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tv   Rosalynn Carter Interview  CSPAN  July 8, 2020 2:48pm-3:45pm EDT

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aft african congress. the 1963 nbc news report, the american revolution of '63. a program on the status of the civil rights movement from protests from albany, georgia, cambridge, maryland, and in the northern cities of englewood, new jersey, chicago and brooklyn. at 7:00 p.m., a discussion on congress, political parties and polarization with historians as well as political scientists. at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, officer andrew cohen talks about his book "two days in june," about june 10th and 11th, 1963, that defined jfk's response to the nuclear arms race and civil rights. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3.
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next, in an interview with c-span, former first lady rose lynn carter talked about the lessons she learned as first ladies, as well as her time in the white house and working alongside her husband, former president jimmy carter. >> do you remember when you and president carter started having conversations about him running for president? >> i do. >> what was that like? what was that conversation? >> it was very interesting. we had a friend that wrote and told jimmy that he thought he ought to run for president. well, we couldn't even say the word. that my husband is running for -- i didn't tell anybody because we kept it very quiet. and -- but then once he decided that he would do it, that was when i couldn't -- he could
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hardly say i'm going to be president. it was just something that was -- we never ever dreamed would happen. and -- but it was exciting. i was excited about it. i had campaigned whole last year before the govern's race. and it was hard. and amy was a baby. and i didn't like to leave her all the time. i enjoyed it. i learned so much about our state. we have 159 counties. i knew the capital of every county. issues, that's how i got involved in mental health issues, running the campaign for jimmy. our big mental health facility hospital, there had been a big expose, and the mental health systems act had been passed, this was in '63, and this was
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1966 when jimmy first ran for governor and got beat that time. we got in late because our leading democratic candidate had a heart attack. they were moving people out of the hospital because there were like 12,000 people where they had room for 3,000. it was awful. it was happening all over the country. they were moving them out before they had any facilities for them and no services in the communities. everybody started talking to me about what will your husband do if he's elected governor of georgia. i just learned so much about what was going on. after we lost that election, i worked four years to learn a little bit about mental health and then the first month in office he appointed the governors commission to improve services for the mental and emotionally handicap. within he told me about that i
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thought this is giving me a chance to go across the whole country. it was so much fun to me. i loved to go into people's homes when we first started campaigning for president. i went to iowa a lot, florida and iowa, in the beginning. those are two primaries. i had been working in the -- our farm supply business at home. when we got home from the navy, jimmy had me. i didn't work the first year. but i started helping him and he only had seasonal labor. i started working for him and he said why don't you come and keep the office while i go out and visit the farmers. so, i would go into iowa to a tea. there might be six people in somebody's house. i knew the price of fertilizer and how much they could get for their corn. we had had a corn mill. i loved it. and i met so many, it was hard, but i was so excited. i had been able to learn all about georgia and i was able to learn about the country.
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i thought i knew he would be a good president. >> mrs. carter, when did you know during that campaign that your husband would be elected president? >> i never doubted it. we never doubted it. i don't think anybody in our whole campaign thought we would lose. i mean, maybe you have to have that set of mind to win. because we campaigned all the time, just like we were going to win. >> what was the peanut brigade? >> the peanut brigade was a lot of our friends. it started out from georgia, but just being people from georgia, but it grew and grew and grew, who would campaign all over the country for us. and it was really wonderful. they paid their own way. in fact, we had no money. everybody who worked in our campaign had to find a house to stay at, somebody that was a supporter that would have them -- let them spend the night with them.
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either they had to pay for a hotel, but that couldn't happen now. but it was really close, not with money. not with the money that you have to have, even to win the nomination. >> rosalynn carter, january 20th, 1977, what do you remember about that day? >> it was inauguration day. we walked down pennsylvania avenue in the cold, cold weather. it was exciting. >> whose idea was it to walk? >> it was jimmy's idea. he didn't tell me until the night before. >> why not? >> he didn't tell anybody else except the secret service agents. because we didn't -- well, the secret service didn't want to worry security. in fact, they didn't want to
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walk at all. walking down pennsylvania avenue, i think he thought that everything would be different if maybe -- maybe we shouldn't do it, if everybody knew it. anyway, it was -- it was really wonderful. >> so, january 20th, 1977, you're the first lady of the united states. how do you prepare to become first lady? >> well, becoming -- the hard part for me was going from the farm supply business to the governor's mansion. a beautiful governor's mansion. it was new, but the outgoing governor had only lived there for two years. federal period, authentic federal period furniture all the way through. i went to see the outgoing governor's wife after we won and she said who does the dishes?
