tv The Presidency Bush White House Chiefs of Staff CSPAN January 15, 2021 2:19pm-3:25pm EST
artifacts that tell the story of the first half century of aviation. and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, a look back to january 16th, 1991 as president george h.w. bush announces the bombing of iraq and the start of the persian gulf war followed by his "state of the union" address. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span 3. coming up on american history tv, a conversation with john sununu. he served as george h.w. bush's white house chief of staff, and andrew card who was chief of staff for george w. bush. they discuss the father and son's leadership styles and approach to war events such as the fall of soviet union and 9/11. >> i want to welcome you, and i'm terribly happy to have andy
carden and governor sununu in this room. this stage has welcomed over the last 100 years some very interesting people. and tonight we're making history to learn about some of the inner workings of the white house. but i want to mention there have been pundits, there have been professors. actually there was a professor here a couple of months ago who led a group of us to egypt, 87 of us to be precise. and he's the professor that's pushing back the dates of the pyramid and the sphinx like to 10,000 years which i think is wonderful. there's also been a very famous writer by the name of samuel clemons who was here, mark twain. and my father remembers as a 12-year-old boy he used to sit with other kids from dublin at the feet of the writer. and mark twain would read some
of his latest work. and then of course most special of all the white house connection was the 300-pound president. neither bushes would have qualified for that. william howard taft's secretary of the treasury built this house in 1902, and taft visited here twice. one of the times he visited the mcveighs who built this house invited the whole town of dublin, which we're like 1,500 now. in those days it was like 600. so he shook hands with 600 people before the supper the mcveighs would offer him. and my grandfather who's a harvard professor was one of the guests. and he brought along his 12-year-old son who was my father. and 40 years later daddy bought
the place. it had been empty for 15 years. he bought it for literally a song. and we a wonderful chairman who is full of energy and full of good ideas. ramona branch is our chairman of president and i want to introduce her with great pride. we are the little engine that could. >> it is such a pleasure to share this evening with all such great people like you guys. i'm ramona branch, i'm the chair of the dublin area republican committee. dublin is located in the beautiful region of southern new
hampshire. we refer to ourselves affectionately as -- which is widely recognized in our party. we welcome you to our second fund-raiser in preparation for the 2020 elections. all moneys raised in the fund raisers will go to our republican patriots running for office. as you can see, c-span considers tonight so important that they have decided to come up and videotape this event for their programming. degop is a young growing organization. our tag line is we may be small but we're mighty. our members are dynamic citizens who generously give their time and tal want in the fight to restore america to our foundational principles. we have been recognized by our
peers as setting the bar in republican town committees and we welcome your talent and your participation on at this time i would like to introduce the executive director of the new hampshire republican party who will serve as tonight's program moderator. elliot? >> thank you so9÷cvyjñ much. so i know we all know who these two gentleman are on stage but for those watching on c-span i'm going to do a quick introduction. governor sununu was the chief white house staff during george bush's administration. prior to serving he was elected as the 75th governor of the state of new hampshire serving in that role from 1983 to 1989. during his time as governor he served as the chair of the national governors association from '83 to '88. and following his service he
served as chairman of the new hampshire republican party from 2009 to 2011 and during which time the gop took control of the state legislature with a super majority. thank you for joining us, governor. and our other guest this evening is secretary andrew carh. he served as the 21st white house chi of staff from 2001 to 2006. prior to serving as white house chief of staff secretary carr served as the 11th secretary of transportation. a member of the massachusetts house of representatives. worked in the reagan, bush 41 and 43.
