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tv   The Presidency Camp David  CSPAN  June 4, 2022 12:58am-2:00am EDT

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-- for hosting dignitaries there when he invited british prime minister winston churchill to be his guest. this is an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chief executive officer of the george w. bush
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presidential center, ken hersh. [applause] >> thank you, and welcome to the engaged theories prevented by highland capital. i'm ken hersh, the introducer-in-chief. our goal here is to provide content that you can't get anywhere else and we are honored today with this session to launch a wonderful insiders look at presidential retreats and a glimpse of what life looks like for a president outside of the white house. it's a fascination that so many people have and we are delighted to take a deep dive into camp david, crawford, kennebunkport, and the lbj ranch. and tonight we have a series of guests we can also give us that special insight. and to kick us off what i'd like to introduce the 43rd president of the united states. [applause] >> thank you all. thank you
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very much. [applause] so, this is a special moment for laura and me, because we've got such fond memories of the presidential retreats. one of the things about the presidency that's kind of hard to explain is what it feels like to be in a bubble, and you're kind of in a bubble, particularly in washington d. c.. so the presidential retreats for any president are very important in the life of the presidency and so i want to thank ken and holly and the team here for opening up the presidential retreats and a lot of the stories of presidential retreats for the people here in dallas. we had three presidential retreats, which is kind of unusual and one of which was kennebunkport, maine.
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it was really my dad's presidential retreat but laura and i would go up there on occasion and when we went it was all family, which was an incredibly important part of our presidency. i think, i don't remember i think we entertained sarkozy there, and putin. i'll never forget, my dad said to putin, do you want to go on a boat ride? [laughter] he had this boat with three 300 horsepower engines. [laughter] and putin -- he's kind of a macho guy at this point -- he said, yeah, i'd like to go -- that this in russian, of course. but he had this interpreter who was kind of a strange little guy who was nervous. and dad gets out in the ocean and opens that thing up and putin of course was just in heaven and the interpreter
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thought he was going to die. so walker's point was an important point of getting out of the bubble but not nearly as important as crawford and camp david. crawford is a place laura and i love. it's a place that we went to in august, which made it kind of uncomfortable for -- [laughter] -- a lot of people on our staff from the east coast. i loved it. i mean, i would get outside and usually before we owned a bulldozer, would chop down cedar. it was like, unbelievably therapeutic. i would ride bikes but mainly i rested. now here's the thing about these retreat, though. you never escaped the presidency. and so, the government definition of going outside the bubble in crawford meant there were probably 150
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staffers of some sort or another down there, which made it fun. because it meant there was a lot of other cedar choppers available to have. [laughter] laura and i entertained a lot of world leaders there. and we've got a lot of fond memories of conducting personal diplomacy on the ranch. it became kind of a, a way for us to get these, some of these leaders, a special look. and it really did open up the dialogue in a much easier way than had it been, had we been discussing things in the white house. i remember koizumi and i sitting out by the pool there, talking about japanese history. laura and i took a great walk across the prairie with angela merkel and her husband. putin came. and i decided instead of having our press conference on the ranch,
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we would do it at the crawford high school. -- three were allowed to ask questions. and of course we had a question or two from the press. but we had a lot of world leaders there. israeli prime minister, crown prince of saudi arabia. i want to and one interesting story is from the crown prince of saudi arabia was when he came and he was angry because sharon had occupied ramallah and he was madder than heck about it and. one of the first things he said to be was, tell the pig to get out of ramallah. now, that is as great an insult as you could possibly issue in the middle east. and you know frankly i wasn't about to allow a foreign leader to dictate our foreign policy. and i said, just give me some time. that wasn't the
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answer he wanted. and our interpreter, who is a friend of mine and colin powell's and condi's, came and sat with us because he wanted to talk to his people for a while, and then he said he's going to leave. which would have been a disaster for a young presidency to have a major ally bolt the scene and it was something we had been dealing with a long period of time and so i said to colin powell, fix it. came out and said, i can't. he [laughter] said only you. i said, okay. so i walk in, i don't know what i'm telling him, he's in this smoking buts like mad in the living room. [laughter]. and so i said, i hear you are going to leave and he grunts, yes. i say, before you, i want to talk about two things -- religion -- and i said, let me talk to about my faith. i said, i quit drinking the guy wasn't interested. because of religion, and
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described the relationship i had with billy graham and all that and i said, i'm curious about your religion. nothing. the guy wasn't interested. smoked a cigarette. [laughter]. so that didn't work. so i played the ranch card. i said, i hear you have a farm outside riyadh and you love it -- i mean jeddah -- and you love it and he said yes. can i give you tour? he said yes. there we are in the ford 150, i'm driving, which is unusual. and abdullah and the interpreter leaning over the back seat. we're driving along. these are live oaks. couldn't care less. these are cedar elms. could be interested. this is dressed where we are restoring a lot of