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she said, i do. everything i asked her, she did it. i said, i'd like to see your office. she said i don't have one, she said i had an officer in the governor's -- in the governor's. correspondence. i said, do you make speeches, i let the governor's mother do that. i went home and i said what have we done. all the help in the house were from the prison. first thing i did was hire a housekeeper. then we taught the prisoners to cook and to serve tables. and i developed a fairly competent staff. we had to hurry because the music club of atlanta had invited me to entertain van cliburn.
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he was coming to play in atlanta. on january 30th we actually moved in the governor's mansion on january 12th. jimmy had an aunt in this area. and i called her, because she's a really wonderful person. and she came and helped me and we did a beautiful dinner for them. we put tuxedos on the prisoners, which was new and different for them. anyway, we had a wonderful meeting. and then aunt cece we called her, i got her to organize those who could take people through the governor's mansion. because when i went the first time the state patrolmen were in the hallway guiding the tours and i thought that didn't seem very homey so i got the aunt with a list of people that came and helped, came every day. every day that the mansion was open. anyway, i had to learn everything.
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i had to develop the staff. we learned by trial and error. i had my sister that helped me and we, for instance, when we entertained we -- one of the first entertainers we had was a man who had -- we read his biography and his talent and what he did and it sounded perfect. we had a lot of race car drivers. atlanta has a speedway and they were coming to eat dinner with us. we got him. he stood up, when he stood up to sing, he sang light opera. if you can believe, i slid under the table. after that we learned we had to audition everybody. when i got to the white house, everything was already done. had a social secretary. i didn't have to worry about, you know, about what we were going to serve or any of those things. she would make our plans for me and bring them to me and i would decide what i wanted to do. it was quite wonderful.
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and amy was 3 years old when we moved to the governor's mansion. she had never known anything else. you couldn't -- the governor's mansion the only thing i would change is that you couldn't get from our upstairs where we lived to the kitchen without going through the tourists. amy learned at 3 years of age to walk through the tourists like this because everybody would be -- there's the baby, there's the baby. she got where she would walk right straight through without seeing them. i remember when we got to the white house and she went to school the first day, here was amy going in like this, which she had been doing all her life, going through. everybody felt so sorry for her. but that was just part of her life. actually, after that happened on the first day, the press got together and decided not to bother amy anymore. and that was really wonderful too in the white house. we didn't have to worry about that very much.
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>> where did you first meet jimmy carter? >> well, plains, georgia, has a population of 634. i think i knew everybody in town. and there were no girls my age in town. and, of course, i knew who he was. can i drink some water? i knew him, but he was three years older than i am. but his little sister who was three years younger than i am, would stay in town for -- if we had a basketball game or some event at the school, she would stay with her grandmother who lived in town. we became really close friends. she was my best friend growing up. >> this is ruth? >> this is ruth.
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but he graduated from high school at 16. we only went 11 grades back then. i was 13. there was no way i ever thought i would go with jimmy carter. i didn't go with him until he came home the last -- before he was a first classman he came home from the naval academy and i went out with him the night before he was going to leave. ruth and i plotted to get me out there with him because i wanted to -- i had fallen in love with his photograph on the wall in her room at home. she would call me and say he's here and he had a month's leave and i would go out there and he would be gone. one day, we had a pond house, and jimmy's parents had a pond house, not close -- i mean, fairly close to the house. and everybody in town used it for events, church events and
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school events and things like that and called and said that somebody had used the pond house the night before and they were going out there and cleaning up. she and jimmy. and wanted me to come spend the day with them. that night i was at the church meeting standing at the door, it was a youth meeting one night during the week, and ruth was with her boyfriend and jimmy drove up and he got out of the car and asked me to go to the movie with him. so, i went to the movie with him, and then went to the railroad station to see him off the next tight. and then we started writing letters to each other and at christmastime, he asked me to marry him and i turned him down. i was young. i had my promised my father on his death bed that i would go to college. and i had not finished college -- well, i -- well, i went to annapolis, the weekend
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of the ring dance. i don't remember what they call that weekend. he asked again and i accepted. i was still young. >> it was july 7th, 1946? >> that's right. >> you said your father died when you were quite young? >> 13. i was the oldest of four children. had two brothers and then my little sister who was 4 years old. and my father developed leukemia. i didn't know he was sick. i had been wanting to go to a church camp in the summer and they told me we didn't have enough money for it. and then one day i came home and -- from school and my dad asked me if i would like -- still like to go to the camp. i said great. but what i didn't know was he was going to the hospital to see what was wrong. and he died just maybe -- that was in maybe may, and he died in
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november. >> how did that affect your role as the oldest child? >> well, everything changed for us. i was the oldest one. my mother had never written a check. she went -- she had a -- she went to college for two years and had a teacher certificate but she had never taught. back then in plains, you ordered your groceries at the plains mercantile company and ordered your clothes and they would send the groceries to the house. my daddy paid for it all. when he was on his death bed he called us all in and told my mother that she wanted him to sell the farm if she had to because he wanted us to all go to school. i think we -- i don't know. i'm sure she sold the farm, but the next year her mother died.
