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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With George Herbert Walker Bush, Doro Bush
Aired October 5, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a unique portrait of George Herbert Walker Bush, a deeply personal look at his life and times through the eyes of his daughter Doro. She and the president join us to share touching family stories, powerful memories of history-making moment and insights into the current president; George H. W. Bush and his daughter Doro next on LARRY KING LIVE.
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KING: Good evening. An extraordinary book has been published today. The youngest child of George H. W. and Barbara Bush is the author of "My Father, My President, a Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush." She is Doro Bush Koch and her father is George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States.
Whose idea was this, Doro?
DORO BUSH KOCH, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Well, this was the idea actually of one of dad's assistants, who thought of the idea because she had saved these daily files, these daily personal files when dad was president and put them aside for one day for me to write a book, which was a surprise to me and a surprise to dad but then he e-mailed me with the idea and I accepted.
KING: An extraordinary, Mr. President, collection of photographs.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH: They're great, yes.
KING: There are many photographs I've never seen.
BUSH: Some that I've never seen, either. Doro was enthusiastic on this project. She called me, "Oh, I talked to Gorbachev," or, "I just heard from Gorby." Then she said, "Helmut Kohl just sent in." She went to hundreds of interviews and...
KOCH: I did, yes, 135 interviews and then got letters and stories...
BUSH: People wrote in.
KOCH: ...from 167 people, so 300 people altogether.
KING: And I'm even in it. KOCH: You're in it.
KING: And Mr. President, your participation was what?
BUSH: Well, I talked to Doro over the years but mine was having lived the life.
KING: Did you read it all? I mean did you...
BUSH: Oh, yes, I went through the whole book.
KING: Did you edit?
BUSH: Well, I didn't do much editing because it was in pretty good shape but she sent me the galleys and all that before they got in this form and then I've read it in this form and she didn't need kibitzing. I didn't want to do that. That's her expression.
KING: You, in all the time I've known you, you really never like to talk about yourself.
BUSH: You've got my mother looking down right now.
KING: Is that -- that's not in the Bush gentility. Is this then a little uncomfortable?
BUSH: Well, it's not uncomfortable, no. I haven't tried to write, I think I told you this long ago, a memoir, feeling that it's better to let history take care of what I screwed up and what we got right and not be out there trying to shape it, not trying to say, hey, this is what I did. I mean time will take care of that.
So when this came along though, it's more personal. There is some good history in the book, you know, but it's more personal. I mean on the back of the book there's a lovely quote by my friend John Major, with whom I worked and who I really respect and like. And it's so kind of over the top in support, pretty much.
KING: The former prime minister. I guess the toughest part, and it was in the book we had you on with the letters, is the passing of Robin.
BUSH: Oh, boy.
KING: You never knew Robin.
KING: She died before you were born. I had the unusual thing of having a brother die before I was born. It's a funny feeling, isn't it?
KOCH: Yes, it is.
KING: That someone that was a sibling you didn't know.
KOCH: Right and I wrote a little bit about it. But what I love about Robin is that mom and dad now have the happiest memories of Robin and have done so much good because of Robin's short life. And so dad is, you know, and mom are committed to cancer research and so many families break apart when you have children.
KING: Divorce is common in the death of a child.
KOCH: But mom and dad did the opposite and that's been a great example for our family.
KING: I've interviewed people who have lost children, Mr. President, and they to a man all said they never forget the child. There is still a part of them gone.
BUSH: Yes, that's true.
KING: That true with you?
BUSH: Yes, it is. And also there is kind of a hopeful message here because she -- it was on the cutting edge of some different medicines up at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, which is a great cancer center. And if she were alive today, if she had got that same degree of leukemia today, she'd live. They've got so much advance on it so there's hope out there.
KING: You've had so many jobs. You've filled so many. You did everything there is to do at the U.N. Was that an enjoyable stay for you when ambassador?
BUSH: Yes, it was a very interesting stay and I liked dealing with the foreign governments there. And I found that if you treat a country -- it's a political forum but I found if you reach out like real life that you can kind of get a vote out of them from time to time but everybody has respect for their own sovereignty and the smaller the country, the more I felt that they felt that way.
KING: Your party, though, has some scorn for it. Do you have some?
BUSH: I don't know that we have scorn, the Republican Party?
