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Funding for this program is provided by this station and other public television stations and by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation and the Warehouseer Company. Last May, when George Bush announced his candidacy for President of the United States, people asked George who, just as they asked Jimmy who in 1976. But in the last few months, George Bush has emerged as Ronald Reagan's chief opponent for the Republican nomination, only to have that position challenged for the moment by John Anderson in this week's primaries in Massachusetts and Vermont. Where does George Bush go from here?
What does he really think about some of the issues of the 1980 campaign? To find out, I caught up with him on the campaign trail in Jacksonville, Florida. Tonight, a conversation with George Bush. I'm Bill Moyers. Mr. Ambassador, you told a reporter a week before the New Hampshire primary that if you won there and in Massachusetts and then in Vermont, you would be on your way to the Republican nomination. Well, you lost in New Hampshire. You won barely in Massachusetts and you came in third in Vermont. How do you account for what happened to your campaign?
Well, I account for the fact that there was an over-promise at the time of New Hampshire. There was a media hype that got my ability to perform, exceeded my expectations, and then you have to look at each state separately and in New Hampshire there was a concentration of the unflattering attention to my campaign by one newspaper up there that in total column inches just went after me brutally on, you know, with total distortion on issues. And that is bound to have hurt, that Nashwood debate hurt, but out of it, what people didn't recognize is the fact that I beat other candidates that were in the race substantially. So there was an over-promise and I didn't perform as well. When we come down on the downslope in New England, Vermont turns out to be an anomaly because there are no delegates change-tans and we will get our share of delegates given the makeup of that convention. But Massachusetts, you listen to the television and I thought even after I know it, even
after I'd won, I thought I'd lost and you think I thought that I just talked to my mother. She is outraged. All she hears is about another candidate whom I beat but who came forward. Massachusetts will prove to be a plus for me because it stopped the hemorrhaging out of New Hampshire. It stopped this writing off that went on in some of the Washington columns where this proves Bush can't win. It showed I could against a very difficult situation. I got 46% of the Republican vote. These independents came in, which is fine, but that's not going to happen in a lot of the next race. It's not going to happen in the South, for example. It's not going to happen in Illinois, in my view. So we're back on track, a little bit lower expectation than if I had done what I said, if I had done it, it would have moved it all out forward. How do you count for John Anderson's very large showing in Massachusetts and Vermont? Kind of like I account for my governs without discrediting and I mean, he attracted a lot
of kids. He attracted a lot of crossovers. He attracted people aren't Republicans. I just don't see 50 cents a gallon gasoline tax as being a popular answer. But to some people, it had some appeal. I am strongly opposed to that. But he's saying, I'm talking on the issues, he's talking on the side of the issues that in my judgment, Republican Convention won't vote for. But he captured the imagination of people by that kind of, I'm honest, I'm talking on issues campaign. And I will see what happens in South Carolina. He is interpreting his victory as an indication that in a general election, the Republican party with a man like Anderson could branch out from being a minority party to bring in younger people. I think that's a good interpretation. But he didn't do it in these other states. He's got to get your own support before you can go attracting others. So good luck to it. I mean, I give him great credit because he did something very candidly. I didn't think he could do. And he did it well.
I got a little restless with the bending of the eleventh commandment knocking me. But I'm used to that now, Bill. It's a long year we've been involved in. Oh, it's long. You wish you were over sooner than later? Nope. I've got it paced. I'm, for me, it's 80% over for Ronald Reagan and others. It's just starting. Sounds like a jogger. Well, if you look at the bridge and you know you pace yourself to get there, it'll work. So I know. I think it's all right. I'm not wanting to knock the process. I believe that I'd be a better president for issues, convictions, whatever it is. And yet, if I hadn't had to work this hard, I wouldn't even be on the radio. You wouldn't be talking to me. Well, let me, let me repeat some observations in the press, which, to me, suggests a kind of consensus in the fourth estate, fourth estate, about what's going wrong with your campaign, and see what you think about them in total. Time magazine this week says George Bush is trying to be all things to all Republicans. The Wall Street Journal said Mr. Bush muffed the election in New Hampshire by turning cautious and cagey.
