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tv   Bret Baier To Rescue the Republic  CSPAN  November 24, 2021 8:01pm-9:03pm EST

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meme is the movie you know in just a couple of some of you know that i will be leaving my position. i hope you will forgive me if i take this opportunity to wax a little nostalgic around some of the previous visits my guest tonight has paid tonight to the library. i've had the opportunity to interview quite a few people on this stage, but you can just imagine the nervousness quotient involved when i have the job of interviewing the
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perpetual interviewer, someone who does it for a living. >> [laughs] >> i am someone who routinely watched bret baier conduct interviews. if you also do, you know that he is among the very best in the business. >> [laughs] and you need not take my word for it, he is consistently ranked best newscaster, as the top rated cable news program in his time slot. and that's been the case for many years. but bret has a second career going as a bestselling author. and we are talking about --
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a -- not a formula for how you as well can be a network anchor. rather, with the publication, this is his fifth nonfiction work, it's official -- who bret baier is a talented presidential historian and writer with a knack for shining a light on pivotal leaders at pivotal moments in american history. that always seem to be were another look. his series gave us a very important glimpse into the lives of three u.s. presidents, dwight eisenhower, ronald reagan and fdr, all of whom change the course of history in the fate of the nation. glimpse intohis newest book, oh
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precedent, ulysses s. grant, titled "to rescue the republic", is as educational as it is timely. i say educational in that grant was far more important than u.s. history then some historians have given him credit for. and a timely in that when it comes to the fragility of our national unity and the times we live in today, the best book -- shows you that we have been here before. it's a pleasure and honor to have him with us. so if you would, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming bret baier to the reagan library. >> [applause] >> thank you very much. it's great to be back.
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thank you for making the effort to come out. mask and all. >> [laughs] >> we had a show out here today, which we love to do, ahead of these events. started it with reagan soundbites. looking at the big issues that reagan dealt with, the big issues we are dealing with today. so it all works out. i want to say hi to my friends. and i know i have other friends in the audience. but let's talk grant. >> -- eight or nine years ago -- about your first book, about the real challenges you had with your son, paul. a remarkable book. please tell us he's okay. >> yes, he's great. that book is called "special
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heart" -- >> hope -- oh, my gosh, what is it? i'm thinking grants, i'm thinking -- anyway, bottom line -- paul is doing fantastic. his last open heart surgery was in december. and paul is now an inch taller than me. he wears a size 13 shoe. he is a golfer, a basketball player. so thank you. >> [applause] >> bret, it seems in your books, your choices of precedence presidents to study, you look for inflection points. a moment in time where that particular president nearly changed the course of history. is that how you go after your
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subjects? >> when we started this -- and you interviewed me quite a lot in the series of those books -- the first one was eisenhower. and it took a long time to find that. but i realized i didn't know about president eisenhower, i knew about generalize and how are. so for me, i talked about that process, i had this team, a researcher going to the national archives. and found literally, treasure troves of historical nuggets. and those were the days in between the eisenhower and canned the inauguration. there were moments in history that are overlooked or not focused on enough. and so the second book is about reagan and the final summits with gorbachev and the speech he gives that moscow state university. and --
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wasn't focused on the lot of the time. at the brink, it is fdr, churchill and stalin lanning d day at their conference, which gets overshadowed by yalta. something i didn't think was focused on. so one step further, the beginning, middle and end of the cold war, i wanted to find something that was overlooked. i looked at grant and i thought, i knew nothing about his presidency other than that he was a drunk and it was scandal filled. and that he basically handed the baton off. i didn't really know. and i'm a student of history. and so we started digging in. and grant -- people will focus on his time as general, which is really spectacular.
