Some images are forever tied to events in our nation’s history. The picture of then Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispering in the ear of President George Bush telling him of the terror attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, is one image many will never forget.
Card, former chief of staff to President Bush, spoke to about 100 guests at a reception at the Sunsphere in Knoxville on May 17, and then mingled with about 35 folks invited for a breakfast at the home of John and Blount County commissioner Peggy Lambert on Tuesday, May 18.
“He was absolutely the warmest, most down-to-Earth person you could ever image,” said Commissioner Lambert. “He was thrown into history on 9/11 with the picture of him whispering in the President’s ear that America was under attack.”
Card’s visit was also a fundraiser for the Blount County Young Republicans and the two events raised more than $7,000, said Ted Boyatt, immediate past chair of the Blount County Young Republicans.
Card, now a senior advisor with the Fleishman-Hillard public relations firm in Washington, D.C., said he enjoys motivating the younger generation of Americans to participate in the political process. “I like to share my experiences in the White House. What I want to do is try to inspire them to stay involved,” he said.
Card said he has found that many who are interested in politics have passion for their beliefs but that passion has to work itself out in a person’s actions. “I’m trying to be more effervescent, and I’m trying to inspire young people,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with a great country, but it is only as good as its citizens. I can’t stand apathy.”
Card said that while he respects other political views and wants everyone involved in the process, Republican ideals are the best in part because they are common sense views. The Obama administration’s policy appears to be more theory-based rather than being rooted in practicality, he said.
“They’ve never run a businesses or created jobs,” Cash said. “They want to fund jobs, but the best jobs aren’t funded, they are created.”
Card said his early experiences in politics led to opportunities later in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations before serving five years as chief of staff to George W. Bush.
“I was 25 when I ran for the legislature in Massachusetts and 34 when I ran for governor. For 99 percent of the people of Massachusetts, it was a forgettable experience, but I’m proud I ran,” he said.
Card said young people like the members of the Blount County Young Republicans bring passion to the political process, and when they work together with veteran party members, it is the perfect balance. “You have to have the wisdom that comes from experience,” he said.
While Card no longer lives in New England, he still touts his love of professional sports in that region. “I’m a passionate Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics fan,” he said.
Card lives in McClain, Va., about 30 minutes from the capitol, and his wife, Kathleene, is a United Methodist minister. “We have two daughters, a 42- and a 40-year-old, and a son who’s 34. We are old,” he said with a laugh. “We have five grandchildren. They are 16, 14, 12, 10 and 18-months old.”
Card said President Bush was always happy to share the experience of being part of the White House with children and grandchildren of his staff. “I’m sure the grandchildren will appreciate it. They got to stay at Camp David and walk through Air Force One,” he said.
Card said it was his job as chief of staff to make sure everyone else in the president’s cabinet did their job. Card said he would start his day at 5:30 a.m. and was on the job throughout the day and into the evening and left the White House after the president went to bed. “I would start my day at 5:30 a.m. The president would usually get to bed by 9:30 or 10:30 p.m.,” he said.
Card said he was honored to have served the president for five years. “I felt it was a privilege,” he said, “a phenomenal privilege.”
Steve Samples, Blount County Commission chairman, praised Andrew Card for coming to speak to the Young Republicans.
“It’s absolutely a privilege to meet and talk with Mr. Card. I’ve been an admirer of his since his days as chief of staff to President Bush, and we’re happy he took time to be here with us.”
John Lambert said he appreciated Card taking time to help the Blount County Young Republicans raise money for their organization. “These are the people who will carry the party. They are the future of the party,” Lambert said.
While 100 people attended the reception at the Sunsphere in Knoxville, about 35 guests were invited for breakfast with Card on Tuesday morning at the Lambert’s home. “He uses his experiences to get young people involved. He’s a walking history encyclopedia,” John Lambert said. “He not only knows of it, he was involved in it.”
Peggy Lambert said she and her husband had a tie to Card. “Both our sons went to Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Va., and I had met him briefly several years ago,” she said.
Peggy Lambert said Card was a perfect house guest. “He made no demands. He sat at the kitchen table and spoke with us until 11:30 and regaled us with funny White House stories. It was like having a brother,” she said.
Boyatt said he got the idea to invite Card to speak at their fundraiser. “They said send an email to his secretary, so I did, and he called the next day,” Boyatt said.
Boyatt was happy with the turnout and the amount raised. “We raised $7,000 to $8,000. For a Young Republican’s chapter, that is pretty good,” he said.
Boyatt thanked Blount County Republican Party chair Susan Mills and Peggy Lambert for helping organize the event. “But most of all, I want to thank Andy Card himself. He called me back personally. He was fantastic,” he said.
Mills said Boyatt did a good job organizing the fundraiser. “I was very proud of Ted,” she said.
Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said Card knew Cunningham’s father-in-law, Tom Kleppe, who was a congressman from North Dakota and Secretary of the Interior under President Gerald Ford. “It was fun to visit with him and reminisce about his relationship with my father-in-law,” Cunningham said.
The mayor said Card is a good man of solid character. “His wife is Methodist minister, and he’s a very devout person as well,” Cunningham said. “It’s good to see people like that in government.”
Cunningham praised Boyatt for organizing the fundraiser. “Ted makes things happen,” the mayor said. “He’s a worker, and he’s very dedicated to what he’s doing.”