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she was an only child. and mama died not even -- we had no idea she was sick and my grandfather lived on a farm outside of town. went out to milk the cows and when he came back in she was leaning over, she was tying her shoe, dead in the chair. someone called my mother 11 months after my daddy died. we had been depending on them so much. they said your mother died this morning. i mean, i can't imagine anybody doing that to her. i was getting ready to go to school and i heard her screaming in the hall where the telephone was. and it was tough. her mother worked in the grocery store and then she worked in thele school lunch room and then when i was still in high school she got a job in the post office and worked there the rest until she had to retire. she had to retire at age 70. it was the law. and i was campaigning, this is 1975, christmas, because her birthday is christmas eve and on her birthday she had to retire.
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so i was campaigning. i went campaigning after christmas. i came back home. my brother called me as soon as i got home and said go to see mother, she cried all week long. i went to see her i said mother, she had to get up and work every morning at 7:00 and then she had to come back late in the afternoon, but my grandfather came to live with us when my grandmother died. and so my mother had flexible hours because the postmaster didn't want to get up early and he didn't want to stay late. anyway, i said, mother, don't you enjoy just being able to sleep in? she said it's not that. it's just that nobody thinks i can do good work anymore. so that made an impression on me. and then, show, when jimmy was president, i did work with
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teaching and i became interested in working with mental illness, too, because there were no doctors to care for people with mental illness and no geriatric doctors. he passed an age discrimination law and with people in the federal government could work as long as they wanted to and people outside could work until they were 75. so i worked a lot on it. >> rosalynn carter, you have always been a political partner to your husband. is that a fair statement? >> i've been a partner. i would call it a partner. when he was in the navy for seven years after we got married, we had three boys. and the first three years after the first year, i had one baby. and he was gone for two years. he was on battleships. back then you had to serve two years before you could go to the air force submarine. he was gone from monday to thursday every week and duty one night i had to take care of everything. then when he got home and i began working in the farm supply
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business, i knew more in books very soon than he did and i think that's when we really developed this really good partnership, i could say. don't buy corn anymore. we had been losing money on it. i could advise him and it just developed into a really wonderful partnership. so when he was -- when -- i didn't campaign when he ran for the senate. i kept the business while he campaigned. but then when he -- i campaigned when he ran for governor, was the first time i had campaigned. but then when he got in the governor's race, i learned all the issues and campaigned and enjoyed it and did the same thing when he was running for president. i think it was the first time -- i know lady bird had come through plains on a train, but i think that it was the first time people -- that women had campaigned.