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it is 800 pages, which i am a fan of, but spends a lot of time on his presidency, which was really consequential, if you think about all that happened in his time. he takes over from andrew johnson, by far, one of our worst presidents, if not the worst. racist. i won't sugarcoat it. >> [laughs] >> not a lot of -- in my description of johnson. lincoln is assassinated and johnson aides erasing lincoln's vision day by day. and grant can see that happening before him. he eventually is drafted to run for president, winds in a landslide. what he gets done, he pushes through the 14th and 15th
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amendments to the constitution. he fights the kkk with federal troops. he keeps the country together with peace after the war. and to be able to dig in and tell that story, it's the contested election of 1876. >> i get the sense that you feel like grant was one of the most underappreciated presidents. >> -- his ranking in those historian rankings has gone up 13 spots in recent years. that's before my book. >> [laughs] >> eisenhower went up five spots. i think in this day in age, when we are in such a partisan divide, and everything that we talk about with race --
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looking back at all that he did to hold the country together, and a really pivotal time -- it gives him another look. >> -- >> one of the most brilliant generals. -- overshadowed as president. >> yes, in part because he wrote his memoirs about his time in eloquent terms. at the end of his life, he leads the presidency, and we are kind of going chronologically, there's a different spot. but after he leaves the presidency, he trusted a lot of people. and they burned him, a lot of times. that's where some of it comes from. and -- invest more and loses everything. he is poor after the presidency. and has to start writing
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articles for magazines about his time in the civil war. and mark twain, his friend, says, how much are you getting paid for these articles? and he says 500 dollars. and he says, you are the best general we've had, you need to start writing your memoir, i will publish it, you are much better than those prices. -- >> only edited a few pages. he starts writing his memoir. he gets throat cancer, to the point where he can barely swallow. and they are spraying cocaine missed in the back of his throat. he swallows it and lives. he is under blankets. -- he finishes his memoir and a
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few days later he dies. when he sells it, it's the best selling book of the time. makes roughly 300,000 dollars, which equates to 14 million in today's terms. >> amazing. again, when you think of grant, as a general, i always thought of him as this big imposing figure of a man. but actually he was small in stature, wasn't he? >> he was very small, he was 5'7''and 130 pounds wet. why did they had the wet part? >> [laughs] >> -- he was 5'7''or 5'8", no offense. he was really small, so as a
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soldier, he never really wanted to be a soldier, he's that forced him to go to west point. and he was not that great at much. he went to west point, kicking and screaming, and when he went there, he got the appointment and they said you have the appointment, ulysses s grant. and he said no, my name is high-ranking ulysses grant. and they said, you can only get this name if your name is ulysses s grant. and so his name became ulysses s grant. the asked downs for nothing. his name was really high room. and then, he changed his name. he kind of stunk in school. 20 out of 39. he got a lot of the merits. but he was a really good horsemen. and it turns out that he was an excellent soldier. and he showed that in the mexican american war. tough times, though.
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he went to the northwest territories. he was really lonely. and started drinking. i have some lonely soldiers might do. he was slight, again, could not hold his liquor that well. and he got busted by a commander, trunk. and he said, either you resigned the post or we court-martial you. and so, he resigned. he went back to illinois. and went into the spiral where he was bad at farming and bad in the leather business and he was trying to sell firewood out of the back of a car to make money. and three years after that, he is the head of union forces, as the biggest general america has ever seen. and a few years after that, he's president of the united states. >> now, he graduates from west point and i said this is really interesting -- the mexican american war -- >> --
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robert e. lee -- a member of the confederate generals -- that he ends up fighting against. that's where this interesting intersection between all of these guys and these battles -- because they had fought with each other before and so, they have these established for relationships. i'll jump forward again. at grants funeral, just to show you how well respected he was across the land, 1 million people show up in new york city and line the streets. and they bring out their old uniforms. union uniforms and confederate uniforms. and they lie in the streets of new york city. and his paul bears are to union generals and two confederate generals. at the end of his life. and that's the relationship they have that went back all the way to the mexican american war. >> in the book, you cover the fact that lincoln --
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he looked over his shoulder -- and thought oh my gosh, this guy might run for president. >> yeah, he did. however, grant, he saw that he was on -- with the american people. but grant never had that aspiration. he really didn't want to run for political office. he was asked all the time to run for president. and he said, the only office i ever sought to run for was mayor of delano, so i can build a sidewalk for my house -- and so, he finishes asked the union general at the end of the war, goes back to illinois, and there is a big sign that says -- this sidewalk is done. that was his only political aspiration. but he does get recruited to run and, obviously, he has admiration for a link in.
