Barbara Walters Remembers Former First Lady Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan was one of the most high-profile and influential first ladies in history, championing causes and defending her husband, President Ronald Reagan, in public and behind the scenes.
5:04 | 03/07/16

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Transcript for Barbara Walters Remembers Former First Lady Nancy Reagan
influence, she was one of the most high-profile influential first ladies. Behind the scenes a president's indispensable partner. President Reagan called on her in his final speech. Before I go, I'd like to ask the person who's made my life's journey so meaningful, so very proud of over the years to join me, Nancy. Reporter: It was the story of their marriage. A love story that began during the 1956 film continued as Reagan entered politics. First as governor of California. I Ronald Reagan do solemnly swear. Reporter: And she was by his side when he was sworn in as president in 1980. Just say no. Reporter: When president Reagan was shotter barely two months into his presidency, his first thoughts was Nancy. After that, she began fiercely protective of her husband. He's a very worrier. Did he know? I think so. Reporter: Sometimes clashing with top aides. They thought she was too controlling. Occasionally, she spoke for him. The couple had two children between them and helped raise two children from Reagan's first wife. After the former president revealed in 1994 that he had Alzheimer's disease, Nancy's hardest years. He was worried about you? I know. Has it been as painful as he feared? Well, it's not a wonderful time. Reporter: She gave an emotional tribute at the 1996 republican convention. Let me close with Ronnie's words, not mine. Never forget your heroic origins. Never fail to seek divine guidance and never, never lose your natural god-given optimism. And we're joined now by Barbara Walters who knew Nancy Reagan so well. Bar Barbara, you had spoken to Nancy Reagan in the last year. Well, we did. I mean, we saw each other, she was fragile. According to her daughter, in poor health. But the mind was good. I mean, if she telephoned you or called her, you couldn't get off the phone. She loved to talk and gossip. But also was a very serious person. We talked about how everyone wanted her endorsement. They wanted her saying -- Yeah, they knew all of the years after president Reagan left the white house, republican politicians would want to go to her and get her blessing. Blessing. Exactly you saw them together so many times. One of your most memorable interviews back at the ranch, what were they like together? Not just loved each other, they adored each other. We used to make fun of her face, I don't know if -- he would make a speech and she would go -- no matter how many times -- it was a love affair that continued and I think she took care of him when he had also hierm's. She was with him all the time. Her life revolved around him. And those Alzheimer's years so sad for her because the man she knew was slipping away. But she was there. She was there. She took care of him. She didn't leave his side. It's what she called, the long good-bye. And her legacy quite long as well. She spoke out on so many issues -- on breast cancer, on Alzheimer's, on the just say no campaign. Especially on the breast cancer. She made women go and get Mam mamm mammographies and self-exams. She did the just say no, somehow worked out. Is that enough? To a lot of people it was. How will you remember her? I think she brought an elegance to the white house. Rosalynn Carter lived a simple lifestyle. But there was a charm, she brought wonderful artists to the white house. That's what I'll remember most. She was a dig any field women. Barbara Walters, thank you. Thank you, George. Yes, and so many wonderful

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