we're now going to start off tonight's discussion. so i'm going to ask the first couple of questions and then i'm going to turn it over to you guys. if anyone wants to ask a question please flag me down and i'll bring the mike over and you can ask a question. so our first question is what was it like to be the chief of staff to president of the united states? >> it's a hard question to answer in an unemotional way, but i had the privilege of serving the president of george herbert walker bush that i really considered a close friend, certainly someone i respected, someone i cared for. and even though i initially told him i did not want to go to washington someone who eventually persuaded me and my wife nancy it would be a good idea at least to come try it. the most interesting thing to me
was the process that that president undertook on all his decisions. he was a president that listened. he was the president i could discuss things with, sometimes not agreeing with him. but certainly someone who solicited your opinions and tried to find all the views before he firmed up and solidified his decision. so for me it was an experience that i call one of the most fun i've ever had in my whole life. it was a wonderful time to be chief of staff. the world was changing before our eyes on a daily basis. the soviet union was collapsing, driven primarily by the astute leadership of george herbert walker bush. and it was fascinating. it was fun, and certainly for me one of the highlights that i
constantly look back on. >> i'm going to open up by saying first of all you don't apply to be the president's chief of staff, and it's not like the president goes to monster.com or zip recruiter to find a chief of staff. so i was shocked when i was invited to be a president's chief of staff to george w. bush. when he was asking me to be his chief of staff i thought he was asking me to run his transition into government. and it happened to be thursday morning before election day in 2000. and he had asked me to do some things, and he -- i had breakfast with him and he said are you ready to do this, and he said i'm talking about the big one. that was the term he used. i knew what he meant. it was chief of staff. election night came and didn't
go away. and the next morning he formally asked me to be his chief of taf, and i was flattered. i think he asked me to be his chief of staff because underserved under every chief of staff that served ronald reagan and george h.w. bush. then they had jim baker alone and then he had don regan. then he had howard baker. then he had kenny dubberstein. and then we changed presidents and john sununu was chief of staff to george h.w. bush and i had the privilege of serving -- maybe it it wasn't a privilege. i had the honor of serving as deputy chief of staff to john sununu. and by the way, this is 100% sincere. he's the most intelligent person i have ever met. his iq was off the charts.
>> but he was remarkable to work with, and i learned so much from him. i learned from all of the chiefs of staff that i served under, and i think that's why george w. bush asked me to be his chief of staff bautz i'd worked that white house and i learned from all of them. remember the television show cheers? in cheers a bar in boston and the theme song was a place where everybody knows your name. and i wanted to be just the opposite of that as chief of staff. john sununu became well-known as chief of staff. don regan became well-known as chief of staff. i wanted to be a chief of staff where nobody knew his name. i wanted to be all the other stars of the administration. that changed on september 11, 2001 with a picture of me whispering in the president's ear. but my goal was to just be a staffer in charge of the staff
and allow other people to be recognized for the job they were doing, and my job was to help them do their job. but it was a great honor to serve. i grew up in a family where politics was not a dirty word. my grandmother had been a suffragette. and she said the most important word in the constitution was the first word, we, it's our government. and so i was brought up that i believed if the president asked you to do something, you find a way to say yes. maybe you try to talk the president out of doing it, but if the president needs you, say yes. and i was privileged to have been invited by three presidents to serve at the white house. when i was asked to be chief of staff i said yes, but it's not a job you apply for. >> so you kind of touched on a couple of things i want to discuss. so can you kind of go through what it was like a bit on 9/11 and some of the events that
happened with us here? >> september 11, 2001, was a day i guarantee all of you said you would never forget. unfortunately, if you were a high school senior this year or even a freshman in college, you weren't born on 9/11, 2001. so there are a lot of people in our society today that don't know enough to remember yet we promised never to forget. so i feel comfortable in telling people please don't forget and tell your children and grandchildren all about it, because it was a day that changed the world. the president woke up in sarasota, florida. chiefs of staff always wake up before the president does. >> well before. >> well before. we have a lot of work to do. i remember waking up very early that morning and reading the pdb, the president's daily brief, going over the incoming economic data and the diplomatic cables and kind of doing the nuts and bolts of the job. i went outside to check on the advance team, and they were
setting up a motorcade to take the president to an elementary school, and i also knew the president was getting ready to go out for a run on the golf course. when we arrived the night before i was struck by the terrible stench arriving at sarasota, florida. it the red tied had killed fish, they washed up on the beach and it stunk. and that warning after i got up and went out to see what the advance team was doing and i was struck by the terrible stench in the air. and i knew the president was going to go for a run on the golf course and i was worried the president might get sick. and i went to the physician and he said this won't bother him. i went in to watch the president go out for this runnel. but he was completely preoccupied by something he had done a couple days before. and that was he invited a reporter to go running with him on the golf course, and he found
out he was a former ncaa all american cross-country runner. and the bushes are unbelievably competitive. they never let the grandkids beat them at horseshoes or checkers. and george w. bush was just as competitive, and he was preoccupied he had invited stretch kyle to go for a run with him on the golf course at the colony resort, and they did. by the way, as he's walking out to go for the run i said to him don't worry about the terrible red tide stench, i checked with a doctor and you won't get sick, and he looked at me, you're an idiot. i get that look a lot from john sununu, too, but that was all right. he came back from the run and he was doing the george w. bush strut, and you probably all remember tat. and he was quite confident he beat stretch kyle. he ran very good time, and he was full of himself.
and he couldn't wait to get ready to go to this elementary school. i said it was going to be an easy day as we piled into lim limousines, drove to the school. the president went right to a secure phone and called back to condoleeza rice's national security advisor. i went back into the classroom to see if it was all set for the president. the acting national security advisor on the trip, the director of the white house situation room who went onto become a navy admiral said, sir, here's a small twin-engine prop plane crashed into one of the towers at the world trade center in new york city. the president, the principal and i all had the same reaction.
