tv Washington Journal Peter Baker Susan Glasser CSPAN October 18, 2020 9:56pm-10:56pm EDT
on-demand streaming of c-span's debate coverage. jon ossoffrdue and take part in a debate. andh online as c-span.org listen with the free c-span radio app. by susan, theed new yorker staff writer and peter baker. susan glasser on the brand-new book on james baker, the life and times of james baker. iner baker, no relation come susan glasser, welcome to "washington journal." let me start with a question about the idea of doing this book on james baker. this obviously predates the 2020 election, but this is earlier
than 2016 correct? visualize thenot rise of donald trump in the transformation of the republican party we started this book back in the obama era. we had a sense that baker was a character who would help us to write a big story about washington as well has -- as well as his own personal story. from watergaten to the end of the cold war and james baker is in the middle of that. host: was an easy prey? did he easily agreed to be interviewed for the book project? wast: at this point, he willing and ready for some of the l2 write a biography about him. some -- ready for amebody else to write
biography about him. he was open and cooperative. he didn't put anything off balance. he was very generous with us. host: what was it about him personally and about his stellar career in washington and before that that initially -- you to talk to him? guest: i think we realized we were delighted to realize that no one had done an independent book of history about him. when you think about it, baker has a unique resume in american politics as well as policy, because he combines the two. operative andical unparalleled success. he ran five different national presidential campaigns, but also was white house chief of staff twice, the only person to hold that job twice.
as well as treasury secretary and secretary of state when the end of the cold war happened. was tied upgure who with henry kissinger. there is a reason why the former national security advisor to obama said he thought baker was the most important unelected official in the united states since the end of world war ii. host: the book was a great reminder to me the james baker had an sort of things that you forgot that he did. you write in there, and i noted that this is, james baker fought against the reagan revolution inside the republican party on behalf of gerald ford and george bush, and then came the revolutions most capable executor as the reagan white house chief of staff and bush secretary of state and watch the unraveling in eastern europe, another revolution he did not start that figured out how to channel.
the lesson he had taken from these events was simple and clear, with the tectonic plates of history move, move with them. he did over the course of several presidencies. guest: that is exactly right. it is interesting to think about a president picking as a chief of staff 70 that had ran to campaigns against him. think about that good i can't even imagine that in today's washington. reagan wanted somebody to translate his vision into reality erie he knew he needed someone who had a better sense of washington that he and his california crew had. it speaks a lot about reagan and it speaks a lot about reagan about the marriage of man and moment. bakerare guests, peter and susan glasser and their new book about james baker. we welcome your comments. (202) 748-8001 four republicans. for democrats, (202) 748-8000. for independents (202) 748-8002.
texts, encourage your (202) 628-0184 -- (202) 748-8003 . we talk about white house chief of staff for ronald reagan, secretary of state for george h w bush, and also white house chief of staff. what brought him into washington in the first place under the presidency? guest: it was not a normal trajectory. wasn't normal for it now or ever. after one year of his arrival in washington, he went to run the presidential campaign. that is the surprise for peter and i was to realize during this time, much jim baker was an
indispensable man in washington. he didn't even get there until he was 45 years old, making him the world's most successful midcareer change. his story of the previous two decades in houston i think really was a fascinating one for us to learn. it began with an unlikely friendship with george herbert walker bush on the tennis court at houston country club. host: was he has fierce a competitor in sports as your chevy bush was, reportedly? w bush was, reportedly? guest: he was looking for a partner in one person's name on the wall and 16 singles tournaments was a guy named james baker. they had a connection through a cousin. their friendship on the court was rooted in mutual competitiveness.
you saw that in sports and threat their political careers. host: he comes to washington as undersecretary of converse in 1976, and he was made chairman of gerald ford's campaign in 1976. as you point out in the book, he had several elected office failures in texas. what is it about a guy who success running for public office made gerald ford say this is the guy i went running my campaign? guest: he was inexperienced and naturallead to his abilities and that competitive ness comes from. he escaped the narrow constraints of houston life as a lawyer. he went to bigger and bigger playing fields, leading to international diplomacy.
basically thed only experience he had before that was helping his friend ,eorge bush in a senate race where he ran in a county that included houston. and then he did some fundraising after that at the presidential level. he was bitten by the politics result of will, a that 1976 race. it was 1978 ran for texas attorney general in his one and only effort at elected office. not only did he lose, but it was clear to those who observed him heer.e was not a baby kiss history would've been different had he won that. host: tell us what you write in the book about his father and his guidance in terms of politics to james baker. guest: his family is part of
.ouston by james baker the third and we can't tell you why. they explained because they were bad at math. he had a family legacy and they did so much to build modern houston. they built institutions but they were not into politics. the family actually was work hard, study, and keep out of politics. that is something jim baker did for the first 40 years of his life. he had a family tragedy with his first wife, who passed away and george h w bush had come and work with me and will help you mourningugh your period.
