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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dead at 92. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 17, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news, sad news. A storied American political family is saying goodbye to its matriarch, all Americans saying goodbye to a former first lady.
Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92. She lived an extraordinary life.
In a statement, former President George W. Bush writes: My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was.
Barbara Bush was a fabulous first lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes, and kept us laughing until the end. I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.
Jamie Gangel joins us now with more.
Jamie, what do we know about -- well, the last several days for Mrs. Bush?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, a lot of people, Anderson, knew that her husband has been struggling with Parkinson's. We've seen him in the wheelchair. Very few people realized, that she had been struggling with COPD and congestive heart failure for the last two years. And it's been rough on her.
She was -- she was getting tired. She told friends and family that she was ready. She had been in and out of the hospital quite a few times, and when she got out this past week, she said, that's enough. And when Barbara Bush says something, you listen.
She's -- we have a look back at her life that I think shows her humor and celebrates what she was like. She was 92 years old -- Anderson.
COOPER: Let's take a look.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Barbara and I just wanted to pop in here. GANGEL (voice-over): To most Americans, Barbara Bush was known for her trademark white hair and pearls. But to those who knew her best, her family, she was simply --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The enforcer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The enforcer.
GANGEL (on camera): and your mom's nickname --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the enforcer.
GANGEL (voice-over): A tough but loving mother and grandmother, with a wicked sense of humor.
BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: She wears a size, you know, two, and my leg is a size two --
GANGEL: And a strict rule book.
JEB BUSH, SON: If you violated them, she would enforce the rules and do it in a way that was pretty effective.
JEB BUSH, JR., GRANDSON: For example, if we left closing the floor in our room or you know didn't put it hang up a wet bathing suit, grandpa would be very direct and you would hear it sometimes from the other side of the house or even outside, you know, for us to get her butt back inside and clean up quickly.
GANGEL: It didn't matter who you were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a sergeant.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: And he was reading his paper and Barbara looked over at him, George, take your feet off my table. I said, the guy is president of the United States of America, give him a break. No, he knows better than that.
GANGEL (on camera): Your mom didn't hold her tongue --
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: No, not at all. Mother was on the front line and expressed herself frequently. Mother was there to maintain order and discipline.
BARBARA BUSH: I am the enforcer. There's no question about it.
LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: But you got angrier than your husband, didn't you?
BARBARA BUSH: Always.
KING: You're feistier than him.
GEORGE W. BUSH: True.
GANGEL (voice-over): When it came to her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, she was loving.
BARBARA BUSH: They were superman, still is.
GANGEL: And devoted.
BARBARA BUSH: You can criticize me, but don't criticize my husband or you're dead.
JON MEACHAM, HISTORIAN: Always fiercely protective of her husband, but in a way that avoided the pitfalls of some other first ladies who have seemed overly intrusive.
GANGEL: His not-so-secret secret weapon.
MEACHAM: She had a foot with the family and a foot in his career. This idea that she was not politically involved is not true. You know, she was there.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE AND FAMILY FRIEND: Barbara was someone, too, who could who could tell George what she -- what she thought and she would, just like she could tell everybody what she thought. And she would.
GEORGE P. BUSH, GRANDSON: I'm not sure that my grandfather would have obtained nearly as many accolades as he did but for my grandmother.
GANGEL (on camera): Critical political partner.
MEACHAM: An essential political partner.
GANGEL (voice-over): Together for more than 70 years, the Bushes were the longest married couple in presidential history, a love story documented in hundreds of letters between the two.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I love you precious with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy there will be ours someday, how lucky our children will be to have a mother like you.
[20:05:04] And then later in the letter: goodnight, my beautiful, every time I say beautiful, you about to kill me, but you'll have to accept it.
GANGEL: The public also loved Barbara Bush, making her one of the most popular first ladies in recent history, even though she didn't see it that way.
KING: Why don't you like the word popular?
BARBARA BUSH: Well, because I don't think it's true and I don't know how to cope with it and I just don't like it. I don't want you to stand up and say, here comes the least popular.
KING: That's right.
BARBARA BUSH: I mean, that just makes me very uncomfortable. GANGEL: But she used her platform to improve literacy, raising
awareness and hundreds of millions of dollars to benefit the cause.
BARBARA BUSH: If more people could read and write and comprehend, crime, everything be better.
GANGEL: Occasionally, there was some controversy. In 1990, when Mrs. Bush was asked to speak at Wellesley's commencement ceremony, students protested, claiming she wasn't feminist enough. She responded with a speech that brought everyone to their feet.
BARBARA BUSH: Who knows, somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president's spouse and I wish him well.
GANGEL: That political savviness made her a force on the campaign trail, well, into her 90s. During the 2016 presidential primaries, Mrs. Bush gave one of her last television interviews to CNN while stumping for her son Jeb.
(on camera): What do you really think of Donald Trump?
BARBARA BUSH: I do not -- I don't even think about him. I'm sick of him.
GANGEL (voice-over): Classic Barbara Bush, with no-nonsense candor that sometimes made headlines.
This was her response to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's 2012 presidential hopes.
BARBARA BUSH: I think she's very happy in Alaska and I hope she'll stay there.
GANGEL: And she made news again when asked about her own son Jeb running for the White House two years before he did.
