tv QA Jackie Speier CSPAN July 28, 2019 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
speier. later, remarks from the new british prime minister, boris johnson. ♪ 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 with then congressman leo ryan and we were ambushed on that airstrip and shot. congressman ryan was shot 45 times and died on that airstrip. there were members of the press that died. one defector of the people's temple who died. i was shot five times on the right side of my body. a bone jetting 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 am 28 years old. this is it. 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. brian: congressional delegation. rep. speier: congressional delegation because there were many constituents of his that had loved ones. 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 some 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, one, where 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 at a moments notice 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. you really don't need to make a trip down. but congressman ryan was one of those investigative legislators. 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. probably at the time when they were in guyana. do you remember he went down there? rep. speier: he went down there in late 1977. brian: let's watch this. so we can see what he looks like. [video clip] >> these are potato chips made from plantain, and they are more delicious than the combination of a potato chip and a french fry. radishes. you do not know what you are missing down here. they make their only fee green vegetables. we just won first prize from the national government of guyana. for our leafy green vegetables.
here are the people at the table eating an afternoon snack. you see pepsi-cola here for three cents, american money. sounds appetizing, doesn't it? [end of video clip] brian: they got an answer because he was obviously in guyana then. 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 down there. 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 use odd down there where -- who you saw down there were 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.
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: here is some video of congressman ryan. what was his district? rep. speier: his district was mostly san mateo county.
it was the suburbs of san francisco. there were a lot of whites who had children who were from comfortable homes. but 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 saw that it was really less of a utopia and more of a plantation where the whites were in leadership and the african-americans were not. brian: how much of your districts today, the 14th district of california, is the same that leo ryan had? rep. speier: it is fundamentally the same. districts had 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. then 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. [video clip] congressman 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, with some of the folks this evening, whatever the findings are, there are people here who believe this is the best thing that ever happened to them their whole life. [applause] [end of video clip] 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 back 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 literally 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 about jim jones? had you met him before you went to guyana? 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 that led him to be involved? i forgot, he lived in indianapolis. what led him to be this kind of minister? rep. speier: my sense in reading about him in the books that had been written, is that there was a part of him that was a loner. he was i believe from a broken home. from an early age, he was a manipulator, actually. very young in his early 20's, he
became a "pastor." brian: here is an interview. who else was killed? rep. speier: bobby brown was killed. he was the cameraman. great robinson, 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. back in 2006. [video clip] >> lastnight someone passed me this note. does it concern you that this man, for whatever reason --
>> people say things. they live. what can i do about liars? people just leave us. please, leave us. we will bother nobody. anybody who wants to get out of here can get out of here. i don't know what kind of games -- some people do, i don't. [end of video clip] 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 point, 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 wanted 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 we feared was true. brian: what happened next for you? where did you stay while you are down 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. roofs. 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. at that point there were only two people that wanted to leave, but i wanted to be able to get out of there safely. 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 about 40 people in the people's temple that 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. there was a huge uproar in the pavilion. 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. then we took off for the airstrip. brian: the cab of the truck. rep. speier: yes. brian: you said plane -- rep. speier: i'm sorry, no, he got into the cab of the truck. brian: how far is it from the people's temple area and the airport? rep. speier: it's hard to judge. i think it's about three miles, but it is on jungle roads. if you want to call them that. it's just hurt road.
-- dirt roads. it takes a while to get there. about 45 minutes. we get to the airstrip. one plane has arrived. the smaller plane. 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. because he had this big yellow poncho on. he frisked him. unfortunately he did not identify that 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 who had just scampered onto it, 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. he fell. i fled under the plane and hid by one of the wheels. brian: where were you hit? 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? can you remember? 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 got to a hospital? rep. speier: i was on that airstrip for almost 22 hours without medical attention. brian: you couldn't move. 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, by the way, 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 one of 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. 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. i don't mean that -- you know that. what in the world -- how did you survive all this? rep. speier: the right arm was
actually -- it's not nearly as scarred and damaged as my leg. the irony of all this is that my whole right side of my thigh was blown up, but the artery was not severed. if the femoral artery had been 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, would i ever dance again? he looked at me and he said, yes you will, and i want the first
dance. he said 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 incomplete. 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: at the people's temple, now, 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 blare. they would say, 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.
so when people say it was a mass suicide, it was not a mass suicide. 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 were told. brian: here is some audio, there is no video that i know of, of jim jones talking to this 900 group as he was leading them to the cyanide. [audio clip] >> it will not hurt, if you would be quiet. if you would be quiet. if you adults would stop some of this nonsense. adults, i call on you to stop this nonsense. i call on you to quit exciting your children. when all they are doing is this.