oh, what a horrible accident, the pilot must have had an accident or something. she and the president walked into the classroom, the door shut and just as the door shut captain laur came up to me and said, sir, it appears it was a commercial jetliner. my mind flashed to the fear the passengers on the plane must have had. they had to know it was not gaining altitude. i don't know why that's where my mind went but that's where it went. captain came up to me and said, oh, my gosh, another plane hit the other tower at the world trade center. my mind then flashed to three initials, u.b.l., osama bin laden. i then perfolleñ a test the chiefs of staff have to perform every day, does the president
need to know? you get that test a thousand times a day. most of the time it's no. this was an easy test to pass. yes, he had to be told. i made a decision to pass on two facts. i presumed he was sitting underneath a microphone where everything that was said would be picked up. and i knew he was sitting in front of second graders and a press pool and make my editorial comment but not invite a dialogue. the teacher of the students, the second graders was conducting a dialogue between the president and the students. this dialogue was taking place. anne compton from abc news was in the press pool. she saw me. it was unusual for me to come into the room after the president had gone in. and it was particularly awkward for me to come in kind of from
backstage up to the president. and she looked at me and she says -- and i said -- and she said -- and the teacher then told the students to take out their books. and as they were reaching for their books because they were going to read a story with the president, they were reaching to pull their books out and that's when i walked out to the president. he did not know i was coming up to them. i leaned over and whispered into his right ear, a second plane hit the second tower. america is under attack. that was all i said to him. he never turned and looked at me. he didn't say anything to me. i could see his head bobbing up and down. i then took two steps back. he did not turn to me. i then went back to the door of the classroom. i could still see his head bobbing up and down.
the students were particularly attentive to their books. they had just taken them out. the press pool wasn't looking at the president. they were looking at the press secretary. in my left peripheral vision i saw the principal of the school, the secretary of education rob page and a white house staffer who was working on education issues. and they were kind of mouthing, what's up? i then opened the door to the command center which was a converted classroom and i said get the fbi director on the phone, get a line open to the vice president, get a line open to the white house situation room. get the crew back on air force one, we're going to have get out of this place. we weren't scheduled to leave for a number of hours too much the secret service i said turn the motorcade around, get ready to depart. to dan bartlett i said get some remarks ready for the president. he can't say anything we do not know to be the truth.
the president then walked into the room. i didn't realize he had taken about 9 or 10 minutes to do so. we were busy and getting ready for him. i was pleased how he reacted because he did nothing to introduce fear to those second graders. he did nothing to demonstrate fear to the media that would have translated it to the satisfaction of the terrorists all around the world. and he also gave me a chance to get ready for him. he walked into the staff room and everybody glommed on the president, mr. president, mr. president. and the first thing he says is get the fbi director on the phone. it was bob mueller. he'd only been the fbi director for about ten days. i then went into the back of the room where i knew the president was going to be addressing the crowd that had gathered and i watched the president come out. he stood in front of the crowd and he began his remarks and i
cringed because i didn't think we were going back to washington, d.c. we didn't know enough to say we were going there. so i was a little mad at dan bartlett. i thought he'd written that in the remarks. he did not. it was something the president just said. but the president after he gave the remarks, he told the world what was happening. he didn't declare war or anything else. he just explained what was happening, and he excused himself. he left secretary page to finish the event. we then drove to the airport. i remember the president was frustrated and couldn't get through to secretary rumsfeld, the pentagon had been hit. as we were getting ready to get outiest struck by how the engines were running. that told me that the pilot really wanted to get out of there. we run up the gangplank, get on the plane, the door starts
rolling down the runway almost before the president starts taking a seat and we take off a steep incline waiting for fighter jets to catch up to us, and i witnessed a president perform the responsibilities of a president. i honestly believe on september 11, 2001 was president bush realized what a real job was. but the real job is living up to the oath of office and i watched him do that. he was a remarkable leader that day, and i had great confidence in what he did. i'm sorry it didn't so long to tale the story but don't forget it. tell your children and grandchildren. >> you both served as chiefs of staff during great times of change across the globe.