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i know -- i got in the car with a friend when jimmy started to run for president and we just -- i wanted to know if i could campaign in other states like i did in georgia. i went to florida. we went to florida and stayed 10 or 12 days. we would stop along the way in the towns and pass out brochures and look up the radio stations. we started working, we started going toward antennas because they were radio stations. you would go in, this might be just a music station where they played muz music and they had no idea, i would say, my husband is running for president, i'd like you to interview me. president for what? president of the united states. you got to be kidding me. no, i'm nod kt kidding. the first day i had five or six questions of things that i wanted people to know about
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jimmy, about those things. and i came home and said i can do it. what i learned is everybody's the same. they want good families. good places, homes. they want good things for their families. they want a church. usually they wanted a place to worship. everybody wants the same thing. just in general, people are going to be happy. >> in your book "first lady from plains," you write that you are more political than your husband. what did you mean by that? because i think you have to be political in a certain way. you have to be honest and say the same things but still, you have to cater to people
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sometimes, i think. and know what you want and need to be able to influence them to vote for you. and it's not being dishonest, it's just finding out what they want and letting them know how you're going to help with the problems. things that they want in the government. just being political. but jimmy thinks if something needs to be done, it needs to be done now, when he was in office. well, when he was president, i don't think he ever did anything that was not controversial. that bothered me sometimes. i didn't like that controversy all the time. >> rosalynn carter in the white house, you held press conferences, traveled solo. acted as the president's emissary. how did you talk about issues
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that you wanted to talk about or became an expert in? >> well, i worked in mental health. and a lot of that came from seeing what happened to my mother because that was in the campaign. but also isn't in traveling, in campaigning, they took me to where -- well, there were a lot of democrats. and so i went to a lot of nursing homes and facilities for older people and saw great needs in that area, so that influenced my work. i had worked on immunization in georgia, had a good immunization program. and dale bumpers who was later a senator -- well, he was senator when jimmy was elected.
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but he was governor at the same time jimmy was. and he worked on the centers for disease control, a really good immunization program. she talked me into doing it at home. two weeks after we got to the white house, she called me. and, of course, i was ready to work on immunization in the white house. that was one of our great victories. immunization was required by school age in 15 states. there was a bit of argument about whether 15 or 17, and the first year we got it in, working with betty, and the secretary of hhs, we got it in all 50 states. that was exciting. and we had this big meeting in washington -- i go from one subject to another, but we had this big meeting in washington to celebrate all the people from all over the country.
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the next day there was not one word in the paper about it. i was so upset. i got upset because they covered my mental health work the first few meetings i had and then they never showed up anymore, and one of the things i wanted to do was bring attention to the issue and how terrible it was and the few services there were. but just getting it out in the public, that's what i did in georgia. developed a good part of it in georgia, by the way. but they just didn't come. one day i was walking in the white house and met this woman who was one of the press people. and i said no one ever covers my meetings. she said, ms. carter, mental
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health is just not a sexy issue, and that, i didn't like. i never did get very much coverage for it. but we toured the country. found out what will was needed. developed legislation and passed the mental health systems act of 1980. it passed through congress one month before. jim jimmy, as he says, was involuntarily retired from the white house and the incoming president never implemented it. one of the greatest disappointments of my life. i have a great mental health program here. and one of the people who worked with me in the white house. the subject was the affordable care act. and he did a comparison of what we did in 1980 with the affordable care act.
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it is almost identical. it just passed parity and it was announced here, the final regulations. i had parity in the act. but i'm so thrilled now. affordable care act covers parity and we also had legislation, combining health services. >> and you and betty ford worked on that together? >> that's right. after we left the white house betty and i would go to washington. she would get the republicans and i would get democrats, and we made some progress. >> your husbands were known as becoming best friends or very good friends. did you and betty ford have the same relationship? >> yes, we developed a really good relationship. that's when jimmy and gerald
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ford began -- we went to sadat's funeral. and that's when jimmy and gerald ford had a really good time. and saw -- each one, well, they -- and i started working with betty and we developed a really wonderful relationship. >> mrs. carter, there are several first ladies still living. is there a sorority of first ladies in a sense? >> well, i had a good relationship with betty ford and with lady bird as long as she was alive but that's about it. i don't think -- there's never been a real -- we see each other at events and at library dedications.
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for the new first ladies. but there's never been that closeness that i had with bettyfobetty ford and lady bird. >> when you were first lady you had a weekly luncheon with your husband and would attend cabinet meetings. what was the purpose of that? >> well, i had a luncheon with jimmy. there were always things i wanted to ask him and some was about the family and finances and things going on back home. but we also talked about issues. i would say it was more family and personal things going on, but almost every -- after we were there until about august, jimmy stayed at the oval office a good bit in the daytime. he didn't go back much at night. but in august he started calling me about 4:30 in the afternoon.
