tv QA Jackie Speier CSPAN November 19, 2018 5:59am-6:58am EST
friday at 8:00 p.m., political writer derek hunter. saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, pulitzer prize-winning war photographer lynsey addario talks about photos from the middle east. sunday on, pulitzer prize-winning journalist jose antonio vargas on american history tv, thursday at 5:30 p.m. eastern on american artifacts, celebrating the first english thanksgiving at jamestown in 1619. friday at 6:30 p.m., on the presidency, reflections on former first lady barbara bush. saturday at 8:00 p.m., on lectures and history, how the pilgrims became part of america's founding story. and sunday at 9:00 a.m., constitutional scholar says talk about how the u.s. constitution defines impeachable offenses by the president. thanksgiving
♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," representative jackie speier. she talked about her memoir. "undaunted: surviving jonestown, summoning courage, and fighting back." brian: jackie speier, your book, undaunted, your first three words are, i was dying. why did you start the book that way? rep. speier: because i was. it was one of those moments in my life that were defining for me. not many people have that experience where they are dying and survive. i had a lot to talk about. brian: why were you dying?
rep. speier: i was on an airstrip in the remote jungles of guyana having just concluded a congressional delegation tour and we were ambushed on that airstrip and shot. members of the press died. one defector of the people's temple died. i was shot five times on the right side of my body. a bone jutting out of my arm, a wound in my leg the size of a football. it was, oh my god, i am 28 years old, this is it. i'm not going to live to be in my mid-80's. i am not going to get married and have kids. i'm not going to have any of those dreams fulfilled. brian: november, 1978. why were you there? rep. speier: i was the
legislative counsel to congressman leo ryan. he had decided he wanted to take a codel down to jonestown, guyana. there were many constituents of his that had young adult children who had gotten involved in this church in san francisco called the people's temple. they had left san francisco and taken 900 of their congregation to this remote country in south america where in a jungle, they had carved out a community. these constituents wanted to know, when were they safe? were they there against their well? they gave us letters they want to make sure got to their children because they did not think they were able to communicate at all with their children. congressman ryan became involved in part because no one else was
interested. which was hard to believe. but the local electeds were all indebted to then-chairman jones who, as a reverend in san francisco at the people's temple, had a couple thousand congregants who could be called upon to assist in campaigns. he used his congregation to gain power and respect. the mayor made him his chair of his housing authority. meanwhile, people were starting to defect. people were saying things like, sexual abuse goes on, physical abuse goes on. people are maligned. there is money laundering going on. congressman ryan wanted to find out. we contacted the state department. the state department said after
a visit, everything looks great. but congressman ryan was one of those investigative legislators. him his whole career, he did not take the opinions of someone else. he wants to see firsthand. so we made the trip. brian: if you have never seen jim jones, here is footage of him. we do not have the date, but it was a couple years before 1978. do you remember when he went down there? rep. speier: he went down there in late 1977. brian: let's watch this. >> these are potato chips made from plantain, and they are more delicious. you do not know what you are missing down here. we just won first prize from the national government of guyana.
you see pepsi-cola here for three cents, american money. sounds appetizing, doesn't it? rep. speier: he was in guyana, this is before he went there with the large group. he had sent many followers down there earlier to build the community. he was trying to make it very appealing to the members of the people's temple in san francisco and los angeles. he is pitching how great it is. and who you saw down there. the people that were building jonestown. they were the people clearing the jungle, the people building the cabins, and the community. brian: describe where guyana is. rep. speier: guyana is in south america. it was once held by the british and then the danes, i believe.
