Skip to main content

tv   Former Presidents Clinton and Bush Discuss Leadership and Friendship  CSPAN  July 16, 2017 9:42pm-10:31pm EDT

9:42 pm
on thursday, in a sitdown conversation in dallas, former president george w. bush and bill clinton talk about the importance of leadership, their post-white house careers and working to build better communities. the george w. bush and bill clinton presidential libraries hosted a discussion. it is just over 45 minutes. [applause] tough to strong,
9:43 pm
follow that act. i would like to think mrs. bush. thank you for being here. [applause] >> i was supposed to do that. how are your parents doing? i hatepresident bush: these questions. i told dad today that i was going to be on stage with bill and you were the moderator. he say?did former president bush: he was surprised. anybodyd you cannot do better. they are doing -- former president bush: they are doing well. i am fortunate to be the only president with both parents alive after the presidency. every day it is a blessing to have your mom and dad alive. they are doing well. thank you for asking. i will tell them you asked. >> how is hillary doing? ,ormer president clinton: good
9:44 pm
she has grandkids. book andworking on a we spent every available hour with our grandchildren. my grandson just turned one year old on saturday. every seven years his father's will celebrate father's day on his sons birthday. almost three your own granddaughter saying happy birthday to him at his party. granddaughter sing happy birthing and mandarin? former president clinton: no, but she can sing it in spanish. [laughter] [applause] you both have grandchildren. what do your grandchildren called you? former president bush: i am called -- former president clinton: i am more humble, i am called pop pop. [laughter] you'represident clinton: the one that told me that once you become a grandparent europe the bottom of the emily totem
9:45 pm
pole. grandparent you're at the bottom of the family told him pull. former president bush: we will talk about your presidencies -- >> we will talk about your presidencies, you are now former presidents. what is the difference between being a former president and the president. one day you have been nuclear codes, the next day, when you leave office, you have no power. what was the transition might. -- transition like? [laughter] former president clinton: nobody plays the song when you walk in the room anymore. [laughter] former president clinton: for the first three weeks after i left off as i was waiting for the music. actually, it is wonderful. years have iin 17 been given a thought to, well i wish i was there, or i miss
9:46 pm
this. you are grateful for the time you have, then realize you should focus on today and the future. liberating,s both and also, to concentrate the memory. you do not know how many years you have left, that you feel the country has given you something priceless and you owe something back. each in our own way, we try to figure that out. i found it a rewarding part of my life. i have loved it. former president bush: i woke up in crawford. [laughter] former president bush: the day after the presidency, expecting someone to bring me the coffee. [laughter] former president bush: laura did not bring the coffee. [laughter] former president bush: i think the thing that startled me, was, the sense of having no responsibility. in other words, and during the
9:47 pm
presidency, you become a custom to responsibility you have. it becomes arely natural part of your life. you wake up the next day and you have no responsibility. that was probably the most stunning thing for me. >> when you build try to do something you have someone on the opposite political party saying it is a terrible idea, oh it is hard to get is done in washington. when you are a former president, is it easier to get things done? itmer president bush: depends on what you are trying to do. former president clinton: you have to realize what you do not have and what you do. that -- i loveue the job and i loved all those responsibilities. it is amazing how every day is taken up by being president and the incoming fire.
9:48 pm
nobody said, what are you guys going to do if al qaeda bombs the role trade center. you have seen as an a lot of different ways. if you do not deal with incoming fire, it will undermine your ability to do anything else. if all you deal with is incoming fire, -- it is a lot of trouble. when you get out, you change out of that power. whatever influence you have, or whatever your experience permits you to do, and you have to decide what to do. everybody makes different decisions. collapsedcarter today, but he is fine. he was building habitat houses in canada. that is what he wanted to do.