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a relationship that lincoln truly believes that even -- kind of softspoken guy, he sees his leadership in grant. -- lincoln, mrs. lincoln -- invite the grants to -- the theater, the night of the assassination. and the grants almost go. but mary todd lincoln -- was not a big fan -- and mrs. grant says, we've got to go see the children in new jersey, which they did. and president lincoln is assassinated that night. grant is racked with guilt and he thinks, if i had been there, i would've been able to save president lincoln. he was also a target, grant was, of john will spoof. >> yeah, and after lincoln is assassinated, grant --
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as the most popular figure, right? by far. >> and johnson despised that. he despised that grant had the power. and grew to really, really hate him. johnson did. to the point where he was just trying to figure out how to get him out of the way. he wanted to send him to mexico -- and grant stood up to him and said no. and he said, if it's a military order, i will go, but i'm not going if it's just you sending me. >> -- crowds, of course, known as the -- union general. but you write in your book that, because of the approaches he took to southern soldiers, to the confederacy, -- people in the south admired him as --
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they -- >> very much. so he was, obviously, seen as a vector in the north and victorious. but in the south, he was seen as magnanimous. because in victory, he gave dignity to the soldiers. he let them leave with -- on their horse. he offered personal support for the generals who he knew from fighting with before. and offered to help them out. get them back on their feet. so, he was -- considered someone who was well respected. to the point of his -- mississippi state university, which is near pittsburgh. >> you called, him i think, the anti politician. and --
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-- >> he did not vote for himself. he -- he was not a self promoter at all, in the least. and he was this guy who was so self deprecating, so self effacing, that before he was running for president -- it comes from his mom, who despised pomp and circumstance and formality to the point where she was seen sweeping her front porch when he was being inaugurated. she did not go to the inauguration. she hated all the pomp of all of that. and she actually -- reminds me a lot of eisenhower's mom, who was the exact same way and didn't
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really care that he was the winning general of world war ii. so, maybe there's something in the mom -- not that into it. but, quick story -- and he's getting his fourth star, lincoln calls him up from washington and he brings his some fred. and grant does not dress well. he's got a rumble-y uniform. he's got muddy boots. and he walks into the hotel -- that's a real fancy hotel in washington, next to the white house. and he walks in and the clerk looks at him and says -- we do not have a room for you. they didn't have any more rooms. he says, okay. he says, well, we might have a little closet on the top stare. and grant says, that will be fine. -- u.s. grant and son fred, colleen illinois.
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and the clerk turns white and goes and rounds to get the manager and they are quickly escorted to the -- so, he's just kind of a self effacing guy. he is not that into -- but in the moment, he is somebody who kind of exudes this quiet leadership. and i think that that was the case as president. >> i think you describe him -- a very, very complex personality. hard to get to know him. -- >> a couple of close friends. sherman was a close friend in the military. child, who's a philadelphia businessman, who he gets to know and shares a vacation home -- another quick anecdote. his self effacing -- he's going to this vacation home in long branch, new jersey. and he goes on a steamer.
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and he's by himself. and a woman comes with her two children and she's trying to take them to the other side and put them on the boat, but she can't stay. she has to go off. and she's looking around frantically for someone to stay with the children, someone to put them up on the other side. and he walks up and says, man, i'd be happy to escort your children. and she looks at him and -- and she kind of looks at him and he says, ma'am, i'm general grants. and she looks at him and says, oh, well, indeed you are. -- and they made it to the other side. i think, when i took away the most, was that he was very complex. he had this amazing relationship with his wife, who, for all the people who said that he was -- he didn't drink at all when julia was with him. and julia was with him a lot.
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so, the evidence of him being a drunkard in the white house is very -- it's not there, from everything we looked at. and i think that there are so many consequential moments of during his presidency, not the least of which, is the end. which is an 1876 election. -- the country is divided, rutherford b. hayes is the republican -- and three states put up two separate electors, florida, louisiana, and south carolina. so, those states are saying, we are not deciding. we -- and so, over a couple of weeks, the violence starts to bubble up in the country. and they're threatening violence on capitol hill. and it's that moment that grant starts to work behind the scenes for this grand bargain, which really keep the country together.