And Washington Post said Mr. Bush seemed to spend most of his spotlight time telling his audience in New Hampshire how he would win the campaign rather than why they should choose him as their president. Business week said Bush has been slow to make the transition from the flip to the thoughtful. A recent New York Times CBS poll says that George Bush lacks political identity. That the public neither knows what it likes, nor what it dislikes about him. Harper's magazine said Mr. Bush unfortunately lacks the gift of coherent speech. His interview with the New York Times has brought to mind the desperate chatter of man trying to talk himself out of an arrest. Elizabeth Drew in this week's New York magazine says, little is known about George Bush, how his mind works, what he really thinks, what grass he has of hard issues about governing. He is saying very little, trying to remain as inoffensive as possible. Bush does not give the impression that he's given hard thought to hard questions. And finally, the Christian science monitor said, as Mr. Bush digs in, the public will want to begin asking some hard questions about the issues and pinning him down on specific
issues. Now I ask you, how do you explain such unanimity among the organs of the press? Among the organs of a small, let's put the nation in perspective. These are your, I better not use the word, elitist, because that's what they is about me, but this is kind of a core of very respected journals. I think there's, I think I plead guilty to some of that. Just on the ambiguity? Not necessarily ambiguity, but to less than clarity on issues. And yet Bill, I've been on every meat depress, every face the nation, every issues and answers. There's not softballs they're throwing in there. I've been across the country answering in town hall meetings from Amherst New Hampshire to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And so I'm speaking on the issues, but if it's not coming through clearly, there's something I should try to do better. Well, I think there are different phases in the campaign, but if you to ask them about that, that same cadre, you name those names, I know what they said six months ago, that
I didn't have a snowballs chance, at least they're paying attention. So as you go forward, you go with more emphasis on certain things. I know I accept that criticism, and we'll move to try to correct it. But it doesn't hurt my feelings, because frankly, Elizabeth Drew wouldn't even have written about me six months ago. Literally wasn't on the radar, she got the name. She spelled the name correctly. And she spelled the name correctly. So that's a plus. Well, let me, let me. And yet, perfect. No, I got plenty to learn about this. But somebody has some perception, or I wouldn't be doing as well as I, wouldn't be locked in a one-on-one race with the front runner. This is a two-man race, and why? It's got to be something. It's not got to, because I got a red tie on a gray suit. All right, let me get to some issues then, which you are willing to address. And think the time has come to address. I'd like to pose. The time has been to address. They just haven't been listing. All right.
You don't go for three hours in a car, in New Hampshire, and then come back and say, he's not talking about the issues. I mean, there's a little bit of a failure to, I don't think anybody should be sentenced to have to stay with me for a year. But you don't just kind of drop in from New York, from the east side, and then make a perception and then drop out, although the cumulative nature of it is, I think, valid. All right, let me pose to you some hypothetical questions, only assumption that you've been inaugurated, President of the United States, including some questions which William Buckley put on January 14th, Toronto Reagan, on the same assumptions in which Mr. Reagan answered. Fair enough? Sure. I suppose that you were advised in the Oval Office that a race ride had broken out in Detroit. What would you do? I would call the governor of the state, Bill Millican, and I would say I will offer you federal backup support if it's needed.
I would prefer to see that solved by the mayor of Detroit and his local forces. The mayor would clearly go for the National Guard for assistance if it was something of major proportion. The federal government's role would be third in line. All right, suppose it were established that the riot grew out of legitimate complaints, having to do with violated constitutional rights, did not, to the rioters. What would you do? You mean where a federal law would have been violated? Then I would have done what Eisenhower did. I would use federal assistance. But not with the most militant show of force. I would try to do it in a peaceful manner first. I would not be a flamboyant, reacting line in the sand president on a matter of that enormous sensitivity. Suppose that Marcia Tito dies, and the pro-Soviet faction in Yugoslavia has called on the Russians to send in troops to restore order. What would you do?
Well, first I would consult our allies, and I mean fast, because you're not going to have, in Europe today, given the alliance, unilateral, U.S. action, and then ask your allies to do something later. One thing that experience teaches you is quick, instant, strong consultation. And once that was done, and I'm confident that the allies would see a threat to them, I would make a multilateral representation over the hotline to the Soviets and make it very forceful. Not saying what force I would use or wouldn't use, or whether you use force at all, but to say that we were not going to tolerate a Czechoslovakia or a Hungary in Yugoslavia. I'm not sure, having studied that problem is director central intelligence, that that scenario is valid. I hope it's not, because you have various factions inside of Yugoslavia that would be struggling like mad against a faction doing what you've suggested.
But I believe that the free world would have to make clear that the Soviets coming in and dominating and sucking Yugoslavia back into its solid orbit would not be tolerated. But that and the representation on the hotline to Moscow carries with it the potential threat, or the real threat of force, which implies the use of it if necessary. You're not ruling that out. I would never rule it in or out. One thing a president must not do is to say where he would use force or that he wouldn't use force, especially dealing with the Soviet Union. But I'll tell you something, the Soviets underestimated world opinion on Afghanistan. And part of it is because they're confused about U.S. foreign policy, they don't know where Carter's coming from. I would be surprised, close though they feel to the Yugoslavian situation, to see them try what might appear to the world as another Afghanistan. Nevertheless, your question, not to say what you would or wouldn't do, early consultations,
so you're dealing with unity and clarity of purpose so that aggression, as clear, would be clear aggression, would not be tolerated. We're no longer an impotent. We act like it sometimes, but we're not. Third, suppose that Congress passes a bill, providing that all future bonds offered for sale to the public by the federal government, be guaranteed purchase price bonds. In other words, if you buy a bond in 1981, retiring in 1999 for $100, and in that period the dollar loses half of its value, when the bond comes due, it would yield $200. Would you veto such a bill if it were passed by Congress? I do not favor indexing of everything, indexing in some things I do support, but indexing in everything is a surrender to inflation. What is needed is instead of that, indexing investment so that nobody takes a loss, everybody is guaranteed something, even a full faith and credit instrument of the U.S. government.