BARBARA BUSH: He's by far the best qualified man but, no, they're just -- there are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes.
GANGEL: She also broke the news to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that he had the job, before her husband officially picked him.
CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I greeted her and she said, congratulations, and that's when I knew and she said, oh, I guess I let the cat out of the bag.
GANGEL: A few years later, after her husband's loss to Bill Clinton, comedian Dana Carvey performed at the White House.
DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN AND FAMILY FRIEND: We walked into their bedroom, and there's a big wall of televisions and on one TV was a close-up of Bill Clinton, the new president, another TV, there was a picture of Ross Perot. So, they're side-by-side, and she just walks in looks oversees the two of them and goes, I can't figure out which clown to look at.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I imagine it took her a lot longer to forgive me than it did him, and may be she never had.
BARBARA BUSH: It took me a little while I confess.
GANGEL: But eventually, she came around, and Bill Clinton went from political foe to unofficial family member.
BARBARA BUSH: I love Bill Clinton, maybe not his politics, but I love Bill Clinton.
CLINTON: I'd walk across coals for her. I think she's immensely impressive.
GANGEL: A sentiment echoed by her family.
NEIL BUSH: She is so smart, so sharp, so aware. She's witty. She's wise. She's kind of got that fierce mama bear type instinct. She'll defend and support any son or daughter or a family member that gets in any kind of trouble. And she's been a passionate advocate for literacy.
So, my mom is amazing.
PIERCE BUSH, GRANDSON: I think the reasons that mother you know my cousins and I have kind of turned out to be productive citizens and I've never taken the fact that we were grandkids of the president for granted is because of Barbara Bush.
GANGEL: Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all part of the life and legacy of Barbara Pierce Bush.
BARBARA BUSH: The one request I have is that they stay loving siblings and so far, so good. And I'll be looking down, so behave yourself.
COOPER: And Jimmy Gangel joins us now.
You talked about the love story. They celebrated I think there are 73rd wedding anniversary on just on January 6th. It's incredible. She was 16 years old when she met her future husband at a -- at a school dance. He was a senior at Phillips Andover.
GANGEL: Right, and she told me that he was the first person she ever kissed.
GANGEL: And 73 years of marriage, George Bush said in his book of letters, and I think it really summed it up, we were two people but we were one.
[20:10:03] It was a remarkable, remarkable love affair. And, Anderson, I know that today is a sad day and a sad moment, but what I like looking back and listening to all of those friends and family talk about Barbara Bush is you really got a sense of her personality. If she was here and I believe she is looking down, she would be saying, why are you all making such a fuss about me? She's very direct, very outspoken, a lot of fun, but she -- there was a part of her that didn't like being the center of attention, but no question she was the center of that family.
COOPER: Well, also, I -- you know, just in reading about her incredible life, while her husband -- before he got involved in politics, you know, they had moved obviously after graduated from Yale, they moved down to Texas. He got involved in the business. He was away a lot, he was on the road a lot, working, building a business. She as you said was really the one holding the family together. I mean, she was kind of the person on scene.
GANGEL: Right, you know, we heard them say that they called her the enforcer. That was her nickname, no question she was, and they were a wonderful but wild bunch of kids. But the other thing that I think is true is that it never stopped.
And one of the things that I'm not sure everybody knows is literacy was her cause. This was something that started when she was in the White House, but it was really because you saw her son Neil in the interview, she discovered he was dyslexic when he was a kid, and so helping him learn to read was something -- it wasn't just a cause, it was a passion.
And Barbara Bush and her husband -- this is a little-known fact -- in their years since they left the White House, they raised together, they helped to raise more than $1 billion for charity for literacy, for volunteerism, for cancer. She never stopped, right up until the end. I saw her in September at a literacy function, and she was there taking pictures, greeting people. She really did believe in giving back.
COOPER: I want to bring the panel in a moment, but, Jamie, also -- I mean, for all the love and, you know, triumph she had in her life, she also suffered a tremendous loss. She lost a daughter I think at age or to leukemia.
GANGEL: That's right. So, Robin, who was their first daughter, got leukemia when she was about 2 years old. She died just before she was four. This also speaks to why the Bushes have cared so much about cancer research over the years.
But it was heartbreaking.
GANGEL: I mean, it was just and one of the reasons people always ask why she didn't dye her hair. Her hair actually in that year when Robin died turned white almost overnight. She was very young at time, and she just decided to keep it that way.
COOPER: And I believe she's going to be buried next to her daughter, as well the former president.
GANGEL: That's correct. She's going to be buried at the presidential library at College Station. Her husband when he passes will be buried there. But Robin's remains are there and she'll be buried right next to her.
COOPER: Together again.
Jamie Gangel, stick around.
I want to bring in Maggie Haberman, Paul Begala, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Douglas Brinkley, David Gergen and Kate Andersen Brower.
Doug Brinkley, I mean, not since Abigail Adams has anyone been a wife and a mother to presidents and yet Barbara Bush was certainly a force of nature in her own right, and I believe you even her father was a descendant of a president as well.
What do you think her legacy will be?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, her father was sent in a Franklin Pierce and, yes, she'll be always seen as America's matriarch when it comes to presidential history. It was -- she was, you know, oftentimes we talked about the closeness of Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan and their love story. But Ronald Reagan had been married to Jane Wyman before.