KING: Yes. They're not crazy about the U.N.
BUSH: Well, I think everybody is frustrated by the finances of the U.N. and the inability to solve problems of war and peace. But nobody, I think, really expected it would do that. I mean, look at Darfur, for example.
And you'll have other areas where it just has not been able to go in there and solve the problem, so use it for what it's good for, economic and social counsel, ECOSOC they call it and humanitarian needs and all this stuff.
KING: The book is "My Father, My President," published today, a personal account of the life of George H. W. Bush. We'll be right back.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: United States.
BUSH: Yes. And I have a very different view of the U.N. than when I came here, tremendously different. You know, I think there's lots of things that need to be improved but I also think there's lots of strengths in the things that it's doing right that it doesn't get credit for.
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KING: We're back with Doro Bush and her father, former President George H. W. Bush.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, not a political favorite of the Bush's, a strong liberal and a great writer, says, "Doro Bush Koch has accomplished something truly special for this moving story of her father's life, will not only capture the hearts of the general reader but also garner the respect of historians, who will savor her wonderful anecdotes and her telling insights into her close-knit family. President Bush could not have found a better person to bring his warm and loving personality to life."
Other aspects, the Watergate scandal, you were chairman of the RNC, right?
KING: Wasn't that hard for you?
BUSH: Terrible, the worst job in the world, then because you had two stacks of mail. One of them says "Why aren't you keeping the party closer to President Nixon, supporting him more?" The other one said "Why are you doing so much to support Nixon?" So you were kind of caught but the party was not involved in Watergate, you remember that.
KING: How did you, though, deal with Nixon at the time? You had to meet with him, right?
BUSH: Carefully, yes. No, he was always very nice to me but he was -- he got bogged down at the end in all of this stuff. It just got to him. It got to us, to everybody. But I can't fault Nixon for the way he treated me and Barbara. I mean he was very kind about that.
KING: I interviewed him quite a few times. He was a troubled figure, though, wasn't he?
BUSH: Yes, he was. I always wondered why that he wasn't as, you know, happy. It's not like, you know, his daughters -- they...
KING: He was not a happy man.
BUSH: I think that's true.
KING: With all the success, political success that he had.
BUSH: You know, one of my favorite anecdotes, maybe it's in the book, about the cabinet where Nixon would go around the room. "These Ivy League so and sos" and you'd look around the room and here half the cabinet, more than half, are all from Ivy League schools. He'd like me now, though, because I'm a Texas A&M guy.
KING: Mark Felt was on this show. What did you think of the revelation about who Deep Throat was?
BUSH: Well, Larry, I know you're not going to believe this. I kind of lost interest in it and I didn't remember Mark Felt until this got -- it got -- and, you know, it's a nice little factoid.
KING: But you lost interest in the whole question of who it was.
BUSH: Yes, because it just got off the radar screen and was so long ago.
KING: How is President Ford?
BUSH: I talk to him from time to time. I talked to him in the last month or so. But he's had a little bit of a rough time the last month or so but he's such a wonderful person. Golly, he's just great. Is he in your book?
KOCH: Yes, I interviewed him.
BUSH: Is he?
KING: Did you read the book?
BUSH: Yes, I read the book.
KOCH: He's read the book like three times.
BUSH: I don't have a memory, though, older than you are.
KING: Age will do that, right?
BUSH: Well, you don't know about aging, Larry, come on.
KING: I'm going to be 73. How old are you, 82?
BUSH: Eighty-two. Seventy-three is a kid in our family.
KING: I emceed your 80th birthday party in Houston.
BUSH: I remember and you couldn't get all the speakers under control. KING: That was some night, boy. You put me through the ringer that night. That was something.
Have you read the Woodward book, by the way?
KING: Are you going to?
BUSH: I don't think so.
KING: Why not?
BUSH: Well, why? Let me put it on this -- why would I read it?
KING: History. I know it's critical of your son.
BUSH: Well, then I won't read it if it is. I didn't know it was that. He wrote a couple that weren't so critical of him but I didn't read them either. I've had some major differences with Bob Woodward. And there's no point in going into them but we're not on close terms at all.
KING: A couple of things in the book, you can comment or not, he claims that you did not like Donald Rumsfeld very much.