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high pressure to native grasses. can calais. i mean, he didn't say anything. and i said, oh, this thing is going to be, you know, going to be disaster. we're at the very far end of the ranch, and there is a turkey standing in the middle of the road and a lone hen. he said, what is that? i said, well that's a turkey, your royal highness. and at one point it was going to be the bird of the united states, that's what benjamin franklin, one of our leaders suggested, but instead we went with the bald eagle. and the turkey standing there didn't move and he leans over and says, it's a sign from allah, my brother. and i said, damn good advance work. and we got back to the house and i said, do you want to eat? he said yes. we got back and i said, we are going to have lunch. and the relief on the foreign minister's face was palpable. the reason i tell you that is the ranch was a great place to get to know leaders and establish a bond with them, as was camp david. now, camp david was initially call shangri-la, which means
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heavenly place. which it is. it's tucked in the catoctin mountains. thankfully it is only a 25 minute helicopter right from the south lawn. which means it is extremely accessible. so and so laura and i accessed it a lot. we went as possibly we could. you're going to hear from one of the base commanders camp david, the whole deal, it's a military base, and they've got a lot of other military functions and duties. but when the president's there, it's too, like, pump the guy. and they do a really good job of it. dwight eisenhower changed the name to camp david and my brother marvin lobbied for a while to get me to change it to camp marvin. [laughter] thankfully i didn't. we've got a lot of fun memories of camp david, a lot. and you know, again, it's a place where laura and i invited a lot of world leaders -- tony
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blair's first visit to the united states and we took him to camp david, laura decided to have a movie there they've -- got a nice movie theater -- with a family -- meet the parents. i was. asleep [laughter] if you'd like to exercise it's a fabulous place to get outdoors and exercise and we had mountain bike trails, a wonderful gym. i think the thing that i remember most about camp david was christmas is. it's big enough for our big family each to have their own capital. and so mother and dad would come, jeb and his family, neal and his family, camp marvin and his family, and darrow. and it was just spectacular, spectacular time. and the reason i emphasize the family aspect is because during the presidency, you know, sometimes it's kind of hard to count on certain people, but
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you can always count on your family to bring you comfort and love. so, that's where, what we are going to hear about tonight is a true shangri-la. holly kuzmich is going to interview admiral michael giorgione, who was the base commander when we first got to camp david. he's also going to interview introduce, or she's going to introduce stewart mclaurin, who was the president of the white house historical association. and finally, by chief of staff, josh boleten, one of the coolest guys i know, will be onstage as well. but beforehand, one of the real treat for lauren and me was to have a beautiful little chapel there called evergreen chapel. and a preacher there had a huge influence on us. and his name is stan fornea. and thankfully, stan fornea has agreed, along with his wife belinda, has agreed to join us tonight. so please welcome the right
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reverend navy something -- [laughter] -- captain. >> chaplain. >> i know chaplain. navy captain! stan fornea. [applause] >> thank you very much, mister president. what a privilege it is for me to be here this evening. thank you for the invitation. on january 22nd, 1963, news reached camp david of the assassination of president kennedy, who had just been a recent visitor to camp david. there was a contractor working at camp at that time by the name of kenneth plummer. and mr. plummer noticed that in that experience, there was nowhere for people to gather,
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to pray, to think, to be quiet. there was no sacred space whatsoever. and so, mr. plummer began the process of saying that he wanted to see a chapel built at camp david. it took him some time, but through his persistence, he was able to form a nonprofit, he raised the money to build the chapel, and the ground was broken by president reagan, who was the first contributor, and then the chapel was dedicated during the presidency of president bush 41. it was also during that time that president bush decided that he wanted a chaplain there. and so, i have had the privilege of following in the legacy of having navy chaplains at camp david ever since that time. if there is any one thing that i would want you to know about camp david, it is that there is a very
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unique climate of community there. it's a small group of people. a lot of people do not realize it is a military installation. and those who are there were chosen because of their desire to serve their nation by serving their commander-in-chief. and this unique climate of community, and even maybe so far as a climate of family that exists there, to a great extent is made possible by the presidents and how they use and serve. and i'm a little prejudiced because of my time with president bush. but i would suggest to you that there is no one who has contributed more to a climate of community and family at camp david more than president and mrs. bush. and that is evident by many different things that
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they did. president bush was always connecting with people there. and that connection with people helped create this unique climate of community that existed. you may know that president bush enjoyed mountain bike riding when he was at camp david. my first day there, i had one of the lean and mean marines tell me, if president bush asks you to rise bikes with them, tell him no way. and i said, why? and he said, because nobody can keep up with president bush on these trails and on those bikes. and so he said, i know it's hard to say no to the president, but you've got to say no if he asks you. and one sunday after chapel, we had lunch with the president, and he was beginning to set me up, and i knew it then. so, he
