BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Andy Card, chief of staff to the president, why do you think that conservatives have reacted as strongly against Harriet Miers as they have?
ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don‘t think they know her. And I wish that they had been skeptical and looked to learn more about her and they would have been very comforted. I‘m a little surprised that they came out of the box so cynically.
But, you know, she‘s a wonderful person. She has got a great track record. She broke through that glass ceiling before many people knew there was a ceiling there. And she was the first woman to be hired by a major law firm in Texas. The first woman president of a major law firm in Texas. The first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association The first woman head of the Texas Bar Association. Very active in the American Bar Association. One of the top 50 female lawyers in America consistently. One of the top 100 lawyers in America.
And the White counsel, and the White House counsel has to deal with an awful of issues that touch on the Constitution. So she‘s really quite an expert on dealing with the realities of the struggles between the executive branch, the legislative branch, and I‘m going to say, the judicial branch.
LAMB: But there seems to be more to this from the conservatives than just Harriet Miers. It seems like they‘re using this to really come after the president for some reason or another. Have you thought about this?
CARD: Well, of course, I‘m concerned by it. But, you know, I have great confidence in the president and how he leads. And when he stood up and took that oath to be president of the United States, and it‘s shortest oath taken by anyone who serves in government, he said that he would preserve, protect and defend that Constitution.
And that‘s exactly what he does every day. And by selecting Harriet Miers as his nominee to the Supreme Court, he is confident that that Constitution will be protected for the future.
LAMB: What‘s the different being the chief of staff in the second term right now from what it was in the first term?
CARD: Well, as you know, when you‘re second-term president, you‘re not worried about reelection. So the first I would say is that the president understands that he has got a short amount of time to accomplish an awful lot. And he has got an awful lot of things that he knows should be done for America and for the world.
He has always had a great vision for where he should take the country. And he was able to accomplish some of that visionary leadership in his first term when he got the No Child Left Behind Act passed, and education -- reform our education system.
He inherited a recession and he cut taxes so that we could build our way out of the recession and get a strong economy moving. And then we had that horrible attack on September 11th, 2001, and that changed an awful lot, but it did not deter the president from the vision he had for the country in where he wants to tackle those tough issues that he knew about so that future generations wouldn‘t have to worry about them.
LAMB: Why do you do this for as long as you have? And you‘re -- what, now it has been 50 years since somebody has done as long as you have.
CARD: Well, I serve at the pleasure of the president for the time being. And that‘s what the piece of paper that hangs on my wall says, and I‘m reminded of that everyday when I look at it.
I feel very privileged to work for the president of the United States. I feel it‘s a great privilege to work at the White House no matter who the president is, but I am particularly proud of this president and how he makes his decisions and the vision that he has for the country and the expectations that he has for the world.
So I feel very privileged. But I serve at his pleasure. And if I‘m not doing the job, I shouldn‘t be in the position. I‘m very comfortable with the reality that I am a staffer. I‘m just a staffer. I‘m responsible for the rest of the staff, but my job is to make sure the president has all that he needs in order to be able to do the job.
LAMB: The total years you have spent in the White House working for three different presidents?
CARD: Well, I started in 18 -- 1983, 18, 1983.
CARD: And I had a respite from that experience when I helped run a campaign for president in New Hampshire in ‘87-‘88, then came back to the White House and served former President Bush and was deputy chief of staff and then Secretary of Transportation. Oh, I guess I started in ‘83 and I am and other than the Clinton years I was in the White House for almost every year.
LAMB: Here‘s a piece of videotape in 1992 when you were Secretary of Transportation.
CARD: My job as deputy chief of staff was to be everywhere that the chief of staff was not. And obviously he was not more places than he was. So I frequently had to run from meeting to meeting.
My job was basically to be the managing partner at the White House, to make sure that it functioned on a day-to-day basis. One of the exciting parts of the job was being able to spend a lot of time with the president, because when the chief of staff was not with the president, I had the opportunity to be with the president.
So I accompanied him on most of his foreign trips. I was able to participate in a lot of the foreign diplomacy and discussion that took place, a lot of the domestic policy discussions and the economic policy discussions that took place.
But really I was kind of the micromanager at the White House.
LAMB: What are you now?
CARD: I‘m responsible for making sure the White House meets the president‘s expectations of preparing him to make tough decisions. And I worry about the care and feeding of the president. That‘s probably the biggest responsibility that a chief of staff has. After all, the president has to have time to eat, sleep, and be merry. And I want to make sure that he has time to eat, sleep, and be merry.
I also have to make sure that the policy that he has to address is well-developed. So we have policy counsels, outstanding people. Steve Hadley replaced Condi Rice in the foreign policy world. And Al Hubbard doing the economic policy. And Claude Allen with the domestic policy. And we have Fran Townsend doing the homeland security policy.
So we have a good policy nucleus. And I make sure that that policy group gets to stimulate the president‘s thinking about the policy options that he has to consider. And then I have to make sure that we communicate with the right people at the right time when the president has made a decision. And I call that marketing and selling.
We have to communicate with Congress, with the American people, with other world leaders. And we have to communicate with the rest of the executive branch of government so that when a decision is made by the president, the people who had to implement that decision understand what the decision is, why he made it, why it‘s important that it be implemented the way the president has an expectation for the it be implemented.
LAMB: How do you stay in touch with him?
CARD: The president sees an awful lot of me. I greet him first thing in the morning and I say good night to him when he goes off to go home for the night. He probably sees much more of me than he wants to. I really do feel very blessed.
And we have a very candid, open relationship. It‘s a relationship that allows me to speak to him without any fear of retribution. I feel comfortable talking with him. And I know that he feels comfortable talking with me. But those conversations should be private. And they are, because I offer the president candid counsel, and he offers me sometimes very un-candid criticism.