BUSH: I can't comment on that, no. That kind of stuff, Larry, you've got to get out there outside of this darn Beltway and people don't ask me -- yesterday we -- Phil Mickelson came out and broke the course record on our golf course and nobody asked me about Foley, Rumsfeld or Bob Woodward. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. So, I don't go into this anymore.
KING: So you hold your opinions inside? You have to have opinions.
BUSH: Well, I unload them on Barbara once in a while or talk back to the TV set but it doesn't do any good. And we've got a president that's working these problems and he has my full confidence. Doro reflects that in this book.
And, you know, it's just not worth it one more name in the game. An old guy over there says that Foley did this or that Denny Hastert did that. I mean, incidentally, I'm very, very fond and think very highly of Hastert.
KING: Don't think he should quit?
BUSH: Oh no, no, no, no. And I haven't talked to him on all this stuff. But it's funny how you get outside and you're not caught up. We're doing philanthropic things, you do so much in that yourself, and you lose this inside the Beltway mentality pretty fast. I can't say I'm not interested in it but it just isn't all-consuming.
KING: What is it like, Doro, since you can't agree on everything, when inside the family you disagree with a president or a governor?
KOCH: We -- there isn't a lot of that. You know, people always ask me, "Oh, did you talk to your brother about, you know...
KOCH: ...the budget or Iraq" or something like that? Actually, when I spend the weekend with my brother or my father we sort of talk about fishing or laughing and it's not like that. But I think people voice their opinions.
KING: Oh, yes.
KOCH: I mean no one is afraid of that but it's not, you know, what binds us together is the love of a family.
KING: It pains you, though, as you've told me many times, whenever either one of your sons is criticized right?
BUSH: Much more hurtful than when I used to be in that crossfire, much. It's not even a close call.
KING: You take it personally.
BUSH: I do. Well, if you inadvertently said something nasty about the president, I wouldn't take it personally on you. I wouldn't say that I'm going to get Larry King. That's not the way it works. But on some predictable critics I sit there and talk back at the TV, "Look at that stupid guy on there again saying ugly things about my son."
KING: But how about when you're -- how about when you're, like in the Woodward book, when you're quoted? They quote you as not liking Condoleezza Rice or didn't think she was up to par.
BUSH: Well, if that's a quote it's a lie.
KING: That's a quote.
BUSH: I can't make it any more clearer than that because I like Condoleezza Rice. She worked for me. I have great respect for Condoleezza Rice. I can't believe Woodward I haven't read the book, that he actually said I said that. If he did...
KING: I think someone says you said it. I don't have it in front of me now. It's quoted as saying you didn't think she was equal to the task.
BUSH: Well, it's crazy. I talked to her yesterday. I guess there were some hurt feelings or the day before she went to this trip.
KING: She was hurt?
BUSH: Well, she called me and said there's something in this book...
KING: Oh, that's what it is.
BUSH: But she didn't say what it was that I didn't like her. She said there are some remarks in there attributed to you. I don't believe it. And I said, "Well, don't, I don't know what they are."
KING: Let's discuss other things in the book.
The shooting of President Reagan, according to Doro and the writings, changed your relationship with him.
KOCH: Well, I think what I was saying there was that the staff, the Reagan staff, saw how dad handled the situation, how he decided to chopper to the vice president's residence and then motorcade to the White House instead of grandstanding it. And I think they garnered an enormous amount of respect for dad, knowing that he wasn't going to, you know, upstage the president any way, shape or form ever.
KING: Where were you when he was shot?
BUSH: I was in Texas. We just attended -- I think it was Ft. Worth -- a cattlemen's thing or something like that. I'm not too clear on it but then they shot me over to the airline, Air Force Two, and sat there for a while and then came back, yes.
KING: That's when Al Haig was going to run the government, right?
BUSH: Al's got pretty much of an overstated bad rap on that.
KING: The extraordinary book, "My Father, My President, a Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush" by Doro Bush Koch.
We'll be back with more right after this.
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RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need someone who is prepared to be president. It will take somebody who has seen this office from the inside, who senses the danger points, who will be cool under fire, and knows the range of answers when the tough questions come. Well that's the George Bush that I've seen up close.
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BUSH: Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
BUSH: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
BUSH: Thank you.
Some see leadership as high drama and the sound of trumpets calling and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, page turns. The story unfolds.
