Dec 3, 2020
Donald Trump Presents Medal of Freedom to Lou Holtz Transcript December 3
President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Freedom to former American football player and coach Lou Holtz on December 3. Trump answered questions from the press, and said, “ask me that in a number of weeks from now,” when asked if he has confidence in AG Bill Barr. Read the transcript of the event here.
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Donald Trump: (00:00)
… being honored, the Presidential Medal of Freedom to one of the greatest coaches in American history, the legendary Lou Holtz, a friend of mine. Great gentlemen, great man. We’re delighted to be joined this afternoon by members of Lou’s wonderful family, along with the director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe. John, thank you for being here. And Senator Lindsey Graham, who I think most people know, I would say they know you for the most part. And Pat Cipollone, a big fan of Notre Dame, right? Thank you, Pat, for being here.
Donald Trump: (00:31)
Lou was born during the Great Depression in the steel town of Follansbee, West Virginia. We love West Virginia. He grew up in poverty in a two room cellar. But as Lou says, “I knew God and my family loved me, and their love was all the wealth I needed. That’s everything I needed. That’s all I wanted.” As a child, Lou sat in his uncle and grandfather’s lap and listened to Notre Dame football games on the radio. They were big fans of Notre Dame, I guess, even before you. That wasn’t too long ago, was it? They were big fans. And so he learned at an early age about Notre Dame. At the age of nine, he took the field in his first game. He then played throughout high school. And Lou went on to attend Kent State, where he did very well on an ROTC scholarship. After graduation, Lou served as an officer of the United States Army, and then pursued his dream of coaching. He wanted to be a coach right from the beginning because he knew he was a leader. He didn’t have to say it. He knew he was a leader.
Donald Trump: (01:34)
In 1961, Lou made what he described as, “The smartest decision of my life.” And I knew your wife. And I will tell you that was your smartest decision, right? We got to know her well, she was strong and good. He married his wife of 59 years. Beth passed away just a short while ago. And it was a very tough time. I will tell you it was a very tough time for Lou and the family, but we know that she’s looking down from heaven right now with incredible pride. She’s so proud of this man. I got to know her over the last few years and she was a great woman, but she’s looking down right now. She’s very proud of you, Lou. In 1969, Lou became head coach at William and Mary. And over three seasons, he won the Southern Conference and led the tribe to their first bowl game in 22 years.
Donald Trump: (02:29)
And by the way, and I have to tell you, when we were researching this out, I knew he was supposed to be a good coach, but I didn’t know how good he was because these stats are very amazing. You’ll see. I was really a very impressed, John. Lou then became head coach of North Carolina State, which had won only nine games over the previous three years. Not too good. He took it over, and under Coach Holtz, they won the ACC title and achieved the highest national ranking in NC State’s history. Lou went on to coach, and so I guess you were making a lot of money by this time because they were trying to get him to go to all these different schools. He was a hot coach. Nothing like being hot, right? He had his choice. He had his choice of going to a lot of different places. Lou went on to coach at the University of Arkansas. He built the Razorbacks up from a five and five record into a top five team in the nation. They won everything.
Donald Trump: (03:30)
Lou left Arkansas with the best win-loss record ever and a very fat bank account. He then coached at the university of … You were making a lot of money over this time. I know how that works. He then coached at the University of Minnesota, which was ranked dead last in the Big 10. Before he signed his contract, he prayed. And then he did something that was unprecedented. He inserted a clause with great negotiation talent, which he has, they call today the Notre Dame clause. It stipulated that if Lou did really well and went to a bowl game, he would be free to go to Notre Dame should they ask him to go. So he had something going, right? You great football player, you are some player. You are something. And you weigh about 30 pounds less than you weighed when you played in the NFL, right? I’m very impressed.
Donald Trump: (04:30)
In just two years, he secured a top 20 ranking and propelled the Golden Gophers to victory at the Independence Bowl. So he was on his way to Notre Dame. He knew it, nobody else did. I guess the Notre Dame officials knew it. He was offered a coaching job at Notre Dame immediately. And he also took it immediately, as much as he loved the team that he just left. When he became the head coach a year later, the Fighting Irish were a losing team. They were doing very, very poorly. Lou got to work and quickly returned Notre Dame to the status of a football powerhouse and the legend that they were.
Donald Trump: (05:10)
At the end of Lou’s first season, the team faced off against their arch rivals, the University of Southern California Trojans. The Fighting Irish were down 17 points in the fourth quarter, but they soon pulled off, Notre Dame, one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. They scored two touchdowns in less than eight minutes and then kicked the field goal in the final two seconds of the game. At that moment, Holtz said he felt the spirit of Notre Dame. He loved Notre Dame. And do you still remember that game?
Coach Lou Holtz: (05:42)
Oh, very … My son roughed the punter.