"the man whok is ran washington: the life and times of james a. baker." baker, no is james relation, and susan glasser we welcome your comments. (202) 748-8001 four republicans. for democrats. (202) 748-8002 for independents. has anyone equaled the role since? guest: absolutely not. in some ways it is not even possible to conceive of a career such as the one that baker had come in part as peter said, you managed to transcend individual theidates and arrived at height of politics in washington
. these days it is progressively harder to do. they baker unique was the ability to transcend the world of electoral politics in the world of policy and international diplomacy. that is something i haven't seen since and arguably before, it was highly unusual as well. host: how did he or did he have the year of george w. bush during his prejudices -- his presidency? george w. bush, yes, you are right. he was his best friend, and helped him get elected and the recount that followed the election results. adviceries to give him on erratic. -- on iraq. he later tries to help get out
of iraq and wasn't listen to. through his career, it showed how things changed in washington where james baker had been so integral to so many important decision making moments and had suddenly begun to pass on to the next generation the reins of power. host: let's go to calls for susan glasser and peter baker. two louisville, kentucky. louisville, kentucky. caller: nice to see you altogether again. a book about a chief of staff has to be something very interesting, and it seems like a really good subject. you get to find out things about people that you don't really know. i have to ask you one more
question, who is your favorite writing partner don mitchell or susan glasser? no pressure. best. susan by far is the we were lucky because we are a married couple and that is why we are not socially distanced. we got together 21 years ago with washington post she was my editor and we were working on the clinton impeachment story. that is how we first got together. we have been very lucky to have this professional and personal ship with these two decades and they go hand in hand. and we are still talking. host: how do you delegate that? who does what and who does what interview? how do you split that up? lucky on this project and didn't intend it to be seven years.
it took longer. we are very lucky that we were working on this together, because it was an all-consuming project. for me having a partner who was immersed in it was invaluable. we did a lot of interviews with secretary baker together, but peter is the hardest worker in the family. he gets much less sleep than i do, i have to say. host: let's do a call from texas. let's go to cliff in san angelo. caller: congratulations on your book. i will be anxious to read it. i called in simply because you mentioned houston country club. my father, george ritchie, was the tennis pro there at the houston country club back with jim baker and george h w and played a lot of tennis. was theter of fact, i number one ranked player in the united states in 1970. my name is cliff ritchie.
i got a call when date when i was in houston and he said to me, we have a congressman that loves to play tennis over here who would you come and play tennis with him? it was george h w. it has been so long ago i can't remember, but i think maybe he had jim baker with him. couldn't get him off the court good we were out there two hours. hours.ed there for two at the end of the match, to give you a cute story on george h w, he looked at me, and my dad had been the tennis coach in the 50 -- 1950's, and president bush looked at me and i asked my dad have you ever met him, and he said no. he looked at me and said how is your dad, george, doing these days? one other quick story, i was in
the dallas airport in the 1980's, and here comes jim baker with a couple of his bodyguards, maybe. i came out of the shadows and recognized him and i rushed over to him and it's like, these days you can't do that, but i said mr. baker, cliff ritchie, good to see you again. he was so nice. i just had to call. one question i would like to know -- was jim baker involved in politics before meeting president george h w? guest: that's a great question. thank you for the tennis reminiscence. i think we want to ask you which one was the better player. baker was the better player. caller. lost our it was his first wife mary stuart -- guest: it was his first wife mary stuart when
texas was largely democratic. baker grew up as a democrat. he did not have a lot of clinical experience because the family motto was work hard and stay out of politics. and their friends were violently anti-fdr when baker grew up during the new deal. it actually was george bush who convinced baker to finally abandon his registration as a democrat when he went to work on that first campaign and help to in the losing senate race as a republican. guest: we used to joke that on election day he would go vote because he often -- it often coincided with the opening of hunting season. he clearly was not very involved. host: let's go to pat in keyport, new jersey. republican line. go ahead. caller: i am curious if baker had any contact with cheney before the two presidents bush.
