You know them as public figures, but who are they as fathers and husbands? How have President and Mrs. Bush raised their daughters? Did Senator Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry have trouble blending families? In his upcoming interviews, Dr. Phil finds out.
Q: Why did you want to interview President Bush and Senator Kerry for your show?
A: I think our viewers are really interested in what these men are like when the cameras are off on the campaign trail, when they're at home living as parents and husbands. I think our viewers very much believe that you can't be one kind of man and another kind of president, and you can never learn more about somebody than how they are when they're in your role — as parents and as a married couple. I think they're very interested in seeing what these guys are made of on the home front.
Q: Are viewers going to hear anything different than what they have heard Bush and Kerry say on other shows?
A: I think in these interviews you're going to hear some very different points of view, some very different questions, and some very candid and revealing answers. I didn't ask them about the typical things that they're being interviewed about today: the economy, Iraq , unemployment. We talked about what they care about in terms of their family and families in America. I think this is a very different look than the typical rhetoric that you get on the campaign trail.
Q: Did you feel they were candid with you and were you surprised by any of their answers?
A: I was impressed that President Bush and Senator Kerry were both very open and forthcoming as were their wives. I think they were honest, I think they answered from the heart, and I think we're going to see a side of and a perspective of these men and their wives that has not been seen before.
Q: Do you think voters might be influenced by what they see on the Dr. Phil show?
A: We could sit down and give both of the candidates' views on the typical issues. We could probably recite those things ad nauseam because they've been pounded at us so much. I think what's going to drive opinion here is what these men value, where their priorities are, and how they've handled crises in their own families.
Q: Both candidates have their families on the campaign trail. Is family that much of a focus in America today?
A: I think family is a burning issue in America today and I think both of the political camps recognize that. We have seen that they're presenting their families out there. We see Bush has both his daughters out there because they want to be. Senator Kerry has both of his daughters out there, and his stepsons are involved in the campaign. These are family campaigns, and they are understanding the value of family. The Dr. Phil show has been at the top of the media list for both of these campaigns because they want to get to our viewers and tell them where they stand on these issues. This is a great opportunity for the viewer to learn about them.
Q: In your interview with the president and Mrs. Bush, did you focus on how the president's upbringing in a political family influenced how he's raising his daughters?
A: I did talk about the political history in the Bush family. The president was very forthcoming about the fact that his girls have grown up in the political arena their entire lives. Their grandfather was vice president when they were born and then president; their father was governor and then president. So they've been very much involved and clearly this level of public service has been a burden and exacted a cost on the entire family, and certainly on those girls. We talk about that in a very straightforward way.
Q: Senator and Mrs. Kerry have a blended family. Did they talk about the challenges that presented for them?
A: Senator Kerry was very forthcoming about the challenges of a blended family. I was so impressed to see how Senator Kerry made the efforts necessary to remain a force in his daughters' lives, even during the times when he was separated and not yet divorced. He made that commute from Washington to Boston; he was on the phone late at night helping them with their homework; they've worked so hard to do this right, and it tells you something about Senator Kerry's character that he was willing to put forth the effort and keep his priorities straight.