Donald Trump: (05:46)
You weren’t too happy about.
Coach Lou Holtz: (05:48)
No. I understood why certain species of animals devoured their young.
Donald Trump: (05:55)
So your son has a little of you in him. For the next decade, the Fighting Irish won 80% of their games and went to nine consecutive New Year’s Day Bowls. And in 1988, cover of Sports Illustrated said, “Notre Dame is back.” Notre Dame is back. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and many other covers. Notre Dame remained number one in the country for the longest stretch in the school’s history. See, I didn’t know all this stuff. I knew you were a great coach. I didn’t know you were this good, to be honest. This is beyond a great coach. So you had the longest streak in the history of Notre Dame at number one. What do you think about that, Lindsey? It sounds like you and the Senate.
Lindsey Graham: (06:35)
Yeah. Except we don’t play with-
Donald Trump: (06:38)
He had an easy race. You know, he had an easy race. The problem was his opponent had $140 million. That was a record, I guess, wasn’t it?
Lindsey Graham: (06:47)
I think so.
Donald Trump: (06:47)
Guess what? Here’s Lindsey. During the tenure at Notre Dame, Lou coached a record number of games, secured 100 victories, and delivered Notre Dame’s most recent national championship. So he did some job at Notre Dame. Then Lou became the head coach at the University of South Carolina, which he loves. He loves South Carolina. Which had one only one bowl game in 108 years. He was going to take it easy. And then he gets another role. Man oh man, I’m watching that money just pile up. He was going to go and just relax now. He did his thing at Notre Dame, he won national championships, the longest streak. Then he goes to University of South Carolina. And I can imagine why. You do like money a little bit, don’t you? He was offered a big deal. Lou tripled that number and secured a top 20 ranking immediately.
Donald Trump: (07:43)
Over the course of his career, Lou won nearly 250 games and is, one of the highest ever, by the way, and is the only coach in NCAA history to take six different teams to a bowl game. Think of that. Wherever Lou went, football glory followed. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. And I will say this about Lou. Everybody loves him. Everybody respects him. He’s tough as hell. And yet they all respect Lou. They just, it’s amazing. They love him and they respect him. Sometimes it’s a combination that doesn’t come together. They respect. But you are something. “I never coached football. I coached life,” he said. And it’s true. His players really always loved him. He’s turned his inspirational story and motivational message into three best-selling books. He’s also been an exceptional philanthropist. That’s all that stuff that he collected. He’s opened educational opportunities for students, provided insulin pumps to diabetic children.
Donald Trump: (08:49)
And we’ve just brought down the price and the cost of insulin, right? You’re shaking your head. It’s amazing what we did, right? Insulin. You couldn’t buy it. It was destroying families. People were going without it. Now it’s $35, right? You can’t believe it. I see you’re an insulin pro. You’re involved, right? Family. That’s great. Now we’ve done a great job with costs. But insulin maybe, Lindsey, is one of the best. $35. They were paying 10 times that amount. You couldn’t get it. So we changed that around, Lou.
Donald Trump: (09:21)
And supported cancer research and has traveled to 13 countries to visit the American troops. Lou’s leadership and his faith and kindness have inspired and uplifted millions of fellow citizens. He’s one of the greatest titans in American football history, and his towering reputation will endure forever in the chronicles of athletics, but more importantly in the chronicles of life because he’s really a life teacher. That’s what he is. He’s a life teacher. He teaches people how to live and how to live properly and how to live with dignity.
Donald Trump: (09:56)
So I’d like to now ask the military aid to come forward and prepare for me to give our highest medal. We have the Congressional Medal of Honor, and we have the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And I will say, I give away a lot of Congressional Medal of Honors and that’s a tough one to get. That’s a tough one to get because they come in with … When they come in, a lot of times, mostly they can’t come in for obvious reasons. But they come in, they’re unbelievably brave people and they have had more bullet holes and bullets shot at them and in them. That’s the Congressional Medal of Honor. Your route is a much easier one. As tough as it may have been, it’s a much easier one. I always say that about the two.
Coach Lou Holtz: (10:46)
I’ll remember that.
Donald Trump: (10:47)
It’s your route is a much easier. The Presidential Medal of Freedom. So I’d like to ask first, Lou, to say a few words. And then we’re going to present it. Thank you very much.
Coach Lou Holtz: (10:57)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. I’m humbled by the various comments and the opportunity to receive this award. I want to show you how proud I am, not only to receive the award, but I’m even prouder to receive it from President Donald Trump, who I think was the greatest president during my lifetime. And the things you’ve done for this country, given people the opportunity. [inaudible 00:11:33] Mr. President, you talk about making money. When I went to Notre Dame, they had a policy. The head football coach was not allowed to make more than the president of Notre Dame. The president of Notre Dame was a priest that took a vow of poverty. I made 95,000.