thank you. guest: great question. his best some ways was friend. they are very different kind of republicans and have different views on things like the iraq war. at the time they were young people coming up in washington post watergate. you had a young white house chief of staff named dick cheney, and he noticed the sky over at the commerce department -- noticed this guy over at the commerce department and he brought him into the campaign in 1976 that gets baker really going. the two of them were close during the ford days and worked together. even to this day, they are close friends in hunting and fishing together. int: let's hear from susan massachusetts, independent line.
morning, to sunday be able to wake up and make a cup of coffee and see you both together talking about this amazing book. i have heard about it. i sister texted me last week about it. enough to have seen secretary baker's career serving various administrations and have inched his presidents washington, a dignified, gifted respondys was able to to a changing world and national events. what a juxtaposition to look at his life and contributions compared to what we are doing with what wish -- with what we are doing with the white house
now. i hope your book becomes mandatory reading in the public schools, because it does teach about public service when it is practiced correctly with great baker is justlso a unique gentlemen, i think. , and just the idea especially with what happened when senator feinstein this week have the gall to say something come from entry, at least kind to lindsey graham, i thought, granted i think it is time that maybe she leaves the senate because of her age, but just the way she has been treated like a pariah just because she acted civilly to a colleague on the other cited the aisle. i had a curiosity about mr.
baker's second wife susan and how she came into his life and the influence she had on his career and just life after they met and married. strong,tand she was a very interesting woman peered at wouldn't mind hearing about the other susan, susan baker. guest: from once is into another, i can tell you she was first of all fantastically helpful to peter and i and working on this book. she was one of our consistently best interviews and often the real truth teller, interjecting a note of reality into some of our conversations. there is this incredible story of susan winston and how she became to be susan baker. she was one of jim baker's first wife's close friends, mary stuart. we mentioned mary stuart at a very young age and her earliest with four young sons was
diagnosed with cancer. enough, there is a letter that is in our book from jim baker to george bush in which he tells bush about this terrible diagnosis of cancer and he says, george, i have not told anyone. i didn't tell mary stuart, i didn't tell my mother, i didn't tell our children, but i am telling you. that for peter and i was quite rogatory as what was the nature of the baker-bush relationship and they had a close bond that goes far beyond cocktails at the country club. but interestingly enough, mary stuart knew this was happening to her. she confided in her friend susan winston and she wrote her own letter and gave it and told susan where to find it in their house after she passed away.
there is this unbelievably moving scene in the book where susan comes over to the grieving household, finds the letter and gives it to baker. baker read it out loud and cries every time he reads it, even now 50 years later. but susan had her own family struggles and has three children of her own with divorce from alcoholic husband. so they got together. it became the sort of brady bunch. jim baker had four kids and susan had three kids, but it was the dark dystopian version of the brady bunch, not the cheery sitcom version. it really was a challenging merger of these two reading, troubled families. they ultimately had another daughter as well, so they had eight kids. the huge verdant fell -- the huge burden fell on susan. as baker was beginning public life, she had four and middle school at the same time in different schools driving around.
she is a heroic figure. a very close advisor to her husband, she traveled often with him and he was secretary of state at the end of the cold war. she became a minor public figure in her own right. she worked with tipper gore on the summit controversial effort in the 1980's to do something about the very inflammatory lyrics and a lot of current music. guest: on homelessness, she was very big. she helped found and was a leader of national homelessness organization. she devoted a lot to that cause. host: let's hear from chris in huntsville, alabama. caller: and tony blair's autobiography, he tells a story about the first time he ever came to america and in the book he says that when they were getting ready to go over, the tory conservatives assign him to try and convince jim baker to drop his tariffs on
international trade issues. studied on the plane ride and he gets there and he tries to prevent the issues to jim baker and baker effortlessly batts it back one by one by one. tony blair is feeling embarrassed. he was trying to get the secretary of the treasury to drop it and baker had no issues and new all the stuff on the top of his head. i just wanted to share that story. where did he get the nickname the velvet hammer? guest: the reason why he was able to bat back even tony blair come as formidable as tony blair was, is because he was fanatical about operation. he listen to what you call the five p's.
