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The State Funeral of Former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired December 5, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and this is the pageantry -- today the sad pageantry of our national life. And we're sitting here watching this and people who live around Washington can go and see it in person. And there are so many representatives of the whole country who are working and living in Washington, people who work for the federal government who have been lining up to see the casket of the former president. They may have a memory of him, you know, when he was in government and they were in government, as well.
And I think about, you know, with airports around the country and TVs and at schools and whatnot that this is being broadcast. And, you know, I think about the history of these moments whether it's inaugurations or other state funerals, state events that we appreciate this public nature of our life, of our institutions and of our leaders, and of an office that is -- that's really bigger than any individual. And I think that's really what we are celebrating today.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Doug Brinkley, I mean, the traditions of how we mourn the passing of a president, has it evolved a lot?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, you go back to 1994, we had that -- when Nixon died you had five presidents there. And none of them dared say the word Watergate. And you make sure that you -- Spiro Agnew even came and he had been estranged with Nixon, it's really used as a moment to heal the country. And right now the word is civility.
The nation is hungering for civility. And we are telling all these stories, incredible stories of a man that epitomizes that. And I think also we've been talking about the president's club. There also is the CIA club and the intelligence club and the Washington insiders club, bureaucrats that work for generations that really look up to Bush 41.
COOPER: You see members of the Trump White House. You see the Energy secretary, there is Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump. We saw Sarah Sanders just a moment ago. Also just a shot before we saw Vice President Pence speaking to former Vice President Gore as well as former Vice President Biden. So it's always interesting in a situation like this to see in a town where there is not a lot of communication between Democrats and Republicans at times to see something like this bringing people together.
JEFFREY ENGEL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY DIRECTOR, SMU: Well, and just the fact that you can see it actually is quite important because it brings us back to an important evolution that happened during Bush's presidency which is that, that was the CNN moment when really international news became globalized and simultaneous and contemporary. And so there is a real sense of which the fact that people, as you said, David Gregory, people that are in airports, people that are in schools, all across the country are seeing the same thing. It's actually a new evolution for the country.
You know, in 1950 this would not have been the case. In 1960 it would not have been the case. But right now we can really all come together as a nation in a new way.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But, you know, what we're really watching here -- and again for a younger generation, they are watching history as they have never seen it if you are really young. And, you know, what they are watching is the two Republican parties that now exist meeting together in the cathedral, paying their respects to a man that the new president -- for example, NAFTA, called it the worst deal in history.
This NAFTA deal was Bush 41's NAFTA deal. But thanks to the graciousness of Bush 41, this was orchestrated in a brilliant way with outreach to Donald Trump and who now leads the Republican Party, saying you are welcome here. And the respect that they gave to Donald Trump by inviting him, by treating Melania so well at Barbara Bush's funeral. She went home, we're told, and told her husband how well she had been treated, even though he was not there.
We're sort of looking at the Bush family in action saying even though this is no longer our party, you are our president and we respect the office of the presidency and we want you there.
GREGORY: And Anderson, I think as we watch this --
COOPER: Yes, go ahead.
GREGORY: Well, just that as severe as our politics can be, people in all of the hyperbole around sort of the death of the Republic. This is a reminder of the strength of a institutions, gathering of people who may disagree but who are all faithful to the idea that the government runs, runs properly, with continuity, with grace and with respect for those who came before, and made great contributions in public service.
COOPER: The Bush family, this is the Bush family arriving in order to -- arrive in the capitol. They are going to be receiving the body as the body comes out of rotunda.
Let's just listen in to some of the sounds and the sights of what is happening right now.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The recessional has begun. The National Color Guard clergy will be there. The casket eventually will be carried down those steps and there will be presidential color and a presentation of arms.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: There will be "Four Ruffles and Flourishes" played, "Hail to the Chief" will be played. There will be a 21-gun salute with cannons. The casket will be placed in the hearse as we hear the hymns "My Faith Looks up to Thee" and "Nearer My God to Thee" performed by the U.S. Navy band.
BLITZER: Manu Raju is there right on the east front of the U.S. Capitol. Tell us what you're seeing now. What else can we expect, Manu?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we expect the Bush family to be arriving here momentarily. They're going to be positioned outside of the vehicles to observe the casket being carried down the east front steps of the capitol. You do see here the military band waiting on the steps of the capitol. Soon we will hear when the Bush family arrives, a 21-gun salute as the casket is carried down and placed into the hearse.