Coach Lou Holtz: (11:53)
I get this award, I accept it humbly. And you don’t go in life saying, “I want to win this award.” You just wake up one day and it happened. But this award, as great as it is, does not define who Lou Holtz is. My beautiful family, my precious wife, my friends, you have determined who I am. And I just try to be a solid person. As I think it was said, two most important days of your life, one’s the day you’re born, the other’s the day you discover why you’re born. When we discover we’re born, basically to help other people and to overcome problems and difficulties are going to come our way. And I just could not be prouder to be part of this country. I could not be prouder to receive this award from an individual I respect and admire as much as President Trump.
Donald Trump: (12:46)
Coach Lou Holtz: (12:46)
Donald Trump: (12:48)
That’s so nice. Thank you very much.
Speaker 4: (13:08)
Attention to orders. Louis L. Holtz, an American sports legend, is awarded the Medal of Freedom. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Coach Holtz achievements include 249 wins, 12 bowl game victories, and a national championship. He is the only football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games. His tenure at Notre Dame was historic, securing 10 straight winning seasons and the 1988 National Championship. Off the field, he’s a staple of sports television, a powerful motivational speaker, a devout Catholic, and a dedicated philanthropist. The United States proudly honors Louis L. Holtz for his contributions to our nation. Signed Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States of America.
Donald Trump: (14:24)
Donald Trump: (14:37)
Coach Lou Holtz: (14:37)
[inaudible 00:14:33]. Okay, that’s it.
Speaker 5: (14:37)
Mr. Holtz, congratulations. How are you feeling?
Coach Lou Holtz: (14:39)
I feel so indebted to so many people in my life that had such a positive influence on it. For a guy that graduated in the lower third of his high school class, I feel fortunate to be able to be here. But also to be part of this great country and to be next to this individual that I respect as much as him. So I say that you’ve honored a lot of people. You go look at all the people, and Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus. They recognized for what they did. I’m recognized for what other people did. I never made a block or a tackle, but I did try to teach people to make good choices. That’s all I’ve ever tried to do, but thank you.
Speaker 5: (15:19)
Donald Trump: (15:20)
Such a great statement. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (15:21)
Mr. President, Mitch McConnell says COVID relief may be in sight. Will you support this bill? Do you support the $900 billion-
Donald Trump: (15:27)
I will. And I think they’re getting very close. And I want it to happen. And I believe that they’re getting very close to a deal. Yeah.
Speaker 5: (15:34)
And you’ll support it? You’ll sign it?
Donald Trump: (15:36)
I will, I will. Absolutely, yeah.
Speaker 5: (15:37)
Mr. President, can I ask you to respond to the comments by your attorney general who indicated he has not seen, at this point, any evidence of fraud enough to overturn the election results? Given that, why is now not the time to concede?
Donald Trump: (15:50)
Well, he hasn’t done anything. So he hasn’t looked. When he looks, he’ll see the kind of evidence that right now you’re seeing in the Georgia Senate. They’re going through hearings right now in Georgia and they’re finding tremendous volumes. So they haven’t looked very hard, which is a disappointment, to be honest with you, because it’s massive fraud. Whether you go to Wisconsin, where we just filed a case, or Michigan, or if you look at what’s happening in Georgia, as an example, or Pennsylvania. If you look at Nevada, which is moving along very rapidly, or Arizona, you saw those numbers come out yesterday, we found massive fraud. And in other states also. This is probably the most fraudulent election that anyone’s ever seen.
Speaker 5: (16:34)
Do you still have confidence in Bill Barr?
Donald Trump: (16:38)
Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud. This is not say well, he thought it was civil. This is not civil, this is criminal stuff. This is very bad criminal stuff. So I just say this. We went through an election. At 10:00, everybody said that was an easy victory for Trump. All of a sudden, the votes started disappearing, miraculously disappearing. We found much of it, but we found far more votes than we need in almost all of these states. And I think I can say in all of these states, far more votes than we need to win every one of them. And I want to just thank my team because my team is doing an unbelievable job.
Donald Trump: (17:18)
And more importantly, I want to thank the 74 million plus people that voted. Which, Lou, is the largest amount of people that a sitting president has ever had. 74 million plus. And because the level of loyalty, I’ve never seen anything like it. All over the country, they know it was a fixed election. It was a rigged election. They know it and I appreciate their support. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 5: (18:27)
Mr. President, just a …
Speaker 6: (18:27)
Attention on deck.
Speaker 5: (18:27)
Mr. President, Lindsey Graham has said you need to provide evidence.
Speaker 4: (18:27)
Press, thank you. Let’s go. Press, thank you. Jeff, let’s go.