In my view, that surrenders to inflationary pressures. That gives up on the real medicine that's needed to fight inflation. I would not favor that kind of government instrument. Reagan said he would not only, would he not veto such a bill, he would sing hallelujah while signing it in the law, but you would veto it. Well, I wouldn't be for it. I wouldn't, yeah, I would veto it because I don't want to see us give up on inflation, but you can't just ask it standing alone because I would have other inflationary anti-inflationary programs that would make such an instrument unnecessary. We're going to come back to that in a minute. Suppose on the very morning that you're inaugurated president. Inflation is running at 25% annually, and a Democratic Congress has met that morning, you know, overwhelmingly passed wage and price controls. And has the bill on your desk when you return from inaugural parade to your new office? Would you sign it?
No, because what I'd say to them is this, look, let's wake up, come back to the hypothesis. Let's wake up. A bandaid, a bandaid, the same one that was used under Democrats, the same one that's used under Republicans, used bandaid, isn't going to work. We've got to go to fundamentals to fight inflation. The bill, your question, is too hypothetical. It's really visibly hypothetical because the Congress that's elected in 1980 won't be elected in my judgment if it's going to be a do-nothing bandaid Congress. What they want, what they would be prepared to do, the people are angry about Jimmy Carter's inflation. They're angry about the fact that it is quadrupled under this president and this Congress. And they are looking for fundamental answers that you and I can talk about that would be much, much more substantive than this bandaid approach. Wage and price controls, guarantee against innovation. They guarantee in favor of inefficiency in production. Fill out forms, hire more people because the bottom line doesn't mean anything.
They assign to the person the small business that wants to grow and thus provide more jobs. No incentive, don't do it because profit is going to be gone. So that is not an answer and it's failed and let's try something that hasn't been tried. But some people say that given the ravaging inflation right now, you have to have the shock treatment to hold things in line until you can get a longer-range program. I've heard the argument. I still would prefer to go to the fundamentals of economics. All right. Suppose the Supreme Court rules that it is unconstitutional for the House and the Senate to open every day's business with prayer. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the court's decision? Yes. We are one nation under God and the concept that the House and Senate should be prohibited in this country from that tradition of a long, long standing offends me. And I would do it in such a way that we preserved the great diversity of religious faith that
exists in this country. But that would be like saying one nation under God, take that off the currency because that's a violation of church and state. You see, I don't believe that. I favor the perception of one nation under God. And that perception is not incompatible with a country who prides itself and reveres its religious diversity. Suppose the Supreme Court rules unconstitutional legislation passed by the House and Senate prohibiting federal funds for abortion, that legislation would mean that poor women cannot get federal help for abortion. Would you support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision? Well, my point on that is I have favored the approach that would pass an amendment to let the states make this determination. I have not favored the amendment that you're talking about. And I still prefer, under the 10th amendment to the Constitution, leave to the states those
things, you know, that it would be better to do it in that way, rather than the kind of amendment you asked me about. You are opposed to federal aid to abortion. Federal funding of abortion, except in rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Suppose this is the last of these hypothetical questions, suppose that you're called in the Oval Office and told that postal workers have gone on strike. What would you do? Do not approve of strikes against the federal government by public service employees. That is not my perception of working for government. Yes, there's bargaining. Yes, they should have full bargaining rights. But when the public good, policeman, or, and that wouldn't apply because we're talking about federal level, but when postal employees are good example, I just don't believe that it's striking by the postal service should be a part of the process. You don't approve of it, but what would you do as president?
Well, I tell them not to do it, and I don't invoke whatever it is that you're available to invoke. I don't know where the tabt hardly comes into the postal service or not, but if they insisted on it, I'd have others deliver the mail. National Guard, sure. You've got people out there to do it, and I think we've done that in the past. Seen a minare sorting at stuff, probably a little less efficient, and what we don't need is anything to make the postal service less efficient, I agree. Although in some places it's gotten better, but no, you can't do that. There's a public good, and yeah, there's private rights, and one of the troubling things that president always has to do is balance between the rights of individuals or collective rights of individuals in this instance and the public good, but if the president isn't willing to look out for the public good, then we're in trouble. Sebastian, how do you see yourself different from Ronald Reagan? Most of your responses have been compatible to the responses he gave to William Buckley, and I'm wondering, how do you see yourself different from Reagan? Well, most of the responses bill would be the same as I believe that responses you'd
get from any other Republican candidate or from the majority of Americans. I really believe that. I don't see that there'd be on these questions, that there's that much room for difference. So then you get into other issues, and you get into experience. You want me to talk about issues. I'm a little embarrassed to go back and talking about breadth of experience, but what the American people want is a strong leader, no question, but they want reason to leadership, and they want experienced leadership. There's no substitute for not experienced as much as I am in the things that I feel of President has to be experienced. Foreign affairs is a very important part of it, dealing with Congress. It's different than a state legislature. He'll be putting forward his qualities. He ran a big state, and that's a good qualification. I'm putting forward mine, building in the private sector that he hasn't done, and we Republicans all lecture about GNP and shifts back to private, but I understand the private sector better,