hisou said it out loud, staff and kids would roll their eyes. that was one reason why he was so successful. there wasn't a meeting where he didn't have the brief going in. it was done in a way that people work out of their office still feeling ok, even if he didn't give them what they wanted. his cousin gave him that nickname when he came to washington and it stuck. later, it was on a poster of jim baker. he so smooth that people walk away feeling good even if he has been tough as nails. host: the book is "the man who ran washington: the life and times of james a. baker." we are welcoming your calls.
john in southhampton, pennsylvania, republican line. caller: x for taking my call. -- thanks for taking my call. host: you bet. caller: an interesting thing about mr. baker is that he had a little war with the jewish community. famous segment of that because they were demanding $10 million, a loan that we would guarantee, on top of all the other money that we were providing to them. along with services we provide. they were rather arrogantly demanding. stated and the president stated, bad feelings occurred.
i think george the second the trip did his loss to the fact that the bad blood being created there. and susanr baker glasser, any response? guest: you are right there was some bad blood in a lot of ways. baker was quoted as saying, as that has been somewhat twisted. we go back and revisit that in the book and try to explain where it came from. it came from an internal bribery that jim baker had with jack kemp, who leaked the story to a newspaper columnist. distortedis, it was even then. even the original column doesn't have them saying that. " him as saying then -- it quotes them as saying them. israel lobby group in washington. you are right, he was not always
a strong supporter of israeli policy. he was part of the republican party the time that disagreed with the settlements. that was an obstacle to peace. there was some friction there between bush and baker on the one side and israeli leadership on the other. that has changed, obviously. today, republicans are staunchly pro-israel and there is no room for criticism of policy. that is an indication of the evolution of the republican party over the years. him asow hard was it for a trump campaign, as the 2016 election approached, was he torn over how he would vote? guest: he was very torn. was walking ings parallel the rise of donald trump and baker's visible discomfort and angst about what
to do about it. he had been supporting jeb bush, his friends son, in the republican primaries. we talked with him as he wrestled with this decision. i think in a way it for us helped us to understand the plight of the modern republican party certainly the establishment part of it to which shoemaker belonged. he told us that he thought he was nuts and crazy and those are words that he used. he was very against much of his policy agenda. he sees himself to this day as an internationalist, a free trader, a believer and alliances that were the hallmark of his diplomacy of the secretary of state. there is the question of the competence of the administration as the gold standard for white house chief of staff and democrats and republicans have looked to him to understand how to do that.
that is the massive turnover in the white house, we saw political -- by the president. i remember visiting with secretary baker soon after the inauguration. keepid, white does he saying mexico is going to pay for the wall? mexico is not going to pay for the wall. he shouldn't say if it is not to rule -- if it is not true. he said, don't lie to the press and don't lie to the people. he thought that having a reputation and being a straight shooter was important. obviously the opposite of a president who shot the record books in terms of untruth. interestingly, baker very inuctantly voted for trump 2016, although he did not endorse him, and he told peter and i that at one point he was
considering voting for joe biden, but please in the end don't say i'm going to do that, i am a republican even if my party has left me. it tells us a lot about where republicans are today. host: more calls and comments in a moment. a trip in history, a year ago james baker was with us on this program to look at the 30th anniversary commemoration of the fall of the berlin wall. we want to say -- play some of his recollections in that moment. [video clip] >> i was posting a lunch for the president of the philippines in a dining room at the top of the state department. hers hosting a lunch for when in past me a note saying that the east german government has just announced that they were going to permit traffic from east germany to west germany. to the assembled
group at the table. then excused myself to go to the white house to meet with president bush. >> do you remember what you said in that toast? >> i don't remember the words of the toast, but it probably spoke to the importance of the event, forhe concept of freedom which all american presidents, democratic and republican, had since harry truman. h wy truman through george bush, and i probably said some things about that. i remember president aquino being quite moved by the news. conversationsl like with president bush in those first few hours after you got the news? tost: well, i went straight the white house, and the president in one or two other
white house aides were discussing what the scope, the nature of our reaction ought to be. the president was quite clear, he said, you know, this is a big thing. toreally is tantamount winning the cold war. but the one thing we need to avoid is triumphalism. we have a lot of business left to do with mikhail gorbachev, who was then president of the soviet union, and the foreign minister. these were reformers we had been working with and wanted to continue to support. we had a lot of work still to do then the president said, i don't think we need to stick it in -- their eye.