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said, chaplain, do you write bikes? and i said, no sir. no sir. i have never had the chance to ride bikes very much. and he dropped it. and i got out of that experience. but he connected with the young marines and the others there in doing that. there is no way the. president connected more with the people and the staff at camp david than through evergreen chapel. i had the privilege to conduct over 100 worship services for the president and mrs. bush and the family and the staff of camp david. it was always the most marvelous experience. president would always be faithful. in my four years there, the president never missed a worship service,
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even if we had weeklong services during christmas, or easter, or holy week. they were always there. and the camp community gathered with the president and mrs. bush when we worshipped together. mrs. bush, i remember, would every christmas and easter, bring gifts for all the children of camp david. and during our christmas pageants and other things that we would do, she would distribute those gifts to our children. she did that faithfully, event after event and year after year. it was just the most marvelous climate of community that existed there. president bush also did something very unique for us, and that is, he asked me one time, let's gather all the camp community together, their spouses, their children and let's invite them all to a town hall meeting in the chapel. at which time the president spent almost two hours standing before us, talking about the presidency. his leadership skills. and open the floor for
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people to ask questions. and it was so successful, and because everyone could not get in at one time, the president said let's do it again. and we had all the camp staff come once again, and the president gave two hours of just standing before us, talking about what it means to be the president of the united states. so, the president and mrs. bush, did a great deal to create this wonderful climate of community at camp david. i think maybe he may have learned some of that from his father. it was christmas one week, and president bush was there, and president bush 41 and the extended family. we had a service in the chapel that sunday, and we were distributing t-shirts that had something like evergreen chapel christmas on it. and at the end of the service, everyone left. i was left in the chapel by
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myself and the phone rang, and it was president bush 41. and he said to me, chaplin, is there any chance that barbara and i can get a couple of those t-shirts? and i said of course mister president. so, i got in the golf cart and took them some t-shirts over to their cabin. always gracious, he invited me in. i had a cup of coffee. and when i got ready to leave, president bush said, do you know why we wanted of these t-shirts? i said, no sir. he said, well, we have stayed here a little longer than we anticipated this year, and we are running a little short of clean under clothes to wear. [laughs] well you know, i said, mister president, there is somebody here that can take
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care of that laundry need. he looked at me and said, chaplin, this is christmas week. i would not dare ask someone to do that for me during christmas week. he looked at me and he said, don't forget, it's their christmas too. i always thought that spoke so much about the way the bushes felt about the staff at camp david. and how much appreciation they had for the climate of community that existed there. but you know, sometimes, even in this close knit community, there can be some challenges. i will close with this story. i was sitting in the chapel one weekend, the president was there along with the prime minister of japan. and it was a saturday, i sent my chaplin assistant home because nothing was scheduled and i was sitting in the chapel by myself that saturday, and i
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heard the door open and in walk president bush and the prime minister. i thought that was nice. the president was showing the prime minister around. the president looked at me and said, can you do one of the history briefs that you do for the prime minister? now that involved a screen and projection equipment, none of which was set up. i had never set it up in my life. i said, of course mister president, we can do that. i said it will take me a moment to set it up. he sat down on the front pew, and i went in the back and pulled the screen out and set it up and run up to the balcony to turn on the projection equipment. this may come as a surprise to you, but i noticed the president looking at his watch every now and then. and so, i eventually got it done. i was sweating, i was proud of myself for getting it set up so
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quickly, and i finally said, mr. president, we are ready to go with this. and he said, just a minute. and he looked at the prime minister and said, he's good at doing worship services but he's not good at handling technology. i was proud of myself. i thought i had done very, very well. and i'm not saying that the president's greatest virtue is not patience, but he is prompt, which reminds me i need to stop talking. and move on. but i do want to tell you, in all sincerity, that the four years that i spent a camp david was the absolute highlight of my entire 35 years of ministry. nothing else has ever come close to it. and i don't know if there will ever be anything that can top the fact that i had the privilege
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of serving our nation in the military and, especially, the privilege that i had for four years of serving the president bush, mrs. bush and their family, especially during a time of great turmoil and war, in the chapel at camp david. and for those experiences, mr. president, i thank you very much. [applause] and now do you know, you've already heard, but would you welcome and join me in welcoming our guests, stewart mclaurin, the president of the white house historical association, joshua boleten, who as chief of staff had to endure a lot of those worship services at camp david as well, we are admiral michael giorgione, a former commanding officer at camp david, and then holly kuzmich, who is the moderator tonight, and you know, is the executive director of the bush institute. so join me in welcoming them, would you, please. [applause]