Congress, and then experience in foreign affairs and certainly intelligence. So that'll be a difference, and Wilk, if you want me to develop with you, differences of positions or response, I can do it. Let me ask you this first. If you were to lose to him in Detroit, at the convention, would you support him in over? Absolutely. If you? Absolutely, and he would beat Jimmy Carter, but I'll beat him more. If you were asked, would you be his running mate? Well, again, here we get into the government fence with you politically. I've taken a Sherman-like statement and challenged the reporters to find Mrs. Sherman, or somebody who went further than all Sherman, and saying he wouldn't do that, and I'll stay with that. I am focusing on winning the presidency, and if I permit you to divert me, I will not be true to my single purpose. It is true that when you're elected president, you actually elect the government. You elect the cabinet, you even elect the Supreme Court, because appointments are made
to the court. And I, there's a lot of talk going around that if Gerald Ford came into the race and were re-elected, he would ask Henry Kissinger to be his secretary of state, and I've seen Mr. Kissinger out in the country campaigning for Republican candidates, as if he were campaigning for Secretary of State again. And my question to you is, if you were elected president, would you ask Henry Kissinger to be your secretary of state? No, but I can't tell you. The answer is no at this juncture, because I'm not saying who I'd put in any job. And I don't know, it's a two-way street. The person has to have confidence in the president, as well as the president having confidence in the person. And I don't know where Kissinger is right now, some have been telling me that he's encouraging Ford to get in a race. Well, Evans Novak had a colony other day saying conservative operatives in George Bush's campaign are quietly putting out the word that in a Bush administration there will be no secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and Novak's president, John Anderson.
Well, conservative operatives or liberal operatives in the Bush campaign are entitled to opinion, but they will have absolutely nothing to say in the final determination of who will or will not be in a Bush cabinet. But that's about all I want to say about it here, too, because I want people knowledgeable. I've been talking about excellence, all these broad terms, which are essential, but I'm not going to go into who will or who won't be in it. I would have a wide array of advice in foreign affairs, and I'm getting it now. And Kissinger has not been identified with my campaign, and leave it that way. I'm not going to tear him down, nor am I going to, in any way, hint that he would be in a Bush administration. Let's stay then for a moment with foreign policy. If you were present right now, what would you do to get the hostages out of Iran? Jimmy Carter's prayed over them. He kept the Christmas tree dark at the White House. He sent Ramsey Clark. He's pleaded at the UN at the International Court of Justice.
He dispatched a naval force to the Indian Ocean, and the hostages, as of this moment, are still there. What work would be done? Right this minute. Right this minute I expect Carter's doing everything he can do, except he's not leveling with the American people. Bill? And that commission was formed, that UN commission. I had the distinct impression that the fix was on, that before that commission started its work, the hostages would be free. And I believe everybody behind these cameras, everybody in this room had that same impression. But we appeared to have been had by the Ayatollah Khameini. But we're not dealing with stable people, are we? Well, it's not. Absolutely not. But when you're not dealing with a stable regime, that's more and more good reason to be cautious. That's good reason to get it written in blood, that you're going to fulfill a commitment. And not mislead a frustrated and increasingly frustrated American people. So you mentioned a couple of things, Ramsey Clark. I would never have sent Ramsey Clark on the mission, even if he only got halfway.
What would you have done differently? Well, if you go back, what I had done differently, and have the, you know, now, and it's not quite fair, I'd have started tightening up much much sooner on the economic side. I do believe that it is proper to go to mobilize world opinion, as we tried to do at the United Nations. I think that's a proper thing, and you can't do it overnight. But today, look, if I had a quick and easy fix, I would be up there with a great sense of urgency, passing it along to Jimmy Carter or Sy Vance. And I don't. But you permitted me to a little broader scope at it. And I think there are certain things, including leveling with the American people right now that I would do. Would you have permitted the shard of this country? Again, I have not the evidence to make that judgment, because I keep hearing there were intelligence reports that overwhelmingly said that if he came in, our embassy or something would happen to Americans in Tehran, I don't know that to be true. And one thing I learned in intelligence business, don't make judgments on less than full information.
But if that was there and that was clear, we could still be compassionate to an ally and a friend without heightening that probability. So I don't know the answer to that, you see, because I don't know about the intelligence information. And I don't think you do. Maybe you do. No, I have read the reports that there were warnings that the embassy heard. And if they were that clear and you're now giving me hindsight, I think you could still look like you weren't turning your back on a friend in the face of international tyranny, international anarchy, international diminution of human rights, as we see in Iran today, by turning your back on the man, I think you could have sent a team of people to help. If the evidence was that clear, but now I'm doing that, which I said I wouldn't do, and that is I don't want to be in there in any way, not that my words are so witty, but I don't want to be in there in any way, heightening the complication of the lives of those hostages.
