tv After Words Sen. Patrick Leahy D-VT The Road Taken CSPAN October 1, 2022 1:00pm-2:01pm EDT
senator patrick leahy, you're doing something that is hard for a lot of senators to do. and that is to retire voluntarily. what made you decide to do that? well, i never thought i was going to be here this long. you know, i'm the only democrat elected vermont history, the youngest one time. and everybody said i'd be a one term senator. i thought that was quite possible, but then it got a little bit easier getting reelected. i did not expect to be here this long. and my wife, marcelle and i talked about it right after the
last election. and we pretty firmly said there'd be a last one. i knew from the polls that every day out i could easily be reelected this year. but i. me too. we wanted to go home. i want to have more time. my kids are grandkids. we both like school, but i would have more time for that. but also, i. it's time for somebody else to come in there. and i wanted to be able to do things, but i. university of vermont and other places to help people. oh, what's happened? the last half century, you know, you're you are not, in fact, the you're the president pro-tem of the senate, but you are not the oldest senator. there are four others who are older than you, senator feinstein is 89. she was just elected to another term. senator grassley is 88. he's in the middle of a reelection campaign. why is it so hard for so many
senators to do what you have decided to do? well, each one has to answer their own reasons. of course, i served there with 400, approximately 400 of the 1900 senators who've been here in the history of the country. some were there only for a week or two, filling in another term. others planned to stay a long time with the electorate side. otherwise, vermont's a very special state. i mean, i can go home. people call him my first name. i, i am recognized. people are known by my life and i think i've done all i can for vermont and two tumultuous times in the senate. and i just i wanted to go and i said i wanted to leave when i was at the top of my career. and i wanted to be remembered for that. and, you know, my wife and i
want to have more time for ourselves. we've been married six years. i want to enjoy the last year. just one last question on this. the average age of the senate at the start of this session was 64.3 years old, which is an age where in most professions you are hanging it up. is it a is it is it a good thing that the average age of the senate is there? well, when i first came there, i was the second youngest. i was 34. the youngest was joe biden. and they called joe and myself, the kids and i remember one very senior senator saying to me, boy, how are you? and i said, well, 34. anybody ever tell you too young to be in the united states senate? i come by, temper up a little bit. i say, yeah, my opponent, for one, he loved it because i didn't back down.
and we got along well after that. but. yeah, i look a number of people i thought were those old people. i mean, they were in their fifties and i since learn each senator is different, they bring different things to the senate. what disturbs me, though, the senate was, although imperfect, we could be concerned the conscience of the nation, obviously, that congress was violated there. segregation, all that. but senators of both parties would try to work out what's best for the nation was not best for that evening's headlines or in today's what's next on social media and i've seen that fall
apart and that's why i said if i was leaving, i was going to write a book about what i hope was a good and the bad of the senate. so would you, senator, was it who told you that? did anyone ever tell you you were too young to be a u.s. senator? i don't think i. i don't identify. and there was jimmy. oh. was the dean of the senate. president pro temporary? i thought, my god, i'll never be around here long enough to be the dean of this in president pro tempore. so sorry about that. gerald. here's what you write in the in the epilog of your book. you say the senate is a broken place or institutions are not. what mike mansfield and hugh scott and jerry ford and hubert humphrey and ted kennedy and john stennis and barry goldwater knew them to be.