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my office was in the east wing. but he started calling me and it had always been in the white house, but east wing. but he started calling me and said let's go jog or do something. and also i wanted to be home when amy got home from school. i started doing things that part of the afternoon. but we would jog and exercise, swim and sit on the truman balcony and talk about what he had done during the day and what i had done during the day. and we just had a good relationship. but what i learned in the white house was that there is no way to know what happened because of the press. i mean, you can't learn from newspapers. you can't learn from two minutes on tv. and, see, tv was -- computers were new. we didn't have computers. we had the big mainframes still
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in the white house, nobody ever used them. jimmy -- i think he got those activated, he got more. this was a long time ago. 30 something years ago, but i couldn't tell. and he said every day he stepped off the elevator stairs, i asked him why did you do this? why did you do this? because i had to know. i was touring the country, having press conferences and i needed to know. in february one year after he stepped off the elevator he said why don't you come to cabinet meetings and then you'll know why we do things. and that's when i started going to cabinet meetings. what a lot of people don't know is cabinet meets and there's staff around the room. but i sat -- he was in a wheelchair, head of veterans affairs, and i set next to him next to the door and i went
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every time i could to the cabinet meeting because i thought it was necessary for me to go with what was going on and the decisions made and so forth. and so forth so that i could explain to people in the country as i toured around. >> rosalynn carter, did you receive criticism for attending those meetings and for being the president's emissary? >> i don't think i ever received criticisms from the west wing. they knew how close we were and how interested i was. but there was all kinds of criticism. but, you know, i learned while jimmy was senate, state senate, that's the hardest, because you know everybody that criticizes you. then you expect it when you get to be governor. and jimmy had been governor four years. when i got to the white house, i knew it was coming. i didn't like it. but you have to accept the attitude what i did -- i think you almost have to in public
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life. you have to know that what your husband does is what he thinks is the best possible thing for our country. and what i'm doing is the best possible thing for our country. when jimmy was in state senate, he sat me down one day and said if you don't think i'm doing the best job i can do, then worry about it. but you have to just accept. but also my feeling was if they reported things in a way they didn't like it's because they didn't know. they were ignorant about what's going on. and lots of times, it's true. if they know why you're doing it and so forth. and today's television, there's no way to know. talking about it, the affordable care act, so confused by the time we had a meeting last week
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that we had people here he really knew what was in the law which is so good for him. we found out the day before he was going to announce the final regulations, had been talking to passed a law in 2008, and i had been talking to her about it. she's a good friend. her father was governor when jimmy was governor and became a good friend. i'd been talking to her, get the regulations. i'm sure her hands were tied by the white house because i think they wanted the affordable care act. then for her to come here and announce it -- as soon as i heard it, i started shaking. this is 33 years after i wanted it. really excited. it was emotional. >> was it possible to have a
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private life in the white house, and did the white house feel like home? >> it felt like home to us immediately because we'd all been campaigning. all our boys had been campaigning and i'd been campaigning, and we were together -- not all, i had two of my sons and amy there. and we had meals together. we had to make a rule if you were not going to be there for a meal you had to check off a little thing so we'd know who would be there. and amy -- was there almost every day, sometimes not. but most of the time i was there when she came home from school. and i through the lessons and followed classes. and then as i said earlier jimmy and i would jog.
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or swim. if it was raining, we'd go to the boat. we had a fairly good family life. i think it was so precious to us because being gone, traveling for two years. >> does the white house affect a marriage? >> i think it could. i don't think -- it didn't affect ours. because we'd just been partners working together for so long. but i could see if the first lady was not particularly interested in the different issues, i think it would be difficult. but jimmy could talk to me, and i think that happens more and more with first ladies because some of the early first ladies were very active but then there were others who were not.
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>> when you look back at previous first ladies before you served, who did you admire? who did you emulate? who did you learn from? >> well, the closest person i had, the closest and only first lady that i had knowledge of was lady bird. when jimmy was governor, she came to georgia and helped me with the highway beautification program. and i just knew her. the main thing she told me was, if i would ask her something, she'd say enjoy, enjoy, because it's not going to last long. you won't be there forever so just enjoy it. a lot of people look back at eleanor roosevelt who is quite wonderful. one person who had a big impact on my life was margaret meade.
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when i decided i was going to work on issues she came to georgia to see me. we had this wonderful relationship and she would give me advice. and met for a mental health meeting. anyway, she was just the neatest thing. to meet her was just emotional for me. i would like to have met eleanor roosevelt. >> rosalynn carter, your husband in 2010 published his white house diaries. did you keep a diary or journal during the white house years? >> i kept them at different times. i didn't do very much in the beginning but then i started having my secretary put spaces between events, and i had a desk in my bedroom. and i left it there and i would go to events what was happening and who was going to be there and i'd start writing notes about what happened at that event, and i did that pretty regularly for a while. i have a really good diary about camp david. i kept those notes all the time
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from the first day. >> are those public? >> no. >> if and when will they be public? >> i don't know how long -- i just went through them and edited them. i didn't edit anything, i struck out a few passages. >> why? >> i might not want you to know what i -- with jimmy. it was just my personal thoughts along with what was happening. i didn't sit in any of the meetings but i was there the whole time. and as soon as they would come out of a meeting i was there to see what it was, what's going on. it was incredible. it was from the heights of excitement it was going to happen to the depths of despair it was not.