So -- but, no, he‘s wonderful to work with and I spend a lot of time with him. I‘m blessed that he and my wife get along well, and Laura and my wife get along well. So I feel that I‘m very blessed but I am still just a staffer. The president is my friend and I do not want to let him down. But I am not his friend, I am a staffer.
LAMB: What do you call him?
CARD: I call him Mr. President. And he earned that title by gaining the respect of the American people and winning a vote for president of the United States. And it‘s a wonderful, wonderful title to have. And I‘m proud to call him Mr. President.
LAMB: Did you ever call him George in the old days?
CARD: In the old days, before he was president, before he was governor? Yes. I called him George or W or Junior as many of us did. But he is the president and I‘m proud to call him president.
LAMB: You know, for a long time there was a story about that he was called in to fire John Sununu when he was chief of staff. But recent reports in The Washington Post, among other places, say that you fired John Sununu, your boss.
CARD: Well, I have great respect for John Sununu. He was an outstanding chief of staff, and he‘s a good, close friend and someone that I admire an awful lot. But he had reached the point where he was not serving the president as well the president needed to be served.
And yes, I did deliver a message to the chief of staff, then John Sununu, that it was probably time for him to tender his resignation. I think that George Bush then had also delivered a similar message, but it didn‘t take. So I think I was brought in to help make sure the message was understood.
LAMB: Was that hard?
CARD: It was very hard because I had tremendous respect for John Sununu. And I was his deputy, I was the deputy chief of staff when he was the chief of staff. And -- but I also respect and support the president of the United States and I know that we all serve at his pleasure. And that‘s an obligation that I take very, very seriously.
LAMB: How old are your three kids?
CARD: We have three children and four grandchildren. So our grandchildren are 12, 10, 8 and 6. So that will give some sense of how old our children are. We have two daughters that live in the D.C. area and a son who lives in South Carolina, and they‘re all married.
LAMB: Is there -- you know, we read that the president has a regimen that gets him rest, but you work seven days a week, you get very little sleep at night, is there a risk that you work too long and you‘re tired and make decisions when you‘re tired?
CARD: Well, thankfully I‘m helping people make decisions. I‘m not a penultimate decision-maker. The president is the decision-maker. And he has got the toughest decisions to make. And my job is to help him make those decisions.
But I -- all my life I have worked kind of this schedule. When I was in college I delivered newspapers early in the morning and worked at McDonald‘s late at night. So even when I was in high school I would get up in the morning and get the newspapers ready for the paperboys early in the morning.
So I‘ve had this kind of lifestyle of early-to-bed and early-to-rise. And so far seem to be doing pretty well.
LAMB: When you first came in as chief of staff, it‘s my understanding that you had a dinner or something where former chiefs of staff came and gave advice?
CARD: I did. Mack McLarty, who was chief of staff to President Clinton, and Ken Duberstein who was chief of staff to President Reagan. They invited all of the other living chiefs of staff to a dinner that was given in my honor, and it was a wonderful experience.
And, you know, regardless of the politics, of the philosophy that people bring to this office, there was great empathy for the challenge that I was about to take. And I learned a lot from other chiefs of staff.
I served with great pleasure under Jim Baker when he was chief of staff in the Reagan administration, and then Don Regan, and then Howard Baker, and Ken Duberstein, and then John Sununu, and Sam Skinner, and then Jim Baker again. So I‘ve been very, very blessed and have learned an awful lot from each one of them.
LAMB: Let‘s say it‘s 2009, there‘s a brand new president of the United States and there‘s a new chief of staff, and they call you up and say, come to a dinner. And you‘re sitting around that dinner, what are you going to tell the next chief of staff that you‘ve learned that you didn‘t know about before you got in this job?
CARD: I would say to remember that the job is not about the individual chief of staff, it‘s about the president of the United States and making sure that he is well-served. The hardest part about my job is, I think what I mentioned, that I cannot become his friend, I‘ve got to stay his staffer.
And there is great temptation to want to be the president‘s friend. But I fight that temptation every day and remind myself that I‘m a staffer and if he‘s not comfortable with how he is being served, he should say good bye to his staffer.
Now as soon he says good bye to me, I want to be his friend. And he is my friend.
LAMB: There has got to be more.
CARD: Well, I think there‘s paying attention to the schedule. Most of the challenges of the chief of staff has centers around what other people don‘t think about. And most people presume that the president has all kinds of time to consider policy or to meet with people.
And I want to make sure that the president does have time to take care of his spiritual being, his emotional health, his mental health and his physical health so that he‘s in a position to make a good decision.
Obviously he has to be well-prepared to make that decision in terms of learning the content of the policy and the ramifications of the policy. But I want to make sure he‘s in the right frame of mind and that he‘s ready to make a decision even when it‘s not anticipated, because we didn‘t plan on a September 11th, for example, and yet the president exhibited great leadership during that period of time because he was well-prepared just to make decisions.
LAMB: What happens if Don Rumsfeld calls up and says, I want to talk to the president?
CARD: He gets to talk to the president. One thing I do not do is restrict access to the president. In fact, I have a rule, if anyone who is on the White House staff or anyone who is in the cabinet needs to see the president, they should feel comfortable going to see the president.
I don‘t want them to see the president if they just want to see the president, and you know a lot of people pretend they have a need and it‘s just a thin veneer of need covering a giant want, and I police that pretty carefully.
But I do not control access to the Oval Office with people who need to be there. I do expect to be informed about it, either before, during, or after. And the president is terrific about keeping me very well informed on what his day has been like.