he held a press conference in the oval office and i remember sitting next to him and the press were all over him about, why aren't you being more emotional about this? after all, this is something america and western allies have fought for for 20 years. the president said, i'm not an emotional kind of guy. i'm happy about this, but i don't think we need to dance on the ruins of the berlin wall. guests susanth our glasser and peter baker. what did you see in the comments that ring familiar over your several years or seven years of conversations with jim baker? guest: i am so glad you played that. what a moment that was. the fault of the berlin wall lead to shaping the entire next few years in terms of reordering
, the global order. that was the big project and incredible work that was required of baker and bush from 1989 through 1992. peter and i came to re-appreciate the notion that history is not as inevitable as it seems. baker and states and bush did not cause the berlin wall to fall, in fact, it was a surprise when baker came in a secretary of state a few months earlier and some of the experts at the state department had forared the memo -- a memo him about it and concluded reluctantly that while it was a wonderful goal, it was a fantasy and wasn't going to be happening anytime soon. it was a big shock. they shaped what happened next in a crucial way, and in many ways the diplomacy that resulted in an agreement by the following october enlightening skiing time in the international context --
the following october in lightning speed time, in the international context, it was an incredible day. someone said 1989 might have been the best years of our lives, we just didn't know it at the time. president aquino being there as a guest was very resident, because she was a leader -- as a -- because she was a leader. there was a sense in that moment that freedom was on the march and we were experiencing an inevitable wave of democratization and not going to be backwards. host: he is 90 years old now. is he surprised or disappointed in the rise of russia and the neighboring countries and the
authoritarianism that you point out? guest: i think he is. i think he thinks that is a moment in time that was full of possibility. disappointed. we talked a little in the book on what are some of the reasons why what could have been done differently by the united states to cement changes that were occurring rather than simply encourage them? he would say, should there been a marshall plan for the soviet union to help it build back anchored in the west? he would say there was no appetite for it at the time. we were in a recession and no one did spend money on an enemy who is no longer an enemy. he said the change -- it is a shame we weren't able to do more to solidify the changes that happened. it is the russians who decide
what russia does. .hey sided with the hungarians int: let's hear from ron michigan on the independent line. caller: i wonder if you would -- if you address in your book baker's role in treason in which the united states told south vietnam not to make the deal for peace with diction -- with nixon that led to more debt americans. i am a vietnam veteran. james baker was party to war crimes and treason, plain and simple. he was part of the iran contra, again war crimes and treason. we can praise him all we want, but he was a criminal just like nixon, part of a criminal administration, and he voted for trump, part of a russian gangster criminal organization. guest: just to be clear, that was henry kissinger, not jim baker that the caller is talking
about. baker was blissfully ignorant of politics and that period of his life and still a lawyer in houston. baker wascontra, probably an internal warning light, signaling not to get too involved in the first term of the reagan administration and the wars in latin america, which he viewed as a dangerous once. it was only after he left the white house and became treasury secretary that the actions that would come to be known as iran contra occurred. it in many ways, nancy reagan and others in the reagan administration believed that had baker remained as white house chief of staff or had he become national security advisor as was contemplated at one point, that i rencontre never would have happened, but, of course, back to what might have hand -- happen, baker was often cited as being against it. host: coming from dale in north
barda, he says james baker seemed be a no-nonsense, -- james from dale, he says baker seem to be a no-nonsense man i always paid attention to his view. which president did he get along with best? hadt: he really actually four presidencies. obviously his friendship with george hob which was unique. if you think about history, you can't think of another american president who was as close as he was with the secretary of state most are a political ally or arrival sometimes who is putting the cabinet to bring the party together. these two were friends long before politics. their friendship is so powerful that it meant when baker landed in some foreign capital, it was like a president arriving.
people knew that this man spoke for bush. they said nothing whatever come between him and his president. he had unique credibility. it didn't mean they didn't have their friction, they did. they were like sibling and had some sibling rivalry. there are eight point when baker got into -- there was a point when baker got into busch's face . -- bush's face. busch's bedside as the 41st president is passing away rubbing his feet in his last moments of his life. that is a relationship for a president and secretary of state that would never had. host: james baker had key roles in negotiating between the ofties and the convention 1976 between gerald ford and ronald reagan's campaign and four years later ronald reagan would ask him to come and manage his campaign.
