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tv   Public Affairs  CSPAN  November 22, 2012 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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where there is quite bipartisan support. one of those areas? number one is a sustainable federal budget compromise. that is widely accepted by all sides. number two, high skilled immigration is one of our abilities to inject new skills into the economy to build jobs that need to be built in america to sustain our growth. it is critical step that we can take now. we have got to realign the corporate tax code. everyone agrees. we just did a survey that includes members of the general public. 70% of the general public
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believes we need to simplify. we cannot have the tax code that has higher rates and more complexity than anywhere else in the world. we have got to address the system that really hurts- innovation and high technology economy. we did not worry about those when we were doing well, but they are getting in the way of progress we have got to go through the process in a simpler and more logical and efficient way. this is the number one thing thousands of business people said was the biggest barrier to investing in the u.s. we have got to upgrade our infrastructure, but we have got to focus on those that are
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economically important. we have got to understand the things that are driving up the cost of doing business. we know what those are, but we need a plan for going forward we need to create a framework for rapidly developing and the windfall. we have a path to energy independence. that is a bridge to renewable energy. if we can move to dass, we get tremendous benefits -- if we can move to gas, we can get tremendous and benefits. we have not been able to act on these things. >> let me jump to doug and steve and try to poke holes in this in a second. if we roll back time to just
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before the financial crisis, doug was out there bitching about already, but it is much worse. we are back to 156% of gdp. you are still in crisis mode. you have a private sector and events that led to a government response and a worsening of debt issues, so my question is why is it never on this list to get the private sector in control? there is nothing here saying we need to bring that down, so it is a question i want to ask you.
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the question is, if you think about restoring the u.s. economy and the u.s. consumer, i do not know where you get a growth if you leave the private suite where it is now. >> we try to get the transparency on the balance sheets. we have done dodd-frank. that takes care of making sure it does not fall apart. >> no more corruption. things have been done. and smith i think the biggest problem is the flip side. -- i think the biggest problem is the flip side. that is driving the fact we have financial problems. that is driving the in the
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quality problems. -- that any quality problems. we are going to younever fixed n the quality problem if we do not get ahead of it. >> i think there are a lot of things to focus on. to me there are many issues. there is one that is central. this country was a startup. it has grown to be the leader of the free world on the backs of not just the patriots but entrepreneurs who took risks are not just companies but entire industries, and we need to build on five. other countries have gotten much
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more focused on of entrepreneurship. they are saving -- changing their policy around capital investment and research to drive more of the ideation side of it. we are seeing a globalization. we are still the leader, and we can build on it. >> is there evidence? >> it is based on where the entrepreneurship is coming, but other countries are stepping up. the venture from the fact facebook, a decade ago they were in silicon valley. good that says the context of. -- that sets the context.
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the one area congress did work together in a bipartisan way was just starting the job site. illegalized crown funding. it is important for entrepreneurs. >> you like the free market. >> i like entrepreneurs, but government has zero set the context. -- house to set the context. there is more work to be done. there is a bill but was introduced in a bipartisan way that deals with high skilled immigration, some of the issues over regulations. now they are focused on passing
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the start of. we take the step and focus on creating these new industries. while we are having these discussions, other nations are racing forward, but i look at it like the glass is half full. >> can i invite some pessimism? >> i am fundamentally optimistic that now that i am in this town i drink every night. it is unbelievable. we have big problems. if you think about the structure, we have huge programs that are serving older americans, and those are crushing discretionary funds,
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the core function of government where you invest in the future, so our government allows a path to the future. that is fundamentally bad. we have to agree innovation will solve all of our problems, our education problems, our energy problems, but we have changed the game completely, but we have to compete. those are transferred to the rest of the world. >> i want to jump to bob, and when you go around the world before 9-11, and you ask what they thought of the united , they admire the united
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states. they looked at the united states as the plays that could pull a rabbit out of i have and reinvent itself. they see a nation constrained , we talked to tim geithner. can you tell other economies what to do? it has been limited. when you look at barack obama's meeting in london when the global economy was on fire, it is interesting. she laid down the gauntlet we are not going to play by the rules. it has been interesting to look at the limits we have influencing a nation like germany. i asked you, do you think america can influence the
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international system? i would love to see how you see the challenges ahead and put them in a geostrategic all context. >> i think it is as important as a strong military. i think economics is an answer of rebates as important as traditional policy. i think we have moved from an era where rates are the measure of a nation's strength or vulnerability to an era where sovereign interest rates are a measure of strength or vulnerability. angela merkel can tell you what the spread is on the most recent greek bond auction -- option.
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the world has always looked to the u.s. in a somewhat perplexed fashion. people thought we would never get off the ground all those years ago. they are at once cheering for us to be successful, but bottom line is we came through a crisis. japan and an undervalued currency in china. i think it is time to recommit to the three elements of a successful global economy. i will give real credit to the obama administration. it has been very good on investment.
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foreign investment in the u.s. creates jobs that are disproportionately exports oriented. this is capital we should be fighting for. i think we need to approach trade with the same degree of confidence, and i think the world is ready to engage in this. angela merkel oppose the free trade agreement. i think we should go for it. there is a trans-pacific partnership negotiated. let's proceed with confidence, because i think people want to succeed.
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>> jonathan would pound the chinese with this thing. what are you going to do if mitt romney calls china a currency manipulator? china did not believe romney would do that, but what is interesting is bill would send these notes out saying barack obama is a bigger thatcher -- china basher. it was a real who issue during the debate. as everyone remember talking about china? we are talking about china. we are talking about 1 billion people coming on line. we got into a discussion about
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china, and on and said, if we are not careful, china will amex the content of -- annex the continents of africa. if we get this stuff right, is this directed at making us feel good, or view gain ground in a competitive environment against china? >> we have real strength in america upgraded we have strengths in higher education, a lot of science and technology. we have allowed a lot of unnecessary costs of doing business suit rebop -- to creep up. all the other countries have taskforce louis of national
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leaders but work every day to drive -- task forces of national leaders at work every day to make it simpler to do business, so what has happened is we have taken for granted we have these great strengths. we are talking about keeping our infrastructure modern. we are talking about not throwing all sorts of obstacles in terms of regulatory approaches. the real concern is how can we take action. how can we be strategic? how can we start taking an initiative again in moving this country. >> you think that is possible beaumont -- it is possible?
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there is a lot of strategy. we have a world where we wait for a crisis and then moves. these are your pals. is it fun? second, i agree with a lot of where michael is trying to take us, but i also want to look of the world as it is, not as i hope it might be, and i guess the question is, do you believe there's a chance for strategic response as opposed to a reactive response because of the inability to get along with the white house? >> we do not get along. that has been true for a long time. i think we have to go to a different kind of leadership
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where presidential leadership meant here is what america needs. i will send this bill to congress and say we need to do this. it gives them air cover. >> maybe obama ought to make bill clinton the fiscal cliff envoy y. >> this is really an important. first, better internal leadership. i want to get back to what bob said. we have to be more outward focus. we have given up engaging in africa, and all the income growth, having those helps us in defense issues and other things, and we are not doing fine now.
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-- doing that now. >> the easiest way, so maybe we get in right. let's negotiate the first trade agreement in over 40 years. president obama is the first president not to negotiate a trade agreement. >> those were negotiated by the previous administration. good the bottom line is we have an opportunity right now to knock down barriers. you get overwhelming support from that. i think it would have been tougher the first term. there is an opportunity to move forward. we need to help our current trading partners get in right so we can all engage china and the
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other markets in a way that serves everyone. >> the world still conveys -- still envies financial innovation. they are good at scaling. they are not so good at inventing. i want to go back to this issue of bipartisan support and talk about the republican side. the president did create an entrepreneurship. that got the ball rolling. they also launched a startup america of program that focused
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more on and on the company's. we also focused on the private sector effort. we made a road map to get this back. the white house so that, and that led to the job site, which got done because the president thought if done -- got into the table. 80% of republicans and democrats voted for that. the reason is because all the job growth is from four companies. you want to get 8% unemployment rate down. the place to double down and focus is innovation and entrepreneurship. now the election is over. this is recognition this is important. there are many issues being debated.
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they are all important issues. the most important thing is making sure we build on this. >> i do not mean to pick on the president. i liked the idea that you start on things where there is a lot of agreement, but looking at trade and who will help. -- looking at trade will help. they do not even know each other, and they have no idea what the common ground is. >> i guess the concern is how apple does not make any thing in america. what does that tell us? we have made the cost and
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complexity of doing business in this country prohibitive, and we have not risen our skill base enough to have employees that can earn about high wage -- earn the high wage. i think so entrepreneurship is part of the solution and it has been bipartisan to support small business. we have to support of all business. i come back to a lot of this is blocking and tackling. it is being strategic. our alumni are all over the world, and our international alumni have been even more anxious to the school put this on.
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we believe most of the people in the rest of the world actually understand this. we have been able to lead the opening in global economy. we have been able to create some positive dynamic in the way the global economy is developed, and without america pushing, what are the alternatives? do we really liked the chinese model? >> of course business in general we want to support. if you look at job growth, it is not from small business. it is not from big business. i love small businesses. there is a good article even this week.