and governor sununu, i wonder if you could tell us a bit about your time in the white house during the last soviet union, the coup against gorbachev, something about the times changing. >> when george bush took office as president of the united states, it was really a time of opportunity that had been established by the reagan-bush administration. having rebuilt our defense structure. when eight years earlier when ronald reagan took office the defense structure was in shambles. they had cut the budget over and over and over again. and ronald reagan made it a high priority to make sure that the defense stuckture was back in a position where he could talk about peace through strength. and so when george bush took
office he knew that because he had scene the signals, if you will, from gorbachev who was running the soviet union at that time that gorbachev had made an assessment that kpkly they could not keep up with the u.s.' new returned military strength. and george bush recognized that here was an opportunity to try and take advantage of the reality that gorbachev was now aware of and to try and really reduce the tensions between the u.s. and the soviet union. and really i don't think president bush gets enough credit for what he undertook over the next three years, four years in dealing with this opportunity. this president began by bringing folks in to find out exactly
what was going on in the soviet union, not in terms of intelligence but in terms of the personalities there. and we started the administration with a meeting even before inauguration with henry kissinger coming in. and henry was going to be going on a world trip pretty soon. and the president wanted to hear from him what his opinion was in terms of the opportunity that was there and then to really ask kissinger to pay attention to a few things and to come back and report to him. and this was the president's style. he brought in members of congress. he brought in senators. he brought in experts in the soviet union. he spent time with academics and trying to absorb as much as he could, and i remember the thing that struck me. and if you will read my book, the quiet man, you will see it in detail.
as the press started writing these obnoxious editorials that george bush didn't understand the opportunity that was in front of him, that he was blowing the opportunity, that he was taking too long to act, "the new york times" and "the washington post" were the most egregious with these pompous asses writing editorials that made no sense and who certainly after the soviet union collapsed guided to that collapse by george herbert walker bush, must have been awfully embarrassing. but the process start asked the president wanted to make a very strong proposal, and that proposal turned out to be one in which he talked about a dramatic reduction of u.s. forces in europe as part of nato which would allow the soviet union then to pull its forces out of eastern europe. and the thing that struck me was how the president was constantly
looking for information. in the bush white house i served in, the most important meeting of the day was the meeting at 8:00 with the president, myself, the vice president and the four of us would meet for about an hour and a half starting with a cia briefing of what was going on around the world. and as those briefers came in, the president would come in and ask questions. all was pointed of trying to get a sense of how far he could take this opportunity. and so when he put that proposal on the table, he had already spoken at length on the phone to margaret thatcher. he had spoken at length to helmut cole and most importantly he had invited the president of france to come to walker's point. now, when he proposed it in one
of those morning meetings we looked at each other and kind of rolled our eyes because the president of france was this classic european patrition. but george bush had him there, and george bush treated him with the respect that the senior president because mitteron had been elected before him deserved and allowed him to talk about the historic opportunity and the historic lessons that he was giving to george bush started back about 250 years and explain why europe was doing what europe was doing. but miteron had really ended up
in a bad place with ronald doing was rebuilding the relationship. and when he left he had miteron's support as well. the proposal went great. the proposal went great. our european allies(s.r, 0óvu i them. and two of three things happened in the process over that year which were extremely significant. number one, we went to poland right after the polls had had an election to change their legislative body. the poles had actually been allowed to have this election by gorbachev. and it was an odd situation. the legislative body was the new
freedom body and we flew there and to me this is a classic george herbert walker bush. we had no idea how we were going to deal with this slight conflict governance in poland, and george bush's answer was, "let's have a lunch." he directed the ambassador to have a lunch. seated around, it was a room about this size with about as many tables, and we had invited the reformers, some of the reformers. we had invited gerald lewski and his people. we invited members of the catholic church that were very important in the transition. i was sitting at a table right about there, about eight of us there, and as we started conversing, the gentleman across from me stood up and pointed his finger right in the face of the minister of the interior who ran the police in poland. he says, "i don't know if you remember me, but you put me in
prison." to his credit, the minister kind of paused for a second and he said, "yes, but, remember, i gave you a very good cell." and as you look around the room, the conversation started with a little edge and was drifting into a point where they all recognized they were poles. the last thing i remember at that lunch is gerald lewski and walenski's people standing in the coverage talking about how they would come together and govern. the punch line is a month or two later gerald lewski was reelected as president with walensa's support. george bush, if you will,
catalyzed that change in pole and by having a lunch. we went on to czechoslovakia with 800 people in the square. when george bush said something like czechoslovakia will be free, there was a roar coming at you and the building shook. every where he went he recognized that he had to do things in a way that did not embarrass gorbachev. so we come to this date, november 9th, and we're sitting in the oval office. i was there, the president was there, scowcroft was there. i don't remember if you were there. >> i was in the roosevelt, along with the attorneys general. >> yes. and the press secretary comes in and says, "you got to come in to the little room next to the oval office and see what's on tv." we walked in there and it is the east berliners walking across the check point without being shot.