There was this amazing story of George and Barbara Bush, they created a kind of dynasty. They never liked that word. But the whole Kennebunkport compound thing was very reminiscent of the Kennedys and Cape Cod. Her staying with her husband but doing things always on her own terms, for example, when George Herbert Walker Bush became head of the CIA, she was very frustrated because he couldn't tell her anything anymore, they shared everything together.
So, she started going around and talking to people about her experiences when she lived in China where they bicycle rode all over the countryside, and that's when she got involved with the literacy campaign, which she thought was the key to unlocking the hearts and minds of the country.
[20:15:01] If you couldn't read, you weren't going to go anywhere in American life.
So, she became kind of a progenitor of book festivals and talking about books whether it was a story and her novelist, and Laura Bush kind of emulated her, created a Texas book festival to celebrate arts and culture. But it's mainly her devotion to her husband and the fact that they had this incredible marriage and fact how loyal she was to people that knew her.
Even somebody like Lee Atwater who many Republicans turned on, she stayed loyal to him because Atwater had helped her husband. She -- their life -- if she liked you, she would do anything for you but she could be very unvarnished, direct and didn't suffer fools lightly.
David Gergen, you worked for President Reagan when Barbara Bush was second lady of the United States. You worked for President Clinton after he defeated her husband. What do you think he'll remember most about Mrs. Bush?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Well, Barbara Bush died the way she lived with courage and grace. I think it's remarkable, Anderson, how long she was under -- in the public spotlight, you know, as second lady, as married to the vice president for eight years and four years in the White House as first lady, and then -- you know, coming back with her son for another eight years. I mean, she had years there when she was second lady first lady her first mother. Plus, you know, she had two of her sons in governors chairs.
And during all that time, there was -- there was no -- she carried herself with a real sense of propriety, what -- it was a sort of an old-fashioned way they lived together. It was very endearing to people who knew them. But she always brought honor to the office and to the tradition of the presidency, and at a time when we feel like maybe that's in question, you know, I think she stands as a beacon of what a really good, strong and his Doug Brinkley described her, matriarchal first lady could be.
COOPER: Yes. Kate Brower Andersen -- I mean, Ms. Bush was the most famous and vocal defender certainly of her family. She had plenty of views of her own, some contrary to her husband's, but she's really keep her the flame in so many ways. And I always think, just about her sort of self-deprecating sense of humor, not -- you know, I mean clearly defending her husband but poking fun at herself.
I was just reading one of the things when she was asked about her huge popularity, she was in the time of the White House, she was one of the always ranked as one of the most popular women in America. She said she's popular because she was, quote, because I'm she said, quote, because I'm fat and old and nobody feels threatened by me. I mean, it's pretty rare that people kind of poke fun at themselves in then in that way.
KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": Well, I mean, she famously were these fake pearl necklaces and she would say they were to cover the wrinkles on her neck because she couldn't wear a necklace all to cover the wrinkles all over her face.
And she had a great sense of humor. She was beloved in the White House. When I interviewed her about the butlers and the maids at the White House, she remembered their names, she kept in touch with many of them. She would sign emails love BPB, Barbara Pierce Bush.
And I think the love story between her and President Bush is really incredible. I mean, they're the longest presidential marriage in history, 73 years. She was asked if he had any flaws and she said no, he was a saint, and she told me -- you know, I've been so happy as first lady, so many good things have happened in my life, I have no complaints. And it's all because of my husband. And so, I think this is a really inspirational story and I think as Douglas said, it's -- you know, we hear about the Reagans a lot, but the Bushes also had this deep devotion to each other, into their family and it really is the end of an era of this kind of Reagan Bush era of decorum and civility in the Republican Party I think, and it's very sad.
First of all, just Dr. Sanjay Gupta's here, just on the on the medical front. We know during -- when she was at the White House, she was diagnosed with Graves disease. But in the last few years, it was -- my understanding was congestive heart failure and COPD.
Can you explain?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORERSPONDENT: Yes, and that was just in the last couple of years. I mean, she was pretty healthy. She got the Graves' disease back in the late '80s. She had aortic valve replacement as well. But that was really about it up until age 90. So, pretty healthy.
COPD basically is a significant inflammation of the airways.
COOPER: What does it standard for?
GUPTA: It's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it basically, it becomes harder to breathe. Sometimes people will need additional oxygen. In the worst-case situation, someone needs to go on a breathing machine, which is something within the last few days, she said she did not want to do.
What can also happen with COPD is that the heart is pumping blood to the lungs but the lungs because they're so constricted it makes it harder for the heart to do that, so the heart starts to fail as well, and that's the congestive heart failure part of it, and that's when it does become concerning and I think probably what led to this most recent hospitalization. But as you know and as she talked about -- she really talked about this idea of palliative care, which doesn't mean no care.
[20:20:06] That's oftentimes misunderstood. It just means people are still made comfortable but you're not doing things that are aggressively trying to extend life anymore.
COOPER: It's interesting. I was reading about the death of her daughter when her daughter was almost 4 years old, and I think one of the regrets they had as a couple was that they ignored doctor's advice to not seek out aggressive treatments on their daughter, and they did have a lot of aggressive treatments, and I wonder how that influence her view of end-of-life for later on in her own life.