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>> well, thank you all for being here. and our job tonight is to demystify a place that most people will never get to visit. and you'll obviously have some great background and stories to share with this crowd about camp david and to try and bring that to this audience. so let's start there. stuart, president bush mentioned the name shangri-la. that was its original name at camp david. tell us how it came to be, how the site was selected, where that name came from. what was its origin? >> well, president and mrs. bush, it's wonderful to be here in this extraordinary presidential every with all your guests on. the president of our wonderful little fishing camp on the shenandoah called the rapidan camp. and when fdr became president, he tried it,
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out he had asthma. and it was a damp climate out there, so he didn't like it. his doctor said, get a place that's a little higher elevation. so he asked the national park service to select three different sites as options. one was back in the shenandoah, it was 30,000 feet out toward the blue ridge. two others were in maryland, and one was the side that was eventually selected to be shangri-la. so he took a small motorcade up there, three on mike vehicles, and decided he liked it. it had been built in the 1930s, about ten works prior, by the works progress administration so it had some rudimentary government buildings on the site that were functional. and so he decided this would work. and so they decided that this would be shangri-la. the name shangri-la had been a very popular british novelist by the names of james feldman, who wrote a book in 1933, called lost horizon, and shangri-la was the himalayan paradise that was talked about in that book. and so, that name was adopted. and they moved in,
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and on july the 5th was the first day that they took, started shangri-la as a presidential retreat. and things went along really well for a couple of years until the secret service got nervous about the safety of shangri-la. that it might be vulnerable to attack on the enemy. and so roosevelt started looking for an alternative to this place, a place a little more secure, a little more safe from air attack. so that was a place, it was a little more tropical, a little more remote. and just think what would have been had president roosevelt followed through and moved from the presidential retweet from shangri-la to guantánamo, as he thought about. [laughter] >> so. mike, you wear the commanding officer at the end of president clinton's term and at the start of president bush's term. you got to run the
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place. tell us a little bit about what that entailed and tell us about the place itself -- watch there, was camp david like? >> thank you holly. president bush, mrs. bush, great to see you again, and thanks for this honor. 200 acres [inaudible] mountain bike as the president said. work with the national park service. it is a rustic retreat. simple, single story cabins. look like starting, cedar shake shingle roofs. just enough amenities, enough security, of course. very pleasant, simple place to go and where many presidents have found that respect they're looking for. >> and so look talk a little bit about your role and the staff of -- >> navy command, it was run by the navy, [inaudible] took the sailors from the yacht, and that stuart talked about and talking with and [inaudible] from their backs to guard. it is so that's a navy command that operates and maintains the principal facility for the
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president. but on the weekends, it takes on that whole aura of being a place where the family president and his family gets can go, whether for their own personal use or for a diplomatic purpose. >> and so, president use this partly as a recreational retreat to get away. they also use it to entertain and host world leaders. tell us a little bit about what goes into a world leader visit. >> a big pucker factor first, for getting ready for [inaudible] and a lot of work with the state department. but a fascinating time to stay on the sidelines and watch our president work with world leaders. and i talk about it in the book about, it's one thing that we all talk about building relationships before you need them. we stay on the sidelines and watch the president actually do that. as i saw president and mrs. bush do that with the blairs. that just weeks after the inauguration, they just invite a couple to camp david. and you see how important it is as humans of course to get to know someone at that level, it's very impressionable, and really affected me and many of them [inaudible] as well. and it's going to be a part of that. you're certainly not of that world, but you are in that world from. >> yeah. how many staff are there? >> about 200 sailors and marines who work full-time. >> so, josh, you were there in
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a variety of roles. you went first as director of g4 staff for president group. and then ond director and daniel chiefest which got you there. >> i never got invited when i was budget director. [laughter] >> nobody wants the budget director. [laughter] >> so when you urged chief of staff part of your role was really helping to host and entertain these foreign delegations when they would come. tell us about that role, what that entailed for you. >> well, first, thanks to president and mrs. bush for the privilege of being here and it's a special privilege to be with reverend stan fornea and his wife, belinda, who, just listening to his voice a few minutes ago, brought this same kind of comfort that i think reverend fornea brought to all of us on a regular basis with his sunday sermons. and it's not even my faith, and i always
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look forward to going to chapel to hear him speak. the -- yeah, it's not just about the president. and not just about the visiting prime minister. there's typically a whole delegation that comes with, and as important as the opportunity that camp david provided for building a warm personal relationship between the leaders, also important was the opportunity and provided for an opportunity for those serving just below the two leaders to get to know each other and establish the kind of relationship that becomes critical, especially in a crisis. so, i had especially when i was chief of staff i had
