'This Week': Remembering Nelson Mandela

Gay McDougall, Bill Keller, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, and Stan Greenberg reflect on their unique relationships with Nelson Mandela.
3:00 | 12/08/13

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Transcript for 'This Week': Remembering Nelson Mandela
And we're lucky now to be joined by four individuals who had unique working relationships with nelson mandela. Bill keller. DR. gay McDougall, who campaigned for his release from prison. Stan greenberg, his pollster and strategist. And ambassador jendayi frazer. Thanks to all of you for being here. Bill, let me begin with you. We ended the piece with the relationship between president obama and nelson mandela. And president clinton. They're important but didn't agree in important ways as politicians. They are. It's -- was noteworthy that the president he felt closest to was bill clinton because they had more in common and that mandela and obama. Mandela has the joy in the robust give and take of politics. The schmoozing. The deal-making. The stage craft. The theater. Obama is more cerebral. He doesn't seem to enjoy going up and shaking hands and the favors. Speaking of the political theater. We have the video. You were with mandela on the day he cast the vote for president, waved that ballot. He knew what that meant to his people. It was such a triumphant day. You were with him through all the grunt work of creating a constitution. He knew that that white minority had to be free from fear and believe they rights would be protected. Absolutely. It's no disstatement to say i counseled him on the constitution. But rather I was able to set up a global network of lawyers that did backup research for the negotiators at the -- at the table across from the government. But, I think it's important to say that mandela was the one who knew and was always aware of his place in history. And I think that he came out of jail knowing his place in history. He led that nation through a tumultuous runup to the elections. Knowing where he was going and being a very steady hand and voice of reason through what was a very turbulent time in the runup to the election. Voice of reason, stan greenberg. You worked with him during his election. For a man who became known for the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. As a politician, he also had something of a ruthless streak. Absolutely. He had clear goals. One of the thing that ran through was the desire to make sure there was racially inclusive politics. There were strong strands within the anc, within south africa, that were centered on black consciousness. He was intent on having an election with mandate that reduced their role. He focused on, as you know, the pan african congress, polling 2% or 3% of the poll. Historically, they played a big role in africa and the liberation struggle. He wanted to use the election to send a message this would be an inclusive country. And jendayi frazer. Talking about the relationship with people he didn't necessarily get along with. WE KNOW F.W. de KLERK. They shared a nobel peace prize. Everyone though they didn't share much of a relationship. Nelson mandela, a fierce critic of president bush on the war in iraq and the invasion of iraq. He was determined to try to maintain something of a personal relationship there. Actually, president mandela, as fierce a critic as he was to the war in iraq supported the war in afghanistan. If you recall, in 2001 when he first met president george w. Bush as the president in the oval office, he came out and forcefully endorsed america going into afghanistan. Just as forcibly in 2003, he was against america going into iraq. In 2005 when they met again at the oval office, it was to reconcile the issue of how personal the criticism in iraq had taken. And, in fact, to look at where they had mutual interests, for instance in addressing hiv and aids. Supporting peace processes in central africa. The democrat republican of the congo, and burundi. I think president mandela was able to reach across the aisle, as such. He reached across to his political opponents. There were many areas where they shared interests and other areas where they diverged. The same is true of bill clinton. I was at the nsc as director for bill clinton. They didn't agree on the middle east piece process. And the role of hamas. And the role of arafat. Mandela was critical of american policy across administrations on those issues. I don't think that political difference necessarily affected personal relationships. In some ways, bill keller, because he was such a practical man, I was struck by a quote you had in your obituary. Of nelson mandela this week. Where he was talking about what so many have remarked on. How he was able to appear free of hatred. He said hating clouds the mind, gets in the way of strategy. Leaders cannot afford to hate. It was not an absence of hate on his part. It was a surplus of discipline. He was the most disciplined politician I have ever seen. He knew the difference between strategy and tactics. There were times you would see something bordering on loathing IN HIS ATTITUDE towards de Klerk and towards the head of the freedom party. He didn't like those guys very much. He was able to swallow that. Tamp it down. Compartmentalize it. And you said the difference between strategy and tactics. Like abraham lincoln, he was willing to be flexible on tactics to achieve that goal. Absolutely. He was a capitalist, an advocate of armed struggle. Of nonviolence. He was, whatever it took. But he never lost sight of the main goal. A south africa run by south africans. How does that play out? In a candidate running a presidential campaign? Well, the -- he is -- from the beginning he wanted to learn. He knew he -- he was very disciplined. He was disciplined about learning. He would listen. He would go through poll data. Go to a focus group. Listen to people. He thought there had to be a popular sense -- he had an obligation to bring the people with him. He had a clear goal, a sense of obligation to bring people with him, bring his own people to a certain place. Would lecture publicly. Would educate. He was the most educated candidate they ever had to try to move voters to a new place. You mentioned the learning. AND gay McDougall, you campaigned to release him from prison. He used the time in prison to be educated as well. Absolutely. He used it to be educated and educated the other prisoners. He called it the university of robben island. They spent time learning about political development around the world. They decided who they, as a political party and as, you know, activists, wanted to be. The decisionmaking. When they finally emerged, from that prison, they knew exactly the road they wanted to travel. And jendayi frazer, he was conscious of his role as educator when he became president and after he left office as well. Didn't often hide disappointment in what was going on in south africa and other african nations. Yes, he certainly was. I think president mandela, what I took from him was the courage of his convictions. He was very clear when he did not agree. He would do that privately and publicly. For instance, on the issue of hiv and aids, he certainly took to task thao mbeki for not responding adequately to that challenge. We do see that president mandela was very clear about where he wanted more action. On the united states, when he met with president bush in 2005, he took us to task for still having south africans labeled as terrorists. And needing a waiver to get into our country. That was removed in 2008 basically by an act of congress and signing into law by president bush. He said to us, how can you still designate anc senior leadership as terroris when apartheid was a crime against humanity? He was very public about that. It was a life that contained so much. Thank you all very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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