guest: that's right. it is one of the great sort of reinvention acts in politics. he also asked george bush to be his vice president after he accused him of practicing voodoo economics in the 1980 presidential primary. that thes you a lot politic -- that those politics don't exist right now. it wasn't just reagan who had the capacity to bring in someone who works hard against him, but it says a lot about the intrigue in the world around reagan. what we found in doing this book was baker had impressed some of those who worked with reagan as well as himself. they actually made a concerted effort before the 1980 election in the fall of 1980 when it looked like they might win, two decidedn's key advisors
-- they both claim authorship of this idea -- cited they would try to put baker in front and give him some time with governor reagan with the goal of installing him as chief of staff, because their internal rival had been reagan's ideological gatekeeper and then his chief of staff in california , too much disaster. as theefcase was known place that papers went to die. they didn't think he was capable of having this most important staff job in the united states. there was a lot of tension and intrigue and that reagan inner circle that led to this, but says something very interesting about reagan that he agreed to it and embraced baker and saw him as the executor and implementer of his ideas, even though baker was viewed with suspicion, especially by many of the ideological believers of the reagan revolution. rory on thes
republican line. caller: basically baker was a sounding board for reagan and bush. he was the republican conservative type thing that had to be done. the democrats have shown had to be done because they are now very mitch -- very much socialists and communists in this country. he was right to do what he did. the president didn't like him a lot all the time, but he was necessary. that's it. and susanmake glasser, any thoughts? -- jim baker and susan glasser, any thoughts? suspected he wasn't fully committed, partly because he worked for two candidates who would run against and was
associated with four and bush. baker always was a conservative in a real way. he is from texas and his instincts are conservatives. you see tension in politics between idealism and ideology and what do you do things to get things done? for baker it was more important to get things done. reagan was a strong conservative. he also wanted to get stuff done. baker close him as saying that reagan would say, i'm going to get 80% of what i want rather than flying my flag over the cliff on something he wasn't going to get. he was always about the art of the deal, about making deals. a conservative base but willing to give up things to get what he wanted. guest: just to be clear, the people he made deals with work democrats. he came from a different era when you don't call them communist when you disagree with them. host: our guests are peter baker
and susan glasser on their book about james baker. --2) 748-8000 four democrats for democrats. (202) 748-8002, for others. we had a color that said your book should be taught in schools -- we had a caller who said your book should be taught in schools. if you had the class, where would you rate james baker in terms of the great cabinets of the past, so-called team of rivals under lincoln or fdr's cabinet? guest: in a lot of ways, the bush national security team where the most cohesive national security team probably in modern times you had jim aker at the state. you had that she had jim baker at the state. colin powell who was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. you had bush himself.
five of them along with a handful of others like bob gates and so forth, were super collegial in their work and collaboration together. they didn't always agree, but they were trying to knife fight all the time. i think that is something we don't see a lot in washington these days. it was cohesive, i keep coming back to that word, that allowed them to deal with these big issues that minimized differences in order to achieve different things. host: go ahead susan glasser. guest: it was cohesive and also consequential. if you are looking at why you might study it, this approach was at a time when it was required. our policies descended into name-calling and politicians who exist in order to win reelection. there was very bitter partisan
policy at this time, but the goal was to get something done. i think you have to look at the record of what these people did in office as being something that really stands out. baker was able to reform social security with democrats. ofworked on the tax reform 1986, when he was treasury secretary, was the first and only major comments of rewrite of the tax code we have seen. and then you look at the first thing he did after the very divisive 1988 election, which was really a brutal knife fight against michael dukakis, but he went to thet democrats and came up with an end to the divisive fights that thelasted and much of 1980's for the funding of the contra wars in latin america. and then there is the dealmaking with the soviets and the
coalition and assembling the coalition that foster -- fought the first gulf war. baker brought so many internet coalition and it was almost the first conflict in american history that turn a profit. host: we did a special on the program on political advertising . what was james baker's view of the notorious willie horton ad that was run in that campaign? guest: it is part of baker's legacy. politics as well as policy. in that particular case, that specific ad that has become so famous over the years was not actually aired by the bush campaign itself. it was aired by a separate, independent conservative group that supported bush. the bush campaign itself ran an ad that didn't use the name or face, but did highlight the program that willie horton was elated to. they did talk about willie horton a lot. they said at one point, i'm
going to make willie horton be my running mate. it is not like he didn't have anything to do with it at ad itself was not baker's creation. he asked for them to take it down. we asked him about that and that was the one moment he said that the willie horton ad was probably something that was over the top and went too far but then takes a back and says, look, we had to win. we had to do what we had to do to win. they were 17 points down and came back to win the most extraordinary upset and presidential history to that date. host: let's go to sam, democrats line, maryland. caller: i address this question to susan glasser, who i read in the new yorker every week, knock strong, and rightly so. he is the worst president in american history. he is the biggest liar in american history. he is the most incompetent present to didn't -- incompetent president and you say that week
after week after week and baker voted for him in 2016 and says he is going to vote him -- for him in 2020. how can you take jim baker seriously? he is a clown. guest: i appreciate you reading the new yorker for prescribing in the difficult times for journalism. i a way for peter and covering the top administration and writing a book like this, to celebrate our subjects or denigrate them, but to understand them. power.ok is a study of it is not a celebration of it. as i mentioned earlier in the program, peter and i spent seven years talking with secretary baker over his very conflicted feelings about trump. andees trump for who he is it is not a very flattering portrait. aker is a realist.