more and more, if the first few which we had not seen, the first few we were told came through apprehensively to test whether the liberation and reforms that were taking place in the rest of eastern europe were going to be acceptable at the berlin wall, and it seemed to be. as they kept coming through more and more and traffic going in both directions, it was clear that the berlin wall was no longer the berlin wall. of course, the president realized that gorbachev was in a very precarious position. he did not want to gloat. he thought the hard liners might take that as an excuse to stop what gorbachev was doing, so george bush in his wisdom responded in a very level way and, again, received criticism from the press who were saying, "he doesn't understand the significance of the berlin wall no longer preventing people from
moving." if you look at gorbachev's memoirs, if you look at cole's memoirs, both talk about how important it was that george herbert walker bush had the discipline not to gloat at that time. the last thing in that sequence of that year that i'll talk about is the summit meeting in malta. it was going to be the first meeting between the president and gorbachev, and the president decided to lay it all out. so when we arrived there, it was clear that gorbachev was nervous. he thought this was going to be tough negotiations on how things might proceed and everything, and what george bush did in his opening presentation is in essence laid out all of the opportunities and all the assistance that the u.s. was going willing to provide and all of the commitment to change and
support that the u.s. would give. it was clear to me that in that one meeting, that two-hour first meeting, that george bush established a trust relationship with gorbachev which over the next two or three years was the key to allowing the collapse of the soviet union to take place without a shot being fired. >> both of you touched upon how both presidents bushes, their personalities and such in these trying times. could you kind of talk about some of the similarities and the differences of the two presidents when it comes to decisionmaking, when it comes behind the scenes? how are they similar, how are they different? >> you have to put things in the context of where you are in your relationship with them. the truth is i worked for president reagan, president george h.w. bush and president george w. bush. ronald reagan was kind of like my grandfather, and i used to disagree with him but i always
felt guilty so i didn't really disagree with him very much. george h.w. bush was like my dad and i disagreed with my dad and i would tell him i disagree with him and then i would feel really guilty and work really hard to make up for disagreeing with him. george w. bush was like my brother. hah! what are you thinking? what are you thinking! it was great conversation. so the context is very different. i did find president reagan could translate complicated things into simple ways to understand them. he was a great communicator. even as we discussed tough issues in the oval office. george h.w. bush was a phenomenally respectful listener, and he invited everyone to speak candidly and he would look at you and listen and listen and listen and digest, and then meet with
governor sununu, brent scowcroft and form his opinion. george w. bush was very disciplined as a decision maker. he was the first president that had an mba, and i watched him have a structure to his decision process. so it was a privilege to work with him because he was very disciplined, and i would go to him and say, "you're going to have to make a very tough decision." he says, "when is the decision due," and i would tell him when it was due. it could be hours or days or weeks, months or years. he would say, "okay, i will be ready." i would say, "what do you need to be ready," and he would tell me what he needed to be ready. but there were many times he would come to me and say, "today was the day you told me i had to have my decision, i'm ready to make the decision." he was very structured in his decision. i'm going to give credit to president reagan, president george h.w. bush and president
george w. bush, they all had a structure in the white house that allowed for policies to be investigated before they were imposed. a process is critically important. policy is really easy to make up. i guarantee all of you make up policy every day and think it should be implemented. there's white house staffers that are all smart and they think they've got the right policy, but governor sununu had phenomenal person by the name of roger porter who worked in domestic policy, but governor sununu put in place a good process for policy to be discussed and i was fortunate to be part of that. so policies would come in. someone who have to take the role of how do we implement it, who would be impacted about it, who won't be impacted by it but thinks it is a good idea and help us get it done, what are
the consequences of implementing it and what could go right. there was a good discussion around policy so that policy wasn't defined all of the time by unintended consequences. so i credit president reagan, president bush and president george w. bush with having learned the value of having a process before a policy is announced or implemented to understand as many consequences as possible so that fewer unintended consequences end up defining the policy. >> about the only thing i can add to that is to talk a little bit more about george h.w. bush. most people don't understand it, but george h.w. bush, who is recognized as a great foreign policy president, passed more significant domestic legislation than any president except franklin roosevelt and lyndon johnson, and george bush did it
in one term. i mean you had the clean air act, you had the civil rights bill, you had ada, you had a budget agreement that created, in spite of what bill clinton and newt gingrich claimed, the bush budget he was so maligned for created all of the surpluses that started taking place beginning in the end of '92 into the clinton years. george bush came with an agenda and an idea on how to get -- an idea of the kind of things that he wanted to get done, and he allowed -- i think one of the reasons he asked me to be chief of staff is because i had been a governor and i had been involved in a state that had to implement and address all of these domestic issues, and really asked and encouraged me to put together the kind of staff andy was talking about. we had myself, we had andy, who had served in the legislature in
