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tv   The Presidency Theodore Roosevelt - Modern President  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 6:23pm-7:00pm EST

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ill. and if you combine that with the leadership and the integrity and the principals to see it through, it's extremely powerful. >> president george washington gave his farewell address. there's a discussion hosted by mount vernon. watch at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. c-span offers a variety of podcasts. weekdays, washington today gives you the latest from the nation's capital. every week, "booknotes+" has in-depth interviews with writers about their latest works. while the weekly uses audio from our archive to look at how issues of the day developed over years. and our series talking with features extensive conversations with historians about their
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lives and work. many of our television programs are also available as podcasts. you can find it all on the c-span mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. now from island, michael patrick cullinane joins me. he earned his advanced degrees in maryland and that's where he will join us tonight. he's the professor and his specialty is early 20th century diplomacy and international relations. he looks at it all through an interesting lens, studying the media, the public memory of his time, his book, theodore roosevelt ghosts the history of an american icon.
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professor, welcome to history happy hour and, please, as our presidential expert, paint for us a big picture. >> thanks very much. what an introduction from the great ann compton. it's a pleasure to join everyone tonight and a pleasure to be kicking off the rushmore series. i've been told how well-educated the audience is tonight. i'm going to try to give you stories about roosevelt and rushmore that you might not have heard before. roosevelt was never intended to be on that mountain. the two people who started the campaign to carve up rushmore was dwayne robinson, a south dakota historian, and the artist who would eventually carve the mountain. we could spend a whole broadcast talking about just him. but these two men had in mind
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washington and jefferson carved into the granite in south dakota. but all big projects. and rushmore was a very big project. all big projects need political support. they enlisted south dakota u.s. senator peter norbeck. it was his vision for the mountain that made rose felt come to the fore. that's because roosevelt is the only person to have actually visited south dakota that is on that mountain. none of the other three presidents did so. he admired time greatly and he wanted there because roosevelt spent three years in north dakota, as we saw there, three years ranching. so that's what puts roosevelt on there. but the mountain was being carved in 1931, roosevelt was very much the junior partner amongst those presidential greats. in fact, most people didn't see roosevelt as among the greats of
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washington, lincoln and jefferson. how do i know that? well, in 1920s and 1930s, there was an effort to memorialize theodore roosevelt on the national mall. they wanted to put roosevelt in a sacred space in washington, d.c. it's the place where thomas jefferson is memorialized today. the tidal basin. it was slated for theodore roosevelt. but congress people and the american public just didn't think that he measured up to the other greats like washington and lincoln. and so jefferson got the spot. but roosevelt had some great memorials and monuments all over the united states. and also beyond internationally. jefferson's memorial is now in d.c. in the tidal basin, but roosevelt's site is in the potomac. it's 88 acres of great wildlife trails in the nation's capital. and there's his memory
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everywhere. in new york, you can warned down east 20th street and tumble on the victorian brown stones and that's the birthplace of theodore roosevelt. or you can traverse the rio roosevelt in brazil, which is a river named after theodore roosevelt. the fact is, he's everywhere. theodore roosevelt is in every one of the 50 states and you can find him just about anywhere in many different ways, other than just monuments and memory. i know there's a lot of questions and i'm sure there's a lot of people that might have memories that they want to talk about or places where they've spotted roosevelt. i'm going to toss everything back to ann to kick off the questions and answers round. >> thank you, michael. that leads me right to one of things that i want to ask. i covered the white house through all of those presidents in the last quarter of the 20th century. and teddy roosevelt's enduring
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gift is that west wing of the white house. i mean, what would the tv show be called if there wasn't the west wing. you have found amazing places where tr has had an amazing impact. >> before that, it was known as the executive mansion. the very name begins with theodore roosevelt. and there's many other places as well. given that it's the happy hour, i thought i would bring some whisky along. there's many other places where i've spotted him. there's a pub that has a stained glass window that says speak softly and carry a big spine. a very unusual spot. >> in the current pandemic quarantine in our neighborhood in washington, d.c., a lot of neighbors have put teddy bears
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in their window. and the idea is, children can't go anywhere, they're stuck with their parents and they go for walks and they can play i spy finding teddy bears in windows. how did teddy and bear come together? >> great question. it started on a mississippi hunting trip when roosevelt didn't catch a bear on the trip. his host clubbed a bear, sadly, and wounded it and brought it to theodore roosevelt to shoot so that he would have a kill. but roosevelt refused and that sort of -- that led a political cartoonist to draw a cute bear and that bear became very popular. a german toymaker and a brooklyn toymaker created teddy bears from that image that was brawn drawn and associated with theodore roosevelt. >> did roosevelt know -- he was well aware that teddy bears were named after him? >> in 1906, the brooklyn