a it is in the northeastern part of south america. it became independent, and once it became independent, the country became very much a marxist regime. at the time, the prime minister was the leader of the country. jones was attracted to that country in part because of the embrace of marxism, which is something jones embraced as well. also because the government was willing to -- lease him land, or gave him land in the middle of the country where the jungles were deep and it was an opportunity for them to build their commune. brian: what was his district? rep. speier: his district was him him mostly san mateo county. it was the suburbs of san
and francisco. there were a lot of whites who had children who were from comfortable homes. it was also at a time when there was this interest in wanting to embrace the opportunity for african-americans and whites to live together. that's the pitch jim jones made. here we will create our utopia. ironically, once you are there, you found it was really less of a utopia and more of a plantation where the whites were in leadership in the african-americans were not. brian: how much of your districts today, the 14th district, is the same that leo ryan had? rep. speier: it is fundamentally the same. district have gotten larger in terms of the population. i have part of san francisco now
and virtually all of san mateo county. brian: did leo ryan die the moment he was shot? rep. speier: he was shot and i was running towards him and then he was shot again. he fell. i raced under one of the wheels of the plane. then they came at point-blank range. they had targeted people they wanted to shoot. they then shot a number of us. brian: here is leo ryan. >> all of you know i'm here to find out about your allegations here. i can tell you now the few conversations i have had, whatever the findings are, there are people here who believe this is the best thing that ever happened to them their whole life. [applause] brian: where were you? rep. speier: i was sitting in the back of the pavilion at a
picnic table with a bench. both of us have been sitting there and interviewing members of the people's temple who had family members back home. they wanted us to deliver letters or talk to their children or young adults and try and assess whether or not they were being held against their will. that particular clip you just showed, the pandemonium that broke out in terms of the fervor of the applause was unnatural. it was alarming to me. brian: so you did not -- were you nervous at this time? rep. speier: i was nervous before we made the trip. in the book i talk about the fact that i had been in the process of buying my first home. it was a condominium in norther virginia. i made the contract contingent on my surviving the trip to jonestown.
i had a sentence added to the contract because i did not want my parents saddled with a piece of property 3000 miles away. i have oftentimes been asked, why did you go? 1978, very few women that had leadership roles on congressional staff. there was a staff member from the international relations committee who was making the trip. i thought, if i did not go, somehow i would be setting women back in terms of their opportunity to take on bigger positions in congress. brian: what were you thinking him and about jim jones? had you met him before? rep. speier: i had not met him. the weekend before we left i sat in my office. i was just listening to audio tapes of interviews that had been taken by one of the staff members in the district of a number of defectors. conversation after conversation,
interview after interview, it was more alarming each interview. there was a pattern. it spoke to me as if we were walking into a dangerous situation. brian: jim jones is from my home state of indiana. he was born in crete, he moved to lynn next to richmond and then moved to california. what can you tell about his upbringing? i forgot, he lived in indianapolis. what led him to be this kind of minister? rep. speier: my sense in reading about him was there was a part of him that was a loner. he was from a broken home. from an early age, he was a manipulator, actually.
very young in his early 20's, he became a, quote, pastor, unquote. brian: here is an interview. who also was killed? rep. speier: bobby brown was killed. he was the cameraman. the photographer from one of the bay area newspapers was killed. one of the defectors was killed. they were all remarkable people. i just met them and over a course of a few days i had come to really respect them. brian: this was directed by a man named stanley nelson. >> that's right. i was just talking about --
>> people in your group -- >> people lie. what can i do about liars? please leave us. we will bother nobody. anybody who wants to get out of here can get out of here. i do not know what kind of things -- some people do, i don't. brian: is that true? he did not like publicity. rep. speier: no, actually, he lived for publicity. he was an egomaniac. he was, at one time, a charismatic leader, no doubt, but by the time we met him, he was on drugs, he was sweating a great deal, he appeared to not be as clear minded as one would
hope. during that interview, everything was unraveling. the tensions at the pavilion was intense. the family, the park family had just come up to me and want to leave. the older grandmother and the father and mother and a number of children. it was unraveling before his eyes. don harris is interviewing him, and had shown him the note he had showed to congressman ryan and myself that night after congressman ryan had addressed the audience there. i had such a sinking feeling because once we we received that note, i knew everything was true. him and brian: what happened
him next? where did you stay while you are there? rep. speier: i stayed in a cabin with a group of members of the people's temple, again, women. they were very modest cabins. it was raining that night. all night long i'm listening to the rain on the roof. i know what tomorrow is going to bring. i could not sleep. i just wanted the morning to dawn so we could get on with taking those who wanted to leave. there were only two people, but i wanted to be able to get out of there. as the day wore on, more and more people want to leave. that became problematic because we did not have enough planes. congressman ryan was going to stay behind with another group of 40 people in the people's temple who wanted to be taken out. i was going to take the first group out. we got onto this dump truck with the first group of defectors and the concerned relatives who had
been with us and the members of the press. we are about to leave and the dump truck got stuck because of the mud from the rain that had occurred overnight. because it got stuck, we were still there when there was a knifing attempt on congressman ryan. we are in the dump truck and all of a sudden out walks congressman ryan. he has blood stains on his shirt. he gets into the cab of the plane so i did not have an opportunity to talk to him. i was in the bed of the truck. we took off for the airstrip. brian: the cab of the truck. rep. speier: yes. brian: you said plane -- rep. speier: yes. brian: how far is it? rep. speier: i think about three miles, but it is on jungle roads.