But no, I don‘t sit outside the Oval Office with a turnstile and tell people they have to put quarters in in order to get into the Oval Office.
LAMB: What are the president‘s rules?
CARD: I think he is very open door. His rule is candor and efficiency. He is very efficient with his time. Meetings start on time and they end on time. He‘s very respectful of other people‘s schedules. He expects the briefings to be short and consistent with the word "brief," and yet wants them to be broad enough to include all of the policy options and all of the deliberations that rose those policy considerations to his level.
He understands that a presidential decision is a big deal. And so he gives the decision the kind of attention that it needs before he makes it. But he has the courage to make those decisions.
LAMB: When do you know he‘s mad?
CARD: Oh, he‘s usually pretty candid about telling me, and I know how to read his body language pretty well. And I‘ll pull it out of him. I can tell when he‘s upset. But he has got a very candid relationship with me. And I value that and when the door is shut and it‘s just the two of us standing in the Oval Office, I feel very comfortable that he will tell me if he‘s unhappy about something.
LAMB: There has been a lot copy written recently, both from conservatives and others. I just want to read what some have said, and we rarely get a chance to have you respond to what is said about you.
This is Cal Thomas, conservative columnist: "What should President Bush do about his declining poll numbers and when should he did it? The president is in danger of losing his base which wanted more than a Republican president, it believed it had twice elected a conservative president."
Conservatives are writing every day, they‘re mad. What do you say to Cal Thomas?
CARD: The president is a conservative. He‘s a true-blue conservative who‘s track record speaks volumes. I think that he has been very consistent that which he promised the American people, that what he believes. He‘s a good conservative president and I think that the conservatives should be applauding the president‘s leadership and how he has chosen people to bring similar leadership to other parts of government.
So I disagree with the premise of the story.
LAMB: Cal Thomas writes: "Staffers with conviction seem unable to express differences with the president for fear it might jeopardize their access or even their jobs. Instead they tell him things that make him feel good." Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has called him the most brilliant man she has ever known.
CARD: Well, I agree with Harriet Miers, he is a brilliant man. And I think that she will make a terrific justice on the Supreme Court. But I also know that the president gets unvarnished advice from a lot of staffers.
The one thing that is common at the White House is candor. And there is a lot of candor in the Oval Office and people do not tell the president what he wants to hear all the time. In fact, there is a healthy banter about the candor that exists in the Oval Office and how the president is candid with us and how the staff is candid with him.
There is not a lot of yes-men or yes-women around the president. There are competent who do a good job and they know that his leadership is what the people elected and so he‘s the one that makes the decisions. And we respect the decisions he makes because we know how he makes those decisions.
LAMB: Let me try this on you and see if you agree. Anybody that has met the president off-camera finds a different person than they find on-camera. I mean, he is a friendly, outgoing individual that you hear people who don‘t follow his politics, they say they like him, but the minute the camera comes on, it has been done many times in our history, it‘s a different George Bush. Do you agree with that?
CARD: Well, I think -- it‘s probably an unfair question of me because I know him so well and I don‘t see the distinction between on-camera and off-camera.
LAMB: You really don‘t see any difference?
CARD: And there are times when I can tell the klieg lights probably bother him, but I haven‘t found him to put on a veneer. He kind of tells it like it is. He‘s very candid and forthright. He has got core values and core convictions and he‘s not afraid to express them and to bring them to leadership.
He does not make decisions based on which way the wind is blowing or who is sitting opposite him in a television studio. He is a man of great principal and he‘s very thoughtful and he‘s not afraid to be thought-provoking.
LAMB: The president has said almost from the beginning that he doesn‘t read the newspapers, watch the television shows, but he relies on you and others to provide him with the news. Is that true?
CARD: Well, I think -- he skims the newspapers. And remember, he wakes up every morning with a wonderful wife and she reads the newspapers and is frequently reading to him. And so he gets an awful lot of information. In fact, I‘m generally amazed at the amount of peripheral information that the president gets.
He has got a great network of friends who make sure that he understands what‘s happening in the real world. You know, the White House is a bubble and the president is always trying to get out of that bubble. And he has great access to people who aren‘t bound by the Beltway and Washington, D.C., and he gets a good deal of information.
But no, he skims the newspapers, but he does not dwell on them, and he certainly doesn‘t get wrapped around the action with regard to an editorial page or two.
LAMB: Back right after he reelected, he gave of series of 15 interviews, and most of them were short. And I was watching that process, it struck me that because they‘re short, everybody that sits down with him wants to get the "gotcha!" question in. They want to make the news. Is it a bit of a risk? I mean, why doesn‘t he open up and have more lengthy conversations where you don‘t have this pent-up emotion to get him?
CARD: Well, it‘s unfortunate that there are so many in the media and so many in Washington who like to play "gotcha!" That‘s not how the president plays the game at all. And, you know, he‘s a very thoughtful, thought-provoking individual because he has the courage to make decisions.
And he has a vision for the country and a vision for the world, and that is the right vision and he is doing everything he can to implement it. But remember, the burden that he carries is the burden that centers around that oath that he took, to protect and defend that Constitution.
And he knows that he cannot do it alone. He needs a lot of help. And the help should come from the White House staff, that‘s the only reason we exist as a White House staff, is to help the president do his job. It comes from everyone who serves in the executive branch of government because they are part of Article II of that Constitution.
But most significantly, it comes from a lot of young men and women who volunteer to put on a uniform and serve in the armed forces. And they took an oath as well to protect and defend the Constitution, but they also took an oath to follow the command of the commander-in-chief.