GUPTA: Yes. You know, I don't know that she talked much about it, you know, as Jamie was talking about. It's really been president Bush who's whose health you know has been focused on a lot and he's been in and out of hospital several times just over the last couple of years. She was hospitals at the same time you may remember as her husband at that time with bronchitis, was probably some of the first indications of this COPD, this obstructive pulmonary disease. But it was just over the last few weeks where she just said, no more this aggressive care and not putting a breathing tube in, not doing things besides just comfort.
COOPER: And her -- a statement had been put out just in the last several days that said it will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself, thanks to her abiding faith but for others. She's surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.
Paul, I mean, she was -- she was a politician in her own right. I mean not, you know, getting out in front of her husband in terms of his politics, not contradicting him but later on in life, she said that she was a pro-choice and yet -- I mean, she had a great political instinct and was an incredibly important advisor to the president.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. She was -- she understood the power of being beloved. It's not that she was popular. She's beloved and respected and there's great power that comes to that, and I think she used it wonderfully.
And in all the campaigns she went through, her husband ran for Congress, ran for the Senate, he'd been the vice president, president, that her son -- her other son -- we get all that, she looked back on all that and she said, I hate the fact that people think compromises a dirty word. Isn't that wonderful someone who did all that much success, it would throw her family on her own through these partisan means, she looked back, she said what we also have to compromise too. I think that's very much -- I can tell you from the Clinton perspective, I helped defeat her husband, she could not have been more gracious.
President Clinton is right. It took some time, but in time, she took to calling Bill Clinton, the man who defeated her husband, a pretty tough campaign, my fifth son. She answered hate with love. She's a very tough woman, formidable. Believe me -- all the Bushy friends mine who were scared of her.
But she found a way I think that's really an important example for all of us today, to be a fierce person and believe what she believes in, but also to call us to the better angels of our nature. She'll be missed.
COOPER: It was, Maggie, fascinating to hear her during the campaign obviously she was out campaigning for her son Jeb Bush, but essentially just say she didn't think anything of Donald Trump.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was interesting, two things happened in this campaign when she joined it. One, if you remember when her son before her son actually declared that he was running, I think she said that something to the effect of the country has seen enough Bushes and Clintons. That was a striking characteristically blunt forward statement. You know, it that said really where her head was about this run and then as time went on, it was very clear how the Bushes viewed President Trump, how they viewed how then candidate Trump -- candidate Donald Trump treated her son Jeb Bush. I mean, there was some of -- he reserved some of his nastiest attacks for Jeb Bush. You know, low energy was the one that he branded him with. She and her husband and to a lesser degree, there's their former president's son made clear that this was a brand of politics that they did not subscribe to, that they consider this to be beyond the pale, not just the way in which President Trump campaigned, but the positions he was taking.
COOPER: It's also such a -- by the way, the White House has put out a statement, I'm just going to read. It says: President Bush -- President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump joined the nation in celebrating the life of Barbara Bush.
As a wife, mother, grandmother, military spouse and former first lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family. Amongst her greatest achievements was recognizing the importance of literacy is a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection. She'll be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well. The president first lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mrs. Bush.
It's so interesting though in this age where the idea of a career politician or somebody who has spent 20 years working in -- you know, in the Washington bureaucracy, working in different government agencies is now viewed as you know part of the swamp or a suspect whereas from the generation of the Bushes, that was a very different way to look.
HABERMAN: Absolutely, it was very much about a call to service, and this is a family that has been very public service-oriented.
[20:25:01] And I understand that -- you know, their -- Bushes and Clintons in terms of how many campaigns they have run between them became seen as royals and there are some voters who rebelled against that. But the reality is that both families had a tremendous public service mind and then toward their approach.
You know, President Trump did not spend his life in public service. He did not serve in the military. He has not made charitable works. His main calling and it is it is a contrast in every way, I am going to be very interested to see and I've asked the question I haven't heard back, if the president is going to attend -- the current president is going to attend this funeral. It would be the first such one that has happened.
It's not unprecedented I think for a sitting president to not go to the funeral of a former first lady and it may just be that he doesn't go at all. But the question is certainly going to come up.
COOPER: Barbara Bush's grandson George has tweeted this just now: My grandmother's entire life was focused on others. For my grandfather, she was his top advisor and confidant. For her family, she was a steady, loving and guiding hand. And for her country, she was an inspiration and an example for all.
My grandmother didn't just live life, she lived it well, and the sorrow of her loss is softened by the knowledge of her impact on our family, in our country. I will miss you Ganny, but no, we will see you again.
The latest entry into a family tradition of honoring Mrs. Bush with both humor and affection. Here are some more.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Mother was on the front line and expressed herself frequently. Dad, of course, was available, but he was a busy guy, and he was on the road a lot in his businesses and obviously on the road a lot when he was campaigning. And so, mother was there to maintain order and discipline. She was a sergeant.
JEB BUSH: Well, mom, the nickname that's -- one of many nicknames she has was the enforcer. So, there were unwritten rules and if you violated them, she would enforce the rules, and do it in a way that was pretty effective. I don't remember my dad doing that.