I think when Teddy Kennedy made his statement about the Shah, that played right into the hands of the Ayatollah and those people. Let's take a situation where hostages are not involved. What can we do about the Soviet troops in Kabul? In truth, could we have done more to keep the Soviets out of Afghanistan than they could have done to keep us from sending troops into the Dominican Republic? I don't think so at that moment in history. I have read, and again, sensitive information, one thing experienced teaches you is available to the President and not to others. I have read, true or not, that the President made forceful representations, because I heard the intelligence was good that we saw a movement of troops and stuff to Brezhnev, and that if that was done, let's face it, it's a neighboring country, there's small borders. I don't think there's anything that at that moment he could have done, but I think there are things that he could have done before that, that it would have made that kind of invasion, that kind of aggression less likely, and I think there are things afterward, support
for Pakistan, and redefining our strategic interest that would make future aggression less apt to happen. I'll tell you what, last point, Bill, I think you're going to see this piece offensive. I think the Soviets overestimated their own ability to pull this off, and when you see the neutrals, that's right. Let me finish. You see the neutrals, and you see a lot of non-align with whom the Soviets, and you see kind of a united Islam. This, the Soviets, didn't count on, and I wouldn't be surprised. You start hearing now, internationalization and all of this. They want to get into some kind of a piece of offensive mode before these elections, and I think you're going to see that more, be more apt to see some kind of show by a removal of force. What they underestimated is the fierce patriotism and independence and religious conviction of the Afghans themselves.
But for all of that, Mr. Ambassador, they have stabilized the situation in Afghanistan in their favor. They have a regime there that, at least on the surface, and probably more so, is fully in their pocket now. They have accomplished their purpose. And I'm wondering if, if there's anything you would suggest that we could do that would get their troops out of, I think they're going to come out. But I don't think there's any immediate answer to get them out. I think you're going to see them do exactly what I've told you, because I think they underestimated world opinion. I think the firming up of U.S. posture in the Middle East is a helpful thing there. I think we have common interest in this, even with somebody as unpredictable as the regime in Iran. I know we have common interest with China. And China is making very firm and forceful representations as to what would happen if it goes further. So getting them out, I think, will be part of a Soviet peace effort, an idea to show that they really aren't the brutal aggressors that they are.
And I think that's what's going to do it. It's going to be more world opinion than it is bristling weapons lined up against them. But the idea is that they've stabilized things is not quite accurate. They've stabilized it militarily. But they haven't stabilized the heartbeat of the Afghans, and don't forget it. And we haven't heard the last of it. You do not brutally aggress and crush a people and have permanent stability. That's not what's happened. You mentioned Pakistan. And the President has proposed that we give Pakistan over $40 million worth of aid and the Pakistanis want more. Should we tell Pakistan that they can't have it if they insist on developing the capacity for nuclear weapons? No. What we should tell Pakistan is we made a mistake when we cut you off on a single interest. And what we should have done is build into any assistance. The safeguards, as they develop their nuclear capability, that it not be used for weaponry. But the idea that they were building is something that we're not going to be able to control. We should put constraints on.
We should put on safeguards. But the idea that they are clearly out to develop neutron hydrogen bombs and this kind of thing, yeah, that should concern the United States. But they're still doing what they were doing, and we belatedly come in to help them. I mean, I think our policy ought to be more forward-looking than that. But doesn't send aid to General Zia. Who is a dictator? Bring echoes in your mind of what we did in the 50s and 60s with Jim Key to Vietnam and the Shah of Iran in Iran. I don't see it as, I don't see it as so sinister, and I, frankly, I'm not a revisionist on Iran. Where were the interests of the U.S. and the Iranian people better off? Not sinister. But the fact that Saigon fell with one of the best equipped armies in the world, Tehran fell with one of the best equipped armies in the world. If the white had Tehran fell, do we know the answer yet?
Well, I don't know the answer yet, but it fell not sure I do. And what happened to that military that was that strong? Were they encouraged by a U.S. general to stay in their barracks? Were they to think it was more difficult than that? Yeah, I think the Revolutionary pressure was stronger, but I'm talking about the fall just as you were talking about. I'm only asking whether or not going into back a dictator, a military strongman in Pakistan for what you might concede to be good strategic reasons, doesn't sound like the same mistakes we made in Vietnam and Iran in backing a military regime that lacks the support of the people. So that if the Russians were to move in with local, sympathetic help, we'd still be powerless. Bill, what I've found from experience is sometimes you're choosing not between good on one hand and evil on another. You're choosing between wide varieties of imperfection in between. You mentioned Vietnam.
You know and I know that it was alleged in Vietnam if the U.S. would just get out of Vietnam, you'd have a nice, indigenous, united Vietnam. We got out, I remember criticism of the free press in South Vietnam. We got out, there is no press at all in Vietnam. Vietnam is united, Vietnam has a crest against Laos, they have a crest against Cambodia, and they have less human rights respect today than almost any society over there brutalizing Vietnam. Don't forward Chinese. Well, but my point is this, you're not always choosing in the world between perfection and imperfection. In Pakistan, it is in the interest of the United States to have a Pakistan that will not be dominated by the Soviet Union. That is our interest. Now if that means at least having some negotiation with General Zia who is less than perfect in human rights fine, but what kind of government, if you don't do it and if Pakistan falls, do you get, you get one less interested in human rights.
