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Book Tells of Scrawled Cue Cards : Aide Prompted Bush in Rather Interview

July 06, 1989|From Associated Press

RADNOR, Pa. — George Bush's quick comebacks during his explosive interview with Dan Rather last year were not entirely off the cuff, a new book says.

Several of the presidential candidate's responses came from cue cards scrawled by media consultant Roger Ailes, CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer and Gary Paul Gates say.

Excerpts from their book, "The Acting President: Ronald Reagan and the Supporting Players Who Helped Him Create the Illusion That Held America Spellbound," appear in the July 8 issue of TV Guide.

During the live, January, 1988, interview, then-Vice President Bush told Rather, who had been questioning him on his role in the Iran-Contra affair: "It's not fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?"

Bush referred to Rather's walk-off from the CBS set in 1987 when a tennis match ran into news time. It caused the network to "go black" for six minutes.

"What people in the bureau and viewers at home could not see was that the response had not been entirely spontaneous. As the interview progressed, the crafty Ailes had stationed himself beside the camera," Schieffer and Gates wrote.

"If Bush seemed to be struggling for a response, Ailes would write out a key word in huge letters on his yellow legal pad and hold it just beneath the camera in Bush's line of vision.

"Just before Bush had shouted that it was not fair to judge his career on Iran, Ailes had written out on his legal pad the words not fair to judge career ... Yours. Three times during the interview, Bush's answer had come after Ailes had prompted him with key words or phrases scribbled on the legal pad."

Schieffer and Gates said that before the interview Bush had been stirred up by aides who wanted to end the candidate's image as a "wimp."

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