JEB BUSH, JR.: Yes, I mean, it's -- you know, for example if we left clothes on the floor in our room or, you know, didn't put it hang up a wet bathing suit. Grandma would be very direct and you'd hear it sometimes from the other side of the house or even outside, you know, for us to get our butt back inside and then to clean up quickly.
PIERCE BUSH: I think the reasons that, you know, my cousins and I have kind of turned out to be productive citizens and I've never taken the fact that we were grandkids of the president for granted is because of Barbara Bush. It's like God picked two people and said you guys would be a really good team. You guys are going to do a lot of good for people by being together.
NEIL BUSH: Mom is amazing. She really is. She is -- she is so smart, so sharp, so aware. She's witty. She's wise.
I would say she -- it was her role -- more important role was keeping us humble and grounded. I mean, she was a rule maker and she did have high expectations for keeping things need and just basic rules, and she would let us know when we hadn't met those rules. But, you know, she would never let us think we were any different or better than others, and she was -- she just kept us grounded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jamie Gangel, you obviously have interviewed her so much over the years and again just in the reading I've been doing over the last couple hours about her life, it just -- I'm just struck by the extraordinary family that she and her husband has created. They had six children, one of whom as we've been talking about Robin who died at the age of 3 of leukemia, 17 grandchildren, seven great- grandchildren.
I was also reading that in the 44 years of their marriage, Mrs. Bush had to manage 29 moves for the family. I mean, that's extraordinary.
GANGEL: That is a political wife who had a lot of experience. You know, as we were listening to them, the family members all talking about her being the enforcer and strict, I was also struck, Anderson, by the fact that they are still -- there is this feeling of respect for her. You know, Jeb said -- she was pretty effective.
I mean I think up until the end, they -- when Barbara Bush said something, they listened. I love the story we heard earlier about she was -- when her son was president, and she told them, get your feet off the table. It's -- that was the direct kind of personality she had, but she was also a tremendous amount of fun.
And one of her favorite expressions was if she called you dearie and then she would say, dearie, come over here and sit and talk to me, you always wanted to sit and listen to what she had to say, because it was going to be fun. It was going to be funny and she was going to tell you the truth.
COOPER: Also, you know, Doug Brinkley, she really -- I mean, if you think about it, she died as she lived her life, which was really on her own terms. You know, she chose not to continue, you know, aggressive treatment to be at home to be surrounded by family. You know, there were reports that she was, you know, even having a little bourbon in the last several days. She died as she lived, really.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes. And she loved Houston, Texas, lived in River Oaks, had all sorts of friends there. She really was -- they were -- they're incredibly social people and that community is going to miss the Bushes terribly. But she also had this great affinity for Maine. And they're building that memorial kind of museum right near their compound up there just to deal with her life in New England.
But she was born in Manhattan and lived in, you know, Rye and was a Connecticut and she said, she was had an itinerary of moving so much. But it was the midland Texas years when Zapata Oil got created and, you know, that really their marriage and their identity with Texas. And you know, became so solid and no longer were they the New Englanders but they became Houston Astro baseball fans. And they're always have to Texan football games in the NFL.
And at her door in Houston, Anderson, used to be a mat, when you walked in that said the reason birds fly so high is because they carried themselves lightly. And that is the key to her personality. She did not like compulsory or people that were full of themselves or people that brag. Her husband never did that and she didn't care for people who did.
COOPER: Keith Brower Andersen, the story, I mean, I kept coming back to her meeting George Herbert Walker Bush when she is 16 years old. She's one the few first lady who actually married while she was still a teenager. She was under the age of 21 when they got married.
But they actually -- they got engaged a year and a half after they met or right before George Bush went off to war and then it was -- when he was back on leave that they actually got married.
KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. She left Smith College to marry him and she tells a great joke about how he is the only man she'd ever kissed and their kids just about throw up when she said that.
I think another point I would make about her is what she did symbolically when she in 1989 went to a house in Washington D.C. for babies, infants that were infected with HIV virus. And she held them and cradled them and talked about meeting with compassion for people with AIDS. And at the time in the late '80s, there was this terrible myth that, you know, you could catch the disease by just touching someone.
So symbolically, I think that was really important. And I think that also came from having to deal with their daughter Robin's leukemia diagnosis, because there was a stigma in the '50s, the time that that could be contagious too. So, she did a lot symbolically almost in a princess die kind of way when she had those images. It was a meeting that lasted less than an hour, but it did a lot to help get rid of that terrible stigma.
COOPER: David Gergen, we should point it out, the First Lady Melania Trump has issue the statement. I'm going to read it out. She says, our hearts are with the Bush families. We celebrate the life and mourn the loss of Barbara Bush. Throughout her life, she put family and country above all else. Her dedicated service to the American people was matched only by her compassion and love of family. She was a woman of strength and we will always remember her for her most important roles of wife, mother and First Lady of the United Stated. My heartfelt condolences and prayers are with the Bush family as we honor her legacy.
