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Lisa McCubbin: Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer

October 5, 2018 1:23:12
Kaltura Video

Lisa McCubbin the author of an acclaimed new biography of Mrs. Betty Ford, in conversation with Michael Ford, son of President Ford and Mrs. Ford. 


I'm Michael Barr I'm the Joan and
Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald r Ford

School of Public Policy and it's my
distinct pleasure and honor to welcome

you here today for this wonderful
discussion I'm delighted to see so many

Michigan alumni and friends in the
audience happy homecoming I'm sorry that

the weather is looking a little bit iffy
now and for tomorrow but it is still

fallen Ann Arbor and the home team is
favored to win by two touchdowns we'll

see how that goes but the University of
Michigan established the forerunner of

the school that were in today in 1914
so more than a hundred years ago in the

Progressive Era and it was the first of
its kind in the country

and has really been a model ever since
as you know Gerald Ford captain the

Michigan football team here in the 1930s
went on to raise a family of four with

mrs. Betty Ford and to spent his life in
principled public service in Congress

and eventually in the White House when
Michigan named our public policy school

for President Ford in 1999 so nearly 20
years ago the pride floats strongly in

both directions between the University
and the Ford family the family as we

visited here many times and students and
faculty here have come to talk it often

about what we call the Ford legacy that
is leadership grounded in service a

commitment to hard work and getting the
facts right and having the courage and

wisdom as leaders to do what is right no
matter what the personal cost we're

gathered here in one of our larger
spaces for classes and events the Betty

Ford classroom aptly named known
informally and with affection by our

students simply as the Betty
I hope you got a chance to see of the

won some of the wonderful photos of mrs.
Ford in the vestibule they capture at

least some part of the strength and joy
and love with which she lived her life

I'm honored to introduce today's
featured guests here to tell us more

about mrs. Ford's life and legacy I
start with a host for our conversation

mr. Mike Ford Mike is the eldest son of
former President Gerald R and Betty Ford

Mike and his wife Gail have three
daughters and eight grandchildren he

currently chairs the Gerald R Ford
Presidential Foundation is served on the

Ford schools visiting committee for many
many years Mike has a BA from Wake

Forest and a master's in divinity and
for the last 36 years he has built a

long and successful career in student
affairs serving in multiple leadership

roles at Wake Forest as he retired
earlier this year Wake Forest presented

Mike with a medallion of Merit Award in
honor of his many years of service to

the school and its students commenting
on that award one of Mike's colleagues

University chaplain Tim Allman said of
Mike he models for students quote what

it means to be a person of integrity to
be a truth teller to be a person who

values service Mike thank you for your
friendship to the Ford school and of

course for being with us here today and
now our special guests the highly

successful award-winning journalist Lisa
McCubbin MS McCubbin has been a

television news anchor and reporter
hosted her own radio show and spent six

years in the Middle East as a freelance
writer she's written and co-written a

number of books that have topped the New
York Times bestseller list including the

Kennedy detail mrs. Kennedy and me five
days in November and five presidents her

latest book released just two weeks ago
is titled Betty Ford first lady woman

advocate survivor trailblazer it's the
first in-depth biography of Betty Ford

reviewers have called the book quote a
meticulously researched and delightful

biography and quote a warmly sympathetic
biography of a

woman Ms McCubbin were so honored to
have you here to share with us what

you've learned about the woman who is in
a very real way a guiding light for the

entire Ford school and the University of
Michigan community and so with that

please join me in thanking our special
guests I'm gonna now turn it over to

Mike to run the show thank you Michael
indeed it is a great pleasure to to be

back at the University of Michigan and
at the Ford school this is this place is

a very special kind of home for our
family our extended family and we love

coming back here too for me to see
college campus students you know is in

my DNA I you know in my career at in
higher education I I love to be around

college students and faculty and and and
here at Michigan the ways in which this

university in the school is impacted our
our family is very very meaningful but

last spring we had this very special
event hosted by the Ford school to honor

my mother Betty Ford on her 100-year
anniversary it was in April and the

school just rolled out this wonderful
recognition of her life and in this

space and and it was very very special
and now we're continuing the discussion

here with Lisa's biography on my mother
and it's only appropriate that we're

back again in my mother's 100th year on
this wonderful book that Lisa's written

we're thrilled to have it out and Lisa

is going to share a little more about my
mom's life and we're gonna have a little