some of that change is good. a lot of it is tragic. and all of it is simply is what it is. you can point fingers or you can point the way forward to something better. some of that change is good. what is the change that you've seen in the senate that you think is good? well, i think there's more transparent. see, in the senate, which i think is good. i i remember the debate over heavy television in a in the senate and televising hearings and all that. or today, of course, with the ability to do that, it's much easier to get this out and play for some who are opposed to bring about some grandstanding. and it did. but there's great in saying before now some of the people who do the grandstanding it's obvious to the public and
hopefully it gets a debate quite you know i was a. in law school a georgetown law i was at that time had the o school right down just two or three blocks from the capital. i used to walk up the hill. i walked through it and you'd have to look around and try to find a police officer to as directions you just walk in and sit there. i was passing by the real debates that were going on there, far less of a real debate. and that that has hurt the senate. that's hurt the country. it and i never thought i'd be there. i didn't realize it ten years or so later, i was going to be in the senate. you see a lot of the change is tragic. what would you say is tragic about the changes in the the
influence of special interest money and i can say it to the right of the left, single issue groups. the money they pour in there, it and people there. well, i got to follow this mandate or that mandate. it's a six year term. if you can't follow your conscience, go find another job. do something else. and if you feel you've got to respond to whatever single issue or special interest group is backing you, you shouldn't be in. you're not helping the country. and i give the example, when richard nixon resigned, it was after a meeting of some of the most conservative republican, barry goldwater. hugh scott, the republican leader, going down, not with a joy in the heart, but a sense of duty and telling richard nixon
he had to leave. i remember talking with both senator scott and senator goldwater about that. they said they were just heavy hearted. we they knew they meant their party was losing its president. and but it was the only thing that could be done. it should be done. and back when they were asked by the press came out and said, well, we had we had a conversation with the president listening to them. and quiet cloakroom discussions. i realize hy heavily weighed on them, but they both told me there's nothing else we could do if if we shoulder our duty as first of all, senators, republicans necks. but first, as senators, we had to go down and tell richard
nixon that contrast that, if you would, with the experience that we've seen most recently with president trump and his two impeachment trials, one of which you you presided over. how would you compare and contrast that with the nixon experience? oh, it's night and day. i know a number. senators have told me. yes, he's guilty, but he's not going to be convicted. so i'm not going to vote for his conviction because i'm up the next year or the next time or whatever. i shouldn't be the case. those who were before the january six insurrection are strongly supportive. they just try to do a quiet support. and so as not to get his anger. but they're willing to not do what they thought was right. and the. i quote and our parliamentarian
who said you you all your vigilance and your duty to help your constituents but your conscience is your home and you don't all that anybody else. i've always found it holds your conscience. you might catch a lot of grief from one side or the other, but do it. one of the things that some people have, some senators have talked about these days is ending the filibuster. do you think that would make sense? well, when i first came there, i worked with then senator fritz mondale and we dramatically lowered the number of people who could. filibuster. and at that time, we had major issues. people actually came on the floor and debated them and and said, just say i have jack,
goodbye. i got a tv interview to do nothing against tv interviews, but. everybody had one or two a year. now, i don't know how many we've had already. this year has been dozens and dozens. we were voting every week to overcome mostly the nomination of a judge. that's that makes no sense. and whichever party benefits by it, i think that has to end. and i'd don't mind having long debates on things provided they're debating. i the caucus they had somebody put an objection for me. baloney. beyond beyond the floor. talk about why your charity and stand up for it. and i think people had to do that whether it was change the
rules or not, they'd be a lot less filibusters. so a standing filibuster where you have to actually be on the scene and talking. yes. and even then, i think i would set a limitation on time. yeah. so really. tell me about your parents. oh, they're wonderful people. my mother was a first generation italian american. my grandparents had emigre from northern italy. my grandfather, stone carver. she was born in a small town in vermont, first language, italian. my father were obviously irish for the name and born in very vermont were. my grandfather. i never knew was also stone carver died of silicosis along so i'm named after and they they had been there in the 1800s also irish immigrants and they both
had brought great sense of history a sense of what the country should be, a loyalty to the country, a respect for the country, even though growing up they were very, very much in the minority as has democrats, as catholics, irish, italians. but they saw the evolution and they insisted that we children, my brother and sister. study history and do our best. i became the first lady to get a college degree. my sister is a second and how proud my parents were of that. but they we would sit around, we read the sunday papers, but i had my first library card rights, four years old.