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toymaker designed the bear. so tr would have known that this was named after him. >> how many of us get a legacy like that? now as a reporter, into more political things, as a reporter i've covered presidents who have -- are constantly quoting mount rushmore, washington, jefferson, lincoln, and they, quote reagan and that other roosevelt. does theodore roosevelt resonate with modern american politics as well? >> absolutely. in fact, he's a bipartisan figure or even a nonpartisan figure nowadays. every single president since warren harding has invoked him. and perhaps none more than the likes of george w. bush, bill clinton, and barack obama who, in fact, he launched his affordable care act in kansas
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where theodore roosevelt spoke and, of course, john brown, for that site. but roosevelt is a nonpartisan figure that every president has invoked in some stage. some more than others. but every single one is used. >> if -- i've always thought that if hollywood movies had really been invented a few years earlier, been a thing in 1900, theodore roosevelt would have been the perfect action hero. he would have eclipsed john wane and tom cruise and all of those marvel heroes, right? >> well, i mean, he certainly has the charisma of a hollywood actor. if you see him in films, my students all think robin williams is theodore roosevelt from the movie "a night in the museum." but there's so many films about theodore roosevelt that include that rough rider image, the cowboy on horseback. so, yeah, absolutely.
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and the charisma, he knew -- roosevelt -- the power of motion pictures. and he tried to capture that essence in many ways. >> and he was a man of the tomb. it was such a period of change. >> the introduction of airplanes, submarines, motion pictures come in during his time at the white house. this is a remarkable period of change. and he seems to be the first modern president because he understands capturing the imagination of the american people is really a pr exercise and he needs to reach out to them in order to get congress to do something or in order to extend american power throughout the world. roosevelt is a revolutionary figure for the white house because he reshapes the office itself. >> we're going to take questions from people watching this. but, first, we have another special bit of insight from one
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of the brightest stars to i know at the white house historical association. it's dr. matthew costello. and he's going to talk just for a moment about the remarkable influence that teddy roosevelt had on the white house itself. >> good evening. i'm vice president of the david m. rubenstein national center for white house history. in 1901 when president william mckinley was assassinated, vice president theodore roosevelt became the youngest person to hold the office ever at that time. he was just shy of 43 years old. early on in his presidency, roosevelt asserted his personality on the office. he wanted to expand executive power and he did this, actually, with the building of the west wing in 1902. part of the reason this happened
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was because the roosevelts moved into the white house with six children. and all presidents had worked on the second floor of the white house. the work spaces were on the east end and the family's private quarters were on the west end. because the presidency has expanded, there wasn't enough space for roosevelt's family and the people who were supposed to be working for him. so he hired an architectural firm from new york which not only oversaw a major renovation project within the white house to unify and return it to its roots, but also to build the modern presidential work space. today we call this the west wing, which is that modified and expanded upon since then. but it was theodore roosevelt that had an idea that the president needed a separate space in order to fully fulfill their responsibilities and duties. he believed the president was the stewart of the people. he believed if necessary, the
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president needs to intervene on behalf, whether it was conflicts between business and labor or between international actors such as russia and japan. in fact, most people don't realize that theodore roosevelt received a nobel peace prize for his mediation of the japanese war. today you can see this nobel peace prize in the roosevelt room of the west wing. it's a very fitting designation and placement for someone who not only expanded the authority and the visibility of the presidency, but also who literally built the space. >> thank you. a real treasure at the historical association. let me start with these twin questions. one game from debbie from ohio. what is the tale about theodore roosevelt that you may have discovered during your research and the other question from
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warren, who was tr's closest adviser? >> both of those are tough questions. i'm a big baseball fan. one of the things that i really wanted to investigate was the president's race in the national stadium. but there's a million and one stories that i discovered. the one i think is most telling about theodore roosevelt and how humble he is. he didn't want any statues. the family aimed to have no statues, his funeral was a very somber affair. no singing. very quiet. the other question -- what was the second question? >> his closest adviser. >> his closest advisers. there's so many of them. he had a group that he played tennis with and drank mint
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julep's with. it was 30 men, they were all men, and they basically were his political operatives. but roosevelt's greatest influences and the people he listened to most closely were often his family, his sisters, in fact, and his sons and his wife. >> she says, i understand there were many volunteers in the spanish american war in the philippines inspired by mr. roosevelt. my grandfather was one. does this sound correct? can you tell us anything more? >> fantastic stories about north dakota rough riders. but there's one in particular if you get an opportunity, there's a chap who traveled all across the country to join teddy's rough riders. he got on board. he fought in the spanish american war and several others