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KING: We're back with former President Bush and his daughter, Doro Bush Koch.
A couple of other things current, any thoughts on Venezuela's President Chavez saying your son is the devil?
BUSH: Well, I'm tempted to...
KING: Oh, go ahead.
BUSH: He's an ass and it's a joke for him to come up here and do that and that demeans the U.N. You were talking about the U.N. For him to get up there and then some people applauding when he makes it personal like that, it's just sad. He's got oil at 60 bucks a barrel. He's going to do what he wants to do. But somehow these tyrants have a way of falling.
KING: Do you worry about Iran?
BUSH: Sure, yes. I keep up with it a little bit.
KING: Jimmy Carter, a very esteemed former president, is not afraid of being critical no matter who it is. He's been critical of Clinton, critical of your son. You don't right?
BUSH: No, I don't.
KING: Why do you have that policy?
BUSH: Well in the first place, my son is president of the United States and if I went out and took a shot at Jimmy Carter, say, or Bill Clinton, who's a friend now, they'd rush right over to the White House. "Look what the old guy's saying, 82-year-old poop out there saying these horrible things about it." And then Tony Snow would have to go to general quarters and the president would be embarrassed and there's no point.
I had my chance, Larry, and now he's in there and he doesn't need to wonder where I'm coming from, whether I support him, whether I can go along with this or that. And I'm not -- so I've adopted that position and I think it's the proper position.
KING: What do you think, Doro, of your father's friendship with Bill Clinton which has become closer than ever?
KOCH: I know. One of my friends said to me once, "I know your father has really lost it if he invites President Clinton to Kennebunkport." Well, sure enough, of course, he invited him the Kennebunkport and he's been twice, actually, and it's a genuine friendship. I mean I was amazed. But President Clinton is -- what I love about their relationship is how sort of respectful President Clinton is of dad, kind of as the elder statesman.
BUSH: He's very nice.
KING: They're getting some big award tonight, Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Liberty Award that both of them get.
KING: Your son, I asked him on the unveiling of the Clinton portrait in the White House he had Hillary and Bill there and he was effusive in his praise of Bill Clinton and so when I asked him, the president, why, he said, "It's impossible not to like Bill Clinton."
BUSH: Well, they do. I think they see more of each other than is publicly written, not a lot but I know Bill was over there a while back at lunch, very quiet. I think off the record. It needed to be.
KING: What do you think -- what hit it off between the two of you?
BUSH: Well, you got some of us that are kind of the same on some things, very different on issues, very different on, you know, some things. But he -- you can't help but like Clinton. I mean, he is a likable -- I have enjoyed working with him on tsunami or Katrina or all these things and that's the matrix.
It isn't about politics or whether Hillary is going to run or whether he likes the president. It's about we've done something bigger than ourselves in helping other people and it's been good.
KING: Speaking of esteem, how we hold presidents in esteem, I don't think any president is held in greater esteem, well, we all look at him highly, than your father, Doro. And this Saturday a special thing is going to happen outside of Norfolk, Virginia, the christening of the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush. We have a little video that you don't know we have. Watch.
BUSH: Oh, wow. I'd love to see that.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Welcome aboard George H. W. Bush.
CAPT. KEVIN O'FLAHERTY, GEORGE H.W. BUSH, CVN 77: As far as the ship's namesake goes, President George H. W. Bush, we're real proud of the fact that we've been able to have the ship and a crew that has been able to meet him.
SCOTT STABLER, GEORGE H.W. BUSH, CVN 77: The perfect resume for somebody you name an aircraft carrier after, just been, you know, completely genuine but I'd like to -- I'd like to see him sitting in here during sea trials. What do you say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if he would make a parachute entry onto the flight deck for sea trials and then come on up to the bridge he'd really (INAUDIBLE).
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KING: We went down there yesterday and thought we'd shock you.
BUSH: You shocked me.
KING: What does that feel like?
BUSH: It's a huge thing in my life. I think it's the first carrier named after a naval aviator, which I was, and which changed my life because I was one.
KING: Doro is the ship's sponsor. She will actually do the christening.
BUSH: It's her ship. That's right.
KING: It's the 10th and last ship in the Nimitz class.
KING: We're old enough. We remember Nimitz. It is scheduled to be delivered to the navy in late 2008 and then commissioned. How does it make you feel?
