It’s Tuesday, September 24th, 2019, and
today I’m on page 66 of The Gatekeepers. …the White House was still suffering from
self-inflicted wounds. One problem was the president’s public appearances. Stuart Spencer,
Ford’s reelection campaign manager, recalls that every time the president gave a speech
his poll numbers plunged. “Ford would go out on the road and the tracking
data would go like this,” he says, pointing his thumb to the floor.
“We’d stay in the White House playing president, and his tracking data would go
like ~this~,” he says, pointing his thumb up. “So I go to Cheney and say, ‘We gotta
change our strategy.’” “He was giving these very dull, terrible
speeches,” recalls Cannon. “And one day they wrote a line in a speech and the sentence
was, ‘And I say to you, ~this is nonsense~.’ And they made a note in the speech: ~with
emphasis~. And Ford read it aloud: ‘And I say to you this is nonsense – with emphasis.’
And Cheney says, ‘Well, that’s another thing we can’t do – write instructions
in the speech text.’” Ford wanted to mimic his hero, “Give-‘em-hell
Harry” Truman, with an old-fashioned whistle-stop speaking campaign. Rumsfeld and Cheney were
aghast. In desperation they called in Spencer, Ford’s
old friend, to talk him out of it. “So the night I had to sell it to Ford,
we were both beat up and tired,” recalls Spencer. “And I’m telling him this. Cheney
is sitting there – the world wouldn’t believe how quiet Cheney was in those days,
the little mouse in the corner, but bright and loyal.
And finally Ford asks me, ‘Well, why not?’ And I said, ‘Because you’re a ~lousy f*cking~
candidate.’ Well, Cheney quits breathing and the old man looks at me like this,”
Spencer says, grimacing. “And then he says, ‘Oh, okay.’” What are you reading today?