9:49 pm
by doing that he helped habitat growing to one of the biggest operations in the world. we all had to make these decisions. former president bush: i don't think it is that easy, quite frankly, to get things done. one of the great accomplishments was the holding of this building and the inspiration of programs that we think make a difference. it was not a appropriation spill. [laughter] >> when former president's get andther, which is funerals when libraries open, it is not common when you get together. what do you say to each other when your former president's get together. you tell secrets? former president bush: you generally say, when is this program going to start and when will it end. [laughter] former president clinton: there
9:50 pm
are shorter answers. [laughter] it is president clinton: unusual with us because we had -- because when i left office i told them, i said, if i can ever help you i will do it. conscious, iood won't but i will never embarrass you in public. i said was a senator, there may be some policies i disagree with, but i will always do it respectfully and i want you to succeed. i tried to be as good as my word. then he gave me the chance to work with his father after the tsunami in south asia and after katrina. notid a lot of good and brought all three of us closer. >> you ran against president
9:51 pm
bush 41. it was a bitter campaign. how did you manage later to develop a crow -- a close relationship? was in that difficult at times because you had called him names and he called you names? former president clinton: i think it helped that we had some contact before. i represented the democratic governors when he decided to embrace education. we started working together. tried never to take a cheap shot at the governors association. we felt things we could do together. is, like i said, he deserves a lot of credit. asked to do the tsunami work together, i'm not sure the relationship would have been the way it was. we just liked being together.
9:52 pm
you click with people and sometimes you don't. i always admired him. it when he did in the aftermath of the collapse of the union. union,ing european supporting the efforts he made and i made, as you see today mixed results to integrate russia and the family of democracy. togethertarted working on the synonymy thing. it is easy to forget -- on the tsunami thing. it was easy to forget because it was so many thousand people in a matter of minutes. said, america has to do our part, most people cannot find those countries on the map, but they were part of the global community that he was wearing -- that he was willing to take responsibility for.
9:53 pm
>> how did you become close because you have different take? -- different takes? former president bush: i think it starts with bill clinton being a person who refused to live as victory over death. he was humbled with victory. i think dad was willing to rise above the political contest. it starts with the individual's character. both men displayed strong character. therefore, the friendship was able to be formed. why do i have a french up with him? because -- a friendship with him? because he is a brother with a different mother. [laughter] >> when you campaigned, you campaigned against some of the
9:54 pm
things the clinton administration had done? former president bush: probably. [laughter] former president bush: we are both baby boomers and we are both southern governors. we had a lot in common. he got along with people in his legislator and we had friends in common. ability to natural respect and like each other. if you disagree with someone, it does not mean that you do not like them. irmer president clinton: recognize that he was 44 days older than me. [laughter] [laughter] in 44 president clinton: days i said, i am calling you on beginsknee because this my 44 days of respect for my elders. former president bush: when i was president i would call bill, he was very helpful. about a lot of
9:55 pm
issues, particularly international affairs that i was interest in. i knew i could count on him for good advice. he was gracious in receiving my calls. >> you have done something that was very unique. all of us recognize that someone who is a student body president and everyone thinks that person could be president of the united states. no one has made it except for you. waswere the only person who a student leader and made it to president of the united states. what was the fact that drove you to be such a leader? most people burn out and say i do not want to still be a leader. what do you think the qualities were? former president clinton: i also lost two elections along the way which also keeps you humble. because, got elected
9:56 pm
basically, we are the last generation that was born without a television. i grew up in a conversational where people actually talk and listen to each other. i don't know how people make it today. the average president talks eight seconds on president -- on television. snapchat is 10 seconds and twitter is 140 characters. around meals.ed my father died in a car right before i was warned. carwreck before i was born. he -- my grandfather had conversations and involve the kids. he told me most people have a story and most people cannot tell it.
9:57 pm
i was taught to listen, to look, and i really think that is what it is. i just thought somebody could have a better life. i got lucky. i don't care what anybody says. all people who say they were born in a log cabin. i was partially responsible for you being elected because i worked in the white house for president carter. kurds the end of your first term as governor, we put together people in arkansas. it was may be impossible for you to be reelected. by not being reelected you were driven to work harder. former president clinton: i think you for doing that. [laughter] >> at the time you were not that happy about it. amsident bush, i think i
9:58 pm
responsible for your being elected. i got in place at the 19%. that enabled your father to be vice president and leading you to become president. former president bush: i think clinton had a bigger rolled and you did. i never would've run for governor had he not defeated at. -- dad. it would have been difficult for me to be and richards in 1994 because i spent my time defending george h.w. bush in the last two years of his presidency. by losing, it it enabled my brother jeb and me to run on our on. you ran for congress and you both lost. you had that in common, but maybe you lost when you are beating in incoming congressmen. did you say i am out of politics? former president clinton: i got a break in a way.