discussion so take it away
okay so in writing this book I have to

tell a quick little story because when I
was first approached with the idea to

write a biography of Betty Ford I didn't
really know that much about her to be

honest and so I knew I would devote two
years of my life to this project and I

had to be passionate about it so I told
my editor I said I need to just think

about I need to research this a little
bit and I went for a long walk I live in

the San Francisco Bay Area and on this
walk where I just been approached with

this idea I kid you not I saw four
people wearing University of Michigan

sweater and I took that as a sign it
became the first of many signs and I'm

so glad I did so I'm gonna start off
with a little bit about Betty's early

life she was born Elizabeth and bloomer
April 8 1918 she was born in Chicago and

then the family moved to Denver and then
she had two older brothers bill and Bob

and the family moved to Grand Rapids

and when Betty was about three years old
into this house at 7:17 fountain Street

and this is where Betty said her
memories began she her her mother was

named Hortense her father was William s
bloomer and he was a traveling salesman

and he wasn't uh he wasn't home a lot
but every time he came home he would

bring Betty a stuffed animal so this is
a picture of her with one of her

favorite animals and the family had a
summer cottage at Whitefish Lake that

they would go to and spend most of the
summers and when Betty was little she

would wander around from table to table
little picnic tables everywhere and the

people thought she was so cute and she
had this bubbly personality and they'd

give her a cookie and a brownie and she
started getting chubby so her mother one

day put a sign around her neck that said
please do not feed this child

so betty was kind of a tomboy having two
older brothers and she was very athletic

her mother wanted to instill some
femininity into her so she enrolled her

in dance class when she was eight years
old the Calla travis school of dancing

in Grand Rapids and from the moment she
started Betty said dance was her

happiness she wanted to take every kind
of dance there was she started with

ballroom dancing and then went on to
ballet and tap and modern dance and she

fell in love with modern dance and ended
up going to the Bennington College

School of Dance at a summer program in
Stowe Vermont and studying under Martha

Graham who was the grande Tom of modern
dance when Betty was 20 she went to New

York and actually danced in Martha
Graham's troupe she didn't make the the

a team so to speak because Betty liked
to socialize see everybody I interviewed

and like I'm sure you can attest to this

liked to have a good time she always had
a lot of boys wanting to go on dates

with her and she just enjoyed that and
Martha Graham said to her betty you if

you really want to be a number one
dancer you're gonna have to give up your

social life
well Betty loved dance but she wasn't

willing to give her whole life to that
so she ended up going back to Grand

Rapids teaching dance and she also to
earn a living she worked at her pool

chimers department store she was a
fashion coordinator there and she loved

fashion she was beautiful she was a
model for her pool shimmers and that's

how she earned her living so she also
when she went back to Grand Rapids met a

boy she ended up marrying his name was
Bill Warren and

and I think this was something that I
don't know did you even know about this

growing up that your mother had been
married before we we did know about it

but they didn't talk it's about that
yeah the five year five year

misunderstanding so yeah a lot of people
didn't know that so it turned out that

so so Betty's father had been a
traveling salesman and when she was 16

she came home one day and found that he
had taken his own life during the Great

Depression he had lost his job she also
found out at his funeral that he had

been an alcoholic she didn't know that
because he traveled all the time it

turned out that she married a man bill
Warren who was just like her father so

she decided to divorce him which in the

knew that she couldn't live the rest of
her life like this so she divorced him

and she swore that she was never going
to get married again she's going to be

an independent woman
and that's when Jerry Ford showed up and

he swept her off her feet and he
proposed very quickly but it when he

asked her to marry him she said yes
and he said we can't get married right

away because there's something I have to
do but I can't tell you what it is

well she trusted him so much and she
said that's fine whatever Jerry wants to

do and she would come to find out that
the thing he was going to do was he was

going to run for Congress now she didn't
know what running for Congress meant but

she thought if Jerry Ford wanted to do
it that was just fine and then what she

learned a little bit more she thought
we'll only old men with white hair go to

Congress so Jerry's not going to end up
going to Congress well sure enough he he

was running and they they decided to get
married but he the reason he didn't want