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and the stories are epic. whether it's about crossing the united states to try to get into the regiment or getting down to tampa and the fighting in cuba. certainly, there are north dakota rough riders. the rough riders are from all over the united states. interesting note on that, teddy roosevelt was more likely to recruit the eastern aristocrats than the cowboys from the west. that was leonard wood, his commanding officer, who tended to recruit some of the southwestern and midwestern types. >> was there discussion of putting tr on a coin? >> absolutely. so, in fact, i might be wrong, but he's on -- i'm pretty sure he's on some coins. but maybe not regularly circulating currency. he had a good friend who was a sculptor who would press a number of coins with tr on the face of it. there is a tr medal that is
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pressed as a coin. >> i'm from north dakota and now live in arizona. they both claim him and i read it was conjecture. tr's boxing caused his early death, he died at 60. is all this true, she asks? >> well, i'm not sure if the boxing caused his death, but it certainly blinded him in one eye. you wouldn't know and the nation was quite surprised. the vice president said that death had to take him in his sleep, otherwise there would have been a fight. he was a very sick man, though. he had lost sight in one eye. his hearing had gone in one eye. he had malaria since 1898 when he was in cuba. he got it again in brazil. that trip to brazil seriously diminished him. he got severe infections and it was debilitating, really. >> from jacqueline, do you think
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teddy and eleanor were alike? if so, how? >> many people say that they're alike. and eleanor was a great -- eleanor was tr's niece, his brother's daughter. and, of course, his brother had a severe bout with alcoholism and eleanor was brought into the family for many days of the year. so he favored her greatly. she admired him quite a bit. and i think their fondness and love of things like human rights and policy matters, that was mutual. >> and i once heard a story that eleanor roosevelt, the day she married another relative, everything was fine until uncle teddy walked in and stucked all the oxygen out of the room?
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>> that's right, ann. he gave away eleanor at her marriage to franklin. i don't know who said it, but someone famously said that he wants to be the bride at every wedding, the baby at every christening and the corpse at every funeral. >> ambitious. sarah asked, can you talk about tr's relationship with booker t. washington. >> i would love to and it's especially fitting now. tr is the first american president to break bread with an african american in the white house. booker t. washington is an important figure in american history at that time. interesting to note, tr got an awful lot of backlash from basically white supremacists that were in the south at that time and he never invited booker t. back for such a public meeting again. but booker t. washington became one of his four most correspondents and roosevelt listened to washington over a
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number of his own advisers. he became an important part of that group of people who wrote to roosevelt. >> mike asks, is it true roosevelt was chosen for vice president because his detrackers felt it was a place that would shut him down? >> that is certainly one interception. the big boss of republican politics in new york really wanted to get roosevelt -- get him out of new york. he was governor of new york for a short while before he got nominated to be vice president. and the speculation is that platt wanted to get rid of him. tr became one of the most important presidential figures in american history. >> and he was thrust into the presidency so quickly. was he ready? >> that's a really good question. i don't think he expected to be
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thrust in even after mckinley was shot. he was thrust in and there is great evidence that suggests that some things he did in his early days as president, he probably wouldn't have done in later years when he had more experience and more understanding about how the systems worked. >> what kind of things might he not have done? >> frankly doesn't know how to handle the war at the outset. his aides who were also inexperienced at that time really figure out how the bureaucracy of american government works by handling that war, a war he inherited, in fact. >> here's a question from alan, another mentor ohio viewer. in your opinion, he asks, how much was roosevelt's disagreement with wilson based on personal jealouses and how
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much was it based on fundamental political or diplomatic disagreements, especially the diplomatic i think would be fascinating. >> yeah, i think that's a really great question. there's no doubt that the two men -- there was no love lost. in fact, when roosevelt died, people that were watching wilson when he got the news, it was accepted that -- he was almost happy to be relieved of this pressure that roosevelt brought. in terms of domestic policy, the two men had a lot of similarities. it's roosevelt in his third-party candidacy that really pushes wilson to the left and we get a lot of progressive politics in the 1910s because of that. but on foreign policies, the two men were complete opposites. roosevelt was aiming for american intervention in world war i, really through 1914, november 1914, and wilson keeps us out of war until 1917. and in many ways, roosevelt's outward disdain for wilson's
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policies were border line -- >> this question is a little change of pace. how many animals lived in tr's white house? i heard it was a menagerie. it it was a zoo. >> it was pretty much a zoo. they called it the white house gang. the kids and the animals as well. i heard eagles and all sorts of wild animals. tr from a time as a young kid, liked to collect animals, skin them and preserve them. there's a number of specimens at the american museum of natural history that are roosevelt's, including a number of elephants and plenty of things you can't see behind the scenes. there's no surprise that they were there. the kids loved animals and roosevelt loved teaching them about wildlife.