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>> -- in the meantime, -- when he enters office -- -- i really admire -- he just meant business -- but at the same time, you write that because he had political experience and was not interested in getting any -- that's what led to so many -- that took place during his presidency. >> yeah, and he trusted a lot of people. and he did not have a political insiders savvy on the possibility of corruption. so, he put some of his friends in positions of power and some of them took advantage of him. and there are some scandals in his administration. but nothing applies to him, other than his inability to choose the right person. or, rather, choose the wrong
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person to trust. >> talk about the 14th amendment and -- grant needed to and wanted to enforce it, but -- >> not something that's easy to do -- the citizenship -- and then eventually -- it is in the southern states -- a palpable sense that if you can't enforce it, what's good is it? so, that's the argument. that he is pushing. the supreme court is a force that is kind of undercutting the 14th and 15th amendments, as well. and he's really battling to carry the torch from lincoln's vision. to bring the country together. on race. and to get past the civil war. >> --
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it's like these two opposing forces -- return to its ways, and grant wanted to push it along -- the south wanted to return -- a lack of respect -- that could be the most difficult issue to deal. with >> 100 percent. and johnson, because of some of the things he did to empower the vestiges of the confederacy, he kind of gave them the signal, like a hat trick. this is, it guys. this is the time. we so when grand takes over, he's got to unwind what johnson has done and remind people of the work of lincoln before him. it's a fascinating time. i think when you think of presidents in tough positions,
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that's a big one. he's making this grand bargain with the election in doubt. and the country is on the brink of falling back into the civil war. we say the kkk but it's really a white militia made up of former confederate soldiers who believe this is the time to rise up law. so it's happening. he's trying to make this deal in a way that they will buy into. because all parties are not brought into the deal. >> and then you get a sense for just how difficult this must have been. i must admit this day, in history class, i didn't realize until i read the book -- but talk about the dominican republic and the role that grant and others thought that they might play in this whole
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mess. >> they were throwing everything against the wall. about possibilities to soothe the south or make it so that this wasn't an issue. one of the things they think about, one of the things you think about big picture -- is taking the dominican republic and having all former slaves just move there. and so suddenly people are thinking, well, maybe this could work. maybe this could silva the south problems. but it's an feasible from the beginning and it goes down in flames. it's a suggestion. but it goes to show you that they were trying to think of everything to throw against the wall. >> meanwhile, there is this great westward expansion of the united states. it was critical. creating another whole set of intractable issues. >> native americans and the battles of native americans.
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he was the first one to be -- to native americans. he installs a native american as interior secretary and he is reassigned to make this effort. but because of the battle and violence in the west, there are -- circumstances. but it's not without trying. he continues to try to make inroads with native americans and try to make a piece. you know, if you look at the moments that -- and the efforts to make outreach -- and then the reality that he has to face, it's kind of stark. because he's sympathetic to their plight. but meanwhile, it got one general after another completely ignoring federal instructions, right? and slaughtering people.
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and once that happens, all trust is gone. >> that versus -- race again. maybe i wasn't paying that much attention in history class. but it's really -- i remember when president george w. bush was elected and they had that issue of the recounts in florida. that looks like baby food compared to the scandals and the cheating and all the rest that went into that election. this was not easy. >> there were all kinds of delegations on both sides. blacks were prevented from getting to the polls. there was an effort to squash the vote. republicans had stacked the
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deck. there was all kinds of stuff. and you are right that -- on the house floor. in fact, there were times when people were yelling, kill them -- standing on a desk in the house floor. and when i am starting to finish this book, and i'm getting to get it all together, and then january 6th happens, and i'm covering january 6th, the capital riot. i just do a tiktok of that coverage that day, thinking in my mind of the historical moments that i am writing about in 1876. and how there is not similarities but it gives you a perspective about where we have been before. and how close we had been before tipping back into civil war and what is needed to get
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out of that mess. >> and that whole mess you were talking about, if that was the genesis of the term smoke filled rooms? but it really was a smoke filled room. >> it was, at the -- hotel. the shadowy figure, edward brook, a louisiana guy who is working for nichols, a challenger to the louisiana governor. he's a democrat, this guy, edward burke. and he goes, i think we can make a deal, to grant. [inaudible] make a deal here, new orleans style. >> [laughs] >> he is talking about, you give the governorships that are contested currently.