but as all of the encouragement by parents who were avid readers, avid readers and my father, who had to leave school in his early teens as or his mother after my grandfather died, he was such a student of history that our kids, when they were in college, you had a history of that. let's call grandpa leahy and double check answers. and he had a his company called the leahy press. that was the leahy press. it was a printing business. my parents had first a weekly newspaper in waterbury, which they sold. and inside this printing business in montpelier, right on stage in the back of our house, and we're a block away from the state capital, which we could see from our front steps and they but they built that up and
the. leahy still exists is not in our family. they sold it. my father had been a printer and another printing business and he was the best printer. they wanted to he wanted to be promoted. and they said, well, we can't. you're irish and catholic. so he started his own business. five years later, the other business folded and his was still going. at the time he retired. as ellis, you could see the state capital from your from your home. and in fact, in your book, you tell a story which is very hard to believe. tell me if this is actually true, that at six years old, you pedaled your tricycle into the governor's office. what happened? well, one of my buddies and i ever used to go out there and we serve the cannons out for a walk around because our open half of
every was empty part. we had a part time governor and the legislature was to hear so we'd walk around there. so one day we got the idea dragged up to the second floor. our tricycles and said, let's race. we are running down. there's an open door at the end of the long hallway was the governor's office. we didn't know that. we came rushing to win up against this guy. i remember i felt the desk was 20 feet high at that age and i could see i said, oh, are you the governor? he says, yes, get out. they did give us some candy on the way out. well, we went home and so proud to tell parents about it. they did not say humor situation. and i was told that no more tricycle riding in the capital.
i could go in the capital with our parents, but show some decorum. you you thought about i still get teased by the current governor every time i come in the. is offices is different desk patrick different desk. you you thought about running for governor of vermont in 1972 but instead you waited and ran for the senate in 1974. why the senate, rather than running for governor, the new governor would be temporary. i always talked on our first date. i told myself and we were teenagers that said, what are you going to do when you're older? i want to be governors. you know, i oh, that's nice. but i. we had very young children. it would have been very difficult with that young family to run for governor and i didn't.
but i kept thinking about it and i said, why don't i go to what i really want? run for the senate and i did it sort of like, okay, kid, you can have the nomination is not worth it. they were the only state in the union. they never liked being by under 50 and never liked a democrat. i was 34 and but we can't pay heavily. i have kept only to headlines from that time. one was five in a very influential paper five days before the elections. big, bold type poll doomed late. so i'm comfortable we can then five days later lay unexpected wins. and i thought, okay, not as important as truman and dewey, but that's why that's my small
town equivalent of that headline. do you have that paper? well, i do, yeah. that's the only thing. and a newspaper about me that i actually framed and put my office in that first senate race. there was a third party candidate, a liberty union party candidate whose name was bernie sanders. i remember who what was bernie sanders like then? well, we got along well, i he was the speeches you hear today were speeches you heard then and and it showed his passion and his commitment in these areas. i asked him why he was running because it obviously be taken votes for me, said, well, everybody knows you can't win anyway. i can use this to get known. i've always had third and fourth party opponents in my races, my
second race, having won nearly cost me the election since they it's been one or 2% of the vote. you know, 1980 you had a close call, you won by 2700 votes. and in your book you write, i was angry that the race had gotten this tight and mad at myself for forgetting how i'd been elected in the first place. how did you been elected in the first place? what was it that you had forgotten? me myself? you know, i've been approached here for for a number of years, tried a lot of cases, murder cases. that area outside, argued more cases in the vermont supreme court than any law firm in in the state at that time. and so i was doing for that bill, doing for being myself in the first real action. democratic party.