Also the office of Barack and Michelle Obama. This is statement from President and Mrs. Obama on the passing of Barbara Bush. They say, Barbara Bush was the rock of family dedicated to public service and our thoughts and prayers are with both President Bush and the entire Bush family tonight. We'll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed to us throughout our time in the White House. But we're even more grateful for the way she lived her life as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling, as an example of humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit to be remembered for passing those American values on to her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren and to the countless citizens whom she and George inspired to become point of light in service to others.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's so good, Anderson, to hear those -- the sentiments from the Trumps and the Obama's. They recall another age when people were more civil. And I think both couples handled it with great -- with grace tonight in saluting Barbara Bush.
I do want to tell you, Anderson, when George H. W. Bush was thinking about running for president in the late '70s, he invited me to kind of spend the weekend with him and kind of back forth. And I never done that, I didn't really know him.
[20:35:06] But I was very struck over that weekend first and foremost when I walked in the door, there was a Democratic congressman who was also a guest for the weekend, they were long time friend. And they had great fun together and the partisanship does not enter into it. There was just a fellowship about it.
I was also very struck by how -- let me say, optimistic both of the Bush, both Barbara and her husband, how they always looked on the bright side, tried to cheer people up and that was gone by, it was the third thing it really hit me as we talk about tonight to how much -- they had these roots in Texas and they developed them as Doug said.
But they also had deep roots in New England. And they came from families Patrician (ph) families in which the notion of service was central. It was a sense of nobles oblige. And that the sort of an old fashion way, but George H. W. Bush really proved that when he went off to war in the Second World War, he was the youngest pilot shut down in the pacific and showed enormous courage at the time.
And I think it was emblematic of what they became to stand for. And this was a view, you serve, you do it under the rest of times, it can be rough at times, you have to go through this together, but it's important to who you are, not your wealth but to service.
COOPER: All right, I want to listen now to Barbara Bush telling Larry King what it's like to be the mother of a president.
LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE" HOST: What's it like, Barbara, to be the mother of a president?
BARBARA BUSH, FMR FIRST LADY: Well, it's worry some, because you worry about the responsibilities. Having said that, it's not very much different from the other children. We were in Washington last week and I got there before George and Laura was overseas. And it really touched me. The president came out and met me at the door. And I would feel the same way, Doro stopped working and Marvin stopped working and came out of the building. I really loved it. It was that -- it's not that much different than you think.
B. BUSH: Except the few --
KING: Does he calls home?
B. BUSH: Lots.
KING: Yes. He calls mom.
B. BUSH: To see how -- I calls mom and dad to see how her feeling, is it cold up there or tells us what he is going to do. We ask, what are you going to do today or does it hard going to -- GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FMR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Checks in
early in the morning and no agenda, no not -- didn't want anything then, he is a -- he knows pretty what he got to do and he goes out and does it, but he still -- family means a lot to him. You asked what it's like. And it's about family, Larry. It's not about the big deal or the head table or other stuff, it's about a father and mother and the son.
And then, you show me pictures of your kids, and I can whip out pictures of mine. I mean, let's ask for this about. And it's hard for people to realize that, but we've have been there and loved every minute of trying to serve. And we take great pride in our boys that are in politics, but it's exactly the same for others.
KING: Can you honestly say, I know it's hard, that you love every child equally?
B. BUSH: Absolutely.
KING: That Marvin is as important to you as George.
B. BUSH: Absolutely.
KING: And Neil is as important as Jeb and with Doro is as important --
G. BUSH: No question. I think they knew it.
B. BUSH: And what's more than all love each other which makes it, I mean, they're very loyal. If George gets hurt, Marvin hurts. If Marvin gets hurt, Doro hurts. And all the way down line, they're very loyal loving.
And maybe that's what politics does for you. It draws you either apart or together. In our case, it drew us together, I think.
COOPER: Doug Brinkley, Mrs. Bush was always very insistent on saying that she loved all of her children, obviously, she had six kids, one of whom, Doug and as I said when she was three, but George, Robin, Jed, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy, but she was -- in every interview, if you ever ask or if she would always -- even if not asked, she would make clear, you know, that having a child who is president or governor is the same as having her other children.
BRINKLEY: Well, that's right and that's fundamental really of all moms or the way mom should be. And that's why they loved her so much. We believed her when she said that. There was no favoritism. Mothers love all their children and kind of equal terms.
And you know, one of the reasons, you know, that we're all mourning Barbara Bush's passing and also celebrating her life though was because of that marriage, I mean, we forget what George Herbert Walker Bush meant. Yes, he was a one-term president, but he was president for German reunification, and the break up of the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall coming down.
You know, so much -- one of our great foreign policy presidents. George Herbert Walker Bush, yet memoir was co-written with Brent Scowcroft much -- so he didn't see him to be bragging.
[20:39:58] Yet, Barbara Bush, Anderson, I think has written one of the best memoirs ever of a first lady and the people I want to know more about her should get it and read it. It's very well done. And she kept diaries of these years, I mean in her memoir we've only seen snippets of the diaries that she included.
But eventually, I hope those will be made open -- made available to scholars because she had keen insights on people. She could read anybody like a book. And earlier you had mentioned George the P. Bush or he had made a very aliquant statement the grandson and he's continuing the political legacy. He's the Texas land commissioner, which in Texas is the biggest job in the state outside of being lieutenant governor or governor. And he's all future. I mean he's going to be -- we're going to be having Bush's involve with politics of yet the younger generation not Jeb and George W. Bush.