And I am grateful that the president shows up in the Oval Office every day understanding that. And he is cognizant that there are young men and women who are putting their lives on the line at great risk to help him meet his constitutional obligation.
And the fact that he knows that and thinks about them and how they‘re meeting their responsibilities, helps him meet the responsibilities that he has when he has to make those tough decisions, because, again, the president doesn‘t have the luxury of making easy decisions. Only the tough decisions make it to the Oval Office, and the president has to make those tough decisions.
LAMB: What has been the impact on the running of the White House through all of this discussion about the special prosecutor and -- I don‘t think you call it special prosecutor, but the -- Mr. Fitzgerald, and the whole Valerie Plame issue?
CARD: Well, obviously we‘re all human beings and we know that there are external activities that impact the environment you‘re working in. And the ongoing investigation is one where everyone at the White House to my knowledge has been cooperating and helping.
The president has asked that we all cooperate, and we are. And -- but it is something that is there, but it is something that we don‘t talk about because it would be inappropriate. We all have a job to do. The president has appointed people who do their job and they do it very well. And I haven‘t found anyone that is distracted because of the ongoing investigation, but we all know that it‘s taking place and we‘re all working to cooperate with the investigators.
And we hope that it will come to a conclusion, but we‘re going to do the job for the president. After all, our job is to help the president do his job. And it‘s not to worry about each other as we deal with problems that are external to the White House.
LAMB: Do you ever long for the day when Andy Card can speak for himself?
LAMB: I mean, you can your personal views and…
CARD: Well, you know, as you know, Brian, I come from Massachusetts so I can "pahk the cah in Hah-vad Yahd" and most people in America won‘t understand me. And I served in local government in Holbrook, Massachusetts, on the planning board, and I‘m very proud of my hometown, Holbrook.
I served in the Massachusetts legislature for eight years where I was able to exercise a frustrating role as being part of a distinct minority in the overwhelmingly Democrat House of Representatives in Massachusetts, but I made lifelong friends there, people that I love to debate with. Some of them are serving as Democrat members of Congress right now.
But no, I‘ve had plenty of opportunity to express my personal opinions, but right now I serve a person who was elected by the American people to lead, and I‘m going to help him lead as he sees fit. And I‘m very comfortable with the kind of leadership that he gives.
LAMB: How interested are you in ever running for office?
CARD: Oh, I would love to run for office again, but I know that it‘s not about a desire, you have to have someone marching in the parade behind you when you go to lead it. So I‘m doing the job for the president and I‘m focused on that right now. I‘m not going to worry about what the future holds for me.
But I feel very blessed to live in this great country. And all of us should. You know, we take for granted what is America. And America is great because the people are great and we‘ve got to participate in our democracy.
And that‘s something that C-SPAN has helped to motivate. And so I compliment C-SPAN for helping to motivate people to participate in their great democracy and make sure their representatives under Article I are doing their job in Congress, and that their representative leading the executive branch, the president of the United States, Article II, is doing his job, and that those who are there to enforce the laws and respect the Constitution are doing so to the letter of the Constitution with an understanding of our Founding Fathers‘ intent.
LAMB: So what advice would you give someone who is about to come to work for Andy Card?
CARD: Enjoy the experience, it may not last very long because we all serve at the pleasure of the president. Remember that our task is to serve the president, and there is one team, the president‘s team. It‘s not Andy Card‘s team or Karl Rove‘s team or Dan Bartlett‘s team or Steve Hadley‘s team or the State Department team or the Defense Department team, it‘s the president‘s team. And we all play different positions. And in order for the team to be successful, we have to play our position well.
So whether your position is that of helping to make sure that the paper cups are cleaned up after a meeting or whether you‘re helping to advise the president on policy, do your job well, and the team will succeed.
LAMB: But what are your pet beefs about people and the way they inter-react in a place like the White House?
CARD: Well, I like collegiality. I like respect. I like to recognize that the president has attracted the best and the brightest and therefore we should respect the best and the brightest that we work with.
And I encourage candor and forthright responses to questions. But more important than anything else is honesty and ethics. And I ask people to follow their moral compass because it‘s always pointing in the right direction. And that‘s what I expect from the people who work directly with me. But anyone who works for me is working for the president and it‘s a great privilege.
LAMB: So if I were working for you, what should I know about you in the way I -- you know, do I call straight on the phone? Do I send you a one-page memo versus three pages?
CARD: I prefer to do most of my meetings with people face-to-face or over the phone. So I tend to have an open door policy rather than a closed door policy. I wander the halls of the White House and like to pop in on people and ask how they‘re doing and what they‘re working on.
I tend to be more interactive than sitting there to read papers. But I will read all of the papers that are sent to me. I feel if a paper is on my desk it must be important. Therefore I must read it. And I‘ve got terrific staff to make sure that the right papers are under my desk at the right time.
But, no, I believe in candor and people who are ethical and will tell me when they think I‘ve done something wrong. One thing I like to tell people is if you make a mistake, eat your meal of crow as soon as the crow gets on the plate, because the longer the crow sits there the more toxic it gets.
And so I would like people to let me know if there is a meal of crow waiting for me and I had better start enjoying it.
LAMB: What issue do you think the president cares about the most?
CARD: Democracy, freedom, protecting the country. You know, the attack on September 11th taught us something, that that which we were secure with required an awful lot of work. And that meant the work of winning the war on terror.
And so the president‘s preeminent responsibility is to win the war on terror, but in doing so making sure that future president don‘t have to deal with terrorists, and the best way to do that is to bring democracy to more places around the world.
So when our troops succeeded in Afghanistan to help install a democracy that was of, by, and for the Afghan people, and the troops that are working to help bring a democracy in Iraq with the Iraqi people will have their own government and their own constitution, that‘s a great testament to the president, and I think that‘s a great legacy that it would leave.