and i get understand why i got a recount every year. democrat from vermont we got to train this guy what to say and on be senatorial be above the fray. and as marcel and i went around the state, we could see. but one example is. factory where i would shop at least once a year and as they're coming through. workers go to just to say hi. and this talent has their and it always supported me as if now i need your vote will be voting and it was a cold day so i felt the temperature dropped 30 degrees and he said, well, you're you're certainly ahead. i said, no, i'm not. i took another poll and i wasn't i was well behind my opponent. we're going to have a major
debate at that time being watched by throughout the state and by ourselves. stop being above the fray. stop using the talking points. just be yourself. say what you think you know you are a trial lawyer. you've done you've run campaigns. what i did and made a big difference and people reacted just two or three weeks before the election, you felt the tide turn. but we campaign literally until the polls closed. you were a member of the watergate babies class elected in 1974, just after president nixon had resigned in disgrace in that election, democrats picked up 49 seats in the house and five in the senate. you are the last one in office from that group. what is the legacy of the watergate babies class? well, i think we brought in the
fact that we've got to have more open debate. we started. we sort of stopped the idea that you got to be there two or three years to quiet the back row, but actually get involved them. in my case, the vietnam war is still going on. it was a it was actually popular in vermont. the majority our newspapers supported it. no vermont member of the house or senate actually voted to end the war. it criticized it, but they were always vote for it for continuing money for it. i was temporarily on the armed services committee. we're going to have a vote to reauthorize the war. we had five votes each, one lost by one vote. i was the newest member and i. i could feel the pressure each
time i voted no. i was told by the editor of one of our newspapers he would make sure i was a one term senator because of that, and i was getting calls from the president for henry kissinger, jim saucier, and all those. i said, oh, this is the way i'm going to vote. and we finally. i remember john sanders, the chair of the committee, after the fifth vote, he realized he couldn't pass, turned to his staff members. it i think we very get the president on the phone. you want to know that now we would have war would have ended disastrously as it was. you remember the pictures of the helicopter as taking off from our embassy and saigon? i visited that embassy, said and
i knew i could tell from some of these newspapers back home. but what marcel and i found, we had people come up to us quietly. the grocery store. i come out of church. angelo thank you. thank you. in 48 years in office, what's been the hardest single vote to cast? well, that one was difficult. not i mean, i thought it was the right vote, but i knew that politically i'd catch heck for it. i've had some votes where, for example, i was proud to vote for john roberts as chief justice because i did not want even a different philosophically. i did not want it. the chief justice of the united states to be confirmed party line vote and it was a difficult
for because i probably were if we a democratic president at the time would have recommended somebody else for chief justice. but i felt that and still do these on this man and qualified that were different philosophically and i voted for that so there is a blowback on that. but i felt in every one of these days, i would say to myself, what is my conscience? say? sometimes i knew i would against majority views, but i also knew that i was right. and a lot of them people told me after, for example, the iraq war, i was one of the few that voted against it. and after it a lot of people said, boy, i wish we had, but i actually knew the intelligence and studied it and knew there
are no weapons of mass destruction and knew this was just a a rush to judgment. 48 years, you've done many things. you're proud of. but if you're one of your grandkids came to you and said, what is this? what are you proudest of that you have achieved during your time in the senate? what would you tell them that helped a lot of people that wouldn't have been have otherwise? as i, i expanded the school lunch and school breakfast program help farmers who wanted to organic farming and then helped war victims around the world who who had lost their limbs sometimes from our weapons and started a war that was fun used all over the world, helping people and you know there that i
keep over my desk what i call a conscience picture, which is a conscience picture which we we actually i noticed in the book that you reproduce in your book, tell us about this picture. i, i do a lot of photography and i was in a. in a refugee camp in central america during one of the wars there. and i had asked people to address that if i could take the pictures and they did. and this man just looked at me. i took his picture when i developed the film, i, i look at it. he's saying to me, i can never do anything to help you. i'll never be able to. what do you do to help people like me? and that's been hanging over my desk ever since i caught a conscience picture. and that that when i told my grandchildren, follow your
conscience, follow your conscience. there's a second photo i'd like to talk about. it's also one that you took, one that you took in tibet. tell us about that photo. well, the. i wanted to go to tibet and for. two or three years to go with the chinese to bring a congressional delegation, a bipartisan congressional delegation there that time to such a crackdown by the chinese on the tibetans. if somebody was seen with a picture or the of the dalai lama, they could be arrested and are walking through. i don't get hurt. but something like that. this man is holding a child. i was walking with senator staffers about my height, over six feet tall and a staff person
and were blocking the view of the wall much smaller secret police, chinese secret police, fire. and he held up the picture diorama and put it in my camera. i assumed he that don't take my pictures in one to take over. they kept going. this film, i had no idea it came out. one of the there was a person with us went back, spoke the language and said, why did you risk prison? this man said, because they have to know. a week or two after we got back, i'd had the pictures all printed up. the dalai lama was in town and i knew him. he came over and sat and looked at pictures from there, from the potala, where he had his plaid and all with with my son, i we just sat around a coffee table here, and i handed in that
picture, telling the story. he just looked at a tear, came down on his face. and i thought, you know. this is not history that i'm making, but it's reflecting the history of the suppression of a religion. and i couldn't help but think, yeah, my family, everybody should be allowed to practice religion. any religion they want. it's like their commitment to first amendment, say anything, be able to speak mind on anything, practice any religion you want or not. if you want. that gives you freedom. and i couldn't help but think of my parents watching his holiness react to that picture. we talked your toughest votes. the thing you're proudest of?