it takes a while to get there. we get to the airstrip. one plane has arrived. we are waiting for the larger plane to arrive. congressman ryan does an interview with members of the press about what had happened in the pavilion. then larry layton, one of the hierarchy in the people's temple, all of a sudden is saying he is a defector, but he had been one of the most public about his support of the people's temple and there was no way i wanted him on the same plane. i said to congressman ryan, i do not want him on the same plane. he said put him on the smaller plane. i asked one of the reporters if he would frisk him. he frisked him. unfortunately he did not identify the he had a gun. i'm loading passengers onto the
larger plane at this point. the first plane has been loaded. unbeknownst to us, a tractor-trailer from people's temple had followed behind us from a distance, had arrived on the airstrip, and as i was trying to coax a small child out of the plane, the gun shots rang out. i at first did not know what was happening because my back was to the tractor-trailer. they started jumping off the tractor-trailer and started shooting. people scattered. i started to run. congressman ryan was hit. i fled under the plane and hid by one of the wheels. brian: when were you shot? rep. speier: i was shot towards the end in terms of my recollection. i was playing dead, i was lying on my side with my head down so the whole right side of my body was the most visible for
the gunmen. they came at point-blank range and shot us. brian: how close is point-blank for you? rep. speier: my head is down. brian: did they shoot you when your head was down? rep. speier: yes. brian: how long was it while you were there before you get to a hospital? rep. speier: i was on that airstrip for almost 22 hours without medical attention. brian: you couldn't move. him rep. speier: i was able to get my body up at one point. they shoved me into the cargo hold of the plane thinking this plane was going to take off, but it had bullet holes through the engine. brian: who is they at this point? rep. speier: survivors who were still there. some just ran into the bush. obviously the plane was not going anywhere. i was finally taken out by some local guyanese. they placed me on the side of the airstrip, unfortunately on an anthill.
but i tell people you don't sweat the small stuff when you are dying. they moved the most wounded into a tent where we spent the night. i got through the night out of the goodness of the producer from nbc and the reporters who came and brought guyanese rum from a bar that was in matthews ridge, some distance away. i took swigs of this to dull the pain. you brian: there are no pictures
of you in your book after you have been wounded , but i found one on google of you and your husband and you are wearing a sleeveless dress. that right arm of yours is a mess. you know that. what in the world -- how did you survive this? rep. speier: the right arm was actually -- it's not nearly as scarred and damaged as my leg. the whole right side of my thigh was blown up, but the artery was not severed. i would have bled to death in 90 seconds. i remember, finally we got to georgetown, guyana where there was a u.s. medevac plane waiting and there was this beautiful white, shining plane with the words united states of america on it. it was like someone had just wrapped me in the american flag and i was lifted into that plane. one of the medics, or technicians who was on the plane, said to me later when he had called to talk to me, he
said, i asked, what i ever dance again? he looked at me and he said, yes you will, and i want the first dance. i was so close to death. i was minutes away from dying. at two or three times during the flight, they were going to put the plane down. i think once in puerto rico and once in louisiana because they did not think i was going to make it to andrew's. i went through lots of surgeries. it took me years to come to grips with the scars and realizing it was my new reality and i could move on with my life and not feel like somehow i was in complete. brian: i want to come back to that. this, as i remember, it was 5:00 in the afternoon when you were shot. what happened when you were on the ground for the next 22 hours? what happened at the people's temple? rep. speier: this is before cell phones.
during the night, we got word that they had done that white knight trial they had tested many times where he was testing the commitment his members had to him. the megaphones would blair. everyone come out of your cabins, we are going to leave this world, we are going to be resurrected. people would all come to the pavilion. he would give them something to drink. it was nothing. this night, everyone came to the pavilion and they had injected the children with cyanide. they had cyanide kool-aid. people were told to drink it. within minutes they were dead. brian: how many? rep. speier: over 900. brian: were there really 300 children? rep. speier: over 300 children.