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small business and large business are great. the future of america is going to be young companies. that is where we need to focus. the jobs active does that. we need to make sure we remain a startup nation. >> when we go around and i asked what people think the source of american power is, they say the pentagon or the size of the federal debt. if you are the biggest debtor in the world, it gives you a certain power. are you optimistic these can be reversed? >> i am very optimistic about america's future. i think we have to get our house right, but we have to be prepared to engage with confidence abroad. we still are the shining light on the hill people look to. they are disappointed when we do not deliver. we are disappointed when we do not deliver.
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i think we can find a way to move forward. it is not going to be simple. our government takes longer to get things done than the real economy would like. and we have got to intersect the real and political economy, but i am optimistic we can make progress. >> thank you so much. >> i am like dr. doom. i come on stage. >> next, the medal of honor winners talk about their lives and experiences. that is followed by a look at the lives of teenagers in the white house. at 8 eastern, tom brokaw moderates a discussion on the treatment of returning veterans.
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joining him are colin powell. the editor in chief discusses the potential impact of pending fiscal close budget cuts on the federal work force. then the future of the postal service, which has lost $16 billion in 2012 and a look at consumer confidence, plus your phone calls, e-mails, and tweets. live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c- span. in 2007, the staff sergeant took action during an ambush in afghanistan. in 2010, president obama awarded him the medal of honor, the highest military honor given.
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we are going to assure you that ceremony and a discussion with james livingston on their lives and experiences. ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states
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and michelle obama. ♪ let us pray. almighty god, we invite your presence as we gather to recognize these extraordinary actions, an american soldier, a patriot, and hero. our hearts resonate with the noble theme of mercy more than life. may our remembrance let us know that we have selfless warriors living among us today. as we remember his actions, may we also remember that all of our armed forces stand across the world today.
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may we all recommit ourselves to selfless service for our families and fellow citizens. this inspires renewed unity in our own lands. to celebrate this day, we recognize his parents. may we recognize the safe return of their loved one. let us never to give thanks more than we do right now, to
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those who paid the glorious liberty which we enjoy. this we pray in your holy name. >> good afternoon, everybody. please be seated. on behalf of michelle and myself, welcome to the white house. thank you, chaplain carver, for that beautiful invocation. of all the privileges that come with serving as president of the united states, i have none greater than serving as commander-in-chief of the finest military that the world has ever known. and of all the military decorations that a president and a nation can bestow, there is
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none higher than the medal of honor. today is particularly special. since the end of the vietnam war, the medal of honor has been awarded nine times for conspicuous gallantry in an ongoing or recent conflict. sadly, our nation has been unable to present this decoration to the recipients themselves, because each gave his life -- his last full measure of devotion -- for our country. indeed, as president, i have presented the medal of honor three times -- and each time to the families of a fallen hero. today, therefore, marks the first time in nearly 40 years that the recipient of the medal of honor for an ongoing
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conflict has been able to come to the white house and accept this recognition in person. it is my privilege to present our nation's highest military decoration, the medal of honor, to a soldier as humble as he is heroic, staff sergeant salvatore a. giunta. now, i'm going to go off-script here for a second and just say i really like this guy. i think anybody -- we all just get a sense of people and who they are, and when you meet sal and you meet his family, you are just absolutely convinced that this is what america is all about. and it just makes you proud. and so this is a joyous occasion for me -- something that i have been looking forward to. the medal of honor reflects the gratitude of an entire nation. so we are also joined here
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today by several members of congress, including both senators and several representatives from staff sergeant giunta's home state of iowa. we are also joined by leaders from across my administration and the department of defense, including the secretary of defense, robert gates, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen. where's mike? there he is, right there. army secretary john mchugh, and chief of staff of the army, general george casey. we are especially honored to be joined by staff sergeant giunta's fellow soldiers, his teammates and brothers from battle company, 2d of the 503d of the 173d airborne brigade, and several members of that rarest of fraternities that now
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welcomes him into its ranks -- the medal of honor society. please give them a big round of applause. we also welcome the friends and family who made staff sergeant giunta into the man that he is, including his lovely wife, jenny, and his parents, steven and rosemary, as well as his siblings, who are here. it was his mother, after all, who apparently taught him as a young boy in small-town iowa how to remove the screen from his bedroom window in case of fire. what she didn't know was that
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by teaching sal how to jump from his bedroom and sneaking off in the dead of night, she was unleashing a future paratrooper [laughter] -- who would one day fight in the rugged mountains of afghanistan 7,000 miles away. during the first of his two tours of duty in afghanistan, staff sergeant giunta was forced early on to come to terms with the loss of comrades and friends. his team leader at the time gave him a piece of advice, "you just try -- you just got to try to do everything you can when it's your time to do it." you've just got to try to do everything you can when it's your time to do it. salvatore giunta's time came on
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october 25, 2007. he was a specialist then, just 22 years old. sal and his platoon were several days into a mission in the korengal valley -- the most dangerous valley in northeast afghanistan. the moon was full. the light it cast was enough to travel by without using their night-vision goggles. with heavy gear on their backs, and air support overhead, they made their way single file down a rocky ridge crest, along terrain so steep that sliding was sometimes easier than walking. they hadn't traveled a quarter mile before the silence was shattered. it was an ambush, so close that the cracks of the guns and the whizz of the bullets were simultaneous. tracer fire hammered the ridge at hundreds of rounds per minute -- "more," sal said later, "than the stars in the sky." the apache gunships above saw it
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all, but couldn't engage with the enemy so close to our soldiers. the next platoon heard the shooting, but were too far away to join the fight in time. and the two lead men were hit by enemy fire and knocked down instantly. when the third was struck in the helmet and fell to the ground, sal charged headlong into the wall of bullets to pull him to safety behind what little cover there was. as he did, sal was hit twice -- one round slamming into his body armor, the other shattering a weapon slung across his back. they were pinned down, and two wounded americans still lay up ahead. so sal and his comrades regrouped and counterattacked. they threw grenades, using the explosions as cover to run forward, shooting at the muzzle flashes still erupting from the trees. then they did it again. and again. throwing grenades, charging ahead. finally, they reached one of their men. he'd been shot twice in the leg, but he had kept returning fire until his gun jammed.
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as another soldier tended to his wounds, sal sprinted ahead, at every step meeting relentless enemy fire with his own. he crested a hill alone, with no cover but the dust kicked up by the storm of bullets still biting into the ground. there, he saw a chilling sight, the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying the other wounded american away -- who happened to be one of sal's best friends. sal never broke stride. he leapt forward. he took aim. he killed one of the insurgents and wounded the other, who ran off. sal found his friend alive, but badly wounded. sal had saved him from the enemy -- now he had to try to save his life. even as bullets impacted all around him, sal grabbed his friend by the vest and dragged him to cover. for nearly half an hour, sal
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worked to stop the bleeding and help his friend breathe until the medevac arrived to lift the wounded from the ridge. american gunships worked to clear the enemy from the hills. and with the battle over, first platoon picked up their gear and resumed their march through the valley. they continued their mission. it had been as intense and violent a firefight as any soldier will experience. by the time it was finished, every member of first platoon had shrapnel or a bullet hole in their gear. five were wounded. and two gave their lives, sal's friend, sergeant joshua c. brennan, and the platoon medic, specialist hugo v. mendoza. now, the parents of joshua and hugo are here today. and i know that there are no words that, even three years later, can ease the ache in your hearts or repay the debt that america owes to you.
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but on behalf of a grateful nation, let me express profound thanks to your sons' service and their sacrifice. and could the parents of joshua and hugo please stand briefly? now, i already mentioned i like this guy, sal. and as i found out myself when i first spoke with him on the phone and when we met in the oval office today, he is a low-
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key guy, a humble guy, and he doesn't seek the limelight. and he'll tell you that he didn't do anything special, that he was just doing his job, that any of his brothers in the unit would do the same thing. in fact, he just lived up to what his team leader instructed him to do years before, "you do everything you can." staff sergeant giunta, repeatedly and without hesitation, you charged forward through extreme enemy fire, embodying the warrior ethos that says, "i will never leave a fallen comrade." your actions disrupted a devastating ambush before it could claim more lives. your courage prevented the capture of an american soldier and brought that soldier back to his family. you may believe that you don't deserve this honor, but it was your fellow soldiers who recommended you for it. in fact, your commander specifically said in his recommendation that you lived up to the standards of the most decorated american soldier of world war ii, audie murphy, who famously repelled an overwhelming enemy attack by himself for one simple reason,
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"they were killing my friends." that's why salvatore giunta risked his life for his fellow soldiers -- because they would risk their lives for him. that's what fueled his bravery -- not just the urgent impulse to have their backs, but the absolute confidence that they had his. one of them, sal has said -- of these young men that he was with, he said, "they are just as much of me as i am." they are just as much of me as i am.
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so i would ask sal's team, all of battle company who were with him that day, to please stand and be recognized as well. [applause] gentlemen, thank you for your service. we're all in your debt. and i'm proud to be your commander-in-chief. these are the soldiers of our armed forces.