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>> and the kids, i mean, we look in the white house just in the years i have been there. we in the white house press corps had a kind of code, leave the kids alone. they didn't run for president. let them have their childhood. but it seemed like the roosevelt family was bigger than life. >> absolutely. i mean, one of the best things about the roosevelt family is alice roosevelt. and tr said i can run the country and be president or i can take care of alice. and his other kids, they were all characters as well. every one of them has gone onto lead some interesting life. and but when they were kids, they -- not all of them, of course, lived at the white house. alice got married at the white house. but she was older than -- there was really two kids living in the white house, and that was ethel and quentin and they were there all the time. it was a zoo. a zoo of animals and kids.
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and tr loved having them coming into the office -- meetings in the office and they would run in and they would interrupt secretaries of stays in order to try to tell their dad about some bug that they found on the white house lawn. >> humanizing, isn't it? and alice married a man who became speaker of the house and so many of us have used the line, if you can't say something nice about somebody, come sit right here next to me. here's another question. roosevelt was the most prolific of presidents who were authors. which of his books is the most significant of his writings? >> that's a good question. and there's no easy answer because he wrote probably 50 books not all original monographs, compilations and things like that. one book stands out to me and that's called the winning of the
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west which is a three-part series of books. what was interesting about it is that roosevelt laid out what's known as the frontier, that america was built by the frontier and he lays that out before the most famous adherence, frederick jackson turner. he writes that book two years before he articulates that publicly. so he's really a visionary for american history. he writes a lot about nature and about science. if he hadn't been president of the united states, he said he would have been a naturalist, he would have been dissecting animals and trying to understand how nature and evolution work. >> this fits into your mode of historical research. look at the impact on vote, the culture, the media, communications. is he kind of your perfect president? >> well, i mean, no one is perfect, i guess. tr certainly has his flaws,
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that's for sure. but in terms of an intellectual, it's hard to find another one. jefferson, maybe john quincy adams. but no one -- i mean, roosevelt speaks multiple languages. we forget that. as one of the audience pointed out, he wrote multiple books and more correspondence than any other president. he wrote 150,000 letters in his time. jefferson writes about 20,000. i don't know how many emails are swirling around nowadays. but 150,000 letters is a lot. to be frank, he does have his flaws as well and they're worth exploring. as you said, ann, that humanizes him. >> i was briefly -- after i left the white house, a fellow at the kennedy school at harvard and i they took us through the archives and they have a letter from roosevelt to the president of harvard complaining that his son won't be home at the lake
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this summer and we really must have our son home, part of the family. and it's an absolutely -- it's on white house stationary. do you look at that and say, maybe, i let the kid go? i've got -- we've got several more questions. we've got time for a few more. a question from matt costello, our senior historian at the white house historical association. matt asks, theodore roosevelt could have run for president again in 1908 but he decided to step aside. four years later, he decided to run again for the president. was not running in 1908 one of his biggest regrets? >> thanks, matt. thanks for your video on the west wing. i think that was just perfect. yeah, i think he did. in 1908, he said that he wasn't going to run again after he won
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the 1904 election. he effectively served two terms because mckinley died so early in his second term. he regretted that. he loved working as the president. he loved the job. he said that he loved the job. it was a great regret and i think he thought it was a political misstep as well. never announce your intentions to early in the game. and that's probably why it led to the animosity between taft and eventually his decision to -- as we saw earlier, throw his hat into the ring in 1912. here is a question from david in virginia and he's chair of the tra. he writes, death of his wife and mother on the same day is what drove tr to the dakotas. what is the reason or reasons that drove him to leave the territories? >> yeah, that's a good question.