COOPER: It is. I mean, Doug makes an interesting point followed just. What a critical time in American history it was that the George Bush was president, that she was the first lady. And how different a time it seems now looking backward.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It does and -- you know, she and her husband followed the Reagans who were really quite regal. He was of literally a Hollywood movie star. The Bush's were actual American royalty.
So they actually they weren't movie stars. They were the real thing and very patrician. And yet, had this common touch we're walking -- watching her here in this video playing on the south lawn with her dogs. And in the middle of her husband's presidency all of that it (INAUDIBLE) that going on.
She gave what I think is one -- really one of the finest speeches I have ever heard or read. I really hope people will Google this and take a look at. She's gave the commencement and address Wellesley. Jaime mentioned I heard it was controversial.
COOPER: Some people -- for some students were protesting because they thought she didn't represent this sort of modern independent women that I --
BEGALA: Because from the look of her, she was an old school matriarch and she was. At the same time here's how she concluded the speech. At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal.
You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. Someone very close to Bush family just text me and he said, her husband was in fact at her side at her last moment. And that is precisely what Mrs. Bush did for all her life. COOPER: She also said in that same Wellesley speech which Jaime played in the piece when it was started with and the audience really roared basically saying that she was sort of speculating that someone in the audience might someday follow in her footsteps as a president's spouse and then she quickly said and I wish him well.
BEGALA: It was great. She I think understood that could she talk in a speech about this being a transitional time. In the transition that we were in and that we -- in some way still are in changing rules of women.
She was -- you ask any of those Bush folks. Look at the video of her children and grandchildren. She was a force. This was not some quite shy retiring person. She was a real force and really did shape the country but -- and I think for the better.
The other thing that her family really wanted stress was her work for literacy. She herself raised $110 million for literacy, and this was after they were out of the White House. And she just did it because she believed in it.
Their commitment to cancer research, she and her husband very active M.D. Anderson, perhaps because they lost that thought. They have never stopped giving to others and asking everybody else, telling everybody else to give to others. And I think it's a terrific part of her legacy too.
COOPER: Maggie what stands out to you as you think back on that time of them in the White House?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think I can say it as well as Paul did who lived it much closer than I did at the time. I do think that it was a time of there was still this view of and yes, they were a regal family, she was a traditional matriarch, but there was this view of public service and there was this view of how you served in the White House and what that meant. And I do think that certainly George H.W. Bush embodied that and I think that she embodied the values of a very service minded first lady.
She clearly had opinions, she was not just standing there sort of supporting at over he said. She helped shape his views. She helped shape her children's view. She's -- she spoke her mind.
She was a force I do think that as Paul said, we are in a rapidly changing time right now about the roles of women and she seems very anachronistic, I think. And you're looking at her to the winds of today. She represented a very strong and specific model of a woman who was doing the work that she was able to in the role that she was not elected to play. She was serving with him and I am struck just by -- I mean there was just sort of a basic humanity about her. I think the loss of a child can never be overstated and I think it clearly impacted everything she did going forward.
[20:45:03] COOPER: Yes. And as we said she'll be buried next to her daughter Robin who died just before she turned four of leukemia as well former president George Herbert Walker Bush when that time comes. We're going to be right back. We're going to take our first break in this hour. And we have some breaking news, much more on the life and legacy of Barbara Bush over the next hour. Right now, let's just listen to her, we're going to break talking with Larry King in 1994.
B. BUSH: Well, because I always knew that I was lucky and life had been good to me. But, I really remembered again how really good it had been.
KING: For some people, when they face the catharsis of a book and a lot of our book to successful has to be honest. Have a difficult time.
B. BUSH: No.
KING: For letting it out.
B. BUSH: I love writing the book. And let me just give you an example. I told George this on the phone this morning or last night for what that he call. I awaken Monday morning in New York City having said goodbye to George Bush. And I looked and the airplane went into the White House, and a lot of things happen, the pope (ph), our thought that with Robin, a lot of things happened. And I sat and watched the news darling Jessica Tandy died and (INAUDIBLE) and I thought, you know, I knew every single person or place that was on that television set thanks to George Bush.
With the exception of Arafat and George did meet him this year, but every other person knew me and I knew them.
KING: Quite a life.
B. BUSH: That's an amazing life. I knew it from writing the book. But I told George, I said it really struck me how really great a life you've given me.
KING: But also from looking into book, aspects of it Barbara Bush didn't like.
B. BUSH: Of course, nobody likes a child to die or losing an election, nobody likes -- you know, the ugly parts of politics. I love --
KING: Did you like the public life?
B. BUSH: Sure.
KING: You do?
B. BUSH: I love people. I really -- I've really loved living in the White House. But I don't miss it at all. I miss the people.
KING: Explain that.
B. BUSH: Well I miss the people.
KING: Don't you miss what you love?
B. BUSH: No. No, because I got more. We're having the best time you've ever known.
[20:51:04] COOPER: We spent the last 50 minutes talking of the extraordinary life of former First Lady Barbara Bush who has died at the age of 92. We're going to continue that throughout the next hour.