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highly trained. battle-hardened. each with specialized roles and responsibilities, but all with one thing in common -- they volunteered. in an era when it's never been more tempting to chase personal ambition or narrow self- interest, they chose the opposite. they felt a tug, they answered a call, they said, "i'll go." and for the better part of a decade, they have endured tour after tour in distant and difficult places, they have protected us from danger, they have given others the opportunity to earn a better and more secure life. they are the courageous men and women serving in afghanistan even as we speak. they keep clear focus on their mission, to deny safe haven for terrorists who would attack our country, to break the back of the taliban insurgency, to build the afghans' capacity to defend themselves. they possess the steely resolve to see their mission through. they are made of the same strong stuff as the troops in this room, and i am absolutely confident that they will
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continue to succeed in the missions that we give them, in afghanistan and beyond. after all, our brave servicemen and women and their families have done everything they've been asked to do. they have been everything that we have asked them to be." if i am a hero," sal has said, "then every man who stands around me, every woman in the military, every person who defends this country is." and he's right. this medal today is a testament to his uncommon valor, but also to the parents and the community that raised him, the military that trained him, and all the men and women who served by his side. all of them deserve our enduring thanks and gratitude. they represent a small fraction of the american population, but they and the families who await their safe return carry far more
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than their fair share of our burden. they fight halfway around the globe, but they do it in hopes that our children and our grandchildren won't have to. they are the very best part of us. they are our friends, our family, our neighbors, our classmates, our coworkers. they are why our banner still waves, our founding principles still shine, and our country -- the united states of america -- still stands as a force for good all over the world. so, please join me in welcoming staff sergeant salvatore a. giunta for the reading of the citation. >> the president of the united states of america, authorized by act of congress, march 3, 1863, has awarded, in the name of congress, the medal of honor to then specialist salvatore a. giunta, united states army. specialist salvatore a. giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, in action, with an armed enemy in the korengal
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valley, afghanistan, on october 25, 2007. while conducting a patrol as team leader, with company b, 2d battalion airborne, 503d infantry regiment, specialist giunta and his team were navigating through harsh terrain when they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force. while under heavy enemy fire, specialist giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. seeing that his squad leader had fallen, and believing that he had been injured, specialist giunta exposed himself to
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withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover and administered medical aid. while administering first aid, enemy fire struck special giunta's body armor and his secondary weapon. without regard to the ongoing fire, specialist giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, specialist giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. the team continued forward, and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, specialist giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. specialist giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. as he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an american soldier. he immediately engaged the
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enemy, killing one and wounding the other. upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security. specialist giunta's unwavering courage, selflessness and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow american soldier from the enemy. specialist salvatore a. giunta's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, company b, 2d battalion airborne, 503d infantry regiment and the united states army. [applause] >> may his compassionate actions
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inspire us all to do the same for generations to come. [applause]
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please give them great wisdom in roles that lie before them where they continue with dignity, honor, courage, and the humility. may your wisdom rest of our president to serve our great country. god bless the marriage of our armed services. god bless america. amen. >> thank you so much, everybody. let's give him one more big round of applause.
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[applause] >> next two medal recipients from the vietnam war talk about why they joined the military. the medal of honor is the highest u.s. military honor and is usually presented by the president of the united states. this is about 40 minutes. >> >> i am proud and honored today to introduce two of america's
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military's greatest individuals. salvatore giunta is a former staff sergeant in the united states army, the first living person to receive the united states highest award for valor. the second is james e. livingston. he was awarded the united states highest military decoration during the vietnam war. he served on active duty in the marine corps of our 33 years before returning on september 1, 1995. his decorations included the medal of honor, silver star
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medal, a bronze star medal, purpleheart, navy accommodation medal. i now present the major general and staff sgt. [applause] >> the start of this in 2006. jerry served at hotels and conference centers in new york and northern virginia. while serving as general manager as a resort in leesburg, he founded the national medal of honor society. 15 recipients participated. they went on to raise a total of $150,000.
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this continues to this day. in addition to volunteering, he also volunteers for the church hill center which was founded in 1968. he is the proud father of three children who have also volunteered over the years. he took winston churchill's lifestyle very seriously. the wine flowed very freely. >> welcome. good afternoon.
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is this microphone on? can you hear me now? july 12, 1962, president abraham lincoln signed a joint resolution that created the first medal of honor. the first recipient was presented to an army won in 1963. today there are only 81 living recipients of the medal of
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honor. i'm very honored to be here with two of these great american heroes. before i asked general livingston for some questions. i fell one of the most interesting facts, is as whether a woman would be asked to be president of the united states. do we know there was one woman who earned the medal of honor? let me tell you a little bit about her.
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dr. mary walker was born in 1832. she was a prisoner during the american civil war. she was assigned to duty as an assistant surgeon. she served as a contract surgeon and the service of the united states. she was not a commission officer. she was an early leader of women's rights in america. she wore pants. she cause a big scandal back in the day. president andrew johnson presented her with our country's highest military award, the medal of honor. she wore that pinned to her chest. it was rescinded in 1917 with 900 and others. she refused to return the medal
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of honor. she wore it stubbornly and proudly to her death. the story does not end here. jimmy carter restored her medal of honor. we do have one woman who has received the medal of honor. you can read about her on the medal of honor website. i like to start with you. in your book, there's a wonderful photo a few swearing in your daughter in 1991. do you want to tell us about that experience? >> let me acknowledge a special lady first of all. i was coming to her early today. last time we saw her husband we were at a bar in georgia. we have a couple of years to get there. it is good to see you. he gets to see all of these veterans.
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i was very pleased to hear about the stories of the korean war. my daughter is a very special person. she was 17 years old. we doctor at the naval academy and got on an airplane and went to the philippines. to is by yourself or a year before she came to visit us. she excelled in the naval academy. she became a flag sergeant. we are just proud of her. put as far as women in the military, i am convinced there is a great place for ladies in the military. i am also convinced the place is not to be on the front lines. and not think that is the place even for men to be some time. this is something we can all be particularly proud of. this was done with an exceptionally fine job. i am pleased to have the opportunity to serve.
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we welcome to the ranks and except on the frontlines of combat that they can do any job any man can do. >> would you like to share your thoughts and comments? >> i did not serve with any ladies in the military really. it is one team, one fight. to defend this country and to stand up for this country, we are all capable of it.
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we say 18 years old is when you should come in. we are all capable of doing everything we want as long as we set our minds to it. that is a level playing field. >> this talk about that you brew up in georgia. the graduate a year before i was born. there is a great quote in your book. you need to go back to school and do better or write this tractor for the rest of your life. tell us what happened after that.
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>> i was going to north georgia college military school. they had me locked up for a year trying to get my grades to be a little bit better. my dad allow me to transfer to auburn university. i joined a fraternity which i never should have done. i parted for a quarter. when i got my report from the first quarter, they were all f's. my dad brought me home. he said i could work on his tractor go back to auburn and study hard. i graduated in 1962.
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there remain a defining moment in my life. that was a very defining moment. >> why did you decide to join the marine corps? what lessons did you learn about leadership during york trad -- during your training? >> after i attended north georgia college, back in those days you had to have two years of rotc. i went to auburn university and i had one year of r.o.t.c. remaining. i joined the air force because i did not want to carry a rifle. i finished my two years and i got my draft notice in 1961. i had all intentions of graduating from auburn and going to work as a civil engineer and never had anything to do with the military. i got my draft notice income across ago looking marine purity city could go to quantico and they will get you in good shape.
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i had to do both boot camps and one summer. -- in one summer. i then went back and graduated in joined the marine corps. it was the most defining experience of my life. i have all intention of staying in three years and getting out. as i got involved with the people in the leadership and the mission of the marine corps and what we're doing for the country and just the experience itself, i decided to stay. it was a great opportunity for me to serve the country. what i learned from that experience is everyone that you meet in the military and the country has something to offer. everyone has something to offer. everyone is capable of doing something. you are more capable of doing
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more than what you expect to can do. i always say that we always raise the bar higher. that was some of the experiences. people are extraordinary. the young marines were exceptional all through my career. >> your younger days were a bit different. i read that you grep up in iowa. you worked at a subway sandwich shop. >> i did. i was a stand which artists. -- sandwich artists. >> you served under john
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fitzgerald kennedy. why did you decide to join the united states army? >> i was a senior in high school. i graduate in in 2003. i did not really feel like going to school anymore. i did not want to go to college. i did not know what i wanted to do. one night i was mopping the floors around 930 or 10:00 at night. a subway was closed and a regular commercial came on and something to the tune of see the recruiters to get a free t- shirt. i was working as subway. i wanted a free t-shirt. that sounded fun. i went down there and talked to the recruiter. he told me what they tell you. we are a nation at war. we have been at war in iraq since 2003 and afghanistan since 2001.
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if you want to make a tangible difference, join the military. i thought that was pretty solid. i took the shirt and i left. what he said to me really resonated. all these privileges and freedoms we have as americans and given to a so really, at such a great cost. they come from the costs of other people that have provided us this lifestyle. all these people have something in common that they have stood for sending more than themselves. i thought that sounded like something i wanted to do. i am proud to be an american. the best way i could do that was to join the army. i went in and i told them wanted to join the army. he asked me what i wanted to do. i did not know. i thought you just joined and they decided. i had to come up with something. what do want to do? spit and fight bad guys.