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the privilege of basically hosting my counterpart or counterparts and for a wide for iot of world leaders. and the relationships were established there in many cases turned out to be extremely important in the months and years that followed. >> so let's talk about the more, we have a photo of one of the more informal moments of hosting a delegation in the bowling alley. [laughter] tell us about this very posed photo. >> yeah. well, my score? [laughter] well, the person on the far right, i guess, as we are looking at it, is the president's military aide. but he, i mean, the two others were the top two advisers to crown prince mohammed bin zaid of the
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united arab emirates, whose relationship with president bush, i think, was very important to the united states relationship overall in the gulf region. and i so while president bush and the crown prince were off having a walk or something like that there wasn't much for this to do or they had maybe they'd already gotten to bed and so i said you know, who wants to ball? and to this day, the guy who is to my right is now the emirati ambassador to the united states and to the kind to my left now runs the abu dhabi sovereign wealth fund. but to this day, when i see them, they bring up the time we went bowling at camp david. [laughter] and i
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mean, it's, it creates a special bond, even with something as pedestrian as bowling. or maybe even precisely because of this. >> exactly. do you remember, wear these two teams? do you remember who won? >> i'm sure i won. [laughter] quite confident of that. i got to visit camp a lot, and i'm going to tell you my average was good but [inaudible] [laughter] >> so, stuart, one of the most consequential things that happened at camp david were the camp david accords. tell us about that, how that those meetings what that entailed. >> this was during the carter
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presidency and earlier that year president and mrs. carter had hosted the sadats or the begins without prime minister begin. [inaudible] bringing both sides together for a summit. very contentious time, multiple worlds fought over decades between egypt and israel. the time came to plan this summit and there were conversations between president carter and zbigniew brzezinski, the national security advisor, where should this be? they went to portugal. president carter wanted a combined confronted damage space away from the eyes of the press where they can be driven to talk to one they said to the side initially three days for the summit at camp david, with protecting four additional days should they meet. and they ended up spending 13 days there. ten of which, begin and sadat did not
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talk to one another mental. and there were some in similar scenarios to president pushes where they were going to walk, going to leave, and they had to be pulled back and stave. and finally, it resulted in the accord, which can be camp david baby most famous for is, the camp david court, and that famous picture on the south wall of the white house of the three leaders celebrating that achievement. but it was a very tedious time, but camp david provided perfect cramped, comfortable but uncomfortable setting to drive that to dialogue to successful completion. >> mike, president bush mentioned that tony blair was his first visitor there as a foreign leader and you've got to see that and experience and understand the role of camp david in a casual retreat in foreign diplomacy. say a little bit more about that, and what you saw in terms of why that setting, sort of, lent itself to those kinds of meetings. >> it certainly made sense to me. president bush, knowing from his father, what a time of
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camp david was for diplomacy. we end up and if this was the first time that we were meeting the blairs. instead of what has done a formality, going to camp david. so the military court is formally dressed as is appropriate, but the couples were dressed casually, and respectfully. and it's set so much to us about, you know, you have to set the tone. and he did the same with prime minister koizumi that july. open collar, get to know each other, great allies, let's talk about history, let's talk about our relationship. but watching, again, the two couples spent a lighthearted weekend together, watch that movie talked about, at a press conference off camp, a brief one, and a much more calm time in our world, which is so impressionable to us, and really resonates with why the presidency [inaudible] a place like camp david. >> mentioned when gordon brown visited. and i know we had a photo. the contrasts in the photo between gordon brown and tony blair. >> it's a bit more formal. and you can see that the president is wearing it well, and he's, i'm sure, striking up a relationship as a great leaders to, they figure out a way to connect differently with leaders and their own
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personalities. >> so he showed up in a suit and tie. >> some were very formal. that happened with president hollande of france during the g8 summit, under president obama, very formal, and the president made a joke about it the kind of like that one. and so some people don't understand the purpose of camp david and i think once they let that guard down, it provides the right setting, the corner to talk. >> did you all know he was going to show up in a suit and tie the? >> did not do that. >> so what did you do? >> they addressed a properly overtime you, just reactive. >> [inaudible] staffing, that, and there was a scramble to find that times when we gone [inaudible] [laughter] the military, they always look good. [laughter] not the staff. >> so, josh, you have an interesting experience when you were there, and i want you to tell this story about a world leader meeting that only partially took place at camp david, because of where you flew president bush to, to have
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the other side of the meeting. talk about that. >> one of the most complicated and delicate things that i did as chief of staff and my predecessor, andy card, did was figure out how to get the president out of the united states and over to iraq without anyone knowing it. at any given moment, there are literally hundreds of people who know where the president is, protecting him, watching every movement and so on, and president bush several times during his presidency made the courageous decision to go to basically into a combat zone and either visit the troops or in the case of the one that i organized in 2006, to meet the new prime minister of iraq.
