Watergate journalist Bob Woodward told the Public Policy Forum on Oct. 6 that President Gerald Ford was the most courageous, candid and transparent of the eight presidents that he has interviewed
Woodward said the biggest regret in his journalistic career is that at one time he thought Ford granted a pardon to President Richard Nixon in exchange for Nixon’s assurance he would resign in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Instead, Woodward later learned Ford refused to make the deal with Nixon.
However, Ford granted the pardon to end the scandal and prevent the country from having to deal with the divisive trauma of prosecuting a former president for criminal charges
Woodward said the decision was courageous because the political fallout resulted in Ford being defeated by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.
Woodward, an associate editor at the Washington Post, won Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of the 9-11 attacks and his role in the Watergate investigations in the early 1970s which lead to Nixon’s resignation.
He has written 18 books, 10 of them best sellers about the inner workings of the White House and federal government.
Woodward pulled few punches in providing his assessment of the 2016 president campaign during his appearance at “A Night of Nonpartisanship” sponsored by the forum at Discovery World.
“This presidential campaign is being written and spoken in acid and that is not good for the country. I am embarrassed by it,” Woodward said.
The Public Policy Forum, founded in Milwaukee in 1913, is a highly regarded local government “think tank” that has issued thousands of extensively researched, nonpartisan reports on various issues faced by local governments and communities in southeastern Wisconsin.
Katherine Gehl of Chenequa, former CEO of Gehl Foods, was a sponsor of the event and introduced Woodward to the audience.
Woodward described Clinton as “experienced” and “capable” but said she is covered by “a crust” of secrecy that she will not –- or cannot -- remove.
“She has not yet closed the deal” with the American people, according to Woodward.
Woodward recently spoke at a university function where the audience, through a show of hands, indicated it was more concerned about the emails missing from Clinton’s private server than Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns.
“The email server is something that is a very serious issue,” Woodward said.
Trump’s candidacy, according to Woodward, flourished because of an anti-Republican establishment environment created by Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio host.
Woodward joked that it might be easier to describe and understand the evolution of the universe than try to understand why Republican leaders are supporting Trump when he does not share most of the values of the GOP and its leadership
Although Republican leaders have told Woodward they expect Clinton will be elected, Woodward said Trump could win.
According to Woodward, there are about 9 million unregistered voters in the nation.
“If Trump can somehow get about 5 million of those votes, he can win,” Woodward said.
Woodward asked audience to raise their hands indicating who they were voting for in the Nov. 8 election. A vast majority supported Clinton.
Woodward said it is impossible predict what impact the results of the election will have on the country.
“Fasten your seat belts,” Woodward advised his audience.