And I point to Iran is a good example of what I'm saying. I point to Iran. Should we have the rights of women, have been, rights of women have been diminished, where revolutionary councils, line people up and shoot them, all we hear about is, is Savakan its brutality. Should we have intervened in Iran to keep the economy going on? No, we didn't need to, and we didn't need to intervene in Iran to keep anybody in power. But when he started to fall, should we have to ask you the question, what was the role of General Heiser? And now I'm doing even more of that, which I said I wouldn't do. I'm not going to propose that. I am, and therefore I don't want to go back, go fine tuning Iran, because I've said I wouldn't do that, question that should be answered by this administration. What was General Heiser's instructions? I think about American troops. This was the old argument that was used in Angola. But you said we don't want American troops in Angola. We negate a commitment to Savambi and look at Africa today. When do we use troops? Yeah, but when should we use troops in the same way?
Yes, it's too hypothetical. You never can answer that question. But you said it's in our interest to have General Zia without, who is imperfect, in power rather than to have a Soviet regime in Pakistan. Now, if Zia were endangered, should we send troops? You can't answer a hypothetical question like that. I've learned. It's critical, can't you? No, you can't, because everybody wants you to say I'll send troops to the Persian Gulf for the Pakistan. I'm not going to say that. I'm not going to say what I would or wouldn't do. I know enough about foreign affairs to know that you cannot go into that kind of hypothetical question halfway around the world. I mean, but what I'm saying is, support doesn't have to be troops and support can be safeguarding against nuclear proliferation and still helping. And we're doing it today. We are doing it today under the Democrats who, under Jimmy Carter, who was so naive he didn't think he had to help him. And he wakes up and sees the Soviets as they really are, and thus he does it. That's all I'm saying.
All right. But we've come full circle. If you don't use troops, you have to use military aid. And I repeat that one of the best equipped armies fell in South Vietnam and one of the best equipped armies fell in Iran because you don't know why it fell in Iran and in order to why. You don't know what the role is. There were revolutionary pressures, of course. But there was also a role of the army in Vietnam that is yet to be clear. It's yet to be, it's yet, with the American people are yet to be told why that army stayed in its barracks. How with those policies do you expect to keep the Arab world, the moderate Arab world close enough to our interests to protect our strategic and energy? Do you know what concerns the moderate Arabs, the shakedoms in the Gulf, do you know where their main concern is, destabilization of their own regimes by the Soviet Union, a fear that the Soviet Union, having agressed against Afghanistan and long before that, want to overthrow
them. They know that there's subversion of the Soviets in Yemen. They know that there's mucking around inside of Saudi Arabia and an inside a stimulation of revolutionary pressures inside of some of those other countries. And they don't know what the U.S. would do. They don't know that the U.S. would keep commitments under Jimmy Carter. They don't trust the United States' word. What does it mean they think we lost our will? And that's the problem. What does it mean to keep commitments in the Middle East? Jimmy Carter spelled them out. Well, we have that. He said that if our violence in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East are threatened, he considered troops. Well, there you go again, hung up on troops out of Vietnam. But we're coming out of this post-Vietnam syndrome. I think he made the right statement, all right, then how do you protect those interests? I'm trying to protect them. And if you don't, we're doing it today, better. We got a naval presence, one of the big shortcomings of the Carter administration, bragged when he came into office that in the first two weeks, he cut three billion in defense.
And in it was the ability to strengthen the Navy, project naval power if necessary. Our Navy is going right down the tubes, getting weaker and weaker, and so you can strengthen those things. With bases in the Middle East? You can put bases in the Middle East. I don't favor permanent bases. That's where I differ with some of the other Republican candidates. And the reason I don't is not that I don't want to don't recognize that you need at some point to project power or show force, but I see a permanent base in the Middle East as an invitation to the Soviets to do the one thing that the Sudanese and the Egyptians kept them from doing, getting a foothold in the Middle East again. I think that the Soviets would love to have an air base somewhere down there, any rock or maybe Ethiopia, wherever it is. And I don't want to see that. I do favor temporary basing, utilization of existing facilities in Somalia, for example, or Awfulman and Masiri and Kenya, and the Soviets did that.
Soviets had, as you know, bases, Navy bases, they're in sub-base, they're in Berbera. And that is the answer, not the permanent base. And I know people differ with me, but I think that is a much sense, more sensible, less escalatory answer. You talk about experience. What recommends you to be president other than your desire for it? Experience. What kind of experience? And conviction about this country, how we can solve problems in go places and do things. And help lives and others. One of your friends was recently quoted anonymously as saying, Bush has kept moving. Sooner or later, when you're in a job, you make a mistake. The real question is how you confront that mistake. He's never had that test. Do you think you've ever been seriously tested? Yeah, some of you haven't known about, because some of it happened in the intelligence community. I think I was tested when I was chairman of the Republican Party during Watergate. A lot of people said, why don't you be more loyal to Nixon?