massachusetts and certainly understood both policy and politics. roger porter, brought him in. roger had been in a couple of administrations, had been at harvard. i think roger -- and we had dig darmon who was head of omb. i think porter and darmon wereñ two of the most astute planners that i have ever met, who understood how to make the country run as well as anyone. george herbert walker bush understood that he had people that he trusted and that he believed knew what they were talking about,bjgb.j; he would listen and he would spend time. in the campaign leading up to the election in 1988, we brought governors to kennebunkport to teach the president how to talk and the language on issues that the people understand. governors talk in language that
people understand. senators and congressmen talk in a language even they don't understand. it really, i think, made a difference in the campaign. the president retained all of that and he began to realize that not only was there this huge opportunity in terms of a dramatic change which led to the collapse of the soviet union, but he understood there was an opportunity to do things domestically, even though he had to deal with a congress that was 260-175 in favor of the democrats in the house and 55-45 in favor of the democrats in the senate. but george bush had this art form of listening, creating a trust relationship even with his adversaries, and getting them to agree to changes that they -- i am absolutely positive they
would not have agreed with with any other president they didn't trust as much as george bush. so the personality trait that i think was so significant was the fact that this was a president that understood his issues well enough to sit down and talk to his adversaries and give and take with them in such a way that created trust, that produced compromise. danny rostinkowski was the democratic chairman of the house -- >> ways and means committee. >> ways and means committee, thank you. we had him in at least a dozen times trying to put down the budget one-on-one with the president. they brokered in the nicest sense of that word agreement on the toughest budget issues that one would have thought would have been impossible to resolve at all by dent of the personality and relationship that george bush developed with his adversaries.
>> can you talk about how a president develops a relationship with the members of the other side and how all of that works? >> it is different. it is different for every president. for this president it started because he had been a member of the house and knew some of these from those days. it continued that even as vice president he used to go down to the house gym and work out with the members of the house. it developed because as vice president he had them to the vice presidential residence for breakfast or lunch or dinner or horseshoes. this is a president that liked people, and because he liked people they ended up liking him. how can you not like a man that sends you a card on your wife's -- sends your wife a card on her birthday every year? that's the kind of guy george bush was. >> president george w. bush had an experience as governor, and
he came from the private sector, became governor of texas, and kind of thought that he could come in and just muscle his way in texas as the governor. the lieutenant governor at the time, who was a democrat, in texas a lieutenant governor is actually more powerful than a governor because they are the real president of the senate, and nothing happens in a legislative body if the lieutenant governor doesn't say okay. governor george bush learned a very valuable lesson kind of in the first six months of being governor of texas where he had to work with the legislature in texas to get things done because the lieutenant governor made sure that nothing got done that you didn't work with him. so it was a very valuable lesson. george w. bush brought that lesson to washington, d.c., even though he hadn't served in the legislature in d.c., house or senate.
but his very first meeting after he became president was with leaders of the democratic party, house and senate and some of the gray beards of the democratic party. he talked about what he had done in texas and he wanted to do the same thing. he then worked very hard to develop relationships in the house and the senate and brought members of both parties down for dinners and movies and experiences, and he had the courage to sit across the table and speak respectfully with them. seldom got into arguments, and was very careful with his words. i think it made a difference. i do think it makes a difference. look at, it is very important that a president have the courage to listen, and i think the presidents that we served had the courage to listen. >> and the courage to make a decision after they listened. >> courage to -- oh, their decisions are respected if they listen before they make them.
>> yes. >> and we witnessed them. look at, ronald reagan and tip o'neil had very different views, very different styles. they communicated well with each other. they told jokes and they laughed. they argued and they came to agreements, and they celebrated democracy. >> by the way, on george w. bush, am i correct, didn't the democratic lieutenant governor actually endorse him for president? >> did. he was very fortunate that he had earned the respect of the democrats in texas when he ran for president, and it made a big difference. >> so in our last ten minutes i want to turn it to the audience, if any members of the audience have a question. >> good work. >> it sounded like both of you -- it sounded like both of you were saying that you need to get along, and it almost sounded like this was exactly what you are saying that donald trump
does not do. i think that you might want to comment, at least if that's the purpose of what you are saying, you might want to comment as to how the current president is different from the two that you have described. >> i would say in fairness there's different strokes for different folks, and i understand president trump. i grew up in queens at the same time he did. i'm not shocked by his style. his background was in the tough, nasty, difficult real estate business in new york where you have to deal with a democratic city council and the unions that are tough and corrupt and, frankly, you've got to deal with all of the elements that are in there.