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president bush thought that once the prime minister had finally pulled together a cabinet that represented all of the various factions and ethnicities in iraq, it was important for the president personally to show up and to, and, you know, meet face to face on their, you know, in their offices, on their territory, and making that happen logistically was really, really hard to do. and there have been a variety of ruses used. for the trip to iraq and then afghanistan in 2006. and by the way, you can't let anybody know that the president is coming because then the bad guys will be there with rpgs or whatever to knock down air force one as it's landing. so
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the, when we started the planning for it, for this trip, i believe i came up with the idea, and now it could have been, could have been deputy chief of staff joe hagan who served almost the entire eight years in that role in the bush white house. i'm pretty sure it was me, but [inaudible] [laughter] >> you are the only one here so [inaudible]. >> you may want to credit joe. but the idea that we came up was this was, okay, let's get the president out of washington from camp david. because as these gentlemen know, camp david is one of the only places the president can go where there are no press watching, nobody, you know, there's a perimeter there, and so it's a relatively secure place from which to disappear. the
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presidents ranch being really one of the only other places where you can spirit the president out without a lot of people knowing it. so we started with that frame, which was, let's get him to camp. and then we thought, you know, how do we get the whole iraqi cabinet assembled to meet him? and so the brilliant idea was that we would organize a cabinet to cabinet meeting so that the iraqi cabinet would be in baghdad with prime minister maleki and the relevant counterparts for the u.s. cabinet would assemble at camp david and they would -- >> with president bush --
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>> with president bush, and we would have a joint cabinet meeting by video conference. and so that's what we advertised to the iraqis, what we advertised to the entire world was that president bush and his cabinet would be at camp david and all of the iraqis would be in baghdad, and they would have a meeting by video conference. we invited the cabinet members, and i think there were about six or eight of them who were relevant to come up to camp david and the chairman of the joint chiefs, a couple of other people, and we all -- there was a big dinner. and in the in laurel, the big convening, the convening place that has a dining room, there was a big dinner for all of the cabinet members there with the president and vice president cheney. and our plan was that president bush and his national
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security adviser, steve hadley, and i, would slip out before dessert and we would leave dick cheney to make small talk -- [laughter] -- with the cabinet. by the way, this is where the plan almost failed. [laughter] because we needed to keep everyone there at dinner while the rest of us scooted out on golf carts and went to the helipad and got onto a helicopter that had no lights and took off from camp david. but as i was leaving i vaguely remember the vice president saying, hey, anybody read any good books? [laughter] so i was really worried that somebody was going to spot a center
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last. because we have not told a cabinet about it. you know we couldn't tell anybody, because word spreads pretty fast. anyway, we move through from camp david by dark and helicopter to andrews air force base, where we, the dark helicopter drove into a hanger in which air force one was being kept, which wasn't outside where anybody could see it. it was inside a hangar. we boarded the plane and then air force one took off from andrews. it was late at night, without any lights. we flew that [inaudible] i don't remember how many hours it was,
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mister president, to back that. and we landed there just before we and just as we were landing the iraqi prime minister was informed that yes, there is going to be a video conference, but president bush is going to be here in baghdad. and so this photo here is a photo of the president and i'm the guy i -- always got the end seat, i don't know why -- i'm the guy at the end there. and what you see up on the screen is all of the members of the u.s. cabinet being video conferenced in from camp david. and it was a hugely successful meeting and a way in which the protected and the confidential nature of camp david contributed to a very successful operation that could not have been done but for the kind of place at camp david is. >> yeah, yeah. stuart, we talked about the camp david accords. talk about some of the other consequential historical events that happened, meetings that happened at camp david throughout history. >> well, winston churchill was the first international visitor, with fdr, that went to camp
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david and of course i think it was mrs. roosevelt wanting to get him out of the white house, to get them away from there, was part of that in sets of. but they enjoyed sitting there and talking. they talked about the invasion of sicily, they talked about the invasion of normandy, pretty consequential conversations. eisenhower had khrushchev to camp david. and interesting about that was eisenhower was the first american president to make use of helicopters for presidential travel. so he spontaneously, the soviets did not want khrushchev on the helicopter. so i asked him directly in person, can i give you a tour around washington? and he said, well, if the american president's going to get on, i can get on. they didn't tour around washington and then later they went on to camp david and enjoy a great time up there. interestingly, khrushchev liked that americans made sikorsky helicopter so much, and he talked eisenhower into letting him by two, that