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there was a parachute hanging in the office. of searching for something. i said jump out of planes. he said that is an extra $150 a month. i wanted to do it. i signed up for four years. >> you were decorated with the medal of honor by president nixon in may 1974 your heroic actions. in looking back, how did the training you receive help you have the courage to take the heroic action you took that day? >> the defining moment was witnessing the young americans that i was certain with.
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and understanding the intensity. the head into companies up until that point. they had been wiped out. this is a thing that i remember most about that particular battle. the thing that i liked it is back morning we had a company totally pinned down. later we found that there were 10 vietnamese in that area. i had 180 marines. we had to go across a rice patty that was totally open to help rescue that particular company. at 5:00 in the morning, i tell these young marines to fix bayonets and we are going. there is no moment of the legislation -- of hesitation. there is no looking back. they wanted to rescue their fellow marines. i tell you what. that particular moment in my life, to see that happen with a 19 year-old marines, it is a defining moment in my life. how great and how lucky this country is to have young people here would be in a situation of that sort on that morning who did not realize what would happen to them.
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as a consequence, 35 marines walked away from that engagement. it was not over. i said we have to sell up and held the other country. the 35 remaining marines are hesitating. it is an indication of the exceptional quality of the people who are wanting to serve this country today your and never was so proud to see how what they would do in a moment of difficulty, how they would rise to the occasion. i did not answer your question. it was a message to wanted to get out. we are blessed in this country.
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>> president truman often said he would rather wear the medal of honor then the president of the united states. you received the medal of honor by president obama. what did he say to you when you were presented with it? >> that is a difficult question. i do not remember that so much.
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that he was proud of me and that the country was proud of me. one thing for me that that it, it is not for me. i've never been in a gunfight or battle alone. i've never been asked to do anything alone. we have always done it together. it is not about the individual. it is about the team and the person to the left and right of you. that at the white house thing with the president was something very special. to see my buddies that i fought alongside with receiving the accolades was something very special that validated what we were doing and that people did appreciate what was going on in the small pockets of the
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mountains in afghanistan. he told me he was proud of us. >> we have a very important election coming up in a few days. a few questions about the democratic process. i like to know your thoughts on the democratic process here in america. some people have to live under the role of dictators and elected leaders. >> i just about the number of people in the world today that have an opportunity to vote an exercise that democratic process because young americans were willing to go into harm's way.
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as i listen to the korean veterans, south korea. i listened to the world war ii veterans in thing of all the people in the world who have the opportunity to exercise that right to vote and elect their leaders. the thing i would say about this great country we call america is we are the greatest hope of the world. we absolutely need a strong, responsive, at least from upfront america. -- lead from up front america. if we did not have that, i'm not sure where we would be today. your responsibility is beyond my ability to express. what you represent not only to your country but to the people of the world.
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i am really honored to have a chance to have served this great nation and witnessed through the years what we have done for the world's, specifically what those who have served have done for the world where people can exercise the freedom to vote. >> i am 27 years old. this'll be my first time voting. i say that because when i was in the military, i spent all my times overseas. i did not want to have to vote on something and then find out the person i wanted did not win and the decision on what we were going to do was going to be up to someone else. i am excited about voting. i feel bad that i am 27 and it will be my first time ever have. i am excited for its. this'll be a good step for me to actually participate in my own government.
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i'm pretty proud of it. we should. a lot of people still do not have that opportunity. we are very blessed to be able to have that opportunity. >> for those individuals here who decide to serve in the military, how does that leadership and experience better prepare them for civilian life and work in the private sector? >> i think the biggest, and i can say in answering that question, i think the thing that really defines the military and how it translates to the civilian sector is to learn about people. if you want to be successful in the military, you do it through other people. you have great expectations of other people. i look at the ceo's in the country. they do not do by themselves. they are able to delegate and get people authority and responsibility and empower people to get the job done.
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regardless if you're in the military or the ceo of a company, if you have the ability to really understand and empower and delegate requirements to people, people will perform for you. there's really no difference between the military and the civilian world. the person who knows how to deal with people can be successful either in the military or as a ceo on wall street. >> i think the military has given almost all my experiences. too often in the civilian world you have a boss.
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in the military they have a leader. they're like to say follow me i'm going to do this. i will show you how to do it. next time you do it. they can still be your boss but first and foremost they are leaders. the military taught me about standards not just making standards in setting standards but obtaining the standards. not everyone is good enough to run with the big dogs. we except that. by inspiring one another in the military, as soon as you join you will be inspired by others because it is no longer about you. it is about you and everyone around you. and having a list of goals. a nine year old can have goals. without a plan failing to prepare is preparing to fail. that is a guarantee.
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the military has helped orchestrate a plan. >> as we are approaching this election, i like both of you to think back in history, all the way back to 1776. who are some of your favorite presidents you admire the most and why? >> general livingston knows more presidents. i only have a few i can actually draw on. >> way to be politically correct
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there, fella. >> i went to john f. kennedy high school. it seemed to me he was an amazing president. one that has always stuck out to me fdr and the new deal and how he inspired a country in the personal adversity. he had polio. he is in a wheelchair. he did not let that bother him. he did not show weakness. no matter what we think our disability may be, we can overcome that and show a strong response and we can push forward and motivate others. for that i like that. i like him. >> we had so many inspiring presidents. i do a lot of reading about george washington.
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that had not been for george washington we will not of a country. i've always been very inspired by him. abraham lincoln made those decisions that are necessary at the time to pull the country back together and put us on a new course. in terms a modern day, i look at all the presidents. we are at a very critical point in our history. i think he has been the most touching for me individually. i hear pros and cons about the president. i think the american people thought they were the best candidates. i would ever say we've ever had a bad president. all is that better presidents. they did to come along at the right moment. i think they all came along in
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the right moment. it is a tough job. i think we have been blessed to have great presidents. at this point i think we'll open it up to the audience for questions. >> thank you. before that day in the white house how you deal with the massive attention that has befallen on your family that de? the intention is good. it is not about me. it is about actions that happen every single day. i try to stress how generic my story is.
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>> the attention is good, i think, because it is not really about me, it is about the military and actions that happen every single day. i tried to stress how generic my story is. in the day i received the medal of honor for the actions, october 25, 2007, i was not there alone. i did not shoot the most bullets or kill the most bad guys do anything more amazing that anyone ever of us were doing. we had a job to do. we had more steps to concord and people to cover them and we -- we did not go in there not knowing what we were getting into. none of us worked at subway. we were all professional soldiers. i think after receiving the medal of honor, i still was one of the boys -- never been special. average at best. it speaks so greatly about the military. i can say that because there are a lot of people are around the united states within that i am something special. and i am not.
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i can use this medal because they will listen to me and it will give me a microphone to say i am not. we are all capable of doing more and changing the world. every single day we wake of we have a new opportunity to do good things for ourselves and others and if we don't take advantage of that we are missing out of the opportunity. the spotlight is on me but i will tell stories about of the people. it has never been about me, ever. >> of u.s. army retired -- i was with you this morning you receive the medal of honor at the sheraton hotel in washington, d.c. i met your wife also in the elevator and had a good chat with her, too. i did not know if she is here or not, but i would sure like to meet her again.
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when i talked -- you have, long way. one i talked you that they. you were going to go to the white house that morning. and that when i met you at the hotel. there were a whole bunch of 173rd guys there and i was there for the funeral of a guy i served in vietnam with the guys -- too see ed burke be buried. you just happen to be there waiting to go to the white house. and maybe you do not remember that. i gave him my card and i said if i could help you in any way, let me know. i am still around. it was an honor to meet you. and i've got a grandson in the big red one in afghanistan right now, and he got wounded about three weeks ago. just took a few mortar fragments in the legs and was calling home and saying he was sticking with the outfit and not getting
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medically evacuate. i just want to say, hi. >> hello, sir. good seeing you again. [applause] >> i think i am getting noted about asking about books but i have been a teacher-librarian, and we are all fortunate enough to be here in this convention and it is education which is better than any class from i have been in. tell us about the books. we were talking earlier about the one written about you. and the one thing we can do is go back home and make sure our public libraries and school libraries have these books so people can learn about the people we have gotten to here today and this whole week.
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>> i just wanted to acknowledge the vietnam veterans who are here. let me see your hands. i want to thank you for your service and, ladies, for your service and say, we never lost a fight in the war, it was lost in washington. and i just want to acknowledge the fact you did a wonderful job. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, everyone, for joining us today and special thanks to general livingston and sal giunta. >> coming up, the lives of teenagers in the white house with susan ford bales.