Domestically, I think the president is probably most proud of the fact that he‘s going to make sure that every child gets a good education in this country and that no one is left behind and they‘ll be able to meet responsibilities as American citizens for the 21st Century.
LAMB: As you know, a lot of these conservatives today are now calling for Harriet Miers either to quit, pull her nomination off, or somehow or another the president withdraws it. What are the chances?
CARD: Well, I think she‘s going to be on the Supreme Court and she will be a good conservative justice on the Supreme Court. And I‘m looking forward to the hearings. I do think too many people have rushed to a judgment without having had an opportunity to know Harriet Miers.
So let‘s look for those hearings that will take place with the Senate. She has a great story to tell, but more than that, she has a great commitment to our Constitution and how it should be interpreted. And she will live up to the president‘s expectation of interpreting that Constitution with the words that are there in appreciate for what our Founding Fathers believed.
LAMB: You know you‘re getting blamed for this?
CARD: Well, I am glad to carry any blame. I have great respect for the president and how he makes decisions and the decisions that he has made.
LAMB: I have The American Spectator here, somebody called "The Prowler."
CARD: I read that.
LAMB: "It appears that conservatives‘ long simmering distrust of moderate Chief of Staff Andrew Card has been confirmed by the nomination of Harriet Miers." One more paragraph. "Sources inside the White House say Card in several meetings literally shouted down opposition to Miers during the vetting process. Quote: ‘Harriet was his pick all the way up until the president jumped on board wholeheartedly,‘ says a White House staffer. ‘This was not a Rove pick or a Laura Bush pick, it was Card‘s pick,‘ unquote."
CARD: Well, that is fiction and I live in a nonfiction world.
LAMB: Total fiction.
CARD: Total fiction.
LAMB: Didn‘t happen.
CARD: It did not happen. First of all, it‘s not my style to speak up that way at meetings. I‘m very respectful of people that participate in the vetting process and the process that considers candidates. And I respect Harriet Miers, I have great respect for her. And even more than that, I respect the president and how he made a decision to put Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court.
LAMB: Where do you think these kind of things come from? You watch it. I mean, you know what‘s right and what‘s wrong and when these leaks come out.
CARD: Yes. Well, that‘s -- I try not to get too worried about what is printed because I have found there is more myth than reality frequently to what is written. And I just go ahead and do my job and help the president do his job.
LAMB: James -- Jim Hoagland…
LAMB: … 15 days ago wrote this: "What George W. Bush needs right now is his own version of Clark Clifford. He needs a friend close enough to tell him that his presidency is failing and wise enough to describe what Bush must do to salvage it." And he‘s not an enemy of George Bush, as you know.
CARD: Well, the president has great friends who are very candid with him. And they all have access to him and the president reaches out to them. And I‘m sure that he is getting wise counsel and sage advice. And I encourage that. I do not discourage it.
I do not believe the president should be isolated from his friends, from their perception of reality, nor from the reality that others may perceive. So I‘m all in favor of the president getting candid, forthright advice from anyone that he chooses to listen to.
And he is not isolated in terms of the White House staff, nor is he isolated from his friends.
LAMB: But you see what people are saying outside, he says he doesn‘t watch television, doesn‘t read the newspaper, takes all his advice. I mean, they really -- I don‘t know if they‘re pointing the finger at your or not.
CARD: I‘m glad to have anyone point the finger at me, but…
LAMB: Are you a moderate instead of a conservative?
CARD: No. I think I‘m a conservative. I know I‘m a conservative. I‘m proudly from Massachusetts. And I think the word "Massachusetts" and "conservative" seem like oxymorons, they‘re not. And I am a conservative from Massachusetts, proudly so.
And I grew up in family that believes in the values that make this country great. And I had a grandmother who had tremendous influence on my life and she was a suffragette and I‘m going to make that that which she believed was so important, which was participating in our democracy, was going to be there. And I will participate and I‘m encouraging my children and grandchildren to do it as well.
LAMB: How did your grandmother have that kind of influence on you?
CARD: Well, my parents were married at a very young age and they were very young when I was born.
LAMB: How old?
CARD: There were 16 when they were married and 17 when I was born. And I was blessed to be able to spend a lot of time at my grandmother‘s house. And she was a schoolteacher in Brockton, Massachusetts, and we lived in Holbrook, Massachusetts.
And sitting around the dining room table she would begin the meals with a prayer, but then obligate us to each repeat something from the newspaper that day. And inevitably that caused conversations to center around politics or policy or partisan interests.
So I grew up in a family that kind of enjoyed the dinner table as a place to argue. And we had plenty of arguments. But she also had a picture that was hanging on the wall in her dining room. And it was of women marching down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts, and they were all suffragettes. And she was in that picture.
And she fought for women to have the right to vote. And when women got the right to vote in 1920, she was very proud and she ran for the school committee in the town of Holbrook and served for many years on the school committee, and was very controversial and outspoken.
And so I grew up with a grandmother instilling in me a sense of responsibility to participate in our great democracy. And I will do it.
LAMB: How much time did you spend around her?
CARD: Well, I obviously was very close to her growing up. And after I was married and came back from college, I moved in with my grandmother. And then when she got sick she moved in with me and Kathy and the kids. And so I spent a lot time with my grandmother.
My senior year of high school I must have been a challenge to my parents because they sent me to grandmother‘s house a lot and she made sure I finished my homework.
LAMB: When you were senior in high school, your parents would have been about 34.