eventually -- baker is a realist. sameu ask a question the -- if yes the same question five years in a row, you may not the same answer. it is something that has been telling over the extreme partisanship, but baker has chosen very consciously at the age of 90 and understood what we were asking him that this would be reported. i think he made a decision and a choice and wants to be remembered primarily as a republican who helped to build this party, whatever has become. who are close to secretary baker and worked closely with him who were surprised and disappointed. many democrats as well as republicans have held baker in the highest regard and understand uniquely was skilled and gifted in the art of working
the powers here in washington. one of the last times we saw him in person was at the anniversary of the baker institute at rice university. the person that baker chose to come and appear alongside him was barack obama. they spoke about many things they agreed upon in terms of politics. but it isrd story, one that we had to look squarely in the face. host: when was the last time you talk to him and how is he doing? guest: he actually got covid this summer. he and his wife were isolated at the ranch from family. it was a rotten case. it knocked him for a loop. he said at one point he was in bed for five days straight. 90 years old and yet they both have recovered. thank goodness for that. he is already elk hunting so that tells you about his
constitution. the book came out and he seems good and strong. at age 90, we should all be so lucky. host: that's good to hear. end, orar from bill and a non-come the republican line. from bill in bend, oregon on. . caller: it was amazing what has happened when james baker and the cabinet from ronald ragan in the first four years of reagan's administration, things were rough. everybody knows how successful james baker and ronald reagan and the cabinet pulled it together with an amazing administration. i complement james baker, at 90 years old, out elk hunting.
i am only 62 and i have struggled to keep up with mr. baker. that is awesome. what a great icon of our nation, a great man. i wish him the best, and the two of you they're sitting in front of the tv, thank you very much for writing that. i will get to know more and more about the man be astonished how great a man james baker was. i thank you. guest: thank you very much. host: let me ask you -- i think we answer this question. is there a similar figure working in government today and either party and i think you answered no peer but one more question, it sounds like a great book -- answered no. but one more question, that is david in new york. guest: baker is a religious man. people don't know that about him
because he is perceived to be more moderate. , they read the bible every day. he is a spiritual man. he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. that is the difference between him and some. it helped him through difficult times. helped himt really through the moment. question, are you two together or independently working on another book russian mark -- book? guest: we are jumping a third time together and will be doing a book after the election and will be working on the trump presidency and these incredible last four years we have all seen. you can read susan glasser regularly in the new yorker and
peter baker is the chief white house correspondent for the new york times. the new book is the man who ran washington, life and times of james >> c-span's washington journal, every day were taking your calls live on air on the news of the day and we discussed policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, discussion of the senate republicans and trump administrations review of the 2016 fbi-russia probe, and then we will talk about campaign 2020 with the chair of the democratic super pac priorities usa watch live at 7:00 eastern monday morning, and be sure to enjoyed the discussion with her phone calls, facebook comments, texts, and tweets. >> coronavirus was on the topics
on the sunday news programs. we will hear from hhs secretary alex azar on the administration response and the development of the vaccine after house speaker nancy pelosi answers a question on a proposed timeline for 48 hour reaching an agreement on a covid relief bill. >> you have to have a national plan. you cannot leave it up to the states. if you don't get that agreement in the 48-hour diet -- deadline, what happens? >> the 48 only matters if we want to get done before the election, which we do. were saying we have to phrase the design on some of these things, and what is the language.