when people say it was a mass suicide, it was not. they were forced to drink this toxic brew by jones. he had many of his guards surrounding the pavilion, i am sure to make sure people did as they was told. brian: here is some audio of jim jones talking to this 900 group as he was leading them to the cyanide. >> it will not hurt, if you would be quiet. if you would be quiet. if you would stop some of this nonsense. adults, i call on you to stop this nonsense. i call on you to quit exciting your children.
i call on you to stop this now, if you have any respect at all. what are we? stop this nonsense. you are exciting your children. brian: what happened to him? rep. speier: he was shot in the head either by a self-inflicted gunshot wound or having someone do it for him. those voices of those children haunt me. how they could be taken like that. how one man could have such control over people that they lose their independence, their ability to think, their -- the mind control that was clearly at work there. there are a few people who did flee into the jungle that night. but very few. brian: what happened to larry
layton, one of the people's temple members after you were shot? rep. speier: he was placed on the smaller plane. he had a gun on him, started to shoot some of the defectors on the plane were injured. his gun was wrestled from his hands and was somehow pushed out of the plane. the plane took off. i'm on this airstrip thinking my parents are never going to know what happened because we were in such a desolate place. what i did not know was within minutes the pilot that was able to take off in that smaller plane was recording on his radio what was going on on the ground. brian: who did this shooting in the first place besides layton when they came off that truck that came to where the landing was? rep. speier: i don't know which members of the people's temple they were, but they did the shooting, they then got back on that tractor-trailer and went back to the people's temple
commune where i presume most of them died as well. brian: were they all americans? rep. speier: yes. brian: let me go to this book. we are just one chapter in this book. why did you write this book? what is your goal? rep. speier: this is the 40th anniversary of jonestown. it seemed like a good time to close this particular chapter. it also was an opportunity for me to talk about all the experiences of my life that have shaped me. i wanted it to be a survival guide for people to overcome obstacles that come their way. it also a political guide for women in politics. there are a lot of things i learned in the process of my career that i thought would be
helpful to those who came after me. brian: you give credit in the back for your cowriter. how is she related to the former mayor of san francisco? rep. speier: she is actually the daughter of the former mayor of san francisco. brian: how did you two get together? how did you work out writing the book? rep. speier: 14 years later i am pregnant with our second child and my husband was killed in an automobile accident by a young driver who had no brakes and ran a red light. i was pregnant with our second child and our son was five and a half years old. i have experience what it was like to be a widow. and to have your life pulled out from under you. before that, i thought guyana was my share of grief. everyone gets their share. after my husband was killed, after we had two miscarriages, after a failed adoption, i
realized, i'm not necessarily getting our fair share. we are just given what we are given and that is our challenge to move on with our lives. as a result of that experience, another friend subsequently lost her husband. i went to her support. it became paying it forward. so her husband dies of prostate cancer and we took her to lunch. over the course of time, we took more people, more widows to lunch and we created this widow's club. we meet here many years later and we meet three or four times a year and celebrate life and help each other through what have been really challenging times. kathleen's daughter helped me
write the book. brian: there is so much here. it is a short book. what is it, 175 pages long. what part of this book about your life was the hardest for you beyond guyana? rep. speier: the sexual abuse by my grandfather when i was young. the first time i have ever talked about it publicly. i certainly talked to my mother about it. i have shared it with my husbands and friends. is the first time i talked about it publicly. as i was writing the book and i was focusing on the issues that have been so for most in my political career, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault in the military, on college campuses, sexual harassment.
i thought to myself, why are these issues so -- why do i have such a fixation with them? why such a passion about them? all of a sudden it clicked. it was the fact that it emanated from that childhood experience where my grandfather sexually abused me. brian: at what age? rep. speier: you know -- what happens when you are young, you don't remember how old you actually -- i think i was 6, 7 years old, maybe eight. i had spent my life putting it behind me. i realized when i was writing the book that i really did need to talk about it. we need to take it out from the
shadows. it happens in families all the time. children are shamed by it. it does affect you the rest of your life. in my case i realized it affected me in a way i had to overcome it by trying to make sure it did not happen to other people. brian: let me go through some of the details of your life. after the guyana thing, you ran for congress. what year and what happened? rep. speier: i am hospitalized for two months. i come back on a weekend, a friday. there is so much energy of family and friends. i realize, the first time i was not feeling pain. i was still in pain, but i was other directed. on that monday, it was the last
day you could take out papers to run for the unexpired term of congressman ryan. my whole hand is in a contraption because mine radial nerve had been blown away. they did not know if i was ever going to be able to use my fingers again. i took out papers to run for his office. part of it was to carry on his legacy, a part of it was for emotional healing. i wanted to stop being a victim. i wanted to be a survivor. i saw this as a way of trying to move forward with my life. a six-week campaign, that is all i had. it was a joke in many respects. it was family and friends, kind of laughable when you think about it. i spent $27,000 on the campaign. i raise only $20,000, so i was in debt at the end of the campaign. and i lost. brian: how big?