to get married too soon was he was
afraid that because Betty had been too

forced before that could hurt his
chances for election this was in the 40s

so they did end up getting married on
October 15 and there's a reason for that

date right Mike yeah so October 15th

it's a Friday and you know had to get
married on a Friday because Michigan was

playing on Saturday

that was her honeymoon she they were
married in Grace Church in Grand Rapids

and had a big party and they jumped in
the car and drove Ann Arbor for the big

game and that's how their life started
yeah so she knew right away what she was

getting into right there was a lot of
football in that house then was three

boys to follow so she thought she was
marrying a lawyer from Grand Rapids well

now all of a sudden she's married to a
congressman and they moved to Washington

DC and and Mike well Mike came along
soon thereafter and growing up you would

often go to down to Congress take
through the Capitol with your dad and

that was kind of like your playground
right so my father was all in with his

career in the house and and mom had the
four children to try to manage and keep

up with and she was doing a wonderful
job with that but on Saturdays my dad

went to the office but he always brought
the boys down you know the three three

three boys to give mom a break and this
was a ritual where he you take us to his

office he maybe got a haircut he throw
us in front of a desk and I said

computer it was and he said not you all
of you this is how you type so we start

learning out
Peck but he says you need to write your

mother a letter and tell her how much
you love her

and how special she is and so he he
would often did his work and we were

typing those letters and and then we'd
finished that and then we'd run around

the halls of the Capitol and we you know
get lost and we literally got lost in

the halls and we have to ask the
policeman you know where where's Jerry

Ford's office so we could get us back
but we go home and we have our letters

and we give them to my mom
and she opened each one and and it was

like the first time she'd ever read that
and we probably did it you know 30 times

that's wonderful so that was their way
of sharing the parenting and for us to

you know kind of express our love to mom
going out and got your dad some good

brownie points with your mom because he
was gone a lot and your mother really

was the the one that was caring for all
four of you kids as you grew up

and what so what kind of mother was she
well she was very much a managed

managing you know chief managing officer
or whatever of the house she kept the

calendar she all the doctor's
appointments and the you know athletic

events and she was Cub Scout den mother
sunday-school teacher and she was always

kind of moving us from place to place
you know as you know any dutiful loving

mother would because my my dad was away
a lot when he was there he was all there

it was fully you know engaged Sundays
were sacred for us as a family

but mom was really going hard charging
and very much a manager of our lives

and in her own memoir she said she spent

a lot of time in the emergency room yeah
with you boys particularly which what is

it this time so yeah a very athletic
family so yes so that was Betty's life

and she was very involved as a
congressman's wife as well she when they

were first married she would go in and
sit and watch what was going on because

she wanted to learn what her husband's
job was about so that when he came home

in the evenings she could talk to him
intelligently about what he was doing

and so she really took an interest in
politics and and all of that so as the

kids grew so there were four children
eventually Mike Jack Steve and Susan and

Betty started to feel at one point that
you know there was just a lot going on

and like many mothers then and now what
about me you know she had been a career

woman and now she's giving giving giving
to her family and she had she had an

incident in which she was reaching
across the kitchen sink to open a window

probably to yell at one of the boys in
the backyard and she woke up the next

day in excruciating pain ended up in the
hospital right pinched nerve a pinched

nerve and the doctors prescribed pain
medication very strong pain medication

and when she got out of the hospital she
was concerned that this might act up

again so she asked the doctor what do I
do if it acts up again and he said well

don't let that happen take your
medication every four hours and that's

what she did and and she also went to
see a psychiatrist for depression which

he was very open about and the
psychiatrist prescribed Valium

so and none of the doctors mentioned
that you know maybe having that vodka

tonic at six o'clock with your husband
while you're taking all these

medications is not a good idea nobody
ever said that and it wasn't known

really back then so this this kind of
started this is just to let you see and

how things developed but you know as the
fate you this was this was just your

normal family and you really didn't see
anything no it was your mother it wasn't

something that we observed I mean
everybody you know our lives were fairly

crazy and you know was for children and
so it was sometimes survival just to get

through all that but we didn't really
see any effect on her functioning at

that time right and I don't know many of
you if you're from Michigan you might

notice where this picture is boy
mountain window was a favorite skiing

spot for you alright was so as Lisa said
my father and mother were vote both very

