Tony Snow Goes 'On the Record'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," May 10, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: We just got back from another road trip. Yes, we took our cameras to the White House a short time ago so you could check on White House press secretary Tony Snow for yourself and see how he is doing. Tony is back at work six weeks after announcing the recurrence of his cancer.


VAN SUSTEREN: Tony, I like your office building.


VAN SUSTEREN: It's very nice. How's the job?

SNOW: I love it.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you been here?

SNOW: It's been just a little more than a year. Let me check. It's like a year this week that I did my first briefing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any surprises?

SNOW: Yes. The two surprises I've always told people about, number one, just how much fun the job is, because I had no idea coming in. I really didn't. I didn't have a concept. So I really love it. The second is kind of the high level of collegiality. I'd been in the first Bush White House, and I've been around town a lot.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you need to talk to the president how do you get in to see him?

SNOW: It's really actually quite easy. I've got what’s called “walking-in privileges.” I call over to his secretary and say, "I need to talk to the president. Can you make some time?" And I'll notify the chief of staff or somebody. I mean, you want to make sure that the people in the loop know. It's really a pretty simple matter. You just call and he makes himself available. Unless he's all tied up with meetings, within a very few minutes you're over there talking to him.

VAN SUSTEREN: How often do you do that in a week, average?

SNOW: I don't do it every week. I do it when I need to. To go in and have a one-on-one conversation, usually I do that for stuff like, "Mr. President, I want to make sure I've got it absolutely right, you want to talk about this issue in this way using these words." Or if you need very specific kind of guidance or you want to run something by him that you want to do, but you know he doesn't have to micromanage briefings. But when I need the kind of insight and guidance that only he can give, then I give a call.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he stubborn at all? I mean, a lot of people disagree with him now. I mean, at least it appears from the outside that even his own party is beginning to sort of push away.

SNOW: Yeah, I…

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that politics and they're thinking of their own races? Or do they really disagree with him and want him to do something?

SNOW: Some people disagree, but the president's not stubborn. You know, that's going to surprise folks because you know, you've got to be stubborn. He's determined, but he's also the kind of guy, and this is something the press doesn't get because frankly they're not invited to a lot of these things, you get people with all sorts of views in there all the time, and he wants to hear people who do disagree with him. He wants to hear different points of view. When you're dealing with something like Iraq or a lot of other problems you want to make sure you've got as many ideas in front of you, you want to have as much information in front of you, you want to do everything you can to place before yourself all the options available so you make good choices.

You know, he likes to do — people don't get that about the president. They think, you know, he just digs his heels in and, "no." Again, he's relentlessly curious and he is unafraid of having people coming in and challenging and questioning and probing. And it's one of the things that I think, ultimately — I really do think, in time, when people begin to look through this, they're going to admire him both for his courage and his insight and his ability to see clearly through things.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the job, obviously, your health has been an issue.

SNOW: Yeah.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we went through this when you were with us over at FOX and we thought it was over.

SNOW: Yeah.

VAN SUSTEREN: And now, what is the current situation?

SNOW: Current situation is I got cancer, I'm doing chemo, and I'm working. You know, the interesting thing about cancer, a lot of cancers, is that once upon a time if you got it, you just said your prayers and made your plans. These days what you do is you get a treatment. You know, here I've got what's now known as stage four cancer, it's been metastasis, it's metastasized. There are some tumors in there and we're attacking it with chemo.

We did a lot of consultations with people, and the strategy is knock the sucker into remission, and there are literally millions of people walking around this country today who've been doing just that. So basically, I'm actually loving life more than I ever and having more fun than I ever had. I feel great. The medicine certainly isn't dragging me down. As a matter of fact, I took some chemo this morning. They actually have pills you can take sometimes, so part of my chemo is getting IVs and part of it's taking pills.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of, you know, what a huge adjustment in your life when you get that news, you know. How do you tell the president? I mean, what…

SNOW: Well, that was pretty easy. I ended up calling the office and he found out that way, and then he called back and I told him. But before I'd gone in for surgery I said, “You know, we found something." They actually thought it was benign. I said, "I think it's benign but I think we ought to be pretty aggressive and cautious and go take a look at it." So just square with him. I mean, that's the way you do it with your wife, with your kids, with the people you love.

VAN SUSTEREN: How are Jill and the kids?

SNOW: They're doing fine. Again, as you pointed out, it's shocking, but some of the things I've learned are, first, the worst thing you can do with kids is to create an air of uncertainty. To give them the feeling that maybe you're holding something back. So they know what the deal is, but they can also tell from Jill and me that we feel pretty hopeful about the kind of medical advice and prognosis we've gotten.

VAN SUSTEREN: Every day when you walk in, still a thrill? Or does it ever get old?

SNOW: It never gets old. As a matter of fact we're sort of revisiting one of my favorite things, which is I like to walk through that gate and I look back at the north portico, right over there, for whatever reason. I guess when I was a kid there were always pictures of how the White House lawn looked when Lincoln was president, and there is a grandeur to that view that strikes me as unique. And literally I come out and I'm like a little kid and say, "I work here. This is where I work. It's the White House!"


VAN SUSTEREN: Tony's a really good guy, in case you had any doubt.

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