And a lot of other people saying, why are you holding the party so close to Nixon? Could you, though, as tested under fire? How could you be more loyal to Party? I mean, I understand what you do, but how could you have been more loyal to the president when you were chairman? Because I refused to get in there and say that the Irvin Committee was a kangaroo court when that was the administration line. I refused to go forward and do a lot of things that I was asked to do by the administration in this kind of reactive way. On April 7, 1973, you call the Watergate Bugging a Mickey Mouse decision on June 12, 1980. It still was. On June 12, 1970. Still, I'll say that in 1980. All right. On June 12, 1973, you said that you did not believe John Dean's testimony on October 22, 1973. You compared Nixon's dismissal of Archibald Cox to Truman's dismissal of MacArthur. On December 11, 1973, you reported a mounting, growing feeling in the country to get off the president's back. On January 19, 1974, you said that for the president to resign would amount to hounding the president out of office without any proof of guilt. On April 26, 1974, you said you remain convinced that the president is telling the truth.
All this time, the country was going more and more aware that something was wrong. Yeah, more and more. And you became more and more dogmatic in this area. I was like, what? I didn't become more and more. I became more and more fair. What I was saying is the system should try this. The system should work. I didn't do it by the leak or the innuendo. Not that, you know, there was a lot of things printed in history will record this, showing there were a lot of charges made that weren't true. We condoned journalistic practices of threatening a source with blackmail because some people were so certain of guilt. I stayed out of that. And I will stay with my position. I did what was honorable. I was ahead of the party, but the president, the head of it, I did not condone, watergate. You left out of your quotes. You left out of them in fair play. A lot of quotes about watergate being wrong. The very first press conference I had, I came down hard against watergate and it's all inclusive diminution of our system.
So bill in fairness, you read only a handful of quotes that in retrospect kind of look funny. I'm telling you, there were plenty of, we're growing, it was consistent. And there were plenty of people saying to me, why are you doing this? Why aren't you supporting Nixon more on that? And did you ever consider resigning? Did you ever consider resigning? No. Did bail out when the party isn't connected to something? Do you leave the sinking ship? You get your headline in the papers because a lot of journalists would love it. The elite things to show how good and strong you are or do you chart a principled position and stay with it. Did you see that? And I have more credit today in the Republican Party for what I just said than I would have had if I'd have got my name in the papers by an righteous indignation leaving. I was ahead of the party. The party was not involved in watergate. The reason I have strong support from the party is because they know I kept the party from being dragged into the ugliness of watergate.
Did you feel compromised? That's the other side of those quotes. Fair enough. Did you feel compromised by the fact that in 1970 when you were running for the Senate in Texas, you received some of the clandestine money that was passed around. Compromised? I was honored to get it. Watergate was had not taken place until two years later. And I felt no compromise. I thought it was great. And I was grateful for it. And the money was reported. And I was very pleased. Did Dixon lie to you? Yes, he did. What does that say about the power of the presidency today to no lie? That's what it says. And I've not been one of my shortcomings. Did you do anything as direct to the CIA that if you were president and it were exposed by a domestic or foreign power, would embarrass you personally or the country? No. Not one thing. No. And I did plenty that, if it were exposed, would show a certain fiber and a certain respect for Americans, but also a respect for the need for strong intelligence. Can you give me an example?
Can you give me an example? It looks awful. Because if I started doing that, I'd be starting to be a bad x CIA person. That doesn't put us at a disadvantaged and trying to judge you on the basis. Yes. It puts me at a disadvantage, because I would be getting better marks. Why do you think a lot of x CIA people support. Some people say that's a liability. You know why? Because they think I was a good leader. I went out there and they viewed me as a lot of these liberal Democrats in Congress. It is pure politician. They fought me, Frank Church, and some of those people. I was a good CIA director, and I had to prove it. And I proved it by being sure that the abuses of the past, codified in an executive order, not be repeated. And I assured it by standing up and saying, in an open society, some things to protect the Republic are going to have to be closed. And I found that balance. In the Congress, some of my severest critics in Congress will tell you, I was a good CIA director. People that voted against me.
But better, and that plus working with your peers, saying you did a good job. You're quoted somewhere as talking about the hemstrong intelligence gathering operations. What can't the CIA do that it ought to be able to do? It can't keep things as confidential as it should. Part of intelligence comes from cooperation, from other services. But if other services, other intelligence services, don't think we're going to protect information they give us, and it's going to come out and there's some barris other countries that haven't gone through what we have. They won't cooperate with you. How do you protect it then? Do you punish those who leak? Yes. Do you punish those in the press who use it? Well, of course, we never would punish the press. You never want to do that because we're not going to do that. Would you have an official secret act? No, I wouldn't have an official secret act because that does exactly what I said I wouldn't do. And what I would do is protect sources and methods by getting after the leak or the most important thing you do is consolidate oversight. So you're not going to eight different committees. You know, when a staffer in his righteous indignation can abort an effort that the
president has found to be in the national interest and found in writing, there's something wrong. Well, somebody has to look after the interest of this country and you don't do it by weakening the central intelligence agency. But do you believe that the full House and Senate intelligence committees, the full committees, should be notified in advance of covert activities? No. Who should it be? I would do it in timely fashion under Hughes Ryan. But how do you do that? This is a difference. I don't believe you need prior notification. I believe the president of the United States is not dishonorable. I believe if he gets a finding based on his not secondary, the principal, the president lies to you? Why I finished my question? If a president lies to you. May I finish my question? The answer? Yes. The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the head of the NSC, the director of CIA, all recommending to the president something and he finds it's in the national interest.