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you promised to pull all federal troops out of the south. the south promises to honor black rights and suffrage and equality. and they get the autonomy back. grant makes this deal and this bargain, and i think he thinks it's going to come together. if ronald reagan was there, in 1876, we would probably say, my friend, ulysses, trust but bear verify. and it turns out over the years, much like, in another book, style undid with fdr, promising that he was going to not invade poland -- the promised falls apart. and that leads to the liu years
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of -- bringing jim crow laws and all of the civil rights -- that we saw on the years after that -- grant, i think, hoped that one, they would keep the promise and to, that the president that followed would then take that torch from him to lincoln's legacy -- and move it down the presidential road. >> so, meanwhile -- we fast forward -- and i think there's a moment in the book where you talk about -- a town out west -- the statue of grant. >> san francisco. the book is -- at the end of the book is just kind of a perspective. after george floyd, the killing and the protest that resulted from that, around the country. i was -- i saw the coverage in san
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francisco. and there is a grant statue, being pulled down. and reporters there, live. and she turns around and says, why are you pulling the statue down? and the people said, he's part of the civil war and he had a slave and we have to move on from that. and it really struck me in that moment. because here's a guy who yes, he had a slave. his father-in-law gives them a slave, but he frees that man soon thereafter. and spends the rest of his life, fighting slavery, fighting for equality. fighting for the right to vote and doing everything he can in his power to help african american communities get on their feet. in grants time, there are black congressman, there are black senators, there are -- and are making money in the south. southern blacks are succeeding in those early years, in
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grant's presidency. and it just struck me, in that moment, asked that statue was toppling down, how little we remember about history and how sad that is, and how much we could do to make sure younger people remember history, so that they can affect the future in a different way. >> should pay attention in history class. [applause] -- oblique definition -- the average person's mind -- he was drunk in all of that -- i get the sense that, at the end of the day, you would define grant as an american hero. >> 100%. i think history will look a lot brighter on grant, in years to come. and i hope i'm part of that. because everything that we
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found in the treasure trove of the national archives, suggests that not only was he a military strategist and almost a's avant when it came to strategy in the civil war, but he was just a leader, a leader of men. who was humble, patient, but had this cold resolve to get things done. and i think that hamilton saw -- who writes your history -- i think for years, because of the vestiges of reconstruction and all that happened after that, all of the negativity got dumped on grant. and maybe that drunk things stuck. and the corruption is what led -- of his presidency -- and i just think it deserves a full view. >> if you don't mind, there's
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another question. -- these questions are not nearly as good as mine -- the lightning round. who does your research for the book? >> so, the first researcher i hired for the history books, was named sydney soto bergh, who was the former mayor of -- kansas. which is this town next to -- and she works at -- library. and i first met her when i was exploring eisenhower and trying to figure out what's going to write about him. -- so, we met and we talked and she said to me, listen, i just want you to know something. i watch your show. and i said, that's great. she said, i like your show. i said, that's better. she said, i am a true, blue kansas democrat.
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and i said, well, that's great. i'm a news anchor who likes history. so, we're going to get along. and we did. so, -- my coauthor -- we formed this team, where we kind of bounced these nuggets around until we get a blueprint. and then, we are stitching pieces of the call together until we get -- it takes a while. i write at night. usually, with a glass of wine. i'm a night owl. fortunately, my wife amy holds down the fort and allows me to do that. >> let's -- talk about grants relationship with robert easily. -- was there a mutual respect? >> well, they obviously fought together in the mexican american war. there was a mutual respect. they communicated during the war by telegram.