CARD: My parents were very young and wonderful parents. They‘re both passed now. And I was very blessed to have parents that cared so much about their children and about their community. They were all active in their community. Both my father and mother were active in Holbrook and took great pride in Holbrook and Massachusetts. So I was blessed.
LAMB: Why were your married at age 16?
CARD: They loved each other and they shared that love with the children. And I‘ve got wonderful siblings and a very close family. I feel very, very fortunate.
LAMB: How many siblings?
CARD: I have a brother a year younger than I am, two sisters, and then a younger brother. And I get to see them not as often as I would like to, not as often as I should, but they‘re all terrific and they‘ve all been actively engaged in helping to make America a better country.
LAMB: In what way, what do they do?
CARD: Oh gosh. My sister Sara was in Florida, they just moved to Tennessee, but she worked for Governor Bush in Florida. My sister Lisi has worked in government for a number of years and now in the private sector. My brother John is active in Las Vegas with a business and a family. And my brother Brad has served and he was a police officer, a state trooper, served helping to bring drug lords to their knees, and -- as an undercover agent, and then worked for a member of Congress and now works in Washington, D.C.
So they‘ve all grown up and recognizing that we‘ve got a great democracy, but it‘s only as good as the people who participate in it.
LAMB: What does brother Brad do here?
CARD: He is working with a lobbying firm and does very, very well.
LAMB: You did some lobbying.
CARD: I did. I was fortunate to -- after I left the Department of Transportation and helped former President Bush with his transition out of government, I went to work as the head of the trade association for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. And it was the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.
It‘s a great industry and I learned an awful lot from management with that relatively large trade association. At the time that I was there, the headquarters was located in Detroit. They moved the headquarters to Washington, D.C.
And we had about 150 employees. And I had to downsize a little bit. But there were a lot of important issues that I had to address, including some important trade disputes with Japan and Korea. So it was a wonderful experience.
And then I went and worked with General Motors with about a year before I then helped the current president in his campaign
LAMB: Let‘s go back to some of the issues. Would you have done Katrina differently if you had it to do all over again?
CARD: Oh, I think we all learned lessons from Katrina. And, you know, I was sent down by former President Bush to help with the recovery effort after Hurricane Andrew. And when I went back and one of my staffers pulled out some of the press clips from 1992 -- August of 1992, and you could have almost changed the word "Andrew" to "Katrina," Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, and changed the name of the players from Wally Stickney to Mike Brown and whatever.
You would have found similar criticisms. But we learned from the experiences in Katrina and will be putting some of that -- of what we learned into practice right now. FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security have already made a number of changes. We‘re making changes at the White House. There is a lessons learned process going on at the White House that is very important and the president is paying close attention to.
But, you know, this was a horrific natural disaster. And the land area involved was greater than the land area of all of Great Britain, just to put things in perspective. And I‘ve been down to the region four times. The president has been down there eight times. And it is indescribable, the amount of destruction. And the work that has to be down will require a long time, a lot of money, and a great commitment from the private sector as well as the public sector.
LAMB: So what would you do differently next time?
CARD: Well, I think that understanding the relationship between the federal government, state governments, and local governments is something that we came to find was strained.
The president was anxious to do things that didn‘t -- that he didn‘t have the authority to do because FEMA is a response mechanism to a request that comes from a governor. And the request for disaster assistance came very, very early and for the first time in many storms, the president approved a disaster declaration before the disaster actually struck.
So we pre-positioned an awful lot of aid. But you understand you cannot pre-position aid in the disaster area. And once the disaster struck, you get the aid in their as quickly as you can, but a lot of infrastructure was destroyed. So that‘s a lesson that we learned, better where to pre-position assistance.
We learned to get the military involved a little earlier in the process if we can. We have a law on the books, Posse Comitatus, which prevents the military from exercising any police authority. And yet there was a need for greater security in New Orleans in particular. And those needs should have been met by the local police, but the local police had kind of taken off and -- not all of them, but some of them.
And the National Guard, under the governor‘s command, wasn‘t able to get as much order as we had hoped. And that‘s something we learned. But the U.S. troops, the military that the president commands as commander-in-chief, were not able to do and are not able to do police enforcement or security enforcement. So we‘ve learned a lot of lessons and the president has asked us to take a look at all of them.
LAMB: On the issue of Iraq, the war in Iraq, when we‘re recording this, the vote on constitution hasn‘t taken place, but when people see it, it will have taken place. Let‘s assume it passes, what does that mean?
CARD: Well, that‘s giant step. Think of the step that America took when it adopted its Constitution. And it took us many years to get to the point where we could adopt a Constitution: 1776, we think, started the Revolutionary War, but it wasn‘t until September 17th, 1887, that we had a Constitution that was presented to the people for ratification. And it took some time to ratify it. And then we had to get the Bill of Rights.
But this is a big, giant step for the people of Iraq, to have a constitution, and guarantee that they will have election where they will leaders under that constitution in an election on December 15th, I think it‘s the 15th, it‘s in December. And that is an important step.
So this day will go down in history in Iraq as a great day where they have a constitution and it was written for and by the people of Iraq and ratified by them rather than imposed by some theocracy or by some totalitarian dictator.
LAMB: How much pressure do you expect to get for the 2006 election to get some of the troops out of there next year?
CARD: Well, the president is anxious to get the troops out of Iraq, but he wants to accomplish the mission before we do so. And, as you know, we‘re working very hard to make sure that the Iraqis are trained to meet their own security obligations.
And increasingly we find that Iraqis are leading the fight against the insurgents and leading the fight to secure their nation. And that‘s a good sign. And I think that we‘re making significant progress. But the troops should not come home prematurely. That would be a terrible thing. They should stay there until the job is done.