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at it o'clock the treatment of returning veterans. joining him are colin powell. leaders in the film and music industries discuss hollywood's edge impact on american culture and how the industry's adapt to technological innovation. friday morning on "washington journal" the editor in chief of government executive magazine discusses the impact of pending fiscal cliff budget cuts on the federal work force. alan odom on the future of the postal service. also a look at consumer confidence with washington post financial reporter daniel douglas. "washington journal" is live from des 7:00 a.m. eastern on c- span. >> on guard outside of thehomes
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of crown officials and with british artillery aimed at the town house and home of the journal courts, it was easy to understand why postilions felt threatened by this occupations. many heated house soldiers started to serve register of racial tension in their town. not everyone in boston is white. but in a month of their arrival of 1768, three british officers have been discovered encouraging african-american slaves to attack their white masters. one of those drunk officers is captain john wilson. he assured the black bostonian that the soldiers would come here to procure your freedom and with your help and assistance we should be able to drive the
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liberty boys to the devil. while the slaves ignored these lies, the british army is not in boston to free the slaves. several white residents watched complains. they were engaged in a dangerous ploy. >> 7 night at 8:00 eastern part of the holiday weekend now and monday morning. on c-span 3 american history to be. now behind the scenes at the white house with two presidential daughters who spent part of their teenage years living there. it is a conversation with susan ford bales and lyndon johnson robb. this event in new york is one
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hour and 15 minutes. >> susan ford bales is the daughter of president gerald ford and betty ford. she lived in the white house during her high school years and served as an official hostess. she is a member of the board of directors. they helped launch the national breast cancer awareness month and she has served as a national spokesman for national breast cancer awareness. she is the author of two novels. "double exposure." and its sequel, "sharp focus." she worked as a photojournalist for the associated press, at newsweek, and ladies home journal. she is here with her husband and she follows her father to the stage who spoke here when he was the minority leader of the house of representatives. lynda johnson robb is president of the national home library foundation and a member of the board of the lbj foundation. [laughter]
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mrs. robb has served for 44 years and is now the chairwoman. she put her own career including as a contributing editor on hold to work with her husband on his successful virginia gubernatorial candidacy. she launched and chaired the virginia women's cultural history project to research and document the history and contributions of the women of virginia. she is here with her husband chuck robb and her daughter and grandchildren. chief speech writer for the new york city mayor rudy guiliani, john is a senior columnist for newsweek and the daily beast as well as a cnn contributor.
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they were responsible for writing the eulogies of all firefighters and police officers who died during 9/11. the author of "independent nation." and "wingnut." also the editor of america's greatest newspaper columns. now, ladies and gentlemen, let's listen to a conversation on growing up in the white house. please join me in welcoming susan ford bales, lynda johnson robb, and john to the stage. [applause]
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>> by way of beginning, last night, we were sitting up late talking about today's talk. you are quoted in it. gosh, i don't have a copy of it. magically, there was a copy. i went to the page. it was called "touring dixie with lbj." written may 10, 1964. this was meant to be. here are the opening lines about lbj in which lynda is featured later in the column.
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touring the south with president johnson is like going back to the old evangelical chautauqua circuit. [laughter] this is clearly meant to be. as was indicated, we're going to have a casual conversation. history behind the scenes and personal life and the white house.
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obviously you have two wonderful, unique people with unique experiences. both of your father's ascended the presidency during great national trauma. your unique vantage point is one that no one can get no matter the books they read or the history they steady. starting with you, lynda, on november 22, 1963, where were you when you heard president john f. kennedy was shot? >> i was at the university of texas. i was a sophomore. i had gone to class that morning and i was looking forward to a wonderful evening that night.
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president kennedy was coming to austin and we were going to have a big dinner and fundraiser. $100. [laughter] i had gotten an extra ticket. i was going to take one of my best friends to the dinner. i came home for lunch at the dorm because you bought a meal ticket during those days. i came home and i had my lunch. i went up to my room and my former roommate called me and said, lynda, stay where you are. i am coming to get you. pretty soon, she showed up. we do not have a radio in our room and we did not have television. she had heard it on a radio in another friend's room that the president had been shot. she knew i had to get protected. she came and got me and we went to this person's room who had the radio.
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that is how i heard about it. we fell on our knees and started praying. eventually, we heard man on the hall. because it was a women's dorm. [laughter] this just shows you how long ago it was. [laughter] so, one of the dorm mothers came up bringing this man who i had never seen before but it was a secret service agent and he said we have to leave here. i was in a dorm with 300 women. many, many doors. if it was a man, it would be more unusual to see him on our floor but we had plumbers and people like that who came up. so i said, take me to the governor's mansion because i heard on the radio that my uncle johnny had been shot.
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i had grown up with his children and i thought he is not there. aunt nelly is not there. his children -- maybe i could give some comfort to them and we would be all together. also i thought they had state troopers and a might be a safer place to be. at that time, we did not know what happened. whether it was an individual or a conspiracy. it was there where i got a phone call from my father flying back to washington saying that president kennedy was dead. so -- i'm sure anybody who is all enough will remember that day and where they were and what they were doing.
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it was just horrible. i was fortunate because the secret service man who was with daddy jumped from the front seat to the back seat and put his body over daddy and protected him. >> before we get to susan, i have one quick question for you. what was it like when you first saw your father in person as president? >> to be honest, i don't remember. i came back to washington on public transportation spending i took an american airlines flight back. we landed at dulles airports and
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they sent a car out to get me. i got out and walked down the steps. my mother went public transportation when she was first lady. we did not know about flying. otherwise we just took public transportation. i didn't -- i went back and i spent the days after the funeral in washington. mother said i know you would want to be here because you loved him so much. and i did. president kennedy was very kind to us, me in particular as well as mrs. kennedy. she knew i wanted to be there. that is when i saw my father. we just went home to our home. we did not go to the white house.
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i did not go to the white house until january 20. other than to go by for the funeral. >> susan, the way your father ascended the presidency, obviously dramatic in a different way. those last days before nixon's resignation, what was the atmosphere like for you with the expectation and the pressure and the rumors? >> i was a senior in high school at the time. you know, the way my dad became vice president was unusual, too. [laughter]
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we were getting used to -- we did things differently. [laughter] i guess that is the best way to put it. dad never talked about it to the family until it was literally the last minute. he was one of those people if you told him this is a secret. do not repeat it. he did not. he kept it totally to himself. i think maybe he said something to my mother, but other than that, us children had no idea. in new because the news media was saying president nixon is going -- you knew it because the news media was saying president nixon is going to resign. you did not have the news media
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like today so it was very different. we had news media waiting in our front yard for something to happen. so, it was one of those things that dad did not say something until the very last minute. yes, we are going to the white house and we need to pick out clothes. [laughter] >> not a conversation most people can relate to. [laughter] what was that conversation like when he called you together? >> because my father and president nixon had been longtime friends, one of the first people who spoke to my dad when he became a congressman was nixon who was also in the house. there was a long relationship between the two families. when dad did tell us, it was one of those things of this is going to happen.
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it is very sad. we know the family. it was more a matter of being upset for what our country was getting ready to experience. and how sad that this had to happen to the united states. because my dad h ad 25 years in the congress. this was a very sad moment for him. as we have spent time talking, both of our parents became the healers at different times in our country under very different circumstances. thank goodness for that. >> absolutely. [applause] before we move on to the next subject matter, i want to focus on your perspective, susan, about the iconic moment where nixon is flying off and you all are standing, watching.
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what was living that moment behind your eyes like? what were you thinking? >> my brothers and i were not standing and watching it. we were in the white house kept in a room. it was my parents locking them out. -- walking them out. i do not remember them in any of the pictures. it was julie, david, and my parents walking them out. my dad came into the oval office with they had moved us children. you could just see this sadness. it was almost as if you had been to a funeral and there was a death. you did not know what to say. it was a very awkward moment of what do you say. we came together as a family
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knowing we were headed up to the east room where he would be sworn in, which of course was a very joyous moment to see your father, but what a sad moment for the american people. >> the question that i think probably everyone secretly asks themselves when they meet you is what is it like to grow up in the white house? a kid's perspective on a day-to- day living standpoint. what are your rooms like? >> first thing is it became my room. i wanted to know who else had been in my room. [laughter] so i asked the curator. he said, well, i can't think of anybody famous.
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[laughter] and so, then, i asked president eisenhower. who slept in this room when you were here? he said i think queen elisabeth lady in waiting was there. [laughter] then i found out more. i found out that mrs. truman's mother. [laughter] it was very interesting. they had a heater in the closet. so your clothes were kept nice and toasty. this was because mrs. wallace was an older woman. anyway, whatever. [laughter] so i kept studying. i just knew there was somebody famous i could share this room with. it had been caroline's room. lucy moved in to what was john's room.
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i had thought i was going to get this room with wonderful antique furniture. my mother moved our old furniture in. [laughter] that is the negative. the positive is now i have a piece of furniture that was and the white house. [laughter] i just wish it was a better quality. [laughter] not worth refinishing the desk. anyway, subsequently, i found out that after little willie died, they locked up his room to forever go into the room. what room was that? the curator said that was your room, ms. lynda. they said after abraham lincoln was assassinated, they brought his body back to the white house -- [laughter]
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-- and they took his body down and they described exactly where and they did an autopsy. [laughter] yes, it was my room. [laughter] i am always trying to raise money for literacy. a few years ago, a friend of mine was doing a book on the white house. i told this story in this children's book and i am thinking, my goodness gracious, i hope these children do not think it is too macabre. it was my room. i went down to the national gallery and i got a picture of two wonderful children, hung it over the mantelpiece, and
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decided it must have been john quincy adams children. i just made it up. [laughter] living in the white house for me, i was in college. i was there for a little while. then i went back to the university of texas. then, i went to work and i was in new york. i kept my room. then, i got married to chuck who is somewhere in this audience. [applause] wherever he is. there he is, over there. so, they are supposed to be clapping. [laughter] so, anyway, we got married in december, and chuck left in march. i was typical marine way. i was pregnant.