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and he had -- a moment -- and ali, by the way, -- the perfect general -- he was stressed to the nines, had a sort, he was just perfectly amok here it, he was well shaven -- just looked the part. and grant did not. at all. to the point where, when he's winning battles, some of the early photographers cut off his half of the picture and put it on a different general who sitting upright and looks better. the first photo shop. but they did have a relationship. and it continued after the war. and he invited lee to the white house, which was quite a moment. and if i was in the press corps -- good thing to cover. >> they only spent 15 minutes
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together -- >> but they kept in touch. and there was a mutual respect. there's a lot of debate about who was the better general, strategically. and lincoln was convinced it was grant. >> describe your writing process -- to you aim for a certain number of words or pages per day? how do you do that? >> i usually put in two hours. i put myself in a room for two hours. and, then we bounce back and forth. catherine it's just amazing at being able to stitch things together and we ping-pong and it's a great team. sydney is kind of the bigger of the nuggets -- and then we go from there. >> your most interesting nugget that you found in writing this book about grant -- >> so, i do think that grant getting invited to four theater
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is an interesting nugget. i think that grants time as he is at the end of his life, trying to write that memoir and getting through that moment -- really interesting nugget. but his relationships, i think, come forward in this book a lot more than other places that i've read about grant. i think we get a little bit more context, a little more personality to his character and that's in part from other writings of other people who described him. about a paragraph in your book -- you talk about -- they almost came together. it's either a rumor or a fact that john wilcox booth appears
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in front of grant's carriage. >> yes, so that night as they are going to get to new jersey john wilkes booth is seen riding a horseback and then he remembers this strange man who is -- through the carriage in an ominous way. and it is believe that that is john wilkes booth, chasing down the carriage, as it's going to new jersey. and he turns around. >> amazing. and there was a conspiracy, i recall, around booth. and maybe that was just part of the role -- >> yes, grant is convinced it was him, but who knows. it was an ominous figure staring at his carriage.
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>> are you planning another book? >> -- three days. three books. makes a great christmas set, by the way. [laughs] i am going to do another -- book and we will see what we are rescuing next. and in the business we call that a deep tease. >> [laughs] >> sydney has been deployed and the nuggets are being mined. >> i'm going to press two questions into one. what can we learn from 1876 that would help us today? and how do you --
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discourse to the present day? >> i agree with you. whoever said, oh boy. that's really one of the big challenges today. and we are a divided nation, clearly. but i think history can give us perspective of where we have been before. and where we have been a long way from where we were. the discourse's leadership. social media doesn't help. if anyone see my twitter feed lately, it can be a very dark place, occasionally. but i think it just takes leaders. and we could use a grant or an eisenhower. or a reagan, frankly. optimistic leaders. >> [applause] >> so now we are
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coming to current events. what is your opinion of your competition at the other cable networks? >> [laughs] >> wow, wow. and this is being recorded, or? >> [laughs] >> no, no -- >> i thought this was off the record. i have respect for others at the other networks. but i will say that i do think some people, who are regular news people, thought that they were somehow affected by donald trump and his administration, to the point where they let their emotions factored in more to the point then they should have. to the point where they lost some people in the trust factor. and it hurt all of us has journalist to do that. when i took over for britt hume,
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in january, he said, two things, one is the show is not about you. the second, let the news drive the show. -- so i be as news-y as possible. and when someone puts it on a know what it is to feel like it is going on in the united states -- and the motion is out of it. i've talked about that. i'm not a robot. i want to be able to present to you so that you can make the decision. that whole thing, we were four, you decide, it's not just a slogan. i'm really trying to do that in my 60 minutes of your time. >> [applause] >> any predictions
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for the 2024 election? >> [laughs] >> again, the cameras are rolling? many people feel excited about the prospects. they feel like they are in a good position, subject wise and topic wise. there's a number of things that they can talk about, that they feel good about. so according to kevin mccarthy, it's paint by numbers. they only need a few seats. and he is looking at 2030 or 2040, big pick ups of seats in the house. the battlegrounds are little tougher for republicans. and i think that will come down to the candidates chosen. but the biggest political thing -- the elephant in the room, literally the elephant in the room -- is the former president,
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whether he runs for president or not. and that will decide about how different parties deal with that. if he does run, he will of course get a ton of attention. and every other candidate will be asked, whatever the former president is saying, what they are doing. i will assume he will be back on twitter, which will pick up our knowledge of what is in trump's head. and then there will be a reaction to that. so it's very cyclical. and i think it's the biggest political thing we will see in probably the next six to ten months. >> and balanced -- >> so you haven't totally decided yet? >> [laughs] i know you've decided to ask, john. it's a huge decision, i've
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decided. i knew you would ask that much. >> what processes are in place to make real the slogan of fair and balanced? and you have control and so on over the content in the back? >> yes, i'm executive editor of the show. so the buck stops with me. but i have a great team. and i have an executive producer, i have writers, a couple of producers. and i have a great team that has formed, they have formed a really good system about trying to be an ice hockey goalie of news. to prevent the bad pucks from getting through. and there are many bad pucks out there. so yeah, it's me. i make the decisions. there is a morning meeting. it is collaborative, we all talk about it.