9:59 pm
in the house the democrats did well in 1974. president nixon resigned, but i -- heainst a congressman had an 85% approval rating and 99% name recognition. 0-0 and he beat me 51-48. it is the best thing that ever happened to me and we wound up being friends too. the district we ran and had the highest amount of gasoline use because it was so rural and you had to boost up -- people do not do it anymore. you have to do retail campaigning. politics -- iut learned some effect percent about politics at that time. hillary rodham clinton helped
10:00 pm
you in that campaign. did you think that she would stay down in arkansas in marry au because arkansas was not place that was the center of the universe? former president clinton: no. been one stepave at a time i asked her twice to marry me and she said no times. smart girl. the third time i said just come down here. they liked her so much that they offered her a job teaching. she did not have anything else to do. houses working with the judiciary committee, when that was over she took the job and network out pretty well. job it worked out pretty well. you decided you were not going to get into politics? former president bush: not true. we got married in november. the next year i campaigned for
10:01 pm
congress. i said she would never have to give a political speech and she did. she is a good speaker. see,en you lost the house did you say i am out of politics? former president bush: for a while, but like bill said, it is the best thing that happened to me. the guy who beat me said, if i what -- if i did not beat bush i would still be on the agricultural committee. >> your mother and father said you had no chance of winning. former president bush: the father didn't say that, the mother did. [laughter] >> what did you say to her when you won? former president bush: are you going to come to the inauguration. don'tow my mother, you pop off to her like that [laughter] . -- that. [laughter] >> when both of you became
10:02 pm
president, your father became president -- what was the biggest surprise -- the first day you're in the oval office and you learn all the codes, what was the biggest surprise? that you areit you the most powerful man in the world? former president clinton: harry amazingaid that the thing about being president is you spend so much of your time talking people into things they should do without you asking them in the first place. -- mayberised me the governor of a -- you areern state so far removed from the american it is hard for them
10:03 pm
to see you as a three-dimensional person. texas, i thinkf you have a much more personal relationship with people. bob loved george bush. i think he helped them be a better governor. we were just being people and dealing with people. it really surprised me how easily i could be turned into a two dimensional cartoon instead of a three-dimensional human being. you have to discipline yourself about what to talk about, how to talk about it. there are all these layers between you and people that did not used to be there. that surprised me. i thought i was a good communicator. i just fell on my face four or five times until i figured out how to do it. young, 40 sixy years old. if you were president at 56 or
10:04 pm
66, do you think you would have been different or would have had less energy with more experience? former president clinton: i think i would have been better in some ways if i was older. i think i would have been not as good in some ways. sometimes you are too dumb to know you cannot do it. you show up and you keep trying to do it and something happens. >> your father was president so you were in the white house. you solid he did write and what he did wrong -- right and what he did wrong. former president bush: i learned a lot from washington -- from washing him -- watching him. we have a great father-son relationship. i learned a lot from watching him. moment came atng the inaugural parade, i decided
10:05 pm
i would go in the oval office to see what it felt like. unbeknownst to me, andy called upstairs and asked dad to come in. i saw him sitting in the oval office at the desk taking it all in. my dad and i said, oh welcome mr. president and he said, thank you mr. president. >> what was it like when your mother walked into the oval office when you were president? sheer president clinton: started laughing out loud. [laughter] former president clinton: it was so ridiculous that it could ever happen. she was the only person that thought i had it good chance to win. nobody else but hillary and chelsea were on my side. it made me feel good because my mother was widowed three times. she had a pretty tough life.