That whole process, Wolf, could take about 15 minutes as they make their way slowly down the steps of the capitol. But they've been preparing for this all morning having the casket waiting outside the east front steps of the capitol. Just -- moments from now we do expect the arrival of the family and the casket to eventually make its way to the steps which we will see just here in a matter of moments -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And there's -- we just briefly saw, Manu, the motorcade leaving. That was the motorcade that had left Blair House on the way to the capitol to receive the casket as it's carried down those steps.
RAJU: Yes. That's right. And just in a few minutes we should be able to see -- we'd be able to see them waiting outside the steps here and the casket is just outside of the steps of the capitol. And --
BLITZER: You know, Jake, it's almost a brief ceremony that we'll see on Capitol Hill right now in reverse of what we saw the other day when the casket was brought from Joint Base Andrews to the U.S. capitol to lie in state at the rotunda.
TAPPER: Yes. And let's take a moment to think about what many of the people watching are thinking about, not just George H.W. Bush who served this country as the nation's 41st president. But he will be the last U.S. president to have fought in World War II. We'll be saying goodbye to that. He was a hero in World War II. He is an individual who served his country at the United Nations, as a diplomat in China, as a CIA director, obviously, as vice president.
[10:10:00] And he represents a kind of Republicanism that is really frankly I wouldn't say extinct, but he was a moderate when he ran for president in 1980. And his son is very different. His son was a much more conservative Republican than he was when he ran in 1980. It's a different kind of -- he represents a different era of the United States. So it's not just the man and his successes and his failures that we are thinking about today. It's also what he represents.
Jimmy Carter was in the -- in the Navy Academy during World War II but he didn't fight in World War II. This is the last individual -- the last U.S. president we will ever have to have been in combat in World War II.
BLITZER: What we call the greatest generation. And you can see the crowds -- the folks have gathered along the streets here in Washington. They want to see this motorcade as it continues. There you see Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan, the outgoing speaker. There is Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. Elaine Chao, his wife. And there is Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, standing right next to Nancy Pelosi.
You know, what's so nice, what's so nice, Jake, is that George H.W. Bush has brought all these folks together and they will be all, together with some 3,000 other guests, in the National Cathedral celebrating -- celebrating this late president and the current president will be there, as well.
TAPPER: Yes. And one of the things about the George H.W. Bush presidency that I think a lot of his former aides and advisers have talked about is that he worked across the aisle. He had to do it by necessity. There was a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate when he was president. And he signed some major pieces of legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the reason why there are ramps all over the country so that individuals who are in wheel chairs such as the former president until his passing have access to the same world that the rest of us do.
He signed the Clean Air Act. He helped get rid of the toxic phenomenon of acid rain. So you hear a lot of people on Capitol Hill talking about how George H.W. Bush as president even though he waged some pretty tough campaigns especially in 1988 against Mike Dukakis --
BLITZER: There's --
TAPPER: There's former president Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn, his wife, sitting there. That's one of the four former living presidents. You see Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. There is Colin Powell who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when George H.W. Bush was president.
BLITZER: And here has really -- if you listen in the past few days what General Powell has said, he has really been so, so powerful in his reminiscence. And the notion of what a great, great man President George H.W. Bush was not only as president but also as a human being. Everyone has said, Jake, almost the same thing about him. He was kind, he was generous. He never really wanted to speak so much about himself. He wanted to praise others.
TAPPER: That's right. What George H.W. Bush's mother cautioned against the "big I am" and for that reason -- it might be one of the reasons why he was not reelected.
Here are some of the dignitaries. We see Elaine Chao who's on the Trump Cabinet with her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. There's Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on the right, possibly the incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the right with her husband. BLITZER: Capitol Hill, they're waiting for the motorcade with the
Bush family to arrive then this ceremony will begin.
Anderson, you know, this is not something we see every day here in Washington, this kind of unity. Also, the folks lining the streets of Washington wanting to get a glimpse of this majesty that has unfolded.
COOPER: Yes. We haven't seen a state funeral since 2006. Obviously this is an event that really captures not only the attention of the nation but some in Washington, D.C. itself, some people coming out early to try to capture a glimpse. There you see the Bush family heading toward the capitol just to give you a little bit of a sense. They're actually running a little bit behind schedule, but the family vehicles and the hearse, they're going to pull into the East Plaza via the south barricade.