KOCH: Biggest honor of my life.
KING: Do you hit champagne?
KOCH: I get to christen the ship. I get to turn, when during the commissioning two years from now, I get to turn on all the bells and whistles.
KING: We have a Jimmy Carter. What is it a submarine?
BUSH: Submarine, I think.
KING: And we now have a George Bush. What does that feel like?
BUSH: It's a huge honor.
KING: It's a ship, an aircraft carrier, the biggest ship sailing.
BUSH: A huge honor and I'm not even dead yet and they've named this after me. You might wonder. But no, it's a terribly great honor and at the christening Doro will -- the sponsor will preside. All the remaining pilots in my squadron that are still alive, they will be there.
Some of the ship's company will be there. A couple of guys who were on Finback, the submarine that rescued me off the Japanese island, they will be there and then a lot of straphangers, a huge turnout.
KING: You went down when you were what, 18?
BUSH: No sir, just turned 20, I turned 20 on June 12th and this was on September 2nd, 1944.
KING: You don't forget that date, do you?
BUSH: Never, never.
KING: Have you sailed past where you were rescued?
BUSH: Yes. I went there with Paula Zahn about two years ago, three maybe, and landed there on this island of Chi Chi Jima and went out and I met a Japanese guy that said, "I saw your airplane go in there into the sea, right out there." I mean, it was surreal.
KING: We'll be back -- so is the whole book -- we'll be back with more right after this. Don't go away.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've developed our ship's seal. The seal is basically made up of 41 stars, signifying the president's 41st presidency. It's got three aircraft on it. It's got an Avenger, which the president flew in World War II. It's got a number of the points of light, not quite 1,000 on there, if you start counting. But it also has Freedom Works. It's from his inaugural address in 1989.
BUSH: We know what works. Freedom Works. We know what's right. Freedom is right.
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KING: By the way, before we finish, we're all going to read little portions from this book, the wonderful book out today, "My Father, My President, a Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush" by the -- about the 41st president of the United States, by his daughter Doro Bush Koch and a whole host of other people.
It said that while you were in the White House you used to wonder what your father, famed Senator Prescott Bush, would do with certain situations. Does your son do the same?
BUSH: Does he wonder what I would do?
BUSH: I don't know. I don't know. We talk a lot but I think he knows the course he wants to be on. He's got good people around him. And one thing about him, Larry, he's not going to be holding his fingers up in their air, hey, winds coming from the west today and change position. He's a strong guy.
KING: Do you expect him, though, to call you?
BUSH: Well, he calls all the time.
KING: I mean for advice.
BUSH: Oh, we talk about that. We talk about advice or anything else but I mean, it's -- I don't have access to -- or I haven't asked to have access to the -- all the intelligence. I get some intelligence briefings, mainly I guess because I was head of CIA. But I get briefed but I don't -- when you make a presidential decision, you have to have all the information. Or as much as you can get. And I don't pretend to have that.
Nor do I try to get it. I'm -- I'm on the sidelines. It's his turn. He's the one that has to do this.
KING: You went to Iraq?
KING: Do you have questions about it? Do you ever -- I mean, look how it's gotten. Do you ...
BUSH: Do I worry about it? I guess everybody does about how it'll work out. I'm glad Saddam Hussein is no longer in office. And that wouldn't have happened, he wouldn't be out of there if the president hadn't taken the action he did. I am happy for one other thing. They had a big picture of me in the lobby of one of the big hotels in little tile on the floor and they'd all walk across, stepping on me, and that's gone now. So I feel good about that. That's not what you call a major thing in terms of ...
KING: What do you make, though, of all the division in the country about it?
BUSH: Well, I think anytime you're engaged in something that's difficult, you're going to have divisions and some want to handle it one way and some another. But there's only one president. There's only one guy that can make the final decision and I have every confidence in our president. Now that shouldn't surprise anyone because he's my son and he's a good guy and his character is great and he calls them as he sees them.
KING: Doro, do people come over to you -- those who might disagree with what's happening in Iraq and bring it up to you? Friends ...
KOCH: Friends, they might but they know how -- that I feel the same way as my dad. I adore my brother and I'm very loyal and supportive of him and so they tread lightly. They know.