10:06 pm
up at 5:00 every morning and got herself ready and was at work i 7:00. she did everything -- at work by 7:00. she did everything she could. she lived another year. just a little more than another little lessse me, a than another year. she died january the fifth. former president bush: do you want to know what my mother said? >> i guess so. [laughter] former president bush: get your feet off the jeffersonian table. [laughter] >> but your mother was proud. there is only one woman who had it sent become president of the united states whose father was president. i do not think abigail adams was --ve when jim quincy adams john quincy adams became president.
10:07 pm
in the whiteliving house, some people call it a prison because he cannot get out very much. it is a great thing you have service there and you go to camp david when you want. is it a pleasure to live there? if youpresident clinton: -- i in informal life spent almost a dozen years in the governor's office in arkansas, it is very different. i basically was self supported from the time i was 19, it took some getting used to. i developed some affection for andpeople that were there, i developed and a norman's amount of respect for the secret service and the risks they take. i adjusted myself accordingly. i loved living in the white house. , very vividly, the
10:08 pm
last time i got off the helicopter marine one before i would soon be gone. that ionsciously aware was going in there more optimistic than i was about america than the first time i walk in. -- walked in. former president bush: it's great. they pamper you. the staff is the same people that were there when bill was there and many of the same when dad was there. it is great. it is a really historic place. .t is comfortable i liked every minute of living there. >> most people have never been to camp david, is it a great ways to relax, or is it overrated? former president clinton: i liked it. place, great
10:09 pm
particularly -- i love them most at thanksgiving because i would bring all of the family. i liked when chelsea could bring her friends up there. you have more freedom and more wandering around. it is great to get away. former president bush: i went there a lot, we went there a lot. -- probably used it more than any president. maybe ronald reagan used it more. we would invite friends we grew up with and show them the oval office or camp david. i liked it because i love exercise. up for a lot of hiking, running, mountain biking. i found it to be liberating. is auntain biking dangerous thing and you have fallen a couple of times, but you have not given it up?
10:10 pm
former president bush: i still ride. >> you don't worry about breaking things? former president bush: no. former president clinton: is dad was jumping out of planes in 1985. >> you have lost the weight since you left the presidency on a vegan diet. is that hard to do? lessr president bush: burgers. former president clinton: not when you have quadruple heart bypass. highly prone to arterial blockage and i thought i would cut my chances. i wanted to see if i could live to be a grandfather, unlike him who comes from great genes. i'm the oldest person in my family for three generations. like toi think i would hang around, i'm having a good time being alive. [laughter] former president clinton: i
10:11 pm
think i will just stretch it out as long as i can. if you could run for president of the united states or former president, what is a better job? there only 13 people and our country's history who served to consecutive terms. are some of them. would you rather do that or's be president for 30 or 40 years? former president clinton: it depends on how you keep score. you have to live a long time as a former president to have an impact on his many people as you can as president. as thetried to do this site could on that. -- as best i could on that. thatr president bush: monumental effect on a lot of people. it is exciting to be in that
10:12 pm
environment. it insists that you use all of your skill and energy in order to affect policy and a positive way. the presidency is often defined by the unexpected. it makes the job double he into doubley interesting. former president clinton: john quincy adams is one of the most important advocates for slavery. ofbert hoover came out retirement and wrote the civil service act. they'd did a lot of good things -- they did a lot of good things. george and i have been blessed because we were young. you can serve eight years of president and do other good things. >> i assume you would recommend
10:13 pm
a job to people if they want to be president. asked, what dos you think about this job and would you recommend it, he said not to others right now because i would wait until i finish my tenure. would you recommend a job to young leaders? would you say it is worth the aggravation and hard work, or would you recommend a pursue something else? former president clinton: in a heartbeat. former president bush: same. there is a good chance we are looking at a future president here. [applause] recommend -- you would and sayingt president of the united states is better than private equity? former president bush: we make 200,000 year in pension, what do you make? [laughter] if we president clinton:
10:14 pm
could say one serious thing, there are it -- there are a lot of good questions. a mexican multibillionaire who is a smart guy and gave a good speech during the campaign and the campaign being what it was, no one was interesting and asked it -- interested in asking about it. i believe this would be the first evolution that will kill more jobs than it creates. therefore, i believe we will either have to have people with taxes to even higher subsidize people who don't, or countries are going to have to start planning a three-day workweek because all the robotics and artificial intelligence. no one knows the answer to that. nobody knows if he is right or not. it will not be boring. it is not boring how to figure
10:15 pm
out how to deal with climate change issues. it is not boring figuring out whether we can have a spirit he and still have growth. -- have prosperity and still have growth. it is important to figure out how to navigate a political war it is aitical -- fascinating and exhilarating time to be alive. told george once, i hope you are not the first republican who is not afraid of immigrants. andould go to south texas have a discussion about what immigration reform should look like, but if you look at
10:16 pm
america, we are on the a 2.1 replacement of our native warm population from natural birth. we cannot grow the economy unless we take in more immigrants, so we have to be comfortable about it. aren't you glad that a cambodian mormon found their way to louisiana? [applause] my onlyresident bush: regret is that she did not find her way to texas. >> you look back at your presidency and you both served eight years. our country has had roughly 550 million people in the countries history. ,5 of them elected president but only 13 people have served to consecutive terms. you were two of the 13. what would you say in your eight years you were most proud of having done?