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[laughter] so, we had been married almost four months. so, he left to go to vietnam so i moved back in with mother and daddy. also in this audience is my white house baby. lucinda. she spent her first two months living in the white house. three months, i guess. ok. so, i have pictures of her in her baby basket and all that in the white house. lucinda in the east room, lucinda in the lincoln bedroom.
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[laughter] that was very exciting. you always did feel that you were surrounded by history and that the memories of all the other people who had lived there or surrounding new and that you had something to live up to. i think the hardest thing is what mother said about don't do anything you ever want to see on the front page of "the new york times." because you do not want to embarrass your family or do anything that would bring aggravation to them. i would go somewhere and somebody my age would say my mother did not want me to do this but when i had read that you had done it -- [laughter] nobody wants to be an example. i don't care whether who it is. nobody wants to have to live up to an image that is not real. i think that was the most difficult part. for instance, i got to meet carl sandburg. i was taking an english literature class.
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i got him to sign my english text book. [laughter] i have said enough. >> did you get an 'a'? >> as a matter of fact, i did. i was a very studious type. i was boring. except for a little short time at the end when i was not boring. i did not get mentioned a whole lot of times about the partying i was doing. >> we will get to that. [laughter] susan, when you were in the white house, it is the mid 70's. you are in high school. that is a pretty unique vantage point on that era. your youthful rebellion -- how did it manifest itself at the white house?
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>> unlike lynda, she lived on the second floor with her parents across the hall. i had the third floor to myself. i actually took julie's and david's room. we can all tell each other who lived in the room before the other person did. we did not move in like the johnsons. my dad commuted from alexandria, virginia. when the move again, it had turquoise blue shag carpeting. the only way to make an outgoing phone call was you pick up the phone and the white house operators who of the most wonderful people in the whole world, but because i was a senior in high school, they decided i would have to pick up the phone and say would you please call so and so and i would give them the number and they would dial it.
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one of the things is they put in a private line so all my phone calls could come and go. i did not have an answering machine but my friends could call my room directly. they do make a lot of concessions for you. when i had this grandiose idea that i was going to redecorate my bedroom, then you are informed that comes out of your personal pocket. the federal government does not redecorate your room for you. that is not one of the benefits. my mother shot that down pretty quickly. [laughter] >> you try to put a poster up -- if you try to put a poster up, is that frowned upon?
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>> i always wanted a brass bed from the time when i was a child. the curator said is there a brass bed in storage. the white house has these huge storage units of furniture. is there one that you can bring from storage and put it in susan room so she could have a brass bed? but it is not of the era of the house. [laughter] ok. eventually, clem found a brass bed in missouri that was of the era of the house.
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that was exquisite. i mean, it had a half canopy and it was the most beautiful it was the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world. jack carter and his wife wanted to keep the bed. they've realized how beautiful it was to. the family in missouri said, no. we are republicans. [laughter]there are all kinds of things that go on that you will never really hear about. tha>> that is a perfect segue. escape from the white house. you have -- you both have very
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good escape stories from the white house. lynda, escape from the white house. what is your story? >> i read a story about my predecessor. i read in the book that they wanted to know what people really thought about them. i do not know -- i do not want to know what people thought about me. they described how they put on some different clothes and went down to the first floor and walked through the house. you have to understand in our day and in susan's too, anybody who wanted to see the white house would get in line in the morning. they clean on mondays. but tuesday through saturday, the white house was open. you walked in.
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we were presumably not supposed to go down the stairs, nine to 12. but i decided i was going to see if i could get away with it. i just wanted to see if i could do it. we had secret service all the time. if you left the second floor or the third-floor, if you left the family quarters and he went down into the public area or you went out of the house, the secret service went with you. you could make a heaven out of hell or a hell of heaven. i decided i was going to accept the secret service and i will not tell on you if you do not tell on me. so, i put on my -- and covered
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up my head. i blended in with the crowd coming into the white house. >> you joined a tour. >> it was not really a tour. this is just people walking through. over here we have this painting and here is a piece of furniture. you got that and then there was a congressional tour. that was very special. this was the general public. i went down and they eventually put sh you out the front door. you go out on pennsylvania avenue. mind you, my bedroom was right above. shut your eyes and imagine the front of the white house. pennsylvania avenue. they have those big lanterns. that is where our rooms were. people would come through at 7
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a.m. in the morning on these congressional tors and making a lot of noise. i was trying to sleep. i would imagine that my last day i would fill up a balloon with water and drop it. [laughter]in the end, i was much more mature then, so i did not do it. i decided i would go out. i walked out on pennsylvania avenue and got to the gate. there i was. they walked me out. i thought, some secret service agent is going to get in trouble. i told them at the gate, i'm lynda johnson. you come a secret service agent and tell him i have escaped. -- call my secret service agent and tell him i have escaped. [laughter]they came out and
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found me and brought me home. in a serious moment, let me say that we did get a lot of threatening malil. a lot of crazy people right. any letter that came to us that would be opened and read, i decided i did have a few friends i wanted to hear from without having their letters expurgated. i decided i would tell them to write in code. they would put "special" on it. the secret service knew not to open it. it was a friend of mine. some of them started getting their letters back. [laughter] but that was my
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secret code. i escaped once, and after that i did not want to get the people in trouble. we had a lot of fun together. >> susan, what is your escape story? >> mine was a lot different from lynda's. i guess you could call it a contest with a secret service agent on who could outdo who. he challenged me. i have three older brothers. i'm used to being around men. it does not phase me. ask my husband and my stepsons. i can pin them to the floor. [laughter] anyway, he told me to come back in 24 hours. we will have this challenge. i said ok. i came back in 24 hours and we had a challenge. it was somewhat of an insult.
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i was in the west wing side of the house. i was in my car. you always had to leave your keys in car because if they had to move your car for an arrival or something like that, they always needed to have access to your car. so, i was insulted and i went running down the back stairs. >> us, too. >> my car is sitting out there with the keys in it. my agent is downstairs and does not realize i have made this maneuver. i get in my car. they had opened the gates because my mother was coming in from an event. they could not close it fast enough to stop me from leaving. [laughter] i get in my car and drive out. once i did, i thought, oh no.
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now what do i do? at the time, i was going to mount vernon college. it was down the street. one of my remit was in class. i drove over to the school -- one of my classmates was in class. i drove over to the school. i was waiting to her. she asked, where is everybody? i say, i ditch them. [laughter] what are we going to do? i do not know. we went to a parking lot on foxhole road. i do not know if it is still there. we bought a sixpack of beer because the drifting agent washington was 18 at the time and i was 18. inthe drinking age
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washington was 18 at the time and i was 18. i picked up the phone, in which you had to use a payphone in those days, and i call the command post post. i said, this is susan. i will be back by seve7. i'm not alone. i walked back into the man coast that afternoon. -- command post that afternoon. i said, what time do we need to leave for the concert? let's just get over this part and get to the concert. they said your father would like to see you. [laughter] i was like, this is
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not good. this is not going well. we went to constitution hall first. i dropped my roommate off. i was living in a townhouse in arlington at the time. constitution hall was down the street. we go back to the white house. my parents were having dinner. i walk in. mother goes, what are you all talking about? no one has told her what happened that i disappeared for about three hours that afternoon. that kind of said, that is not appropriate. no one will get in trouble, but n please do not do that again. >> did you go to the concert? >> i did. when they played "she is gone" it had meaning for me. [laughter] >> lucy, my little
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sister was in high school at that time. when she had a big birthday, she said what she wanted was a day away from the secret service. he said, i cannot give that to you. bylaw, secret service have to protect the president, the first lady, and the family. when daddy was vice president, that is when they changed the law. imagine what it would have been like if they had not change the law. the law was changed to include the vice president. lucy did not get her day free from the secret service. >> anything but not that.
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you have both had many unique experiences. i believe the only prom held in the white house and a few weddings. >> it was very exciting. the previous a big wedding was longworth. princess alice they called her. in our day, she was the cat's meow. she had a pillow that says if you do not have anything nice to say about anybody, come and sit next to me. [laughter] she was wonderful to listen to as long as she was not telling you anything bad about you. she came to our wedding. she was fascinating. imagine teddy roosevelt's daughter. talk about a rebel. suzanne and i were just
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pussycats. her father said, you may not smoke under my roof. so she smoked on the roof. [laughter] she has a little green snake that was called emily spinach, which he put on her shoulder. mind you, you are talking about 1910 or 1908, that time. she was really something. of course i thought she was a great role model. >> i get a note from her when we moved into the white house and it said, "have a hell of a good time." [laughter] i photographed her and you interviewed her.