so he came to the office with a different style. he's implementing a different style. he is doing things in a different way. frankly, i don't think -- i don't think some of the things he has been able to get through he could have gotten through if he had decided to try to change his personality. white houses are different. i'll tell you something else about the white house. i'll tell you something else about the george h.w. bush white house. it was the laughing-est white house that ever existed. mrs. bush in her book talks about walking millie past the oval office in the morning when we had that morning meeting and saying that every time she walked past it all she heard was raucous laughter, as she put it, and couldn't understand how those people can ever get anything done if all they're doing is laughing all day. george herbert walker bush had a tremendous sense of humor, loved to do funny things at the most
awkward moments, and we had staff meetings like that. the meeting we had before the 8:00 meeting was a 7:30 meeting, and you have to see this. there were 20 to 24 senior members of the white house gathered around a table with 30 minutes to tell each other what was going to happen that day, what had to be done, who had to be brought in, whose ego in congress had to be massaged, what news story had to be pumped and which ones had to be killed, and it was done with an atmosphere of laughter for 30 minutes. >> he used to pass me notes. i sat right beside him. the notes were hilarious, but i remember one time he passes me a note and it is a math problem. he says, "solve it." we both have the same degree. his was from m.i.t., mine was
from the university of south carolina. he knows a lot, i know a little. he kept looking at me, do that, do that. so i'm trying to work this problem. everybody on the staff is watching me, what are you working on, what are you working on? it was stokes' theorem. at any rate, no, it was a lot of fun, but i celebrate our democracy. and if you ever have a democracy that does something to perfection, it should be by accident. because we are represented. if it is perfect and everybody sees it as perfect, it was a dictatorship. so i love the controversy that comes in democracy. i like people being different, expressing different views in different ways. i don't particularly like how president trump steps on his own success with a tweet, so my grandmother would say, "taste your words before you spit them
out." he should lick his thumbs before he tweets them out because sometimes he steps on his own success. i love his policies. i don't like that he throws confetti in the air all the time and says, "hey, can't see what's going on stage because the confetti is falling," but i would like to see what has been done because it is generally pretty good. so different strokes for different folks, that's what the governor says. our democracy is designed to reflect us. we have now changed the way we do our business. we are a digitally-connected community. when both of us served, digital communication didn't exist. so now you are tweeting and facebooking and instant messaging and doing everything else, and i'm troubled by it because it changes the nature of democracy. john adams, my favorite founding father, gave us the constitution basically, the oldest working constitution in the world,
happens to be the massachusetts constitution. >> new hampshire. >> massachusetts. >> new hampshire. >> but play toe, aristotle and john adams all told us that the greatest they to democracy is mob rule. digital communication has brought the mob closer to the rule, and i hope that we will pay attention to what that means because it does change the nature of democracy. >> think about one thing. whether we like it or not, what is happening today is really a natural progression. franklin roosevelt discovered the power of the radio, took it right to the people. jack kennedy discovered the that masterfully. bill clinton discovered that he could get to even more people using cable tv.
barack obama was the first socialr(t&háhp &hc% media in ge donald trump discovered the slice of social media called twitter, and he is using that in such a way that when we wake up in the morning there are 65 -- i think that's the current number -- 65 million people who are looking to see what the dear leader has tweeted out to them. we need to pay attention to this. we have to mature ourselves enough to cope with the tensions that are created by these progressions as we go along. we have to learn how to live with both the silliness on the left, the silliness on the
right, and the silliness of hard rhetoric by anyone in this world of instant volume communication. >> so we're almost out of time so i'm going to our last question now. >> thank you. governor sununu, i think going through the period of time with george herbert walker bush, when the soviet union fell and germany had to be reunited, that task of reuniting germany must have needed considerable diplomacy and effort, because east germany was a wreck. someone had to convince cole to take it on. it was a massive undertaking. i have always personally credited george herbert walker bush with the ability to make that possible. i would love to hear what you
know and your experience with that. >> it is brilliantly laid out in the book, "the quiet man." but the fact is that what bush -- what george bush had done in the description i gave you earlier really laid the foundation for that. he had spent hours on the phone with margaret thatcher and developed a trust relationship there. he had brought mitteron to walker's point and renewed the u.s./french relationship and relations and developed a strong relationship with mitteron. cole didn't have to be talked into it. if anything, cole had to be slowed down. in fact, gorbachev in meetings with the president and in his memoire, says the only thing
that -- one of the things that could have screwed this up was cole's impatience to go right to reunification. so the art form was getting the british and the french, whose nations had been savaged one way or the other by the germans just a generation ago, to accept a strong, reunited germany. it was really the relationship he developed with mitteron and thatcher take allowed that to -- and certainly with gorbachev, that allowed that to happen. we were astounded that not only did gorbachev accept -- i won't say feel comfortable, i will say accept, at the appropriate time the concept of a reunified germany, but he didn't really raise much objection when it was proposed that a reunified germany be allowed to be part of
nato. so the process could not have happened without the personal relationships across the board that george bush developed with the key people in europe, particularly the two leaders of the nations that should have most not wanted the reunification of germany, the uk, england, and france, and certainly there should have been under normal circumstances a dragging of the feet in accepting it by the soviet union. but, again, the way he had handled gorbachev allowed it all to come together. >> i want to thank you both for joining us tonight. thank you so much for coming and sharing all of that with us. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> good job. >> before you get up, i'm going to turn this back over.