rep. speier: i came in third among the democrats. it was a special election. the person who won was the chief of staff to congressman ryan in the special and a republican county supervisor. the two of them had the runoff and the county supervisor won. his name was royce. he served for only 18 months and then congressman tom latest was elected. brian: you talk about a chief of staff who sexually assaulted you. same guy? rep. speier: same guy. brian: what did he do and when? rep. speier: it was when i was on the staff of congressman ryan. he was the chief of staff and we had been working late one night.
he just came up to me and put me against the wall and kissed me and stuck his tongue down my throat. i just recoiled from it, and just made sure i never was in the room alone with him. and went on with my life, so to speak. except when the #metoo movement came to be and i thought, you know, this happens to some any -- so many women. it happens to so many women in congress. you have got to take advantage of this moment and make sure it does not happen anymore. brian: where is he today? rep. speier: he has passed away. brian: did you ever think publicly about it when he was alive? rep. speier: i did not. brian: did you ever confront him when he was alive? rep. speier: no. for me, it was this one incident. i told the story when i told it not to draw attention to me as much they wanted staffers on the hill to know that i had endured something like that, and that i could relate to them.
lots of women came to talk to me because of their experiences. brian: at what point did you run for office again and what did you win? rep. speier: the following year i ran for the board of supervisors of san mateo county against a 20 year incumbent. the political pundits said i had no chance. a 20 year incumbent connected with the business community. i won and became the youngest member ever elected to the board of supervisors of san mateo county. brian: what year? rep. speier: 1980. brian: how long were you on that board? rep. speier: six years, then i ran for the state assembly. i was not the chosen candidate.
they made sure no money from the interest of sacramento would be contributed to my campaign. they bussed staffers from sacramento to walk precincts. i was running against somebody who was on city council, mayor of one of the larger cities in the district, whose brother-in-law was a seated member in the state assembly. i had a 14 point lead in march and by june 1 it was neck and neck. i won by a little more than 500 votes out of 40,000 votes cast. brian: how long were you in the assembly? rep. speier: 10 years. i was term limited out and then ran for the state senate two years later, got elected, and served there for eight years. brian: you ran for lieutenant governor. what happened? rep. speier: i lost in the democratic primary.
ironically, to the man who is now a member of congress as well. i lost by three percentage points. he got elected to lieutenant governor and then left in the middle of his term. i guess it was not as satisfying as he hoped it would be. he joined me in congress. brian: when did you run for this seat in congress and when did you win? rep. speier: i had no intentions of coming back to congress. after i lost lieutenant governor, i went to work in a law firm in san francisco. i had one of my campaign consultants, on his own, because he was so disappointed i had not won lieutenant governor's race, he had done all my polling, he did a poll that showed if i were head-to-head with congressman tom lantos, i would beat him. i thought, i'm not going to do that.