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>> i wrote it and she photographed it. we had fun. 1976. it was about the presidential children. it was amazing the number of us that were still alive. no one had ever heard about them. for instance, in 1976, grover cleveland's daughter who was the only child ever born in the white house was still alive. we went to see her. just to show you how important we are, the story -- she told us a story of how she came back several years later to the white house to show her husband the white house. she went to the gate and
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explained and said, "i was born here." the guard said, "we hear that story all the time." [laughter] she did not get the tour. alice longworth, we got to be great buddies. i was giving the granddaughter a tour. there was a most beautiful portrait. here we know that taft was our heaviest president. 350 pounds. they could not get a regular bath tub. it was interesting that this beautiful portrait of mrs. taft over here.
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she has an hourglass figure and her husband was the heaviest president. alice said, she never look like that. she had her head painted on somebody else's body. [laughter] well, let me tell you, susan and daughter.s she had been president of -- i forgot, one of the sister schools -- there she had a portrait, a photograph of her mother and father on the 25th wedding anniversary in the white house. you know what? she did not look like that. she had nice, sagging bosoms.
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a lovely lady, but she did not look like that lady in the portrait. [laughter] ever since then, i have been wanting to get the same person to do me. [laughter] but you know, this is full circle. i was a history major. it fascinates me that in the old days, that is what portraits artist would do. literally from here to here, you could get the prettiest dress and which way you wanted to be looking and so forth. they put your head on it. >> that is one way to do it. they can do that with photoshop. good idea. it takes less time.
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i want to get more into prom. that is the ultimate teen fantasy to have a prom in the white house. >> to have your prom in the white house is absolutely amazing. i did not come up with the idea. the prom committee came up with the idea. they came to me and said, is this possible? i said, i do not know. i went to the usher's office. it does sort of the concierge between the family and the staff and the west wing and the east wing and that sort of thing. they said, i guess it is the same idea as long as you pay for the beverages and the food and the staff that will serve and do all of that stuff. that is exactly what our class did. it happened that the white house. you do not have to pay to rent
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the room. that is true. every parent wanting to come and be the chaperone. -- wanted to come and be the chaperone. what we did is we picked teachers that we wanted to be our chaperones. i went to an all girls school. i had a class of 74 girls. everybody came and brought a date. that is probably a first for most prompts. -- proms. we had a good time. we try to get the beach boys to be the band because they were the hot in tha -- hot thing then .
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we ended up getting two local bands to play. >> do you remember their names? >> i have no clue. going to get to questions in a little bit. i imagine a surreal aspect of living in the white house is that dissidents between outside and inside. in your president's second term with the protest and your husband serving overseas and error father agonizing over the war and the protesters say -- serving overseas in the war and your father agonizing over the war and processed are saying, what was that like? >> it was horrible. hey, hey, lgbj, how many kids dd you kill today? it was terrible. i know my father was trying to
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do everything he could to get he's. we tried to get people to the peace table. -- i know my father was trying to do everything he could to get peace. we try to get people to the peace table. as much as he hated it personally, he had to respect them for caring that much. we know that a certain portion of people were not committed, but it was a big party. there are always some people who just hang out to be in the know . it was very painful. we were having protests from southerners who were unhappy about the civil rights.
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we had people who were unhappy about the war. i told chuck, you took the easy way out. you went to vietnam in 1968. when you think about what happened in 1968, all of you if you were born then, it was a year from hell. we have the north koreans sure one of our ships. we had washington burning. it was just awful. but lucinda was born. something good about the year. >> susan, on a different scale, your father has been vindicated in history for pardoning richard nixon. at the time, there was a lot of popular blowback.
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it went below 50%. what was your perspective at that time? did you encounter people who would mentor their displeasure question mark --their displeasure? >> i did. you could hear the demonstrators from 1600 pennsylvania avenue, which is the north side of the white house. these demonstrators were more about the pardon and that kind of thing. people would come up to you. here is another example -- you have two women trying to assassinate my father and my mother trying to get the equal rights amendment passed. my mother did not understand why women are trying to kill you when i'm trying to change things for women. that was one of the big things out there. people were rude.
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what is the point of coming up to a child of a president and spouting off in a direction like that? we as children did not ask to be there. we cannot really change the policy. the person you need to go to is your senator or congressman or write to the president and vice president themselves. it is interesting to watch the american public to you as a family member and somebody who has lived in the white house. it is interesting to be on the other side of it. >> lynda, legacy question. we will get to questions in a second. it is clear the controversy over vietnam and your father's legacy over civil rights will grow with time. healthcare though is a specific part of your father's legacy that we are now debating in real-time. what are your thoughts about the
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debate we are having given your father's accomplishments in that area? >> there are a lot of people from both parties who work together. that was a time when the country, even if you disagreed with someone, you wanted government to work. [applause] we have this feeling of gotcha. this is going to hurt you kind of thing rather than talking about issues and saying you want this and i want. can't we find a middle ground? can't we find a way to agree on things and do what we agree upon? we lived in a glory time.
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-- gory time. it was pretty generic. it is not very nice now. i am glad my husband is out of politics. i would not want to be in it now. one of the things that susan and i have found and i found this with julie and the other presidential children, i think that we have been there and we know what it is like. to some extent i think we protected each other. we sympathize, at least i have tried not to give advice to other people unless i am asked because we know how tough it is. i hope that my father's legacy of healthcare and head start and
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elementary and secondary education -- before that, if you were handicapped, your parents had to educate you. if you were blind, tough. that was your problem. now with that law, you had to get federal aid to people who were handicapped so they could go to school. it was an obligation as a country to try to raise everybody up, regardless of your color, how much money you made. yes, we were very ambitious. we knew that not everything we did in those days was going to last forever and that they would be tampered with. that is the way it is in this country. we pass laws and we modify them and we change them.
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we adapt to the times. but we try. daddy was a teacher by heart. he would be so proud that our youngest daughter is a high school math teacher. never make money, but you influence a lot of lives. fortunately we can -- if you month the best teachers, you do have to pay them better. -- if you want the best teachers, you have to pay them better. [applause] i am hoping that history will remind people of some of the good things that we did do and know that whatever he did to try, do not question people's motives. you might disagree with what they did and say that they made mistakes here and should have done this, but i try not to question their motives. they did this because they
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wanted to. they were getting paid or someone influence them. i think that the people we elect are better than that. there'll always be some people that let you down. to tell you how important we are, my daughter told me about a conversation he had -- she had. the person said, tell me, what are you doing here? she said, my mother is speaking. she and susan ford will be speaking tomorrow. they are going to be about life in the white house. uh-huh. lucinda went on to say, my grandfather was president lyndon johnson.
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the person said, what did he do? what did this teaches you -- .> susan, your father's legacy he has been vindicated on so many fronts. what are the specifics that you think history has not yet given him enough credit for? the ways his influence has echoed? it might be legislation or the strength of the example he set. >> talk about your mother. >> you could talk about betty ford. >> she was his soulmate for 50
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years. it is one of those things that kind of gets lost in the shuffle. the berlin wall -- not a lot of people credit the berlin wall coming down. that is one of them. i think he got criticized a lot for the pardon of richard nixon. but he was given a current award before his dad dan tow. it was an unbelievable -- courage award before his death. it was an unbelievable honor for him. [applause]
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at the time, woodward and bernstein criticized, but he knew in the long run it was the right thing to do and for our nation to heal, it had to happen. if we were going to take a president and go through the whole ross s, -- of the whole process, our country would not be where it is today. that is one of them. the things my mother did as far as bringing press counselor out of the closet and doing so much for women -- [applause] and women oppose the health issues. it was also later after they left the white house in what she did for drug and alcohol addiction. [applause]
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those are the things that stand out in my mind. the bicentennial, lynda mentioned 1976. the you're the bicentennial was an unbelievable experience. -- the year of the bicentennial was and am a believable experience -- an unbelievable experience. the tall ships were amazing. it made you proud to be an american. >> we are going to take some of your questions. that was absolutely wonderful. but continue with questions. >> give your questions to the ushers so they can get it up to me. lynda, you had a mother to. would you like to tell us about her? >> mother said she was elected
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by one person. she tried to help him. he knew that she would always tell him the truth. she did not want anything from him. she was a great guide. she would tell me over -- he would tell me over and over again, i want you to be like your mother. she was the most perfect woman he had ever met. second maybe be owing to his mother. -- second may be only to his mother. [laughter] she recognize what teddy roosevelt said about the bully pulpit. she is in a place of a lot of tension. you might as well use it for something you care about.
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she worked very hard on head start and the environment. she was next to johnny appleseed. if she was right behind him. this is her 100th birthday year. for 70th birthday, she gave the money to start the national wildflower research center so that if you want to know about the wildflowers and the native plants in your area, you can go on the internet and we can tell you what would be best for oregon or the things native to oklahoma that will grow the best in the heat that they have and the lack of water. what will do best in for monti? -- vermont?
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let's encourage our national environment. it is much cheaper. she was a penny incher. -- pincher. frugal is a better word. she believed that having those native plants on the highway would remind us of the beauty that god gave us. it was a lot cheaper not to be planting roses out there or something that would not come up next year. when you see those little signs about forgive us for not mowing, but we are waiting for the seeds to go into the ground, it is saving you money. it is wonderful. we have a wonderful wildflower center that has been named after her. she finally let us do it.