Then the family will actually position themselves outside the vehicles to observe the casket being carried down the east center stairs led by the sergeant-of-arms. There'll be a recessional National Color, clergy casket, Presidential Color, as well, Presentation of Arms, "Four Ruffles and Flourishes" played, "Hail to the Chief" played as well, a 21-gun salute with canons.
We'll obviously bring all of this to you live. We won't be talking over this. The casket will be placed in the hearse as hymns played. One hymn will be "My Faith Looks Up to Thee" and "Nearer My God to Thee" by the U.S. Navy band. And then the motorcade will depart the capitol toward the National Cathedral.
[10:15:07] It is so rare I think to see this kind of -- you know, where you see this sort of pomp and ceremony in other places in England, but not in the United States.
BRINKLEY: Yes. This tends to pull a country together at least for a few short days. Come Friday it's probably going to be about Manafort and Cohen. But today it's about 41 and civility.
Funerals often of presidents are dramatic moments in American history. When Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater his casket went to Springfield, Illinois, at the exact time the confederate and union soldiers were laying down their guns, ending the civil war. It was like a healing. You know, the funeral train that went to Springfield. So many times these deaths of presidents give us a time to reflect.
I will say there are few people that aren't invited that were part of Bush's life, people like Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan because they were somebody that Bush never healed with. There was a limit to this generosity of spirit, of political foes that he had. But Donald Trump being president, it's the right thing to have him there.
COOPER: And President Bush 41, I mean, had a say in the order of events today.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much had in the order, and the say, and again there's great dysfunction. We don't need to dwell on it today but we're going to see it. Great dysfunction between the Bush family from top to bottom and the Trump White House and President Trump. However 41 believes in the institution of the presidency, the institution of the former president's club, and just the idea of healing and civility, that this is a moment for the country to come together, not for the country to talk about its differences.
It's remarkable watching this play out as you watch the congressional leadership there with the Bush family to await, we often talked -- you know, it was a different era. It's a very different Republican Party. But to be honest, Bush is a dirty word in today's Republican Party to a large degree. And you can almost see Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan wrestling with that because Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, the congressional leaders we're watching, are the only two who were in the Congress when George H.W. Bush was president.
And they were both junior members back in the day. McConnell just recently elected to the Senate. Pelosi, the junior member of the House. But Paul Ryan came out of the Jack Kemp which was a very Bush- like movement. Let's have more civility in the party, let's have more inclusiveness in the party. Let's reach out to immigrants. Let's reach out to African-Americans.
They live in a very different Republican Party today. And you can watch them wrestle with that over the last few days. It's also been very interesting as they remember where they came from and what they do today is very different as you reflect on the history and the roots, if you will, of George H.W. Bush which people say it's a forgotten age. He's very different. If you look at what's going on in the country today, the roots of George H.W. Bush are everywhere.
The China challenge, Gloria mentioned that. Robert Mueller happened to be an assistant attorney general and the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department during the Bush presidency. And it was George H.W. Bush as RNC chairman who wrote a letter to a president saying, sir, I think you should resign. A president under investigation. So George H.W. Bush's roots, if you will, of his career on the issues and on some of the things front and center right now, it's not just a bygone hate. Many of them are still with us.
ENGEL: I think one of the most important things that we're still dealing with was actually the central part of the 1992 election which time and again was a discussion of how we are going to handle the de- industrialization of the Midwest.
COOPER: You see Governor Jeb Bush, Laura Bush, in front of him. These are members of the Bush family who will be lining up in order to receive and witness the -- Margarine Bush as well, to receive -- see the casket as it is carried out of the rotunda.
BORGER: You know, Anderson, in planning all of this, we're told that Bush 41 who did plan all of this -- first, he didn't want to, then he did -- said to a top aide well, what if nobody comes? What if nobody lines up? Because I think he understood the politics of today and that he is not a member of this Republican Party, but also, you know, with his own humility, he was sort of saying well, why would anyone want to come to this? COOPER: That was James Baker, by the way, that we saw. Obviously
there is President Bush 43.
BORGER: And I think one of the most poignant moments we saw was somebody he did beat in a very contested primary and that was Bob Dole yesterday struggling to get out of his wheelchair at the age of 95 to pay his respects.
COOPER: Let's listen in.