i want to know if he was ever going to retire, he had been in congress for almost 30 years. we were going to talk, but before that happened he announced he was not going to run for reelection. i decided to run. he endorsed me. a month later, he died of cancer. i went from being a candidate to being a member of congress in four months. brian: that was what year? rep. speier: april 2008. brian: i want you to go back on a personal level. you talk about worrying about your body had changed and all that. the first guy you were dating and the -- tell us that story. it did not end well. rep. speier: once i was on the board of supervisors, i started
dating a fellow member on the board of supervisors. we announced our engagement. you know, it was a pretty heady time, quite exciting. there were these big issues about, where are they going to live? is she going to live in his district? up to that point it was hard to date because i really had to make sure they appreciated that my body was scarred. if anybody was going to recoil from touching me, that was going to be a problem. we were engaged, we were waiting for the catholic church to annul his two previous marriages, because i want to be married in the catholic church. into our second year he decided not to run for reelection to the board. we both had events to go to one night. he was going to have dinner with
his father, i was going to present a certificate. i go to the event and lo and behold, his father was at the i come back and i asked how dinner was with his dad. i said, it's funny your dad was at this event. he then tells me he was with another woman. my whole life started to be shattered all over again. brian: what did you say to him? rep. speier: i was just stunned. we were engaged to be married. i could not understand it. there is a plan for each of us. that was not to be. brian: you name him in the book. is he still alive? rep. speier: no he is not. brian: dr. sierra. how did you meet him? rep. speier: he was the chief of
staff at the county hospital where i was on the county hospitals board. he was also the chief of the emergency department. one of the da's came to me one day and said, you know, we are not getting convictions on rape cases we could. i said, was the problem? he said it's the chain of custody of the evidence. i said, that should be something we can fix. i called the head of the hospital and said, i would like to schedule a meeting. let's see what we can figure out. steve was chief of staff. he is at the meeting. we decide this is something we want to take. there was some training video done in another county we requested. he calls me one day and says, we have this video.
i said, great, maybe i will come over to the hospital and watch it. i needed to make a presentation to get the funding. he said, what if i bring the video to your house? you will be interrupted. i'm thinking, this is kind of crazy. i said, i don't have a vcr. well, i will bring one. he shows up at my condo with a vcr, the tape, and two bottles of wine. i call that the rape tape date. that was a remarkable relationship on every level. we had lots of ups and downs. i have had a number of miscarriages. one at 17 weeks. we adopted a baby and 10 days later the birth mother wanted to take the baby back. brian: tell more about that. i distinctly remember that from the book. what happened? rep. speier: we are so thrilled, we have this baby. i am in sacramento. we're in the middle of the final budget debate on the budget.
the budget is finally voted on at 1:00 a.m., i'm holding this infant in my arms, and -- brian: how did you get that infant in the first place? rep. speier: it was a situation where a mother came in to the ed and wanted to deliver the baby and put it up for adoption. we made the request. brian: right there. rep. speier: yes. so i am holding this little infant in my arms. i get back to the -- our place in sacramento and the babysitter is there. i said, can you give him his feeding in the morning? i want to get a couple hours of sleep. she wakes me at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning and says, steve is on the phone. he says the mother wants the
baby back. the birth mother and the grandmother drive up to sacramento. i give the baby back to his mom and grandmother, the baby seat and everything else. brian: how can they do that? rep. speier: it was six months. you have a six month period of time before you have real custody of an adoptee. i'm driving home that day and i'm sobbing. jackson is in his car seat in the back of the car, i am talking to my husband, i said, why do these things keep happening to us?
he says, now wait a minute. we have this wonderful son, we are healthy, we can try again. at this point, i am 43 years old. we will try again. so we go to the fertility specialist who basically says, based on the age of your eggs and her medical history, you have a 10% chance of getting pregnant with in vitro. it was not nice hearing it that way, but we decided that was the plan. we were moving on with our lives. closing that chapter. grateful we had our son. it was a very expensive procedure not covered by insurance at the time. 10% chance, $10,000, it did not make a lot of sense. i started running for secretary of state of california.
lo and behold, time passes and i'm thinking, why is the time of the month coming and going and i'm not cycling through my menses? i go down to walgreens at 11:00 at night, get the pregnancy test, it never turned the right color all the times i tried it before. sure enough, it does. i called steve at the emergency room and said, guess what, i think i am pregnant. he said, what was it, immaculate conception? he said, come to the hospital, get a blood test. we do. the next morning he says, you are pregnant. i'm 43 years old at the time. chances were next to nil i was going to get pregnant with in vitro and i got pregnant naturally. brian: what was the child -- girl or boy? rep. speier: girl. brian: you told us earlier when you were pregnant with the girl,
stephanie, that steve was killed. rep. speier: i'm six weeks -- about two months pregnant with her. i have been on bed rest for a few days because i had some spotting. that night, steve and jackson walked into the bedroom. jackson has this rose behind his back and brings it to me. this is such a sweet moment. the next morning i'm off to sacramento to give a speech to the california bankers association. it is raining torrentially and i'm with my district director. a phone rings in the car. my staff is saying, the san mateo police have just called. there has been an accident and steve is at the hospital.