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i came home one day -- for instance, we didn't know we were going to be there 13 days, and so the last few days i had to go into town and do some events for jimmy and some for me, some that i had planned. and we got back one day and this was toward the end and jimmy and hamilton and jody powell and staff people were in the swimming pool at camp david. and they said it's over. and they thought it was, and it was a bad evening. and when jimmy left -- when i left on sunday, the day they came back, jimmy said, it's either today or not. we're just going to have to end it. and we had -- we opened the white house -- i mean, we had pbs did our events for a while.
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and i can't remember who was there that day i had to come in. i had to come in and introduce the artist. and i got a call about halfway through it -- no, about halfway through the concert and jimmy said they thought they had it but don't tell anybody. but they didn't know for sure. that was interesting. anyway, when they came in that night the helicopter landed it was dark, dusk or dark. and they came in and liz was standing by the door of the blue room. and the prime minister went straight to her and said, mama, we're going to go down in history for this. >> do you think we're going to
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see a rosalynn carter/camp david diary accord some time? >> we might. i guess it's all right for me to tell this. >> will you be there for it? >> i'll be there for it."tc >> another issue during your husband's presidency i wanted to ask you about, mrs. carter, the iranian hostage crisis. did you keep notes? what were your feelings throughout that whole crisis? and how did that affect you as a person? >> it was awful. right now, i have memories. just waiting for the press conference and iran to decide what happened that day. and the other way we knew what was going on is when they would come out and announce it. and we met with the families all
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along and thinking about the people who got remembered for that and what it was doing to jimmy's presidency, and it was awful. it was awful. and i would go out and campaign, and i had found out earlier when a president goes out he's so surrounded. but people -- he speaks to them. he says hello and stuff, but doesn't get close enough to people to have conversations just normally like you would otherwise about what are their hopes and dreams and what they thought about what i was doing or what jimmy was doing or anything that could help them. i had learned that early during his presidency. but i would go out and everybody would say tell the president to do something, and tell him he's got to do something.
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i would come home and i would say why don't you do something. and he said what do you want me to do? do you want me to mind the hash hasher harbors which a lot of them were talking about and then have them bring out one prisoner every day and hang in public? well, maybe that's not the best thing to do. but, you know, i wanted it over and of course he did, too. everybody did. people in the country every night a new tv program started and nobody got over at all, i mean, could get over it, just think about it because it was every day, every night. it was awful. and kept up with what i was doing. i never stopped doing the things i was doing. >> by the time four years were over, how tired were you? >> you know, you lose the election in november and that's depressing.
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it was depressing and then jury there until january -- you're there november, december, january. i just wanted to go home. and then when i got home i don't know that i was tired. i guess i was tired, but i just remember coming home. boxed to the ceiling. we lived right on the edge of the woods. and we'd been gone ten years since jimmy was gone for campaign two and then four. but the woods had come up around our house and the vines and things. and we both had agreed to write books. and it was overwhelming. i actually didn't have time to really worry about it and to really mourn it. i think i mourned it before i left the white house. i used to walk around and say
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there's my mental health legislation. i think i realized how important it is for a president to have a second term. although, jimmy carter would not have changed anyway. he would not have changed anything. >> in your book, "first lady from plains" written in 19 another, you closed by saying i would be out on the campaign trail again today if jimmy carter would run again. >> i kept just knowing he was going to run. i would have been there. >> you have a grandson who's just announced for governor of georgia. >> i know. i'm thrilled. >> are you going to be out on the campaign trail? >> i'll do whatever he asks me to do. he's a great young man. graduated from duke university. went to the peace corps for a few years, came home and went to law school. he's in a law firm there and now has two terms as a state senator. >> rosalynn carter, you've had 33 years post presidency,
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longest in history now. and you and president carter have been very active. what do you say to your legacy first of all as first lady or what would you like it to be? >> well, i hope my legacy continues more than just first lady because carter's son is a great part of our life. i hope that i have contributed something into mental health issues and helped improve a little bit the life of people living with mental illness. but i also hope -- i have had great opportunities for so long now. and to go through africa, or one of those countries i have