you know big football player from the

University of Michigan mom was a you
know a major professional dancer and so

they they kind of came to skiing you
know later you know as they were adults

partly because of the attraction to
winter sports but also it was a social

thing for them
it took kind of some of their former

boyfriends and girlfriends were skiers
so that got him

anyway they kept us engaged as kids and
we'd go up to boy Mountain over between

Christmas and New Year's and they'd
throw us into the ski school in the

morning so they could go ski and then in
the afternoons we would all ski together

as a family and it was it was a
wonderful time at born mountain until

one winter the snow wasn't too good in
Michigan so friends of mom and dad's

said well you know if you've been out

and so we took this trip to Vail
Colorado when it was nothing it was yeah

you know one hotel and and the mountains
were a lot better and the snow was a lot

more plentiful and you know God bless
born mountain we never once you went to

Vail Valley
they´ll became their second home really

they bought a condominium there and they
would spend summers and Christmas there

so and as you got older your parents
really wanted you kids to be involved

with politics and current events right I
mean you had family discussions about

what was going on yeah so in the living
room but also actually more around our

dinner table we when dad would come in
he'd always have his evening swim if you

knew again that was his therapy we did
build a swimming pool in our little

little backyard and he would kind of
cleanse himself from you know work and

on the hill and then come into the we'd
have dinner and around the table he

would we talk about these different
issues in society I remember many heated

discussions around the civil rights
movement around Vietnam just our role as

a nation in Vietnam and that transition
and just many other things and that was

I think a place where they first
instilled in us this sense of civic duty

and responsibility and curiosity so yeah
that was a that was a those are special

times and it's been passed on hopefully
to all of our children yeah and so

during this time your father is rising
through the ranks in Congress and he

becomes minority leader and in nineteen

getting tired of you know this whole
Washington life she had comfort ooh she

thought it was a two-year term you know
and you know 20 years go by and he

promised Betty that he was going to run
one more time in 1974 and then he would

announce his retirement in 1975 and
Betty knew that Gerry's word was good as

gold so he's gonna go back to practicing
law and you come back to Grand Rapids

and kind of spend more time you know in
Michigan but there was a different story

there yeah so so in 1968 Richard Nixon
and Spiro Agnew are elected and then

overwhelmingly again in 1972 and history
intervenes when vice president Agnew

resigns and all of a sudden Nixon has to
nominate a vice president now did you

you knew your dad was on the shortlist
there was a list of about 10 names that

were circling around and you were away
at college at this point at graduate

school yeah okay so did you really think
your father was going to be named his

vice president not at all I was not on
did not think it was gonna happen my

mother did not either she she was not
feeling like that was in the in the

future there if you remember back then
the name that was being circulated it

was John Conway from Texas he was you
know everyone saying he's going to be

the new vice president and lo and behold
Richard Nixon pivots and he chooses

Gerald Ford from Michigan and it rocked
our world so yes so all of a sudden and

you know that there's we go into depth
in the book about this about how this

all happened and the phone call and
everything and you know Betty is just

overwhelmed because she really didn't
expect this and then in December of 1974

am I getting my ears right 73 okay seven
it right 73 he

is confirmed as vice-president and what
does he do he plants a big kiss on Betty

right afterwards and you could see the
Speaker of the House looking like you

know but there are so many pictures of
Jerry and Betty in these wonderful

embraces and they really had a wonderful
love story but when this happened

your dad apparently said to your mother
don't worry Betty vice presidents don't

do anything anyway

unless the president resigned so now
where were you when you found out your

dad was going to become president right
so this was in August

you know 74 Gail and I my wife had just
married July 5th you know a month

earlier now this backstory on that was
we were supposed to be married in August

okay and it was you know something
everyone the family was excited about

and you know she you know mom and dad
were wanting to make it right and not

you know make it too public
so they actually came to us not knowing

what was going to happen because you
know the things with Watergate were were

just unfolding each day was a different
revelation and so they actually

suggested that we move our wedding up to
July just to be same so we did July 5th

we are going back to graduate school she
was at Boston University I was at

gordon-conwell Theological Seminary and
and driving up to you know we actually

spoke to mom and dad said you know hey
we got any started school what do you

think should we stick around
no go so we're driving up this was in