10:17 pm
former president clinton: i was most proud that when i left office we had the broadest period of shared prosperity in 50 years. percentage increased more and nobody was mad at anybody. it was shared across regional lines. did i abolish inequality, no. at least we found a way to have more shared prosperity, including three budget surpluses. if everybody has a decent job and something to look forward to in the morning, 90% of the other problems go away. health caree policies or any other social policies, it will become less significant if people think they can start a business, keep a job and educate their kids.
10:18 pm
families are stable, communities are more stable and problems get small. >> what would you say? former president bush: my daughter's love me. [laughter] former president bush: it is a challenge to have teenage daughters when you are president. it is a challenge anytime to have teenage daughters. thanks to laura's daughter -- laura's guidance and love, our family unit strengthened. i think that is a great accomplishment. former president clinton: this is what i think a lot of people don't leave about people like us -- if you take it seriously, your most important job until your kids are out of the house is being a father or a mother. >> when you are president do you have time to be a parent? isn't it hard when you have people coming at you? former president bush: one was at yale and one was at university of texas, yes, it is
10:19 pm
hard. laura spent a lot of time nurturing them and helping them out. i knew what it was like to be a child of the president. harsh.ticism is somebody yousomebody you love ig criticized, laura was very good at comforting them. you haves it like when a daughter and she goes on a deep and the father is greeting the young man and you are president of the united states? i assume that is intimidating for the young man? former president clinton: at the time, i hope so. [laughter] i likepresident clinton: chelsea's boyfriends. she never went out with more than one point at a time, but i remember she had one boy friend
10:20 pm
in high school i really liked, but he would not take his baseball cap off inside. finally he set down at dinner one night and i said, i really like you but you cannot wear take it off.inner, that guy goes on to become an architect. he was a young person who had just started out and i ran into , there they were just trying to help people put their lives back together. daughter still brings 26 people home for thanksgiving every year. or people who do not go home for thanksgiving.
10:21 pm
and theynd i feed them go around the table and say what they are grateful for every year. you cannot be pessimistic about the future if you hear young people say that. former president bush: i told people earlier that came through, you will not believe how tonight's event will lift your spirits about the future of this country. [applause] former president bush: -- >> what makes you both optimistic about the country today? former president bush: tonight, you will see why i am optimistic here we have people willing to serve others. one of the most unique things about our country is the armies of compassion that exist throughout the united states. i willre people that say try to improve the community in which i live, and tonight we are going to meet leaders who do
10:22 pm
just that. any nation of that kind of compassion is a nation and which citizens ought to be optimistic or it >> -- optimistic. >> you are now famous for taking up painting. people were surprised because you were not thought to be an artist before. former president bush: you did not think i was sensitive? [laughter] uphow did you decide to pick -- pick up painting? former president bush: people said look at the paintings in the exhibit after dinner tonight. bored.ed because i was takesoundation institute up time, but not enough. my exercise program was not taking enough. painting is a pastime. i said if winston churchill campaign, i can paint. [laughter] >> since he left the presidency
10:23 pm
you have changed your diet and other things, what do you spend the most time on now? former president clinton: building my foundation and trying to fund it. it got so big so fast that it took up all my time. make -- onceo something gets really big and can fund itself, i am trying to spread it out now. health initiative is now focused on aids. moneyer took any american , we can help drive the price of all medicine down everywhere. the initiative, which we do not have anymore, i am working on some specific things. -- ite 400 million people is a lot of trouble.
