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Interview with Douglas Brinkley

Aired August 11, 2003 - 20:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Washington takes August off. Congressman and congresswomen, scatter home to their districts and generally out of camera range.
But wherever the president of the United States goes, the working press, of course, follows. This year that means the 100 degree environment of President Bush's ranch in central Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dana and then Mark and then we need to get in before we have a heat stroke. Before you have a heat stroke, excuse me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That is fun and relaxing for the president is often times no vacation for reporters. But these city slickers aren't always stuck in the Texas sage brush. In New Orleans, to talk about past presidential getaways is the historian Douglas Brinkley. Why does this president love Crawford, Texas, so much? I've been out there. It is no picnic in the summertime.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLAR: It is where he's put down his roots. Of course he had that early history in Midland, Texas. The Texas Rangers are his baseball team. He golfs at a country club in Waco. And He has over 1,600 acres where he can fish and jog and be around the people he feels part of. That Crawford property in the 19th century was Baptist land. Used to be church land. And President Bush puts a great creed based on his religious beliefs and feels he's in the heart of the Bible Belt there.

BLITZER: Let's talk about other August vacations. Former President Clinton used to like to go to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. I covered a couple of those vacations.

What he did like so much about that?

BRINKLEY: He liked the lure of the Kennedys. Martha's Vineyard had become this famous, glamorous spot that a lot of rich and famous people were there. They held intellectual summits with people, John Kenneth Galbraith or Arthur Schlesinger Jr. There was a bit of Camelot. After, you know, later, Dick Morris' adviser thought he was embedding himself too much with the east establishment and you started seeing Bill Clinton spending his summers in the Great Tetons, in Wyoming.

BLITZER: And Jackson's Hole. I was out there a lovely place.

Richard Nixon used to go out to California. Not far from San Clemente. He liked it out there.

BRINKLEY: Of course that was his home state, his home base. He was born in California. Had a beautiful spread of land there at San Clemente on the Pacific Ocean, made a lot of sense. Although Nixon was never particularly comfortable on vacations. There was always that stiff business-like in a suit Richard Nixon. So, even when he tried to look like he was on vacation, he always looked like somebody uncomfortable being on vacation.

BLITZER: Let's continue this conversation on another occasion but won't wait necessarily until next August.

Douglas Brinkley, thanks so much for joining us.

BRINKLEY: Thank you, Wolf.

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