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i mean, it's one of those things when you hear about it, it's quite shocking that he lost his wife who had just given birth to his first daughter and he lost his mother on the very same day. and it was valentine's day to boot. if you count the days in north dakota, he goes back quite a lot. he wants to see his daughter. he wants to get back to alice. and he loves new york too. as much as he's a westerner, he's also a new yorker, foremost. so that ranching trip is back and forth and it's a conflicted one for getting over the love of his life to making sure he takes care of his responsibilities. >> here's a last question from the audience. dwayne in milwaukee asks, did tr ever reconcile with taft and the second one here from caroline in brisbane, australia, you have an international audience, think of the time zones we're covering
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here. carolina asks, where did roosevelt like to holiday the most and what place in the u.s. did he gain the most joy and rejuvenation from? start with the reconciliation with taft. >> both of those are stupendous questions. the first one in terms of taft, massive falling out. they don't talk for about four years after 1912. but they meet in a hotel in 1916 and they just see each other and they kind of put their past behind them. they really did have great affection for each other. when roosevelt dies, the last person standing over his grave, everyone leaves the funeral is william howard taft and he's sobbing. the only thing you could hear was the former president crying. they certainly did patch up their disagreement. in terms of -- his favorite place, his home. he losted his home, oyster bay. but away from home, he loved to go to a small cottage in
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virginia called pine knot. you wouldn't find it on a map. and this was the reason why he wanted to go there. he wanted to get away from everything and try and find some peace with his family. >> where is it in virginia, roughly? >> i think it's near charlottesville, but i'm not 100% sure about that. it's very hard to get to. i don't think you can drive to the cabin. it's recently been restored but it's a single-pile cabin. there's nothing to it. you wouldn't imagine the president would be there. >> to live in the white house, the executive mansion and find the great solace there. i have one final question to ask for you. times are tough right now. the united states is facing a great deal. if there's something about teddy roosevelt's robust leadership that is a message for all of us when we do hit trouble times
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like this? >> absolutely. i would say there's something that theodore roosevelt got very right that we can learn from today and there's something that he got wrong. he knew it was wrong, though, too. the thing he got right was conservation. one of the greatest crisis facing us today is climate change and environmental protection and theodore roosevelt knew better than anyone, he was way ahead of our time, advocating for preservation of national lands and resources, animals, but also just the environment more generally. and not only did he advocate that in policies, lots of presidents do that, he lived this. nature was his life. he wanted to be out there and he wanted to inspire americans to save and preserve that nature. on the other hand, it was probably social justice. and we have to talk about this tonight. because our country is going through such trauma at the moment. theodore roosevelt is not the poster child for race relations. he kind of got it and tried to do there with the dinner with
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booker t. washington but he didn't really fulfill that. and the same could be said about his relationship with women's rights. elizabeth katy stanton wrote to him, if you give women the right to vote, you will be made immortal. he didn't go the whole way with that. he didn't take his ideas into action. and so i think he's -- you know, he's a good example of what we still need to strive to achieve in terms of equality and then, please, let's heed his message on climate change. >> i've got to tell you, this is an absolutely wonderful view of a dynamic figure. the first carving that we are discussing on mount rushmore and thank you so much for coming in. it is almost tomorrow there in ireland, isn't it? >> it is. and thank you so much for having me. president george washington gave his farewell address in
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1796. tonight historians and authors revisit the form president's warns against threats confronting the young nation in a discussion hosted by mount vernon. watch at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. sunday night on q&a, in his latest book, professor of philosophy looks at the evolutionary purpose of intoxication and the role that drinking has played throughout history. >> alcohol makes it harder to lie, for instance, it's harder to make up a lie. and also, this is maybe more surprising, it makes us better at detecting lies. so humans, it turns out, when we're focusing on detecting lies, we don't do a very good job on it. but if we relax and kind of take queues, we do a better job. i'm arguing alcohol in the same
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way that when we meet, we shake hands to show that we're not holding a weapon in our right hand. cultures use intoxicants at treaty meetings or business meetings, anything where you potentially hostile people need to figure out a way to cooperate as a kind of cognitive disarmament. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. ♪♪ get c-span on the go. watch the day's biggest political events live or on demand any time, anywhere on our new mobile video app. c-span now, access top highlights, listen to c-span radio, and discover new podcasts all for free. download c-span now today. hello. welcome to another addition of at home with the roove


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