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. [end of audio clip] 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, they 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. and also a political guide for women in politics. because there are a lot of
things i learned in the process of my elective 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 of grief in their life. 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. brian: explain that. rep. speier: 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 foremost in my political career, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault in the military, sexual assault on college campuses, sexual
harassment. i thought to myself, why are these issues so -- why do i have such a, almost 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 are. 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 behind the curtains. 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 and tension from family members and friends. i realized over the weekend, it was 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. so i went to the county courthouse. my whole hand is in a contraption because my radial nerves 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, but 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 $7,000 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. i was probably fourth. 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 lantos was elected. brian: you talk about a chief of staff who sexually assaulted you. was it the same guy? rep. speier: same guy. brian: the guy that beat you. what did he do and when? rep. speier: 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 again 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 so many women. it happens to so many women in congress. we 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: no, i did not. brian: did you ever confront him when he was alive? rep. speier: no. i did not. for me, it was this one incident. i told the story when i told it not so much to draw attention to
me as much as i 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: [indiscernible] 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 to the business community. i won that race 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. speaker willie brown did not want me elected to state a -- assembly because he saw me as being too independent. they made sure no money from the interest in sacramento bee
-- would be contributed to my campaign. they bussed staffers from sacramento down to the district 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 that race by little more than 500 votes out of 40,000 votes cast. brian: how long were you in the assembly? rep. speier: i was in the assembly for 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, again. [laughter] 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 came and 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 ever coming back to congress. after i lost for lieutenant governor, i went to work in a law firm in san francisco. then 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. a lot of personal stories here. 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? because you had 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 at an event. i go to the event and lo and the hold, his father is at the event. so i come back to the condo and he comes in. i say, how was dinner with your dad. it carried on for a few minutes and i said, well, 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. but 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 that 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 the board to get the funding for this project. he said, what if i bring the video to your house? because you will be interrupted here. 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. [laughter] rep. speier: 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.
i pick up the phone and he says the birth mother wants the baby back. and i am thinking, oh my god. the birth mother and the grandmother drive up to sacramento. i give the baby back to his mom and grandmother, and all of 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. think about this. we have this wonderful son, we are healthy, we can try again. at this point, i am 43 years old. 42, 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 your 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 and it was 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,
what's her name, stephanie? rep. speier: stephanie. brian: 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 he brings it over 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 the 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 and they make me wait for a long time. 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: who was one of the married widows. he had no interest in me. she asked him over five times before he said, ok, i will meet with her. i will have a glass of wine with her. brian: what was he doing? rep. speier: he was and is an investment consultant. to pension funds. 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 me. 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: we got married in 2001. brian: and your two kids today are how old, and what are they doing? rep. speier: stephanie is now 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 back in 1978, what kind of shape are you in?
physically, 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 all the source of strength i have needed to get through these tough times. brian: as you run for congress in the area you live in, and i know you win big, 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, or 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 right in, 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 do 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 struggling as a single mother. 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 that is made off of a book like this? rep. speier: you can take the royalties. if you ever get to that point. brian: from your experience of this, would you write another book, and if you did, what would you talk about?
rep. speier: if i wrote another book it would be to young women about how to be savvy. sassy.o be 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, very much. rep. speier: thank you. ♪ announcer: all q&a programs are available on our website, or as a podcast at c-span.org. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> net sunday, -- next sunday, on q&a, saudi arabia's women's rights activist talks about her
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this and studies about this. i know because my son and i have commented on those stories. kids don't think they are vaping. they know they are juuling. that is the truth. >> and the ceo of juul labs. underagedt want consumers using this product. we need to make sure no underaged consumers use this product. it is terrible for our business and public health and our reputation. none of this is good stuff. >> monday on c-span. or where c-span.org ever are with the free c-span radio app. >> at her final question time as prime minister, theresa may fielded questions from members in the house of commons on a range of domestic and international issues.