I think timely notice is just exactly fine. And I don't believe you need prior notice. How about after the fact in oversight? Do you believe that the full House and Senate oversight committee should be notified after the fact? I'm just trying to find out what you mean by oversight. Sure, sure. And we did it to eight different committees. But you're saying that one year to 54, eight is wrong. Yeah, you're saying this wrong. Consolidation is right. I'd love the concept of a joint atomic energy committee, but I don't think that'll be. I think you're going to be dealing. If the Senate and House recognize the error of their ways, I think you're going to see it with two committees. And that would be a lot better, Nate. I was interrupting, minute ago, I admit to let you finish your statement. I interrupt you by saying you were talking about an honorable president, but you just got through admitting that one president lied to you. And what's to keep a president like that from lying to the Congress, from lying to the public about the abuses of the CIA? Plenty, because you have a lot of disclosure today that you didn't have before. You have an executive order today. You have oversight responsibilities in the executive branch, as well as in Congress.
You have safeguards that I helped build into the system that didn't exist before. And so, you know, that's what it is. There's a whole things of change dramatically. But for those that want a weak CIA, they better not have me as president, because I'd want one respectful of the rights of Americans, but one that would be improving the quality of the information that our president gets. And you don't get it. If everything is out in the open, some friend can pick up a phone, say, I saw something I didn't like. I saw this Soviet general saying this, and he's disloyal to the revolution, and because you up and you print it, that doesn't help intelligent. Two final quick questions. With all due respect, it does seem hard to some people to understand how in one or two years you can learn enough about a job to serve in it with distinction. You had four jobs in six years, and I ask you, what job have you held in which you think you served with distinction? All of them.
And the idea that you can't do anything well, and that you have to be there 20 years to do it, I don't believe that. Every single job I've done well, and the best at a station, don't take my word for it, go talk to some of the people that I serve with. I'm not one who bullies the State Department. I got good cooperation at the UN. I understood the initiatives, and I could lead, and that US mission to the UN knows it. I believe the Chinese leaders know that I was a good, strong ambassador for the UN, at least in representing our opinions and saying, look, all this anti-US propaganda is bad. I've already cited the party, and go back to private business, go out in the oil rigs, talk to Joe Tullis or Carl Johnson, you know, a lethist or no inside Washington people talk to him. The best thing I got going for me is the respect of my peers, and that says something about leadership. All right, last question, really the last question. It seems to me that many people today are looking for more than answers to the issues we've been talking about, that they're looking for someone who can understand, explain, and act
upon the underlying disorder of our times, which violates the laws of proportion and harmony and is led to the disintegration of the social fabric in our country. Do you have anything to say to that? Do you really believe that our social fabric is unraveling? No. I think we're coming out of an anomaly. You're still harping in these questions on 1960s, which I understand. In the 70s? In the 70s, Watergate, Vietnam, and the election of a president who had not had a lot of experience, three things, the first two being much more substantive. But I'm not one who feels there's a great unraveling of fabric. If you look relatively at things, there's some enormous problems, but there's also some enormous progress. And part of the hopelessness that your question at least implied to me is because economic conditions have gotten worse. Inflation has quadrupled under Jimmy Carter. Interest rates have gone off the chart. People now realize that this one-party control of Congress has resulted in a certain may
lays. But that can change. And I am an idealist. And I believe in the fundamentals of our institutions and that they're still able to cope. Everybody wants to go and take a meat axe to the Constitution when they see these things. But I don't. I think we can solve problems. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. From Jacksonville, Florida, this has been a conversation with George Bush. I'm Bill Moyers. For a transcript of this program, send $2 to Bill Moyers Journal, box 900, New York, 10019.
Funding for this program has been provided by this station and other public television stations and by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, and the Warehouseer Company.
Bill Moyers Journal
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A Conversation with George Bush
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Public Affairs Television & Doctoroff Media Group (New York, New York)
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Bill Moyers interviews 1980 Republican presidential candidate George H. W. Bush, Texas oilman, former congressman, ambassador and CIA director.
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BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, a weekly current affairs program that covers a diverse range of topic including economics, history, literature, religion, philosophy, science, and politics.
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Editor: Moyers, Bill
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Producer: McCarthy, Betsy
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Chicago: “Bill Moyers Journal; 507; A Conversation with George Bush,” 1980-03-06, Public Affairs Television & Doctoroff Media Group, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 1, 2023,
MLA: “Bill Moyers Journal; 507; A Conversation with George Bush.” 1980-03-06. Public Affairs Television & Doctoroff Media Group, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 1, 2023. <>.
APA: Bill Moyers Journal; 507; A Conversation with George Bush. Boston, MA: Public Affairs Television & Doctoroff Media Group, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from
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