But we do want to give you a little bit of breaking news to get to stunning news tonight. Word that CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just a few weeks ago. Also tonight in the middle of confusion over whether and when new sanctions will be imposed on Russia for it role speculate (ph) chemical attack on Syria, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is pushing back in a big way against the White House.
CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now with the latest on two major stories, breaking tonight. First of all, what do we know about Director Pompeo's meeting with Kim Jong-un?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the "Washington Post" was reporting this earlier this evening. But my colleagues Jeff Zeleny and Elise Labott have both confirmed that over the Easter weekend Anderson, Mike Pompeo the CIA directors who's also been nominated by the President to be the new secretary of state, flew to North Korea and met with Kim Jong-un with other intelligence officials, all of this -- obviously to try to set up this meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
We heard the President earlier today saying, he's not exactly sure whether or not that meeting is going to take place, that this high levels talks were going on. And Anderson, there was one confusing moment earlier this evening, when it sounded like the President said yes, he in fact had spoken with Kim Jong-un, but in fact the White House later clarified to say no that those talks have only been taking place between high level officials, and now we found out who those high level officials are, they include the CIA director who maybe the next secretary of state.
COOPER: Also, some stunning developments today in this whole sort of (INAUDIBLE) over Russia sanctions, the U.S. ambassador to UN Nikki Haley on Sunday had announce on television -- or I believed is on CBS on "Face The Nation", saying that as --
COOPER: -- other that day or in Monday that Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, was going to be announcing a new round of sanctions against Russians who were linked to the chemical stockpiles in Syria. The White House then -- no sanctions were announced. What's been happening now just over the last day? ACOSTA: All right, there's been some foreign policy whiplash it's been going back and forth for a couple of days now, Anderson. As you said, Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador, on "Face The Nation" on Sunday, said weren't essentially Russia that the sanctions were coming down on Monday. That did not happen. The White House distanced itself from that statement on Monday.
And then today, Larry Kudlow, the President's new chief economist, stunned reporters on an off-camera briefing down here in Florida when he said that there was some confusion in that the UN ambassador had gotten ahead of the curve. That led Nikki Haley to put out a statement, and this was pretty remarkable, Anderson, because typically you don't get this kind of pushback from one administration official to another, Nikki Haley putting out a statement saying "I don't get confused." She might as well have been saying, bless his heart, because that was essentially no, Larry Kudlow, you're wrong.
And then earlier this evening, I was able to confirm through couple of senior White House officials that Larry Kudlow had in fact called Nikki Haley to apologize and said during the course of that phone call that well the policy had changed, since Nikki Haley spoke on Sunday. And that nobody had kept her in the loop. And so a lot of confusion, a lot of whiplash over a very important issue.
The President is having a press conference tomorrow night with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, at Mar-a-Lago. Obviously this potential meeting with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, and the confusion over these Russian sanctions, are I think are very likely to come up.
COOPER: Is it known at this point -- I mean is it the President who decided not to have these new sanctions go forward against Russia? Is it known at this point? Because the White House hasn't really said.
ACOSTA: The White House has not said. And I know that you tried mightily last night with Hogan Gidley to try to get an answer out of this administration. We just haven't gotten one. But, I think it was very clear on Sunday that Nikki Haley was leaning very forward in the direction of sanctions against Russia for their support of Bashar al- Assad and Syria.
[20:55:05] And of course that chemical weapons attack that we saw earlier this month in Douma. And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a policy change occurred and according to what White House officials are telling us now, Larry Kudlow told Nikki Haley that that policy had changed and that nobody had told her about it. And so it was very striking to see Larry Kudlow say earlier today whether there was some confusion, she got ahead of herself, and then in fact there appears to be a different story emerging and that is that the policy had changed and that nobody had told her about it.
Anderson, we're simply not getting a straight answer out of this White House on that front.
COOPER: And when it comes to the Michael Cohen investigation, do we know how the President's -- where his head is on it at this point? ACOSTA: Well we know all last week he was furious about this, and then my colleague Pam Brown talked to a source familiar with all of this. And according to what she's reporting, the President I believe is apoplectic, I think is the word that's being used, he's still quite furious about this, feels that the Mueller investigation has overstepped its bounds.
Another thing that we had heard last week from people who were close to these conversations, Anderson, we should point out, Mueller separated himself from what occurred in that Cohen raid, but it sounds like the President has not given up on this, it is under his skin, and my guess is, is that if the President is going to be asked about something critical tomorrow, it may be about his own personal lawyer Michael Cohen. And exactly what he's worried about in terms of what the prosecutor's office there in New York and what the FBI may have seized in that raid, because obviously he seems very concerned about what took place there.
I had talked to a source familiar with all of this, a White House official yesterday, who said that they were pleased with the judge's ruling in terms of what the prosecutor's office there in the southern district of New York can have access to. But it seems the President has not given up on this hostility, this anger towards what took place with his personal lawyer. Anderson.
COOPER: And the White House, frankly, at this point, Sarah Sanders and Hogan Gidley, neither saying for a fact that Michael Cohen is still the President's personal lawyer. Not clear exactly what the status of their relationship is. Yes.
ACOSTA: We still don't have a straight answer on that. It has felt very much like the gang that can't shoot straight these last several days, Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it.
Coming up, more on the life and legacy of former First Lady Barbara Bush, who's died at the age of 92.