the day when there was no cell phones
and so we are on the road with our you

you know u-haul and we get up there
literally get up there they've been

looking for us because we get up there
and there

is the press corps at our house our
little apartment there's our friends

waiting for us and then we find out I
mean literally find out that Nixon had

resigned was going to resign and that
was going to change everything so we had

to jump on a plane the next day to come
to Washington for the swearing-in of my

father that was a big summer for the
Ford family dad becomes president so

yeah so this is August 9th 1974 and your
mother said in her memoir that this was

the saddest day of her life
why do you think that is why did she say

I remember her saying that I think for
two reasons at one level she was very

sad as many of us were to see a sitting
president Richard Nixon have to resign

from office this was a dark day for our
nation for many reasons and that has

never happened before and I think at the
other level for my mother you know she

was looking forward to dad retired you
know he had promised and you know she

could kind of see you know a quieter you
know more you know any more intimate

life and and she felt like this was you
know just ramping it up to another life

now the good news is that she came to
realize that as first lady she was only

a little few hundred yards from his
office so it was really wonderful to

have him so close by and so she actually
saw him and he spent more time together

in the White House then when he was
moving around traveling speaking in

Congress and so yeah so that day
actually you know it had to have been

well mning and right little different

them yeah right after that after after
the swearing in there you go you go into

the Oval Office and have this family
portrait taken and then your dad goes to

work his first day of work and the
family goes back to their house in

Alexandria because the Nixons had left
so suddenly there was no inauguration

there were no inaugural balls the White
House wasn't ready for you to move into

so the family goes back to the house
while President Ford now has his first

day in office you're having a little
party there with the neighbors it's not

every day your dad becomes president so
and then your dad comes in later that

evening and you're Betty was pulling a
lasagna out of the oven and do you

remember what she and says you know your
President of the United States and I'm

working in the kitchen something's wrong
with this picture there's something

wrong here I'm still cooking so I don't
think she really cooked much after that

did she so so they actually lived at
their house at 5:14 crown View Drive in

Alexandria for the first 10 days of
Gerald Ford's presidency which I found

astonishing and you at UF presumably
went back to yeah went back to you know

our graduate school and we're coming to
visit often yeah

so then seven weeks later you get
another sort of devastating really

devastating piece of news my mother had
her annual checkup with her doctor and

they discovered she had a lump in her
breast so this was a shocker that she

was you know breast cancer and that they
needed to do some you know immediate

treatment and you know back then that
was you know kind of the early stage

of breasts you know cancer detection and

I remember dad calling we were up in in
Massachusetts and I never heard him I

guess there were two times when I heard
him emotional one when his mother

Dorothy Ford died and the other time was
when mom had this breast cancer and he

told us and that she was going for
treatment maybe surgery and and the one

thing I also remember is and I'm not
sure of this in the book but he wrote

mom this beautiful love letter before
she went into surgery and it's really

precious yeah you know regardless of
what happens you know you're my soul

mate and the way things were back then I
mean this is 1974 75 74 I'm getting my

dates all mixed up now 74 and you
couldn't say breast on television when

people had cancer it was whispered about
it was not something you talked publicly

about and when Betty went in she would
go under general anesthesia and they

would were going to do a biopsy and if
it was malignant while she was under

general anesthesia they would remove her

so she went into the hospital a not
knowing if she had cancer and B not

knowing if she would wake up with her
breasts removed so you know just

completely different than the way it's
done now and and she was adamant to go

public with this with this very personal
decision because she felt that other

women were going through the same thing
and they were terrified too and that was

very oh yeah I spoke to who she was as
being you know very you know forthright

open and and also wanting to help others
who were facing similar crisis in their

life yeah and so she when she came out
with this

women's healthcare literally changed
overnight because women started lining

up at doctors offices calling their
doctors to get breast exams there were

pictures in the newspaper of how to do
self exams and all of a sudden research

and funding started and that became a
lifelong commitment of Betty's so she

realized at this point now she's first
lady she can make a difference and one

of the things she started talking about
was the Equal Rights Amendment so yeah

so mom was you know very outspoken about
the role of women in society and she now