BUSH: The one that I don't like of the critics is the one -- he likes war. There is -- I went into the Saints game the other day. Opening -- it was very emotional. It was wonderful. And as I walked off the field, it was a huge guy. Looked like he could still be playing tackle for San Diego -- or for whoever we were playing and he said, "Get those troops out of Iraq. Get them out. Tell your son, you've got to get them out."
And I said, he wants them to get out but you got -- what's the condition for getting out? But the guy was really hard pressed -- about the only person that has said something like that and he did it in a very forceful but not unpleasant way and I know there are these divisions but they need to know what I told him, which is this president wants to finish this thing and finish it right and will but I don't think I convinced him.
KING: Well, one of your closest friends disagrees with it. Brent Scowcroft, right?
BUSH: I don't know whether he disagrees with me.
KING: I think he wrote an article in the "New Yorker" he disagrees. And I met him ...
BUSH: Disagrees about what?
KING: The whole concept of the war.
BUSH: Well, he has some problems with it.
KING: Does it bother you? He's in Woodward's book, too.
BUSH: No, no, not.
KING: It doesn't affect your friendship?
BUSH: No, of course not, Larry.
KING: You don't take it personally.
BUSH: No. I shouldn't. And I see him a lot but he's never gone out of his way to tell me all of the things where he might differ with my son. He's not going to do that.
KING: You saw him in Kennebunkport.
BUSH: He's a close friend.
KING: He wrote a book with you.
BUSH: Respect him, yeah. But you can't have it -- I can't have it my way 100 percent of the time, especially when I'm on the sidelines.
KING: I want to get one thing straight on the -- and you can comment or not, that Brent Scowcroft is quoted in the Woodward book, in "State of Denial" as describing you. Brent -- this is now Brent describing you, as "anguished and tormented by the Iraq war and its aftermath."
BUSH: You've got a question?
BUSH: Than what's the question.
KING: Were you anguished and tormented?
BUSH: No, I'm not anguished and tormented.
KING: So the quote by Brent is either Brent's wrong or...
BUSH: I'm not sure if it's a quote by Brent, because I've heard, before I came down here, was talks about that said to somebody, and it's all kind of second hand. I don't think Woodward is quoting on that. I don't know, I haven't read the book.
KING: But you haven't talked to Brent about it?
BUSH: Nope. He was up there, I had dinner with him a couple of nights ago and he's my friend and...
KING: ... That's interesting, though. Do you regard that as interesting, Doro? Two old friends work together, wrote a book together and don't discuss something?
BUSH: I don't know when I last saw him, I don't know whether I've actually seen him since this thing came out, this Woodward book.
My problem with Woodward is sometimes there's things that are quotes and he knows I've got this, because I've written to him about it, put it in writing, my concerns about it. And you know, it's just a different way of doing it. Some have editorial license, writers license. But I don't ...
KING: ... Of course technically, you could be anguished and tormented.
KING: Maybe everybody's anguished and tormented, in a sense.
We'll be right back with Doro and dad, right after this.
KING: We're back with the 41st president of the United States, George H. W. Bush and Doro Bush Koch, his daughter. The book is "My Father, My President, a Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush," officially published today, Thursday.
One other thing on -- back to Bill Clinton a second. Did it bother your friendship when he criticized your son, which he did recently?
BUSH: That doesn't affect the friendship. You expect that's going to happen and I think as it -- particularly if Hillary runs, he's going to have to do more of that but there's a lot of ...
KING: You understand that that goes with the ...
BUSH: Oh yeah. It goes with the territory. You don't like it. If he really unleashes on the president I might get angry or mad but you don't build, give or take based on an issue of the moment. I don't. Never have.
KING: What's happened to the tone of American politics? Now in your days, back in the '60s let's say, in the House and Senate, there were disagreements but there wasn't vilification.
BUSH: Oh, Larry, I'm not sure that's true. Think of the civil rights stuff back in the '60s and there was plenty of vilification and plenty of stuff in Congress about real violent differences. Now, I'm not saying it's not worse today. I think there's certain incivility which I just don't like at all but I don't think it's -- look back at the turn of the century. Grover Cleveland and all these things, what they said about each other.
KING: Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.
BUSH: It was pretty tough, and so I expect historians could better answer that question but this too will pass.
KING: Maybe it's that there's so much communication available now that we hear about it more and news is instantaneous and 24 hour channels and ...