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she did not want it named after her, but the ladybird johnson -- we are going to do a children's garden so we can teach them about why they should do it. we recycle all of our water. for 30 years -- i am very proud of the legacy of mother. what you have to realize is she had many, many years of productivity after daddy died. besides taking care of the lbj library and school and all of his legacies, which he has now left on our shoulders, lucy and i really miss her. we are trying to carry on the tradition that she was such a
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trailblazer in. [applause] >> question to both of you -- how did the presidential children reach out to one another? is there a children of the presidents club? >> that is one of the things that lynda and i was talking about. we both kind of zip our mouths shut. we became friends over the years, plus our parents were friends. the relationship goes way back, just like the nixon girls. we were in the same era growing up. lynda has hosted several of us at her home. there are many things we can learn from each other. how to deal with foundations and libraries and museums and the park service and how does the
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family work with those organizations and still keep it your own and continue these legacies? so, those are the more difficult things to do. the is your thing is to sit around and talk about which room you had and who was your chef and what was your favorite meal and two was your favorite head of state or entertainment when you were there? >> i would love to say that i was a bosom buddy of everybody, all of the former first children, but not everybody. let me tell you, come to the lbj library in november. we are going to have a panel on first children. i think we have three bushes.
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that is a lot of bushes. they say, yes, but they have two presidents. one of susan's mothers are coming. hopefully we will have a lot more stories. -- one of susan's brothers are coming. hopefully we will have a lot more stories. my goodness gracious, all of the wonderful things she has, what is she complaining about? we all want to hear stories that we will not read in the paper tomorrow. it is a friendship in which you can tell the things that have happened, both good and bad. watergate, for instance. check and i used to play bridge with julie davis -- julie and
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david. they knew, why would we want to do anything like that? we used to play bridge with them. it was mutual. it was also a support society. chuck and i were honored to be invited to president ford's funeral and betty ford's funeral in california. we are a big family. >> have either view reached out out to the obama girls? have you speculated on what it is like to be first children at their age? >> no, because i have not been asked. they do not have to worry about dating. [laughter] even so, they are still pretty
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young. susan was in her prime. [laughter] i was also. late bloomer, but i was still in there. to some extent, i think some of the young man i would meet would want to talk to secret service and have nothing to do with me. you go out with someone at the next day there'd be something in the papers. the poor fellow disappointed to go to the movies. -- just wanted to go to the movies. we have the advantage of age and some judgment. for the obama children, they are young and very protected by
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their families. they're not quite out front. i hope they are making lots of friends at the schools they are going to. they seem to be doing it. everything i read, that is all i know. because of the senate connection, once a year the senate spouses have a lunch for the first lady. i had the opportunity to see i guess all of the first ladies since we left washington. i wish them well. i hope that they enjoy it. i hope they learn and take every advantage of opportunity.
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you can meet so many interesting people. you can learn so much from living there. i have tried to take advantage of it. >> to follow up, i had the advantage of traveling to china with my parents when i was a freshman in college. it was long ago. i got to meet the chairman. my dad used to tell the story of walking through the receiving line. you did not know when you would meet the chairman. you would need to get into the car. our work is endure would say -- dr. kissinger would say we're going to the palace and meet the
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chairman at the time. my parents took his hand and then i shook his hand. in the picture, his eyes were lit up. he was known to like women. this picture that i have with him with his eyes lit up like a man who has risen up from the dead and the smile on his face that he is so glad to see this tall blonde woman in china -- when you say you have met some amazing people, that is what you mean. >> did you have secret service code names? >> yes. my name was panda. all of our names was p's. one brother was professor. i cannot remember what the other two were. >> we were l's.
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daddy was leader. no, i take it back. we were v's. i was venus. i'm just teasing. [laughter] venus is what i wanted to be. lucy was venus. mother was victoria. she thought victoria was stuffy , but later on when i grew up and got married and we had a costume party with the theme of come as your favorite costumed lovers, my mother was victoria. she came with a picture of albert.
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she was wonderful as victoria. >> what was chuck? >> he was not anything. i was velvet. lucinda was velveteen. wonderful. we loved it. i loved my secret service agents. i kept up with all of them. one of them recently stepped down. he was head of the security. you probably remember him saying, mr. speaker, the president of the united states. anyway, the important thing you learn is it does not matter in the white house. it is the usher.
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he is the one who will let you in on the tour. bill, i need a parking spot. can you get me in? keep up with all of those friends. >> and we are back to parking. ladies and gentlemen, john avlon, susan ford bales, and lynda johnson robb. [applause][captioning performed bynational captioning institute] [captions copyright nationalcable satellite corp. 2012] ♪ >> if we turn away from the needs of others, we align ourselves with horses that are bringing about the suffering. >> the white house is a bully all. . it you need to take -- a bully pulpit.
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you need to take advantage of it. >> somebody have their own agenda. >> i think they serve at the window on the path to what is going on with american women. >> she becomes the chief confidant. she is only -- the only one in the world he could trust. >> a lot of them were writers. >> there were in many cases more human beings than their husbands. >> dolly was both socially adept and politically savvy. >> dolly madison loved every minute of it. munro hated it. -- monroe hated it.
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>> you cannot rule without including what women want and have to contribute. >> too much looking down and i think it was a little bit too fast. >> he is probably the most tragic role. >> she wrote in her memoir said she never made any decision. i only decided what was important and planned to present it to my husband. that is a lot of power. >> part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease. >> she transformed the way that we look at these bugaboos and
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made it possible for countless people to survive and to flourish as a result. >> i do not know how many presidents realistically have that kind of impact on the way that we live our lives. >> just walking around the white house grounds, i am constantly reminded of all of the people who have lived there before and all of the women. >> first ladies influence and image, a new series on c-span. reduced in cooperation with the white house historical association. coming in february 2013. >> president obama pardoned the national thanksgiving turkey in a ceremony in the rose garden. it is the 65th time a president has done so. the 2012 national thanksgiving turkey cobbler and his alternate gobbler were raised on a farm in
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virginia. this is the first time the winner of the white house pardon was selected online on the white house facebook page. this is about 10 minutes. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. [applause] >> good afternoon, everybody. [turkey gobbles] they say that life is about second chances. this november, i could not agree more. in the spirit of the season, i have one more gifted to give. it goes to a pair of turkeys named cobbler and gobbler. the american people have spoken.
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these birds are moving forward. [laughter] love this bird. now i joke, but for the first time in our history, the winners of the white house turkey pardon were chosen through a highly competitive online vote. once again, nate silver completely nailed it. [laughter] the guy is amazing. he predicted these guys would win. i want to thank everyone who participated in this election. because of your bow, the only cobbler anyone is eating this thanksgiving will come -- vote, the only cobbler anyone is eating this thanksgiving will come with ice cream. the chairman of the national thanksgiving turkey foundation raise this beautiful bird in virginia. here is steve.
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[applause] and as always, if for some reason can't work cannot fulfill his duties as the official white house turkey, gobbler will be waiting in the wings. from here these two lucky birds or be swept up in a whirlwind of fame and fortune that will ultimately lead them to mount vernon where they will spend their twilight years in the storied home of george washington. later today, my family will be taking to turkeys that were not so lucky to a local food bank here in washington, d.c. i want to thank the turkey farms in pennsylvania for detonating these birds -- donating these birds. i encourage everyone to do what they can to help families who
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are in need of help for thanksgiving this year. friends and families are celebrating as uniquely american holiday. it is a chance to spend time with people we love and think about how lucky we are living in the greatest nation on earth. it is also a time to remember those who are less fortunate. this year that is true for our neighbors in the northeast to have lost their homes, possessions, and even loved ones to hurricane sandy. in the last few weeks i have had the chance to visit new jersey and new york. i have seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble, but i have yet to find a broken spirit. countless stories of compassion and resilience have emerged in the aftermath of the storm. the one that comes to mind is about a tree on staten island. it is a giant blue spruce that
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came crashing down on eight yard -- aya yard. today if you go to that street, you will see a lot of debris scattered, but you also see the top of that tree standing tall in front of his house. it is decorated with ornaments that survived the storm, along with anything that his neighbors could find, including cups and safety goggles. it is a christmas tree. it reminds the neighborhood there will still be holidays to celebrate and holidays -- happy memories to share. life will be rebuilt. tomorrow we give thanks not only for the things that we have or the people that we love, but for the spirit that sees us through the toughest times and holds us together as one american family guided along our journey by the hope of better days. i hope that this holiday
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weekend we are also thinking about our extraordinary men and women overseas who are serving far away from home in harms way, but the reason they are there is because they give thanks too for the extraordinary life we have in the united states of america. my god bless those men and women in uniform who are away from their families this holiday season. may god bless the american people. may you all have a happy thanksgiving. with that, we will bestow the official pardon on -- is he gobbler or cobbler? gobbler. look at this. is he doing all right? you want to give it a shot?
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[turkey gobbles] you are pardoned. congratulations. let's give him a round of applause. [applause] we do not want to overdo it for him. ♪
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[applause] [applause]


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