I had a platform I guess as the first
lady and you know this is when the

feminist movement was just beginning and
and you know she would not maybe think

of herself as a radical feminist but she
was a strong feminist and and pretty

radical for her day to go and champion
you know equal rights for women equal

pay for equal work equal education
Social Security everything which would

be hopefully captured through an Equal
Rights Amendment so she was campaigning

for that publicly much to the concern of
not so much my dad but all of my dad's

staff they thought she was a little too
vocal about this and you know the

pushback and the public opinion wasn't
wasn't going to be that great and so she

said what she well Dick Cheney and Don
Rumsfeld went to President Ford and said

could you ask Betty to tone it down and
your dad said to them if you want her to

tone it down you go tell
and neither one of them did and they

confirmed that story with me last year
when I saw them so a year after your

your mom became first lady she agreed to
go on 60 minutes and I'm gonna play you

a little clip of this it really brings
her to life and you'll see this spunky

lady unafraid to answer all these

this is 1975 yes I told my husband we
have to be honest exactly how you feel

and I feel very strongly that it was the
thing in the world when the Supreme

Court voted to legalize abortion and in
my words bring it out of the backwoods

and put it in the hospitals where it
belong I thought it was a great great

decision we've also talked about young
people living

well human being like all the young
girls if you wanted to continue in I

would certainly counsel on advise her on
subject and I want to know pretty much

about the young man that she was
planning to get here was it was a pretty

young to start affairs Betty bloomer
would have been the kind of girl who at

least experimented with marijuana oh I'm
sure I probably when I was growing up at

their age I probably would have any
interested to see what the effect I

never would have gone into it as a habit
or anything like that it's the type of

thing that young people have to
experience like your first beer or your

first cigarette something like that
I think everyone be fascinated know what

is the issue that you were you said
chatter pull it down and say listen I

want you to listen what a lot of it had
to do with perhaps putting a woman in

the cabinet and won that one

isn't that crazy

what what are you thinking when you
watch that well she's a woman ahead of

her time that's for sure you know when
we we saw that it did kind of make us a

little nervous because she was talking
about the family maybe a little more two

more little too transparent but then
again it was refreshing it was you know

is the woman that was our mother and we
knew her as someone who spoke her mind

and was you know honest and and really
thinking about you know what is the best

for you know all people so I I'm just
glad she you was able to you know be

outspoken like this yeah yeah and you
know we just loved Betty I'm gonna go

through these next ones a little bit
quickly she brought dancing back to the

White House White House parties were fun
again and Jerry and Betty were always

the last ones to leave the dance floor
and then came the campaign of 1976 and

her she was actually more popular than
your father at in the polls at times and

unfortunately Jerry Ford did not win
that election and he lost his voice at

the end of the campaign and your mother
actually gave the concession speech so I

want to just move forward quickly to
what happened next it's a terrible time

losing you know that election but then
there was your mom and dad stayed in the

White House for a couple more months and
the last day her last full day in the

White House she's do you want to tell
the story still a story the photo is out

here in the hallway to what probably my
favorite photo of my mother you know

in his first lady so this is the Cabinet
Room in the West Wing

very sacred you know serious you know
you know presidential space and she was

with David Kenner Lee who was the White
House photographer and they were kind of

finishing up you know the last day of
occupancy in the White House and walked

by there and she said to David you know
I've always wanted to get on top of that

table and David you've got to know David
David is a prankster himself he said I

miss this Ford please do go ahead go for
it and so she took off her shoes and she

