Interview: Woman Who Tried To Assassinate Ford
Jan. 2 - KGO (KGO) -- While in office, Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts -- the first by Squeaky Fromme in September of 1975, the second just 17 days later in San Francisco. The unsuccessful assassin that day was Sara Jane Moore. Moore is serving a life sentence at the Federal Womens Prison in Dublin. Today, she spoke exclusively with ABC7.
Sara Jane Moore says she regrets what she did three decades ago. At the time, she was in her early 40s, married five times, had four children. And she was involved in revolutionary politics when she pointed the gun at President Ford outside the St. Francis Hotel.
September 22, 1975 -- Sara Jane Moore was only 40 feet away from President Ford when she fired a single shot at him. A bystander, Oliver Sipple, grabbed her arm as she pulled the trigger. The bullet missed the president's head by several feet, ricocheting off the hotel wall and slightly wounding a cab driver.
Sara Jane Moore: "I am very glad I did not succeed. I know now that I was wrong to try."
Moore says she felt remorse as she sat in her jail cell. She tells ABC7 she wrote President Ford a few days later.
Sara Jane Moore: "I wrote a letter to Mr. Ford saying that. The letter was hand delivered to the secret service by my friend, Father Bill O'Donnell, who assured him it would reach Mr. Ford.
Moore says she was blinded by her zeal as she immersed herself in radical revolutionary politics.
Sara Jane Moore: "I was functioning I think purely on adrenalin and not thinking clearly. I have often said that I had put blinders on and I was only listening to what I wanted to hear."
And what she heard was this&
Sara Jane Moore: "The government had declared war on the left. Nixon's appointment of Ford as vice president and his resignation making Ford president seemed to be a continuing assault on America."
Moore is now in her mid-70s. She's spent three decades in prison. She says she's learned her lesson.
Sara Jane Moore: "I can't change what happened. I can only try to live in a way that the good I do offsets any damage I did which wasn't very great."
ABC7's Vic Lee: "Obviously history will remember you as a person who tried to assassinate the president, but how do you want to be remembered?"
Sara Jane Moore: "I'd rather be remembered for some of the good things I've done. Everybody seems to have forgotten all those, you know, my participation in the Economic Opportunity Council. I thought I did good and was successful in some of the things I did in the poverty program."
Moore says she is saddened by Ford's death even though it might help her get a parole.
Sara Jane Moore: "People kept saying he would have to die before I could be released and I did not want my release from prison to be dependent on somebody, on something happening to somebody else so I wanted him to live to be 100."
Moore is still very much an activist in prison. She works as an accountant in the prison drapery factory. She tells me, she gives part of her salary to her favorite political candidates and causes.
You may be wondering if President Ford ever sent a reply to Moore's letter. He did not. Nor did she expect one.
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