is there was the benefit of some hindsight. is there something you rue about your work in the senate, something you regret, a mistake, misstep or a mistake or a vote you wish you could change? well, i've cast over 17,000 votes. most of anybody there? i'm sure i could go back to and find some say in hindsight, what was i think and you know, i've acknowledged that and saw my. i sometimes felt i had impressed hard enough to protect people's freedoms and things. but the issue comes up again and you can. but then i'm proud of things like right after 911, attorney general ashcroft and the bush administration wanted to immediately change a lot of our laws, which would have limited
speech and people's rights in this country. and i said, oh, we're going to take a closer look at this. and i was pleased that a number of republicans joined me quietly, but joined me. now, you had a you're known as being blunt, spoken. so is -- cheney. there was a you know, there was a time that he was on the hill when he was vice president talking to republicans. you went over and asked him to come over and talk to the democrats. he was, i think, angry that you had been criticizing halliburton, the company i had briefly left. yes. and he told you a phrase we can't repeat on c-span, vulgar phrase about what you should do with yourself. tell us about that. were you surprised when i was? you know, i don't in my dorm room before he was vice president and i were i was surprised at that.
and it i never said a word about. it was the republicans were saying they were so shocked that they didn't agree with him during that. and a lot of them were like to see them do as other vice presidents have in both parties. you know, go back and forth to the floor and they told the press about it. so. they. i was up for reelection that year. somebody came up with the idea to have t-shirts to annoy cheney, vote leahy and doonesbury. garry trudeau had six, six days of cartoons about it, and we got his permission to have one of the panels on the shirt there. so now immediately we had to redo over and over again. they still show up around the
country, but then i remember -- cheney had been down in texas at a hunting trip and accidentally shot a friend of his in the face. i was in in texas. about two weeks later with her son, was a pilot and was down there. we'd gone for a run out on the desert. i tripped, fell my glasses, scraped the heck out of my face. two days later, in a joint meeting of the house and senate. so vice president comes in. i was march over with. he says, pat, what happened to you? i said, well, --, over the weekend i was in texas. he said, i wasn't there. i wasn't there. and you know, it it was a way to say, okay, let's be ourselves again. you you were president pro tem of the senate from 2012 to 2015
and again since 2021. what is that? well, it's a usually goes to senior. most member of the majority party. in my case, as was senior most member of either party. but when the democrats were there, i became i would and in a way tired. i president pretend the next day and make sure third in line to the president say and i told president biden as well i thought about that being third in line. i said, well, i always prayed for your safety before i pray twice as hard. now. but those of us who were here at the time, i was lost. austin when president kennedy was we saw you had a vice president, but it was not quite sure what they wanted.
succession was at the sudan. we had the vice president there's the speaker and myself, and they're all going to members of the cabinet. just they thought if you had to use that. i mean, i pray nobody should have to because it mean we've had some enormous attack on the united states, some tragic thing. if the president, vice president, speaker of either was wiped. so what is there and i. but but but it also has a presidential term. i can take the chair anytime i want unless the vice president wants it and she normally does it unless. it's for a tie vote and i enjoy presiding over the senate and
but i enjoy the fact that having come to the senate as a junior most member of the senate and with a we've talked about before, boy, how old are you to be the senior most member of the senate? i've always wondered when you become president pro tem since unlikely that you would succeed to the presidency he but not impossible. do you get any like special training or are there any special perks because you're in that line of succession? well, i. i say that covers it. i have a if there was to be some had to be is a code i use when called and i'm asked the question are you prepared to take the oath that i think about very seriously and i have around the clock protection. but other than that, no, no
particular preparation other than the fact that i have access to just about every classified material. but then i would is chair of appropriation as does the majority and minority leader. but not not to get involved in things that should be kept secret. but there's a code where someone would call you and let you know that your time was there. that must have been pretty sobering when they told you about that. well, when i yeah. and i carry. well well i carry something so i can respond. mm hmm. wow. let's talk about january six and the assault on the capitol. where were you? i was on the senate floor. you know, we were going back and forth, which has been routine to me, after all the time i've been there. you know, or the house and. they've carried the votes and