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he took back with him to the soviet union. [laughter] then a great story, another soviet story, was with nixon. >> right. >> so he has oppression of up to camp david and interestingly, even though he had been there, brezhnev claimed in his memoir that he didn't know much about the this campaign replace, the embassy didn't know much about this campaign. lacey was suspicious but where did he wait. nixon, the party guy richard nixon, he had a typical navy blue blazer for brezhnev when he got there with a presidential trail, and he also had the keys to this brand new navy blue lincoln continental car. brezhnev liked cars. and so brezhnev relished this. and so he told nixon, get into the passenger seat. brezhnev got behind the wheel, i'm sure the surface was having a great time with this. and dixon was used to driving these narrow, curvy roads in camp david in a golf
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cart. so nixon is over here in the passenger side, brezhnev is behind the wheel, they go down these curves, down the hill, around the curve. brezhnev it's 50 miles an hour in the lincoln continental. and you can see richard nixon, as the story goes, sitting over there in very examining, oh, slow down, slow down, slow down! [laughter] and brezhnev slams on the brakes, around the curve, the come to a white-knuckle stop with richard nixon, and he says, very fine automobile. [inaudible] really well. so he liked that. and so i think the custom of, or the short lived tradition off american presidents giving automobiles ended with that at camp david. but that's a wonderful story of president brezhnev and the lincoln continental. >> josh, tell us about your first visit there. president bush didn't just use this for diplomatic visits. he used [inaudible] staff for more recreational, just kind of getting away from the white house. >> i was a regular visitor during the last three years off the administration, when i was chief of staff, as my
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predecessor andy carr and his wife were in the proceeding five years. but it was it -- wasn't common for people other than the chief of staff and the national security advisor and so on, but president and mrs. bush took the trouble to work their way through most of the senior staff of the west wing and give them an opportunity to bring, to come to camp david with their spouse. because the ethos that they always spead was that service in government and in the administration is a family affair and everybody is serving. and so, that was, it was a really important not just a perk, but a way of building the community that reverend fornea was talking about earlier, building that kind of community around the white
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house and the rest of the administration. there were two assistants to the president at the time i, think, who were unmarried. that was me and ari fleischer. and so, we didn't make the list very early. but then finally we both got invited on the same weekend but, you know, no spouse. and so we concluded that this must be jewish singles weekend. [laughter] at camp. and so, i, i was disappointed to find that in fact it was just me and ari. [laughter] i imagine ari was disappointed too. [laughter] but it was a really important way to establish a more of a
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personal relationship. and, i mean, we didn't need camp to feel that way, but i think it contributed a lot to the family atmosphere that pervaded the white house staff through the entirety of president bush's term. >> so mike, you lived there with your wife and two daughters, and that had to be a really fascinating experience to raise children at camp david. what was that experience like, to be there with your family? >> so what our guests may not understand is we are the only family that lives inside the camp. so think about us every day families and transplant yourself to you and your children living inside a cabin at a camp called cedar. it's a really cool, quite an extraordinary place, -- house with a really great yard, so to
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say. and your neighbors happen to be the president and [inaudible] marvin, sometimes, and all the others. but you're still a family. and two young daughters [inaudible] lonely night, so it's a different dynamic. lots of highs, if you know, some great memories, as you can see by photos such as this during the rededication of the reach apple. >> you are not allowed to have pets there. >> no pets role at the time. >> you broke this. >> yes, my wife broke the rules as she often did at camp david. but for good reason. so, and i'm sure the president would find is so comical that we have these roles, but again, we are in military organizations to protect and defend the camp and the president and his guests. but there was currently a no pets rule, which we honored. and the one day we shall not the girls were coming back from their fremont fair, and they had won some goldfish in the fair. so they are sitting in the back seat of our car with their little baggies of goldfish, coming through the gate, in our very duty bound marines saluted, [inaudible] ma'am, and all that, ma'am, you can't bring pets into the -- michelle was a bit flabbergasted by this. she says, do you need to call someone? no ma'am, you can't bring pets in.