After all, we want the democracy in Iraq to take hold, because it‘s important that the democracy in Iraq take hold so that people in Iran can see its impact, and Syria, and the other countries in the region.
So victory is very, very important, and the president will make sure that we secure victory in Iraq before the troops come home.
LAMB: Taxes, the whole idea of making the tax cut permanent, off the rails because of what happened in Katrina. Will it get back on?
CARD: I think it will get back on. You know, we clearly want to have America as a place where not only the people here like to invest, but people around the world like to invest. And that we means we have to have a tax policy in place that is competitive with other nations in this 21st Century.
We have a global economy. We have to make sure we are competitive in that global economy. And that means we can‘t have a high-tax state. So the president, I think, is on the right track to ask for a permanent reduction of the -- elimination of the so-called "death tax." I think that he‘s right to call for a tax rate that is reasonable and not excessive and will invite investment and stimulate economic activity.
You know, we‘ve been on the track for pretty significant economic growth, and it‘s because of those tax cuts the president put in place that we‘ve had that economic growth. And our economy is poised for long-term growth and there seems to be great confidence in that, as reflected in the bond market and interest rates. So I‘m optimistic.
LAMB: As you know, the market isn‘t going anywhere, hasn‘t been for a long time.
CARD: Well, it‘s a little higher today than it was a year-and-a-half ago, two years ago, so we‘ve seen growth. And the projections are that the economy will still continue to grow. I know the 50 blue chip economists are prognosticating that we should have growth in the 3 percent range-plus.
And I think that is appropriate growth. And Alan Greenspan and the Fed have done a great job of keeping inflation in check and allowing for us to continue to grow this economy. And I think it will continue.
LAMB: What‘s going to happen, though, this winter when the old monthly gas bill comes in or the oil bill comes and it‘s at least 50 percent higher than it was last year?
CARD: Well, I am concerned about energy prices. And the good news is we have a new energy policy in place. It took an awful long time for us to have an energy policy as law. And Congress did pass one in the summertime. And we have an energy bill -- energy law.
But that‘s not going to provide short-term relief. We need more energy supply in this country. We need to have more conservation in this country. And the president has called for more conservation.
We need to have more research and development. And we need to move to a hydrocarbon less-dependent society in energy. We should have hydrogen fuel used in our vehicles, for example. But that‘s research and development that must be done.
I personally believe we need more nuclear power in this country. We can‘t be as dependent on other countries around the world for our energy supply as we are today.
But we do have short-term challenges in the energy sector because of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita where we lost a lot of natural gas production out of the Gulf. And our refineries are down, some refineries are still down and they‘re not producing as much gasoline as we would like.
We know that there are shortages of natural gas in some parts of the country. So the president is looking for short-term efforts to mitigate the impact of these energy shortages. But we have to recognize that demand and supply set prices more than government policy, and we need more supply and we need to do everything we can to reduce our demand, but still allow our economy to grow.
LAMB: What are the chances that there will be private accounts for Social Security before this president‘s term is over?
CARD: I think the chances are pretty good. You know, the president is right to call for us to address the challenge of Social Security because the status quo is not sustainable. There isn‘t one expert that says we can survive the next 25, 50 years with the current Social Security system. We‘ve got to make changes.
And the president knows that making changes now will be less painful than making changes in the future. And one aspect of reform that would make a big difference would be to have personal savings accounts.
They‘re like an IRA that would be part of your Social Security system that would supplement and compliment the Social Security benefits that would be there under a Social Security system, and I think it‘s the right thing to do.
I think it will happen before the president leaves office.
LAMB: As you know, we‘ve talked about this earlier in the program, secretary of transportation, deputy chief of staff to the president, worked in the Reagan administration, 41, and 43 chief of staff. What would you change about the media if you could?
CARD: Boy, I‘m not sure that I would change anything about the media except to invite them to take a deeper look into some of the policies that they talk about in 30-second sound bites.
LAMB: You‘re talking about television.
CARD: Television in particular. There is a lot of competition in the media today. When I first came to the Reagan White House, there wasn‘t a lot of competition, especially on television. There were no cable networks. You didn‘t have a CNN even when I started.
And so there was a cycle to the news that was easily anticipated. And I can remember the press secretary saying, the lid is on, and there was no more news that came out of the White House.
The lid never is put on at the White House now in terms of the news cycle, and that‘s because of the competitive demands in cable television and with the broadcast networks, and I think that‘s a reality so we have to live with that reality.
But I do think we have a tendency now to get our news in very short blasts rather than informed discussion. And I would like to see more informed discussion. That‘s one reason I like C-SPAN.
LAMB: Why do you send Scott McClellan out there every day to be pummeled by people in the press corps?
CARD: He is feeding a giant monster called the media. And they are insatiable. And if he were not out there providing information for them, they would probably be scratching at doors that they shouldn‘t scratch at.
So I think that he is helping to open the doors of the White House to the media so that the American people can see what‘s happening there. But he has got one of the toughest jobs in government because he has to exhaust the questions and respond candidly and with forthright answers, and he does a terrific job. The president is lucky to have him.
LAMB: So what is the number one requirement for somebody like Scott McClellan in order to get that job?
CARD: Patience. Understanding, respect for the president, respect for the media. You can‘t be hostile to the media and understand that they are doing their job. And I think Scott understands that. He understands the demands of the president and the presidency, but he also understands the expectations of the media to have information sometimes that is not available and sometimes wanted before its mature. And I think that he finds the right balance.
LAMB: Why do you like George Bush so much?
CARD: Because he is a man of great character. He has good moral compass. He follows it. He is very disciplined in his life. I respect the discipline that he has. I respect how much he loves Laura and Jenna and Barbara. I respect that he is a man of faith and that he‘s not afraid to be a man of faith.