BUSH: My only point is there's a lot of people out there that don't live or die by the latest toss of the coin or the latest attack on somebody. I may be wrong about that but that's what I hope.
KING: As a mother, what do you think about the whole Foley thing and this whole thing going on?
KOCH: As a mother of teenage children it makes me very sad. It does and I think it's horrible and sad for everybody involved and especially for teenagers and it's just a scary world we live in.
KING: Have you read a good study of predators? Has anyone -- do we know why they are the way they are?
KOCH: I don't know why -- I think it's really sad and a sickness.
BUSH: No, I don't know, but I think it is a sickness and it's terrible. Nobody can defend what this guy did.
KING: Do you know Congressman Foley?
BUSH: Yes and I like him. Like him. I haven't seen him in years, maybe several years. It's not new. It's happened before to a Democratic congressman a while back.
KING: Can leadership do anything about it? BUSH: I hope so. I don't know what you can do. You can pass a law saying don't make passes at 16 year old boys, or something, but that's not going to do it. You've got to do something about this case and people want to get to the bottom of it. I have every confidence in Denny Hastert, incidentally. Some want him to leave. I think it'd be a big mistake.
KING: Nine-eleven is in the book. I'll ask the president what he thought when we come back. We're also going to read from the book. Don't go away.
KING: Before we read from the book, some other things. Nine- eleven you were in Milwaukee. You had just left the White House.
BUSH: Just left the White House. Flying to Minneapolis. They grounded the plane I was on. It was a private plane. Landed there and the next thing I knew I was out in a little town outside of Milwaukee. About eight hours later the president called up and said, where are you, dad? I says, where your people made me land, way the hell out here in Milwaukee someplace.
KING: How did they get you back?
BUSH: Well, we had to spend a couple of days and nights there and just went back on a plane.
KING: What did you think?
BUSH: Oh. I don't think I was smart enough to say this is going to change the whole world. These terrorists now are going to be after us every play, but after a few weeks of it I began to see that clearly.
KING: You wrote a letter to your children before the start of the Gulf War. It's in the book.
"I guess what I want you to know as a father is this. Every human life is precious. When the question is asked, how many lives are you willing to sacrifice? It tears at my heart." He also wrote later in his diary, "I have been plagued by the image of a body bag."
How does a president live with that? It's your call.
BUSH: Yeah. The decision is the president's and the president's alone. But you learn to live with it. War is hell. And I think the fact that I was in a war makes me understand that a little bit better but you just have to. You have to do it. Sometimes it's good versus evil. When we were fighting Saddam Hussein, I thought it was that clear.
Now some of the press criticized me. It's not that clear a decision. We had the presiding bishop of our church -- I don't know if that's in your book.
BUSH: But anyways, it's out there, this is a sign ...
BUSH: Yeah. And -- but in politics, at least at that level, you've got to expect people to differ. But that doesn't mean you have to be enemies.
KING: How do you handle it, Doro, when there is criticism?
KOCH: The criticism? Well, I feel like I can hold a grudge. They have to move on ...
KING: They move on, don't they?
KOCH: ... and do their job and they're good leaders.
BUSH: You've talked to your mother on that?
KOCH: Mom and I, we can hold a grudge if we want. We can be mad at people. We get over it but -- it's our family.
KING: Barbara is the champ, is she not?
KOCH: She's pretty great.
KING: She's the grudgeholder of all time.
KOCH: She'll be mad if I'm agreeing with that.
KING: You don't think she's ...
KOCH: I think she and I can hold a grudge but I don't think she's an Olympic grudgeholder.
KING: All right, let's -- we're going to read a little from the book. Doro is going to read something and the president is going to read something and mine they printed out on a card for me because I'm getting old.
KING: This is -- the heading for Chapter 23, "The Spring Cult." This is on page 454. "Journalist Hugh Sidey (ph)," the late Hugh Sidey, what a great man he was.
BUSH: Oh, we loved the guy.
KING: A good friend of George H. Bush wrote this letter. The former president made his first parachute jump in 1997. That was the occasion of his 75th birthday. I think that was your 75th birthday when you jumped the first time.