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and the girls are catching on, and their tears are starting to roll down the eyes. michelle's looking at them and she goes, well, they're for dinner. [laughter] [applause] [laughter] i think the marine century thought, yes ma'am, carry on. [laughter] and then they caved. >> and you have another great story about when the palestinians were there, about being observant about dress. >> yes. >> and talking to your wife and daughters. >> and we were always there to honor the president and his guests and always be respectful of cultural differences we have. and rose bud was a common occurrence from cedar, and there were four palestinian guests and this was during the peace summit of 2000 with president clinton. and we briefed the girls about how to dress. it was the summer months, it was july of 2000, so hot and very sticky. don't expose body parts and don't wear your
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bikini top and all that type of thing. and so we were very mystic respectful. michel kept the blinds shut to cedar. and one morning she went out to water her geraniums and across the way was rose bed, with a bunch of male palestinians in their bathrobe. but in their bathrobes. and that was it. out front! open tomorrow, as we say! and she thought, well this is kind of strange. but she runs back in and said, girls, let's go and play in the backyard! but it's just that kind of the you learn how to react to things like that and keep it very low-key. [laughter] common, because that happens that your data everywhere you'll ever, right it's? a common thing! >> exactly. stuart, the president is not the only one who leaves a mark on camp david. first ladies and the families in general leave their mark. tell us about that and the marks that leave. >> well a lot like at the white house where the first lady and first family will leave their mark for, as a legacy in an important way to remember that
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the white house, we had wonderful projects with mrs. bush and the lincoln bedroom, the green room, the library. at camp david, the same is often true. the first lady will make some changes, mamie eisenhower came into this fdr truman if fbi government issue. that wasn't true. so the camp quickly became colored in mamie eisenhower pink. brought a decorator from california and transformed the place. that's actually where the cabinets got the names, after the trees. and aspen was given to the presidents cabinet by president thousand higher want to get three from mrs. eisenhower's native colorado. so that's how it became the aspen lodge. mrs. nixon, like in the white house, who was really unheralded in her extraordinary work and legacy there, with transforming some of the french influence to a great american influence, did
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quite a bit at camp david as well, and they grew the facilities, they enlarged the swimming pool, heated the pooll, just as other amenities had been added too. eisenhower did the three whole robert church on the golf course there, saw a lot of recreational things. mrs. nixon did quite a bit. mrs. bush -- i love some of the things that she did in bringing for the first time the directives of the presidential libraries to camp david. all of their bosses, had spent time at this important place, but none of them had seen it. so a day there, having lunch, and understanding the place was a very important. and she also, another wonderful touch that i love, is she had pictures collected off all of the world leaders that her husband had met with as well as leaders going back to fdr, and put those in places all around camp david. and then a really nice, special like it's the piece, which you can take advantage here in your story today, she
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had an artist from the national arboretum go with her around camp david and select certain plants, shrubs, flowers, and memorialize those in these extraordinary drawings. and the originals are still at camp david, and there are reproductions here available, so you can take home a little peace of camp david with you here tonight. and thanks to mrs. bush. >> right. we heard -- mike, we heard about the bush family and how they spent the holidays at camp david. so between the two presidencies, there were 12 bush family christmasses at camp david. what was it like to be there and serve during the holidays? >> it's, again, you see a typical american family come together as a family. and it's
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just wonderful to watch. and know that you have a role in providing that, that calm, that serenity, that peaceful meal, the right decorations, and just provide the atmosphere and your goal is to serve the president and his guests so when they leave on that sunday or whenever that's over they're happy, they're restored. and to watch the bushes during christmas's for 12 years is just a phenomenal thing to witness. >> yeah. all right, well we are close to being out of time and as you although you get to see a special sneak preview of our exhibit across the way, and not only does it cover camp david but it covers prairie temple pray chapel ranch, it covers walker's point at the lbj ranch. so you are among the first to get to see it. please make sure you take time to walk across the courtyard and visit that tonight. as stewart mentioned too, our bookstore is open tonight. and we have mike,
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it's a camp david foresail, as well as the historical association worked for the white house. [laughter] so please make sure to visit. >> it must have, must-have. >> we've got some great things in the exhibit and we've got the original camp david sign and we've got correspondents been between fdr and churchill
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