I respect that he makes decisions and has the courage to make decisions. I respect the fact that he is understanding that time is fleeting and he wants to take advantage of the time that he is president of the United States to do important things for the country. And he‘s also respectful of the time that other people give to the country or to him as he is making decisions.
So it‘s really centered around respect. That‘s why I like him so much.
LAMB: We have some photos that are on the White House Web site of you. We‘ll show one of them on the screen right now. And this was a view on Air Force One. Do you -- are you always on there with him?
CARD: I tend to travel when he goes on long, overnight trips, or I will tend to travel with the president. Most foreign trips I travel with the president. On day-to-day travel that the president does, Joe Hagin, who is deputy chief of staff for operations, tends to travel with the president.
LAMB: Well, we haven‘t -- this is one in the Oval Office that -- you are there at the very back.
CARD: Yes, I am.
LAMB: And when I see that, it reminds me that you are always around watching everything that goes on. Do you write it down?
CARD: No, I do not.
LAMB: No diary?
CARD: I do not keep a diary. I think the conversations that I have with the president are the most privileged in our government. And so I try not to keep a diary. I work very hard at making sure the president is well-prepared and understanding, so that‘s what I try to do.
LAMB: Here you are with Condoleezza Rice and the vice president. What is your relationship to the vice president?
CARD: His office is right next to my office. I have great respect for the vice president and I appreciate the fact that he has great empathy for me, because he was a chief of staff.
CARD: So he understands the burdens that I carry.
LAMB: What is your reaction when you read that everything thinks he really runs the government?
CARD: Well, I -- the vice president is the vice president and he knows his role, probably better than anyone else. And he is not the president. He is very respectful of the president and a wonderful adviser to the president. And he‘s a wonderful adviser to me.
LAMB: Here we have another photo of you briefing, it looks like some military folks? Do you remember this?
CARD: This is in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and I don‘t remember what the issue is, but I think that these may be some airmen that had participated when the president took the trip to Baghdad. And I was thanking them for the secrecy that they kept as the president -- as we planned the trip to Baghdad and then went over there.
And that was the Thanksgiving day trip to Baghdad when the president snuck out of Crawford, Texas, and people didn‘t even know where he had gone. And the next thing they knew, he was landing at Baghdad and going to a Thanksgiving dinner with the troops.
LAMB: Were you with him?
CARD: Yes, I was.
LAMB: How soon in advance did you know that he was going to go there?
CARD: Well, I had been planning it for about a month before we took the trip. I did it with a very small circle of people, because security was very, very important. But it took a lot of planning to have that trip come off the way that it did. And thank the military and Joe Hagin and the Secret Service, and the media for their help in making sure that that trip could be accomplished without any danger to the president of the United States.
LAMB: One last photo of you, in the Oval Office, again, with the vice president and…
CARD: Secretary Don Evans.
LAMB: Yes. And then you are right next to the president. Andy Card is our guest, chief of staff to the president. And we only have a couple of minutes to go.
Let me go back again to what we were talking about earlier, because I want to find out what you‘ve learned from being chief of staff. What is the best training for the job?
CARD: I think being involved in the political process and having worked at the White House. I can‘t discount the value that came because I worked at the White House under President Reagan and former President Bush.
I also think it‘s important that you have the confidence of the president. And probably more important than any training is the fact that the president has confidence in the chief of staff. I believe that the president and I have a candid relationship that allows me to enjoy his confidence, but when the confidence disappears, I should disappear, and I accept that.
LAMB: What do you want to do after this is over?
CARD: I would like to be a wonderful spouse of a minister. And my wife has sacrificed so much for me and her love of this country that I would like to be able to give her back some of what she has given me.
LAMB: How are you going to do that?
CARD: Any way that I‘m given the opportunity to. My -- Kathy and I have enjoyed a wonderful life together, and I‘m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with her. But her calling is much greater than the calling that I‘ve answered because she is helping with a much greater responsibility than even protecting and defending that Constitution.
LAMB: Where is her church? What‘s her denomination?
CARD: She is a United Methodist minister and she comes from my hometown. I met her in the fifth grade, so we have been almost lifelong friends. And she is active in the McLean community in Virginia. And that‘s where her church is, Trinity United Methodist Church.
LAMB: And do you talk to her about this job you‘re doing?
CARD: I do. I share my experiences with her. I‘m blessed that the president has allowed me to include her in the job that I do. And when I was asked to take the job of chief of staff, I asked the president to recognize that if I come, my wife is coming with me. We‘re partners in everything we do and that she would be a partner in this process.
And he said, absolutely. And then I went and had the same conversation with Laura Bush. And she said, absolutely.
LAMB: As you know, the president‘s popularity is down to 39 percent in a couple of polls. This is one of those dips that happens. What is it going to take to get him out of this?
CARD: Well, I think as we continue with the recovery in Katrina and Rita down in New Orleans and Mississippi, that will help. The successes in Iraq that are much greater than reported by the media will help because it will become increasingly known by the American people as the Iraqis accept more responsibility under their democracy. As the troops begin to come home, when the Iraqis are taking over responsibility for their own security.
And the president‘s good policy initiatives are taking hold in America and more young kids are getting a good education in the public school system and that faith-based communities respected for the partnership it plays with the federal government to help people in need.
And when we find that the tax policies are making a difference. Next year in January when Medicare prescription drug coverage is available for seniors for the first time. All of that will help to demonstrate to the American the outstanding leadership that the president has provided and the direction that he wants to take the country is still the right direction.
LAMB: Andy Card, thank you very much.
CARD: Thank you, Brian.