VERO BEACH, Fla. – Time for the discussion had expired when a curious audience member shouted from the back of the crowded room. “Are we in a Cold War?” the voice rang out. Heads spun forward to look at the man standing behind the lecturn. “Ah, great question,” answered Brett Baier. “Vladmir Putin, I think, thinks we are in a Cold War.”
Approximately 300 people squeezed into the Vero Beach Book Center on Oct. 25 and listened as the Fox News anchor and author discussed his latest book, Three Days at the Brink: FDR’s Daring Gamble to Win World War II. The book details a 1943 secret meeting in Tehran where leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and Russia plot to end the war.
The afternoon’s topic of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, as well as past US relations with Russia helped contextualize Baier’s answer. “He (Putin) has similar ambitions to take Russia back to the days of the Czars. So dealing with him is really a big challenge. Obviously what Russia has done to try to attack us during our election system, which did happen. And it happened in big numbers and will happen again. So there is a real battle with Russia.”
Baier’s assertion that Russia interfered with the 2016 Presidential Election is backed by evidence produced by the US intelligence community. President Trump, however, labeled the incident as a “hoax” and has continued to deny that Russia intervened. That Baier and Trump disagree on this issue did not appear to matter much to the audience.
Baier explained that his work as an author of history directly impacts his current job as anchor of “Special Report with Bret Baier.” “These projects, the ability to delve into history, gives me a better sense of where we, as a country, have been. It gives a little bit broader perspective, I think, in the ability for me to cover the daily back and forth.”
A majority of the patrons in attendance were of the Silent Generation and/or Baby Boomers. FDR, Churchill, and Stalin were not simply names from history books. Rather the triumvirate represented some of the most powerful men in the world during this groups childhood.
Amongst the crowd was Emory Crandall, a self-described history buff born during WWII. “I’m a conservative but not necessarily a Republican. I worked on Capitol Hill for years. And I’m proud to say I worked for both a Republican and a Democratic Senator from Georgia. I’m also a fan of Bret.”
Cynthia Callander, whose title is Director, Marketing, and Publicity for Vero Beach Book Center said, “Our audience tends to be great supporters of our guests.” This trip marked Baier’s third time to the store. The publisher is responsible for booking the tour stops but Callander believes most guests enjoy coming to Vero. “Witnessing the interaction between the guest and our audience is always a pleasure.” Author book signings are also solid business. Individuals who purchased the book met Baier, received an autograph, and a photo opportunity.
As rain and thunder roared outside, Baier described humorous tales he uncovered in his research. Baier recounted how in 1941 on the porch of the White House, FDR with his martini and Churchill with his scotch, tried to conjure a name to call an organization of countries who would work together to fight fascism. The night fruitless, they called it quits and the two each retired to their room to sleep.
Suddenly FDR had an epiphany and rushed to Churchill’s room. The president burst through the door and yelled, “Winston, Winston. I’ve got it. We are going to call it the United Nations!” At that same moment, Churchill emerged from outside of his shower, where he stood drenched and naked in his room. FDR apologized profusely.
Baier, who had the full attention of his audience, dropped his voice into a deep Churchill impression. “And Churchill says, ‘As you can see, the Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States. The United Nations sounds perfect!’” The audience ate it up.