>> i hope you all enjoyed this as much as i did. i just think we have a piece of living history tonight, and i can't thank you enough, governor, and wonderful andy card, our neighbor down the street. we discussed among the executive committee, what could we give these people who are so new hampshire at the moment. we thought you probably have a great deal of maple syrup in your pockets now, but we wanted to give you something that you've never had before and nobody else has. libby here is with dublin christian academy, one of the young republicans. i would like to present andy card with chateau dublin, as in
dublin. >> thank you very much. >> governor. i have to say that there are people in this audience who actually have picked the grapes out there in the vineyard. it is made -- >> are you old enough to drink? >> it is a great vintage. it is last thursday. >> it is made, governor and andy, it is made by a marine biologist from temple, new hampshire. it is her hobby to make wine. >> wonderful. >> some of the pickers are here. there's one particular picker that is not here with us tonight. she is a very dear friend and she told her husband that she thought that you ought to get two wonderful speakers, andy card and governor sununu, to talk about being chiefs of staff. i thought, wow, what a brilliant idea. she got jerry bird to make it happen. i thank you, jerry, and i thank
you. >> i just love it. >> thank you. >> now before we close up, i wonder if anybody would like to stay, we have some coffee and cookies out in the dining room. but i know a lot of you have to get back home. so who am i giving -- oh, ramona. ramona is going to close us up. >> whew, what an enlightening, fun learning experience. i can't thank you enough. thank you, governor sununu and andy card. we have been enriched by your stories, working intimately with the bush presidents in some of the most historic times of our great country. thank you, elliott gault, for working closely with us and emceeing our event tonight.
jerry and sue byrd, your tenacious coordination of the many details involved in making tonight happen are so greatly appreciated. augusta petrone, your gracious hospitality in hosting this event has given us a heart -- a beautiful evening of learning and sharing. thank you to all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event special. last but certainly not least, we thank you, our guests, for making time in your schedules for tonight and your generous contributions for our conservative cause. dagop invites you to visit. we meet on the first wednesday of every month at the dublin county public library at 6:00. our next meeting is october 2nd. why not come and join us. thank you very much for coming.
>> good to see you. >> thank you. >> where's cathie? >> she's here. >> i can't find her. wreak nights this month we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span3. tonight we look at dr. martin luther king junior, his story in taylor branch reflects on the life and legacy of king. mr. branch is the author of a trilogy of books on the civil rights era. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern. enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. ♪♪ american history tv on c-span3, exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. coming up this weekend, as the nation prepares for the inauguration of joe biden, saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern we'll look at past
inaugurations, of president john kennedy, richard nixon, harry truman, dwight eisenhower and franklin roosevelt. sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern, historian mark depew talks about the 1945 battle of iwo jima and the island's strategic importance to both the american and japanese forces during world war ii. at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts, smithsonian national air and space museum curator jeremy kinney shares some of the museum's one-of-a-kind artifacts that tell the story of the first half of the century's aviation. then on sunday at 8:00 p.m., a look back at president george h.w. bush announcing the bomb offing iraq and start of the persian gulf war followed by his state of the union address. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. use our website
c-span.org/coronavirus to follow the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak. watch our searchable video any time on demand and track the spread with interactive maps, all at c-span.org/coronavirus. next on "the presidency," george h.w. bush delivers his 1991 state of the union address to a joint session of congress. about two weeks earlier he had announced the start of operation desert storm, military action to drive saddam hussein from neighboring kuwait. iraq had invaded kuwait several months earlier. in addition to the persian gulf war, president bush outlines his economic and budget priorities. the miller center and george h.w. bush presidential library and museum provided this video.