went up and gave a dancers pose on the
cabinet table and that was her final

farewell to the White House and then she
did this and that ended up being the

cover of the Betty Ford book so we want
to make time for some questions from the

audience so you know the the book
chronicles Betty's whole life and

obviously a big part of her life was
what happened the following year and the

family had a very painful intervention
and we describe that in the book and is

it accurate as you remember it and yeah
it's very well accounted for in the in

the book it was a very difficult painful
time for our family as would for any

family facing an intervention for loved
one we we were somewhat you know in the

dark about how serious my mom's illness
was with alcohol and drug addiction my

sister was you know with out there in
California and saw the changes in my

mother and the deterioration and the
rest of the boys we were spread out but

fortunately with some medical help Susan

had you know conferred and and really
talked through what can we do to

basically save her life and so they
proposed this intervention by the family

and so we got the call and you know we
were like this is terrible and can we do

this but we jumped on the plane all of
us converged in Palm Springs we had a

time to talk through mom's illness with
medical professionals and we talked

about it and prayed about it as a family
and then we got some coaching on what an

intervention does and in April 1st 1978

it they were she was surprised to see
Gail and I because we were you know in

Pittsburgh at that time and we all came
in and had this this very serious

encounter but loving encounter and
basically the message was you know mom

we love you who love you dearly this is
not your problem

this is our problem and we will together
as a family

get through this and she finally
released her defenses and accepted that

and went into detox and from there and
the rest is kind of history she she

turned that around just like breast
cancer and in 1982 she co-founded the

Betty Ford Center with Leonard Firestone
and the Betty Ford Center has since

served over a hundred thousand patients
saved countless lives and the the book

also is a love story of your parents and
it's I hope you'll all get the book and

and learn so much more about Betty Ford
and Mike it's been such a pleasure to

share this with you and the final quote

a final final quote well yeah there is
one thank you for reminding good we

talked about yes
your father once said when the final

tally is taken her contribution will be
larger than mine do you agree with that

I understand where my father's coming
from when he says that and I think both

my father my mother and each in their
own way made enormous contributions to

the health and well-being of many people
in our nation and I think for my mother

as Lisa does so well in the book and
when she talks about Betty Ford as a

trailblazer as someone who is an
advocate someone who was a survivor

first lady
it is embodies who she is because she

was a woman ahead of her time who had
tremendous vision and purpose for other

women in particular and their health and
well-being their role in society being

elevated to an equal level and then when
she fought her own demons of alcohol and