BUSH: Yes. KING: This is what Sidey wrote. "This is history the likes of which I have never seen and nobody else has. As you know, George Bush landed safely. Then, in a few hours, he was off to Spain with his grandson and then to Rome to see the pope. And then he was coming back and going to Latin America and he was going to play golf at Augusta after the tournament was over. The life goes on. An amazing little vignette in this quite remarkable man, whatever your politics are." Whew.
What are we going to read, Doro?
KOCH: I'm going to read a passage about my dad's mom and she -- I think she was one of the greatest influences in my dad's life and it goes like this. "It's still moving to think I was there when my father said goodbye to his mother, the woman who had the biggest impact on his life. I believe that to be true because my dad's life was not defined by the political system he navigated but by the set of beliefs his mother taught him, to be kind and thoughtful and to think of the other person, to live a life of service and to honor God."
BUSH: She was very special.
KOCH: She was.
KING: How old was she?
BUSH: She died at 91, I think.
BUSH: And Doro and I went up -- I was president. We went up to the house in Greenwich and she was a competitor, a great athletic competitor, a great competitor in life, everything and she's just gasping for air, just trying to breathe, trying to stay alive and we both concluded it would be better if she didn't."
KING: How old was Prescott?
BUSH: My older brother?
KING: Your father.
BUSH: Oh, he was gone. He was in heaven. He died about your age, Larry.
KING: Way to make a friend. OK. When we come back, the president will read from the book, right after this.
KING: We're back with our remaining moments in this delightful hour and important hour with President George H. W. Bush and Doro Bush Koch and the book is "My Father, My President." And the president will read something from it.
BUSH: Well, this is at the end of one summer and I was talking about what my life was life. I said, "I had a little plaque made. It says CAVU. C-A-V-U. CAVU was the kind of weather we navy pilots wanted when were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific. We had little navigational instrumentation so we wanted to CAVU, ceiling and visibility unlimited."
KING: Something over there.
BUSH: OK, here. "And because of the five of you whose hugs I can still feel, whose own lives made me so proud, I can confidently tell my guardian angel that my life is CAVU and it will be that way until I die. All because of you."
KING: Do you think about -- do you think a lot about mortality?
BUSH: Oh, Larry, not much. More than I used to. I told Barbara that. She told me to shut up. Stop talking like that. Sometimes you feel older. But I don't think much about it. You kind of wonder what death is like more and you never spent any time on that at all.
KING: Do you believe you're going somewhere, though?
BUSH: Oh yeah. I think so. If I keep on the straight and narrow, going to go to heaven. But I think we'll go -- our religion ...
KOCH: He'll skyrocket to heaven.
BUSH: Our God is a forgiving God.
KING: Did you ever know a classier man than your father?
KOCH: No, I don't. And one of the greatest joys of my life, probably the greatest was writing this book about him, spending time with him. My brother Marvin said to me when I told him I was going to write the book, he said, you know, I think that's right. I'm really jealous you're going to get to spend some time with your dad.
KING: You've got me crying too, and this is a ...
KOCH: We're the cry team on our family.
BUSH: The (inaudible) patrol.
KOCH: When I went up -- when my grandmother died, dad invited me to be his support. It was a bad move on his part.
KING: Does a president ever cry?
BUSH: Oh yeah.
BUSH: Yeah. Absolutely. All of them. Some of them are less lachrymose. Is that the word? Good word. But no, some -- we all shed a tear when we're happy. Not just when we're ...
KING: Do you worry about your father as he ages?
KOCH: No, I don't.
BUSH: You should be! I hurt today. I'm getting a new hip put in.
KING: In January, right?
KING: You don't worry about it.
KOCH: I mean I do but he's in good shape. We look after him. Everybody looks after him. He's 82 and going strong so I'm not too worried now. Should I be?
KING: You have enormous faith in your country, do you not?
KING: Faith in your country?
BUSH: Oh yeah. Total faith. And total faith in the future. C- A-V-U, ceiling and visibility unlimited, in spite of the problems that we face, a school shooting or murders in Iraq.
KING: We go on.
BUSH: Yeah, life goes on.
KING: Thank you, Doro.
KOCH: Thank you.
BUSH: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Old sailor, a great man.
George H. W. Bush, Doro Bush Koch. "My Father, My President, a Personal Account of the Life of George H. W. Bush.
"A.C. 360" is next and from this crying set, good night.
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