so we turn the car around, we are heading back. i called hospital, i'm talking to this surgeon, who is a friend. i could hear it in his voice. he says you should hurry up. i get to the hospital they make me wait. finally they let me in to see him in the icu. he's breathing, he is on a respirator. he is brain-dead. the hardest day of my life. i then had to go pick up my son from kindergarten. bring him back to the hospital. and have him say goodbye to his dad. i waited for his brother to fly down from oregon and then i had to agree to let them pull the plug. and i walked out of the room.
brian: your daughter was born how many months later? rep. speier: about six months later. brian: how long do you stay single? rep. speier: i was single for eight years. a single mom raising these two children. god love my late husband, he was horrible in finances, so i was financially three months from bankruptcy. friends came together, my family came together to help me patch a financial solution together. for eight years i was a single mom. kissed a lot of frogs during that time. brian: where did you meet barry dennis? rep. speier: it was a blind date.
set up by kathleen. brian: the wife of the former mayor of san francisco. rep. speier: she asked him over five times before he said, ok, i will meet with her. brian: what was he doing? rep. speier: he was and is an investment consultant. and he is a fly fisherman. . and he is an introvert. so, you know, two bookends i guess, two sides of a coin. he has been an extraordinary man in my life. adopted both the kids. brian: you say in the book he had problems with stephanie. rep. speier: it took her a number of years to get to the point where she wanted him to adopt her. jackson was happy to have it happen right away. she was not.
she had basically lived six or seven years of her life with me as her only parent. all of a sudden she was sharing. it took a while. they went through some period of counseling when she was in high school. we all have those bumps and we work through them. brian: what year did you get married? rep. speier: 2001. brian: and your kids are how old and what are they doing? rep. speier: stephanie is 24 and she is a reporter and anchor at an abc affiliate in colorado springs. jackson is a software engineer at linkedin. brian: after all these years and the damage that was done to your body in 1978, what kind of shape are you in?
do you have any limitations? rep. speier: it's funny you should ask. i have been able to work through most things. i just went through ankle surgery, but it is unrelated to having been shot in guyana. it has more to do with wearing high heels on marble floors for 40 years. i have been so lucky. the book is an effort to give people hope. from heartache, you can hope from grieving, you can have healing. there is a plan for each of us. we are not always privy to what that is. you have to have faith that you will be able to survive. and you will. i have been so lucky to have my family and my friends and my faith to hold onto. it has been the strength i needed.
brian: as you run for congress in the area you live in, do you ever have a situation where you do not have an opponent? rep. speier: i have had a couple of elections when i did not have an opponent, one where i became the nominee of both the republicans and democrats. that is when i was in the state legislature. you could file at the time as a republican, which i did, and became the republican nomination. brian: do you have any desire to run for another office? rep. speier: no, i do not. brian: your own thinking now, how long will you be a congressperson? rep. speier: i do not know the answer to that question either. i think there is a time and place for each of us to serve. and a time when we need to make way for another generation of leaders. i'm not sure i'm there yet.
but i recognize that i have more to contribute. i would like to do that and serve my constituents for a period of time. i do not know how long that is going to be. brian: how long did it take to do this book? rep. speier: about two years. brian: what was the hardest story in the book to tell? rep. speier: the sexual abuse by my grandfather. i struggle with whether talk about it or not. brian: did you leave anything out? rep. speier: good question. i probably left things out that are better left unsaid that were not really significant parts of my life. it is also a book -- i think sometimes people presume that as a member of congress you have this really sweet life. things have always gone well for
you. that was not my story at all. both professionally with my losses and personally through not just the physical assault, but through the dating experience. but we can all survive and we can all thrive. i hope that is part of the message. brian: how hard was it to sell this book to a publisher? rep. speier: i did have a literary agent, and she was terrific. so that was great. in the house, unlike the senate, we cannot take an advance. i guess that makes it easier to sell, too. brian: can you take the the money from a book like this? rep. speier: you can take the royalties. brian: would you do another and what would you talk about?
rep. speier: if i wrote another book it would be to young women about how to be savvy. brian: the name of this book is "undaunted: surviving jonestown, summoning courage, and fighting back." our guest has been jackie speier, congresswoman from the 14th district of california. thank you for being here. rep. speier: thank you. ♪ announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org. programs are also available as c-span podcasts.
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