drug addiction she came out and said
there are so many other people that need

this help as well let's create this
wonderful facility and be bringing other

people through the treatment and the
recovery like I have and so in many ways

she's lived a significant life and
legacy and their love story I would

simply say they where my mother gave so
much and made so many sacrifices early

in her life as the wife of a congressman
for kids you know just pretty

roll at in society and my dad was out

there doing all these great things it
reversed it reversed after they went to

the desert and when my mother came to
realize her illness and go through

recovery the first person that was there
by her side to champion her efforts to

get well to create this beautiful Betty
Ford Center to raise money was my dad

and he was second fiddle she was the
center piece and they shared 58

beautiful years together and impacted
our lives and many others so very

so beautiful

so anybody have any questions do we need
microphones yes there's a microphone so

wait till she brings the microphone to
you and take this one right here thank

hi Lisa hi Mike thank you for being here

knowing what you know about Betty for

today if you could talk to her today
what would you say to her oh gosh

I think Betty and I would be really good
girlfriends I would say thank you first

of all just thank you and I just want to
have fun with her because she just

seemed like such a fun lady Oh

over here let's go over here sure I
always wondered why Betty wore a blue

dress for her wedding maybe it was a
dark blue dress I'm guessing that

because she had been married before that
you never really talked about it but I

think because it was her second marriage
yeah that's why it was and she designed

it as well yes yes here hi Mike this
question is for you how do you think

your mother would react or what would
she say about the me to movement and

those things going on today I you know
was anticipating that she would be a

champion for that movement you know she
I think understands that a woman's voice

in back then in the 70s and even today
in 2018 in terms of their voice in

challenging some of the social
expectations practices of today is not

heard and needs to be expressed and that
there's many victims in society that

have pushed it down
their experiences their you know abuse

or assault and needs to be listened to
and respected and given you know given a

you know some kind of recourse you know
some kind of so I think she would be a

strong advocate for sexual abuse and
assault victims young next any more

questions do we have a microphone over
here this is more of a remembrance one

of my favorite political events I ever
saw on television was when the tribute

was to former President Ford and Tip
O'Neill of course as the Democratic

Speaker of the House and Ford when the
house was was the Minority Leader they

got along so well something is so
lacking today I mean those guys really

hit it off well and they were doing a
tribute now to Betty Ford and part of

this too and somebody was going to sink
to Betty Ford and Tip O'Neill grabbed

that microphone I'm gonna sing to Betty
and he's saying beautifully when Irish

eyes are smiling I know I should have
interviewed you for the book part two

the addendum any other questions I
interviewed over 70 people for this book

people that were colleagues friends and
of course all the family members

yes ma'am this was a lovely lovely
discussion I had a chance to hear Steve

speak in Palm Springs on the week his
dad became president and it was just as

as moving as this was my question is
this is such a phenomenal story both

their lives
are you making a movie from your lips to

God's ears

we'll work on that one yes over here
Mike I'm proud to say I voted for your

dad in 1976 I doubt your father could
get elected sewer commissioner now on

the Republican ticket so what would your
father say about what's happened to the

extreme and elements the repeal of all
parties these days but particularly the

Republican Party okay I thought we were
talking about Betty Ford no I

I would I would feel like my father
would be very sad and disturbed by the

evolution of the Republican Party to a
more extreme right perspective the the

formal party and I think he would be
very concerned just disappointed in just

the the high intense partisanship that
is going on at all levels of governments

and you know it's this gentleman over
here said my father some of you know I

mean this is very very best friends were
on the other side of the aisle and we're

Democrats and and they had tremendous
respect in regard for each other though

they differed on political something
philosophy and in policy they were able

to conduct civil conversations and in
respectful engagement and work out

compromise too so the government was
working you know instead of stalemate

and so I I know he would be very sad to
just kind of see where we are right now

and and hopefully we can you know with
institutions like the Ford School of

Public Policy you know bring change
positive change do that so and more


we have a couple questions over here yes

do you have any idea if Betty Ford's
mother had a similar sort of personality

in terms of honesty and directness and
speaking her mind I did get that

her mother died shortly after Jerry was

elected the first time so you never knew
you never knew her but in Betty's own

memoir she talks about her mother and
how what a strong-willed woman she was

and then and after Betty's father died
her mother had to go out and get a job

she worked as a real estate agent so she
had that role model in her life of a

strong woman speaking up for herself and
standing up for herself was there went

over here yeah I just had a question
about the relationship between Gerald

Ford and Jimmy Carter and and and
whether that carried over at all in

terms of a relationship between the two
couples or between the two women Rosalyn

Carter also in her own way having been a
very strong do you wanna talk or do you

want me to talk about that yeah why
don't you start because I was in the

books on yeah so I can add to that yeah
I actually interviewed Rosalyn Carter

for the book down in Georgia and she and
Betty formed this wonderful friendship

and partnership later in in the 80s
because Rosalyn Carter's cause was

mental health issues and as Betty was
you know really championing for more

insurance to cover treatment for alcohol
and drug addiction the two of them got

together and they actually lobbied
Congress together these two former first

ladies whose husbands had you know been
rivals and what an example that set

really was fabulous yeah and yeah we as
you know time passed after the election

of 76 the relationship between my father
and mother

and the Carters really warmed up and and
strengthened this excellent example

around policy of mental health but also
they my father and president former

President Carter also did a number of
speaking in forums together around human

rights if you remember my dad was one of
his major accomplishment was the

Helsinki agreements in in Europe which
really broke open the discussion and the

kind of started that slippery slope of
human rights among communist bloc

nations and Jimmy Carter carried human
rights across the globe and so they

really came together with great respect
and admiration and friendship and even

to the point that and my father's
funeral Jimmy Carter was one of the

eulogist for that so again yeah
bipartisan you know respect that is the

strength of the American democracy so do
we have any more questions okay thank


this was really just a very moving and
an insightful and fabulous discussion

between the two of you I'm really
grateful for both of you being willing

to do it here at the Ford school and in
the Betty

we are I'm gonna have a reception after
this everybody's welcome to join for

that Lisa and Michael have a little time
to chat further at the reception if

you'd like a tour of the Ford school we
have Ford school students outside we'll

give you a tour of the Ford school and I
have a wonderful wonderful Homecoming

weekend and go blue and then and the
Betty Ford book is available for the

Betty Ford book is available for sale
and sign it outside please please enjoy