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programs in 70 countries and we go to africa two, three times a year. and to go through those and this thing come to fruition all these years. to go to a village where there's no longer guinea worms it is a celebration. we don't give money to the government. we send people in to teach -- to help people in that country how to do something. and we work with the people in the villages. and the health department does, too, and we work with them. and they do the work. i mean, just to go to a village and just explain to them. but if you have to go to the chief to approve it. but if they see or hear about it
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from another country they're happy you're there. but just to see -- to go back when it's gone from a village or almost gone and the hope it gives to them, most of the time it's the first thing they have ever seen that's successful, and it's just so wonderful. just to see the hope on their faces that something good is happening. i didn't mean to get emotional. >> rosalynn carter, we're here in atlanta at the carter center for this interview. how much time do you spend in atlanta? how much time in plains? >> well, we schedule one week a month, you know, ahead of time to be here. most of the time we have to come back more than that. like my mental health conference. i was here three days. this week is my week here. and we have to come back more than that. but we schedule that so we can plan our travel around it. and we travel almost too much. this year, i'd be interested to see how much we've been gone. it's maybe not half, but most of
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the time -- i guess most of the time -- it's not half the time most of the time but it's getting pretty close. the only thing -- i mean, like to go to africa, something so wonderful happens if you go there from the carter center, because everybody -- let me tell you one fun untiny story. we put global 2000 on our work in africa because we found out if the heads of state get credit for what they do -- if somebody gets rid of guinea room for a village, has a wheat field -- the wheat crop has grown -- produces, grown three times as much as they used to. so they get so excited, the head of state does.
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my agriculture program, my -- so, anyway, the word gets around. one time we were in this village. there was a farmer who had been named the farmer of the year. and we went to this village. and this might have been -- anyway, we were in a village. and they pulled these plush chairs. really wonderful, put some blue tarpaulin over it. the whole village came. and there was a little girl and she held up this sign and said go away -- jimmy carter's coming. so when we get to that village after that, i mean to other countries maybe, the word is already around. you know it just -- the carter center, it just works magic sometimes. it gives hope to people who have
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never had any hope of their lives being better. it's exciting. >> and finally, rosalynn carter, what's your advice to future first ladies or first husbands? >> well, in the first place i would say enjoy it. which is what lady bird told me. but i think i have learned that you can do anything you want to. they used to ask me if i thought the first lady ought to be paid. if you get paid, then i have to do what the first lady is supposed to do. but you can do anything you want to. and it's such a great opportunity, so i would advise any first lady to do what she wanted to do. and another thing i learn, you're going to be criticized no matter what you do. i could have stayed at the white house, poured tea, had receptions and i would have been criticized.
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as much as i was criticized outside for what i did. and i got a lot of criticism, but you learn to live with it as i said earlier, but you never let it influence you. but i would just tell her also just to enjoy it and do what she wanted to do. in the process, i show the first lady will have things that she wants to do because women have changed in this time. what women do now has changed from what when i grew up. i could be a secretary or library or a few things but now women, most women are active. but now most women will -- just do what you want to do and don't worry about the criticism. >> thank you. >> i enjoyed talking to you.
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if you enjoyed watching "first ladies" pick up a copy of the book "first ladies influence and image" now available in paperback, hard cover or as an e-book. tonight, on american history tv beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern, a look at the lives of nancy reagan and barbara bush. c-span in cooperation with the white house historical association produced a series on the first ladies examining their private lives and the public roles they play. first ladies, influence and image, features individual biographies of the women who served in the role of first lady over 44 administrations. watch american history tv tonight and over the weekend on c-span3. up next, historian h.w.
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brands talks about humor in the white house and the role it plays in presidential politics. he considers how funny our chief executives have been or not and whether they've used humor to their advantage. the howenstein center for presidential studies, the gerald r. ford presidential library and museum co-hosted this event. it's just over an hour. i'm going to be talking about, well, sort of humor in the white house. and as i was thinking of this title, i realized, uh-oh, this is a potential problem because i was really talking about the president and jokes and humor. and i know enough about the history of the presidency, some of you perhaps will have caught on to this, there's a potential problem there. there were two presidents who served before the white house was the official residence of the pren


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