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>> serious question here. how did you like being on gutfeld? >> let's see. [laughs] like a stake in the lions den? it was fun but i didn't know is happening. and once he started talking about hunter biden and whatever else he said about pelosi -- i said, i should probably exit stage left. maybe he'll put in an interview request for speaker pelosi. i know she is not watching, she is not up this late. >> [laughs] >> our last two questions, and we will run out of time. you love sports, you play ball. what is your favorite golf course? >> favorite golf course? just because of the memories,
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it would be augusta national. but i love playing out here at pebble beach and at at&t. there is nothing like that. and i talked to three or 4 million -- but when i'm standing before 200 people and i have to make a turn on the free would, it's a different ball game. it's still a different ball game. >> last question. and this one is for me. i know, i bret, you worked at the pentagon. >> i did. >> so you are really well informed on the national security front. what is your opinion on what happened in afghanistan? was that a presidential decision? a military follow-up? how do you see it? >> the only thing i've heard is
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that everyone was recommending the troops remain until all americans were out. and that the president was very determined to have it the other way around so that -- quickly. and the direct recommendations, from what we can tell, they are pretty much down the row, even the state department, they were weighing in on that front. so i don't know if we know 100%. but i do think this was a presidential decision. i think it's sad, having been there just a few weeks after 9/11. i landed at bagram air base with mr. rumsfeld. and to see all that time -- i was embedded along the pakistan afghan border. i always in the small afghan villages were 20-year-old captains were essentially mayors of these little villages, trying to get girls to go to
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school and set up a water system. and they did. and amazing things were happening. i think we have done a lot more than the original mission. but how we got out -- not wouldn't get out but how we got out -- that was sad. and the secretary did say this on "60 minutes". i'd be remiss if i didn't say, well, our condolences to the powell family and the loss of colin powell. he was a great man. and he was larger than life when it came to washington. obut the stories that i have from researching reagan as his national security adviser -- and i will tell one just very quickly -- i was in moscow at the final summit, and it's coming to the end where they are going to make the final deal.
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and gorbachev keep saying there will be a peaceful coexistence. and we are going to add this paragraph around interrupting internal affairs and peaceful coexistence. he says it four times. he turns the powell and powell scrambles on the corner of the paper. and he puts it down and he slides it to reagan. and raegan looks at it and then gets up and says, the answer is, no. we are not adding that paragraph. and gorbachev explodes in gets in reagan's face. and in short order he's in his face. they are really yelling at each other, the whole deal is about ready to fall apart. and then gorbachev backs down and says okay. and they don't have the paragraph. and so everybody files out of the room. and they go back to the table and they see the piece of
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paper. and powell says, if you agree, you can never criticize them again. you could never criticize the soviet union again if you put that paragraph in a deal. and reagan saw that and he trusted powell so much. the whole deal was on that paragraph. so it was not only palace influence with reagan but with the bush's. and a lot of people. >> i know reagan stated publicly at one point that he hoped at how we run for president some day. and he would vote for him. bret, it's been a very quick hour with you. just wonderful. thank you for coming and thank you for such a terrific, terrific book. i'm so happy to have read it. >> thank you very much. i really appreciate it. >> great.
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>> [applause].
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follow us on social media at c-span history for more of the state in his togood evening everyone. and welcome to the new york historical society. and this is society's president and ceo. i'm over the moon to see some of you in our beautiful auditorium. many of you, for the first time in a long time. so welcome back. tonight's program, the chinese question, gold rushes and global politics, it is part of our irene schwarts distinguished speaker series, the heart of our public programs


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