10:24 pm
you have to keep at it all the time. i first thought, i do not want to do this, but i did good i am a workaholic and i did not think i could be a gifted painter. [laughter] i had -- former president clinton: i admired him for doing that. be best thing to do is consistently underestimated. former president bush: i was pretty good at that. [laughter] [applause] hemer president clinton: made me a genius. i look like a genius because when the presidential race of 2000 started, i turn on the tv and i saw him sitting on a bill hay and itale fo h was the first time he made that speech. i told people he could beat you. what he said the people who
10:25 pm
would go either way is, i will give you the same thing clinton did but i will do it with a smaller government and a bigger tax cut, would you like that? [laughter] former president clinton: as we not get democrats did his bumper sticker. it was brilliant. i thought, they are going to underestimate the sky. -- annhards had a 60% richards had a 60% approval rate. coulter and not just what position you are taking on the issue. he constructed a campaign that fit with where texas was at that time. it did not have anything to do -- you do not have to dislike and richards -- ann richards to
10:26 pm
vote for george bush. how did the two of you come together to create the presidential leadership program? whatr president bush: other problems with the centers as they become irrelevant very quickly, unless there is something that captures people's attention. they said we ought to think tout using these platforms call young people together and encourage them through a leadership education program. it makes a lot of sense. bill and i talked together and our view of in on how to be useful. that is how it got started. it made a lot of sense. most people focus their attention on libraries on the coast. this is a valuable resource for people in what we call the heartland. former president clinton: we
10:27 pm
talked to these young people. it is a nice thing to go to our libraries. the thing they get the most out of is being with each other. one of the things that is wrong with america today, what bothers me about our future is that we have separated ourselves into like-minded communities. we may be less racist, homophobic and everything, but we don't want to be around people who disagree with us. and silos.s in an interdependent complex world, diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones. these people would make better decisions. everybody knows that, but they almost cannot help themselves because you get more distracted and we all vote against what we
10:28 pm
hate. george, iat i told just came from late hope. from lake tahoe. republicans and democrats on the ground made it possible because they had the end in mind and all we did was say yes. in colombia, it gave the country back to its people. it was a bipartisan deal because we started with the end in mind. all of this fighting over nothing is killing us, instead of saying what are we trying to get done? this.h of you can answer for those who are presidential scholars, or other people watching, if somebody wants to be president of the united
10:29 pm
states is it hard work, intelligence, optimism, luck. what does it take for someone to be president? former president bush: humility. it is important to know what you don't know and listen to people who do know what you don't know. former president clinton: i think you have to begin with the end in mind. you say yes i will win the election, but why are you running. when he ran for governor, he did richards is a klutz, but i want to be governor because of these things. he had an agenda. president ito be is about the people, not about you. -- that is what a lot of these people who are arrogant forget, time passes. it passes more quickly than you
10:30 pm
know. you want to be able to say, people are better off, kids have a better future, things are coming together. you don't want to say, god, look at all of the people i beat. look at all of the people i walked over. most important thing is to be humble, to listen to realize that everyone has a story. pres. bush: the only thing he disagreed with my platform is that texas ought to take arkansas. [laughter] pres. clinton: what i disagreed with his that he wanted to get all of our water and not pay very much money for it. [laughter] pres. clinton: i would have swapped it out for texas oil. [laughter] host: i want to thank you both for your service to our country and thank you for the leadership you have given to so many people and thank you for what you are doing in your post presidency. thank you very much. [applause] pres. clinton: thank you all. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on