certain motions made there. the certain motions back in the senate or vice versa on what the motions were. and the vice president presides. i remember al gore even he thought he had won, declaring george bush as president and how difficult that that must be. but this was so different. you had some posturing, the cameras that they can contest ahead and and we were in the senate chamber. all of us were there. and suddenly secret service officers came rushing into the into the chamber. now, i have armed security with me, but they stop at the door when i get there. they're right outside the door,
but they don't go in the secret service doesn't go in. they came in. they rushed mike pence out of the chair the republican president pro-tem at that time swore to me that for no other few days he got to get the chair and then have another police officer comes in, takes the microphone, said, we got to get out of here. and i looked beside me and here's a police officer carrying a machine gun. and i said, what's going on? they said, we got to evacuate you. and we evacuated down back steps. i was born blind in one eye, so i have a deaf perception problem. i to this day remember full barrel gear, a police officer cohort to be taken. my hair said, don't worry, shamrock, i'll walk with you. shamrock was the code name they
gave me as president pro-tem, and he had been on the detail once knew of my depth perception. we walked to a secure room. who all what's going on? we finally got to tv. tv sets turned on. we could watch it live. as you recall and somebody said and we didn't know what was the condition of the chamber? well, there were bombs or anything out or out and somebody said, well, we can vote to meet. as i said, here, i stood up, i said, no. i said, i'm the dean of the senate. i want to be hidden away for the american public. if we are to wait to midnight for them to clear the chamber, we should go back and let the american public see us all and what we're doing. i got applause. both republicans and democrat, especially some of the newer
members. so. that's right. we'll just wait here. and we did. and we marched back in and you could smell the tear gas of flora's slippery outside from. from the fire extinguisher. sure. i have an office right outside the floor. actually, is next to where the speaker's office is on the front of the capitol. and i knew the door was unlocked, but i thought it was going to be back there in a minute, had some trepidation in going there, because i'd seen the people smashing her office. i mean, i said 20 feet from my i door was open. i, i haven't had pictures of my family. a personal things. nothing had been touched. it went right by my office and went to the speaker's.
amazing. you write about when you were in the secure location waiting to go back. what time did the senate get back into the chamber? i have to go back and check, but by early afternoon. so here's what you write while you're in the secure location and we're watching this terrible scene unfold in the capitol. you see ted cruz and josh hawley, two other senators were deep in nervous conversation with each other. i wondered whether it was sinking in that their orchestrated stunt played role in all too real consequences. they looked like the dogs who had caught the car. these two ivy league educated elites who had tried to reinvent themselves as trump era populist defenders against the stolen election. have you seen the tactics and behavior of senator cruz and senator hawley change since january six? that that really briefly but not really.
i remember senator cruz staying in a posture in the house. so i can test this or whatever the words were he used having an appropriate number of house members who had to support him. we knew senator hawley had pictures of giving a salute to the demonstrators and then shortly thereafter, as the demonstration was running up, the steps to the security of the police. that is not the way i want a senator to be and i don't care. was democrat or republican and interesting enough that calls me when i talked. we got to go back on the floor and let the american people see
where we stand. we had a couple of senators who are going and originally planned to file objection to the electoral college set. we're not we're not we're not going to do that. i i think they realized this has so out of hand. nobody, you know, when we were in this year, they were showing some of the pictures that we hadn't seen a donald trump say should march on the capitol. and i'll be there with you. take back our country. well, one, he wasn't going to be there with them and secondly, a lot of these people, especially now, as you see the emails they were sending, people that are armed who wanted to take back with a careful thought, they been given a blessing by the president of the united states
stormed the capitol some came, right? yeah. we have a right to be here. the constitution allows us to take over. well, they've read the constitution and of course, there's nothing in the constitution about that. but i think we began to realize just how much then president his words had incited this, whether he intended the destruction of the or not. that's something only he could answer. but the words certainly did after january six and in the wake of these efforts to overturn the results of the of the 2020 election with the false charges that it was a stolen election, do you think our democracy is in some peril? yes. yes. and i say that unequivocally, and that's why i had this book
very well finish. i notes, i've taken almost daily for 40 years, and i got through it in january six, happened and we delayed talk about my worries if we don't it was i put a limit on education so you could only know certain things limits on what reporters can honestly say, whether we may disagree with them or not. if we put limits on all this, if we don't study what's going on. yes, i really fear for democracy. have you ever felt that way before? no. and remember, i was there right after watergate, there for the wrap up of the vietnam war.
