. so i couldn't finish that book. just, i couldn't go out there with a set of opinions that might conflict, might not conflict. i couldn't finish the book. so i started writing children's books. i thought this is the least harmful thing i can do. who will get mad about a patriotic children's book? i wrote about six of them while dick was vice president. it was one of the best things i've ever done. it was that long ago and people are still giving, a is for abigail, a primer for baby presents. it is my go-to baby present. it affected my life in quite an important way and i don't think karl ever knew that. >> i'm not going to answer your question directly but i'll tell a dick cheney story. it is june of 2000 and bush is thinking about who his vice presidential running mate should
be. we're looking at nine people and the head of the process is richard cheney of dallas, texas. during the course of all this, bush becomes convinced that cheney ought to be the guy. and he knows i'm against it. so he calls me up. he's in iowa. and he calls me up and says, okay, i'm coming home tonight, as you know. i want you to be at the governor's mansion at 10:00 and i want you to make the case why i shouldn't go with dick cheney. so i show up at the governor's mansion at 10:00. it was built in 1854 when there were comanche indians 20 miles to the west it's not very big. we're in the austin library, about maybe twice the size of the stage. and i'm sitting on one side of the room and governor bush is on the other side of the room about four feet away. we're in comfortable chairs. he said, okay, tell me why we shouldn't go with cheney. well, number one, wyoming. three electoral votes. haven't lost it since 1964. not worried about it.
we need to go with somebody from a battle ground state. number two. cheney had his first heart attack at the age of 34 or so. i used to know details of it. and he's had three since. he's working on perfecting the heart attack. people say he won't last four years. number three. he was a conservative congressman from a conservative state 18 years ago and every one of his stupid votes will be brought up. like the vote, one of three members of congress to vote against the resolution calling on the apartheid regime of south africa to move nelson mandela from the island prison where there's no doctor to the mainland prison where there was a doctor. three guys vote against it. he's one of them. we'll have that. number four, we worked very hard to identify you as your own man. let's fick guy who was the secretary of defense at a time of war for your father. that will erase that. people in the midwest and the northeast are concerned about you being an oilman. what the hell? double down and get the guy
running the largest oil field supply company, halliburton. let's do that. the 12th amendment problem. bush is not a monologue guy so this is like world wrestling federation. noble will ever bring up that vote. that's ridiculous. this goes on for about 30, 35 minutes. at the end of it, i realized i can't unbutton my jacket because i've sweat through my shirt. he says, got anything else? i said no, no, that's it, sir. he turns to the guy next to him, dick, got any questions for karl? cheney had been listening to me kick his ass around for 30 minutes. as we're walking out of the room, he said i agreed with some of what you had to say. that night, bush calls me. and he says, really good today. he was back on the road. he literally came. there for six or seven hours. met with the vice president and then left again. he calls me night. about 10:00 and he says, really good today. really good. you outlined ten serious
political problems and i hadn't thought of some of them and it was really good. so figure out what you're going to do about him because i'm going with cheney. he said, your job is politics. so these are all political problems. figure out what you're going to do about them. he said that's not my job. my job is to figure out who would be the best partner to me in the oval office and if something terrible happened to me, who would the country have immediate confidence in? that's dick and i'm going with him. don't tell anybody i've made the decision or i'll kill you. but figure out what you're going to do. in a couple days when i get back, i want you to be prepared to tell me how we can prepare for each one of these eventualities. it was a testament to her husband. >> i have to add, we're out of time. is that dick was the other opponent of his being chosen. and argued strenuously against
it for many of the same reasons karl did. the president finally leaned on him in texas on the hot porch of the ranch house. until dick was sweating and the president was sweating and finally, dick said, okay, i'll do it. >> and he never held my bluntness against me either. he couldn't have been a better colleague and more importantly, a better mentor. >> i'm terribly sorry that we're out of time. i hope you'll agree with me. this is a terrific opportunity. >> it was fun. c-span shop.org is c-span's online store. there's a collection of products. brows to see what's new. your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and you have time order the congressional directly with contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. to go c-span shop.org. next, a look at the book jfk and the r