we had now july and i was vibrant and trying to bring that about. i worried the bombing oklahoma city. it turned in 911, but we came together as as a made some mistakes afterward. we came together now what i see some of the things online people questioning. well joe biden was never liked it he got 5 million more votes than donald trump. four or 5 billion, whatever the number was, and more electoral votes. i do worry. what should americans do. step back. take a deep breath. there are very, very good people. republicans and democrats.
urge them to to speak first and foremost. but best for the country. we're seeing the supreme court becoming politicized and supreme court members bragging about taking a platform role. that hurts. that hurts us. we've got to have some parties we can agree or disagree on something, but still they're doing what they think is right. we don't enough of that today. and there are some very good senators, both republican and democrats, some far more conservative and some more liberal than i. but i trust they're doing what they feel is right. others seem to be wanting to follow what is popular at the moment, and that's going to hurt the country. you've served with nine presidents and observe them close up, so i'd like to do a lightning round where i'm going
to name the president. you just give a couple words that come to your mind when you think of them two or three words, an adjective, a verb, whatever. gerald ford, a lot brighter than i expected. and one of the most down to earth people i know. jimmy carter. if if he thought you were, could be somebody he could trust. very good. he he understood our family and all that. had some difficulty relating to people, disagreed with him. ronald reagan, a lot different than than i thought. i remember a conversation when i urged him to go to russia. he said, why? because you will finally learn about russia. but more importantly, they'll learn who you are and that you represent america. george h.w.
bush. i like president bush. we have so many handwritten notes from him so many times we sit around and you, the oval office, just tell jokes. i'll tell you just one. i know. that's i do in rapid fire, but i wrote the organic program that was big like this. he say, and same behind him. he saw his pat. you read every word of this bill. i said you're the one signing it. i've read about as much of it as you have. and he just cracked up. bill clinton. i like bill. and we would sometimes argue, will we? i remember what i would o each other and secret service. it opened the door. he goes like this. and then 3 minutes later we're telling jokes with each other, which for you, the press wasn't there for those and walked out
with our arms around each other, laugh their heads up. but i've i've always like bill clinton and hillary, but i felt very close to george w bush. george w bush. it was interesting getting to know him. but he told me that he knew of my friendship as father. and so we we got along well, even though we disagreed on things when he nominated me to be a delegate. every year there's two. every other year there's senators. i asked him when he signed his name on the commission. it is handshake. he said, hell, no, it anything we get you out of town. barack obama. oh, we became the best of friends almost immediately. in the senate, we trash talk each other. in the senate, jim and loved it. i was very, very good friends
and i always felt that even if he disagreed with me, i sit down, talk to him. you also endorsed him at a key point in that first day, in that first presidential race. yeah. and when i term i right now a scuba diving with marcel and that called him and tom i was going on endorser he said well thank they says to myself tell him to wear a hat down there so he doesn't get that bald head sunburn. i said, i think i will call john mccain. we've got just a few minutes left. donald trump. i, i like a number of republican presidents because i felt they understood the constitution, what the country meant and what they how they had to lead. donald trump has only thought about himself. he never once thought about the country.
and finally, joe biden. joe and i, the two youngest members of the senate, whereas first we were the kids. we've been good friends ever since. and i'm delighted to see him down there. i don't think anybody else could have brought our allies together the way he did. the war in ukraine. senator patrick leahy, thanks for your your time. and congratulations on your new book, the road taken. thank you very much.
this is going to be fine. this is a really going to be fun. i have some powerhouses that do macklemore said that had one general but i think we have generals that have on the platform today. david j. dennis junior is a senior writer at an escape known as the undefeated. his work has been featured in atlanta magazine the atlantic, washington post and the huffington post, among other publications. dennis is a recipient of the 2021 american mosaic journalism prize, is a national association of black journalists salute to excellence award, and was named one of the routes 100 mo
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